Behind a float pumping out reggae beats through the streets of Westminster, thousands marched to demand justice following the still-unexplained death of Stockwell-born rapper and DJ Smiley Culture while police raided his flat on 15 March.
Smiley Culture died of a single stab wound to the heart during a police search of his house. Officers who mounted the early morning raid claim that Smiley stabbed himself to death when alone in his kitchen as he made a cup of tea while they searched the rest of the house.
Family, friends and campaigners are sceptical and have referred the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. For many of them, Smiley Culture's death is just one more of a catalogue of over 400 unexplained deaths in police custody over the past ten years.
As one of the chants on the march pointed out: "400 dead – nothing said". Family campaigns such as those for Sean Rigg, who died in custody at Brixton police station in 2008, were also on the march, and the names of Ian Tomlinson, who died after being punched by police on the G20 demonstration in 2009, and Jean Charles de Menezes, shot by police at Stockwell tube station in 2005, cropped up again and again. No police officer has ever been convicted for any of these deaths.
Smiley's advocates were out in force on Saturday to demand a public inquiry, joined by left and anti-racist groups and other supporters, marching from Wandsworth Road in Vauxhall through Parliament Square to Scotland Yard, where the demonstration was addressed by Smiley Culture's nephew Merlin Emmanuel and Lee Jasper among others.
The demand continues to be: who killed Smiley Culture? And when will the Met be brought to account for the deaths of Londoners in police custody?