A new CD has been released by the people behind the 2001 film Injustice that told the story of families seeking justice for deaths in police custody.
The album contains 16 angry responses to injustice, ranging from Ebele’s spoken piece The Gathering. condemning Channel 4 for failing to show the film, through roots reggae from Yaz Alexander, the driving emotion of Princess Emmanuelle and the hymnlike Justice from Violet Corlis, to the jazzy sounds of The Tribunes and the hip-hop rage of WattsRiot, a DJ with Fun-Da-Mental.
Ken Fero from Injustice spoke to Socialist Worker at the CD’s Birmingham launch earlier this month. “We’re doing a roadshow called Sounds of Injustice - taking the CD, the Injustice film and people from family campaigns around the country,” he said.
“We want to raise awareness and to raise money. Also, not everyone wants to go and see a documentary. This is a chance to reach out to a different audience and give them information about campaigns like the Friends Of Mikey Powell, the United Families march in London on 28 October and the www.4wardever.org website.
“We are just finishing a new film called Licence To Kill. It responds to the state’s attempts to ‘improve’ the system - while in fact there has been an escalation in violence and in the number of deaths.
“Jean Charles de Menezes was a death in police custody. It was raised to another political level - but it was basically the same thing.”
People who have been involved in justice campaigns frequently experience the police closing ranks against them and victims being smeared in the press, said Ken.
The Injustice film has been subject to similar harassment. The Birmingham CD launch had been booked for a larger venue where the film could be shown too. However the venue cancelled, saying they didn’t think a showing would be “appropriate”.
“I got a call myself from the local police station,” said Ken Fero. “Was that operational or was it someone acting on his own? The officer asked who was performing. I said you must know - it’s on the publicity. So he asked what they would be singing and saying. It got so ridiculous I put the phone down on him.”
Ken added, “We’re at a critical time. We gave the state a chance to improve its act and it failed. Musicians should get in touch with us and help us spread the word about what is going on.”
The Tribunes contribute two tracks to the CD. Their drummer Danny the Red spoke to Socialist Worker about the band and their involvement.
“Myself and bassist William Blake were involved in Carbon/Silicon with Mick Jones from the Clash for about two years,” he explained.
“We did a gig at Colchester in the army barracks on the same day as one of the big anti-war demos in London. At the end of the set the whole audience chanted, ‘The workers united will never be defeated!’
“Till then The Tribunes had been a bit of a side project. But that showed. there are a lot of people out there who really do give a shit.
“Tonight is our live debut, but we’ve virtually finished our first album and we’re very proud of what we’ve done so far.
“I’ve been involved with Injustice since I was a student in Manchester and helped arrange a showing of the film. Once we’d got the band together it seemed the logical thing to be involved in this CD.
“I suppose the band is driven really by politics. A few of us are campaigners or Socialist Worker supporters - you could call it a united front.
“Also, other people get involved for specific things. Our version of Strange Fruit on the Injustice CD features Judy Green. As soon as we told her what it was for, she wanted to get involved.
“We’ve got a 12 inch single coming out in a couple of weeks. It’s called Both Eyes Blind with Whitey Lands On Planet Mars as a B-side - something of a tribute to Gil Scott Heron.
“Martin Smith’s book on John Coltrane really got me into jazz. The Tribunes’ sound evolved mixing rock with jazz and the poetry of Poetic Justice - also known as Makola Mayambika.
“We don’t believe that music’s going to change the world. But, with the resources and talents we have we can get voices heard.” Danny added that the band want to operate as “tribunes of the oppressed” - their name refers to Lenin’s famous phrase about the role of revolutionaries.
To order the Injustice CD, or to contact Ken Fero to arrange gigs or film showings, go to www.injusticefilm.co.uk
The Tribunes will be playing at the Socialist Worker appeal event in Manchester on 23 September. Go to Appeal events