To be honest, this is the last day on which I want to think about anyone else’s death, but I have just returned from Dukinfield Crematorium, where I go every year to feel closer to the spirit of my Dad, and I’ve just got in and practically the first piece of news I discover is that the former Aston Villa striker, Dalian Atkinson, has died, aged 48.
But he’s not merely died at far too young an age, he’s died because he was tasered by the Police.
He died, visiting his 85 year old Dad, in a community where he was known, and liked, and the kids loved him, and the neighbours thought he was great, and whilst it’s far too soon to come to any conclusions, and my instincts and my years in the Law all go against making any statement until I know more, much more, it very much looks as if he died for the crime of being black in the presence of a Police Officer with a weapon.
I mean, it happens all the time over there, doesn’t it, and nobody does anything to stop it, because the people who could do something to stop it are the ones carrying the guns in the first place. And it’s not like I have any particular dog in this show, because I don’t support Aston Villa, and my only memory of Dalian Atkinson the footballer is that he scored the first goal against us when they beat us in the League Cup Final in 1994, the bastard, when Manchester United came closer than anyone ever will to doing the Grand Slam, the Clean Sweep, every domestic trophy in a single season.
But because he did that, and I was there to see it, he’s a part of my story, and he seemed like a nice guy and he loved his Dad, and it’s that day when I think so deeply about mine, and I’m in a raging fury.
Because you know nothing will happen. The guy who did this will be exonerated, will face no punishment, not even censure. They never fucking do. It’ll be the same old whitewash.
And you don’t have to be black in this country to no longer trust the Police. I was brought up to respect them, to trust, to assume they were automatically right and righteous, and I haven’t been able to do that for thirty years now, and all I can think and feel today is that this is wrong, that it’s so bloody wrong and they’ll get away with it. Again.
Oh man, you never deserved this.
Remember him this way.