Anger reflected in pages of the voice of black community

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The Independent Online
Much of the anger and indignation stirred up in Brixton by allegations of police brutality against black youths is reflected in the pages of the black national newspapers, the Voice and the Caribbean Times, write Peter Victor and James Cusick.

Of these, the Voice is the far more popular and populist, often being referred to as the black Sun.

Its front-page account of Wayne Douglas's death, under a banner headline "Tell us the truth", with a crosshead "Man was beaten by police before he died, claims witness" was bound to raise the temperature.

The Caribbean Times ran a similar front-page lead and included in its coverage details of Wednesday night's demonstration.

The Voice styles itself Britain's "Best black newspaper" and has a lively mix of tabloid-style news stories, black polemic and pop culture and carries a lot of voluntary-sector and local-government recruitment advertising. It circulates throughout Britain, as does the Caribbean Times.

The Voice has a long track-record of providing some of the brightest and most ambitious black journalists, who then move on to mainstream broadcasting and newspapers.

However, staff there are still smarting from a roasting received at the hands of the Guardian newspaper, which criticised the Voice for being sensational and trivial.

Yesterday a newsroom executive at the Voice was unwilling to give his name but was unrepentant. "I think our coverage was responsible and well- balanced.

"We've had two deaths now involving black men and police using these batons and there has been almost nothing about it in the 'Fleet Street' press. Why should there be? it's just another black man." He said a series of high-profile cases of a similar nature had critically damaged relations between black youths and the police.

"It just can't go on. Something is desperately wrong with the authorities. This is a serious issue and we have dealt with it seriously.

"Somebody did say that we've been accused of stirring things up, but we are not a black Sun.

"If you look at the way we have dealt with issues over the last few years, you can see we're nothing like that," he said.

"This was the 51st case of a death in custody; Brian Douglas was the 50th, Wayne was 51. And this happened just down the road from our offices in Brixton.

"Wayne was not the first and he won't be the last. I think it's painfully clear that the community has no confidence in the Met and the police as a service.

"We did a piece two weeks ago about a guy who got shot in Stockwell.

"He came forward to give evidence, did the right thing after witnessing a crime. He got no protection and became a victim himself.

"If the community can't trust the police, then you'll see things like Wednesday night happening again."