Free the St Pauls 9

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Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no 9 - March/April 1981

Three of the St Pauls 12 have been acquitted. In these three cases even the frame-up tactics of the British police and courts could not be made to stick. In the case of one of the acquitted defendants, the Judge was forced to admit that his name had not even been mentioned in the course of police 'evidence'.

The remaining nine face the serious charge of 'joining in common cause to riot' which carries a heavy prison sentence. Of all the hundreds who rose up against police harassment, the state has chosen these nine to act as an example to all those who dare to rebel.

The trial has been marked by contradictory police evidence. As police witnesses stumble over their carefully rehearsed lines, even the jury cannot help joining in the contemptuous laughter that breaks out. The composition of the jury — eight whites and four blacks — took 39 defence challenges to arrive at, and it remains to be seen how they will respond to this obvious frame-up.

The police case is that they were conducting a routine drugs raid within the context of excellent relations between the police and the community, when for no apparent reason a riot broke out. They are claiming that some of the defendants were central to 'instigating' this.

The defence, strongly led by Rudy Narayan, has shown that the police did all in their power to provoke the people of St Pauls to retaliate. That after years of racist police harassment, discrimination in jobs and housing, the final provocation on 2 April was the last straw. The people rose up to defend themselves. Rudy Narayan drew a clear picture of the police marching up Grosvenor Road in military formation. He pointed out that when police dogs are turned on a crowd (as they were on 2 April) it is to inspire terror. 'Have you heard of Adolf Hitler'? he asked Superintendent Arkell. 'Have you heard of his attitude to minority groups?'. 'Yes', said the local bobby.

Cross-examining Superintendent Arkell, Narayan reminded him that the police described the raid on the Black and White Cafe as a 'light-hearted raid'. He pointed out that police had ripped cigarettes from between the lips of black people in the cafe. 'Are you saying that these men then smiled?' Even Arkell didn't seem to see the joke anymore.

Later on a police dog-handler was cross-examined. Fourteen years in the force, he was so 'stupid' that he wrote 5 April on his two statements although he claimed he had written them on 3 and 6 April. Narayan drew out the fact that his second statement added some damning evidence against defendant Frank Rapier — a man who was known to be an 'articulate critic of the police'. Narayan showed that the so-called mistake over dates was in fact another example of the police framing-up one of the defendants.

The police have admitted that the day after the uprising they were called to watch film of the events and identify people in it. The state's revenge for the defeat it suffered on 2 April has been well planned and orchestrated.

The political nature of the trial was shown when a statement from defendant Clinton Brown was read to the court. He blamed police harassment for the uprising and said:

'This is only a taste of what you have got to come. You are always picking on us. We will fight back.'

No case to answer! Free the St Pauls 9

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