Racist Attacks: 1980

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No.2 - January/February 1980

Leeds: The Police, the Courts and Racist Attacks

Today, when we read in the British press of the activities of the racists in this country, the picture that we are being force-fed is that of a mob of ranting degenerates waving their Union Jack and National Front banners, of Willy Whitelaw or Enoch Powell delivering one of their speeches or even of a house-seller advertising his house for sale to whites only. But how much is this picture a true assessment of the increasing acts of racism blacks in Britain have to put up with. The truth is that British institutionalised racism affects black people day in and day out. It affects them in their employment of they are 'lucky' enough to be employed), it affects them in their education, it affects them on the housing market but most of all it affects them in their dealings with the law — British racist law.

As a black man living in a black community, I have witnessed the way that the police and courts are used against us and especially against the youth of our community. There are hundreds of racist acts by police every year. For example: I have witnessed the invasion of our community by 200 policemen on November 5 equipped with riot-shields and batons to face 15 and 16 year olds. There are the arrests of the youth on suspicion of having committed a crime they could not possibly have committed, and the subsequent hours of detention in the police cells for refusing to give a statement before seeing a solicitor. There is the constant stopping and questioning and searching, of the youth in the streets and of car-owners. The latter are frequently harassed for trivialities. There is the near-military invasion of black people's social gatherings whereby whole streets are blocked off by police vans and rows of police, while they invade premises, with dogs, batons and cameras, lifting people at will. There was of course the case of David Olewale, continuously hounded and finally murdered by the Leeds police, who subsequently walked free from the court.

Just recently, six youngsters, having just returned to Leeds from visiting a youth club in Bradford, were stopped by policemen and accused of stealing six polythene bags of fibreglass. The youngsters protested their innocence, which was backed up by a Scotsman who had seen the youngsters making their way home. For his trouble, this witness was told by police in no uncertain terms to keep out of the way. The six explained that they had just returned to Leeds and that they could not possibly have stolen the fibreglass. Nonetheless, under a barrage of racist insults, they were forced into the waiting police van and driven to the police station where they were kept for five hours. While there they were made to stand all the time, without their shoes and socks, and subjected to continual racist abuse. These youths have now been summonsed to appear before the courts on this charge.

Another example shows how the police and the courts collaborate against black youth. A sixteen year old youth, found beaten up, bruised and dazed, by a policeman and policewoman, was driven to the local hospital for treatment. The police waited for the youth to be treated and then offered to drive him home. This he accepted. Arriving at his street, the youth asked the officers to drop him off at the top of the street as he didn't want to alarm his mother. The youth left the police car and walked to the back of his house, as the back door was always left open for him. On opening the gate to his back garden, he suddenly saw a police car racing down the narrow backstreet towards him. The youth hurried into his garden to get out of the way. The police car screeched to a halt, and both occupants jumped out. It was then that the youth realised that it was in fact the same heavily built policewoman and policeman who had just given him a lift. The policeman started poking the youth in the chest and asking him where the Hell he thought he was going. The policeman produced a pair of handcuffs, at which point the youth resisted and then ended up on the ground with both officers on top of him. The youth's mother and sister, awakened by his screaming, came out to see what was happening. Asking the police what they were doing with her son, she was told abusively to get back inside and get some clothes on. The sister told the police to leave the boy alone, at which point she was called a 'black bastard' and told to get back inside before she was arrested as well. The mother was told that she could come to the police station and that she could find out there what he was being arrested for. At the police station she was initially allowed in with her son, but then she was asked to sit outside, while he was questioned in her absence. The mother was then told that out of the goodness of the police officers' hearts they had taken him to hospital. She was told that there would be no charges and that she and her son could go. However, three months later the mother received a summons to court, her son charged with causing actual bodily harm to a policewoman. Both mother and son were very shocked by this. The case went to court and there the policewoman made a statement saying how during the struggle in the boy's back garden, her finger had been bitten. The judge paid no attention to the circumstances under which the youth had been subjected to two unprovoked attacks in one night. The Judge said that he had no alternative but to believe what the policewoman said as he could see no reason why police officers would lie in court!!!!

Again in court a black car-owner was the victim of 'legal' racism when he was found guilty of crashing his car when he wasn't even in it. This man had parked his car in town. A white driver subsequently ran into the back of it. On being breathalysed this driver was found to have over the legal limit of alcohol in his blood, and yet in court the black driver, his car stationary, was the one who was penalised.

These examples are just a small part of the racist onslaught perpetrated on our and other black communities. The whole thing has reached such a pitch that many feel that collective action is needed, against not just the police but all the other agencies of institutionalised racism. It is generally the feeling that we as a community must do something to halt this beast. This now, or death at their hands (as in the case of David Olewale) later.

Leeds Contributor


Defend The Earlington Family

Racist frame-ups, arrests and assaults are part of everyday life for black people in Britain. In Highbury and Islington, North London, police activity on this score is notorious. The Islington 18 only won their freedom from police trumped-up charges after a long campaign waged by the Defence Committee. Unabashed by this exposure of their racist activities during the case of the 18, local police have continued their harassment of black people in the area. Their racist activities have been highlighted this year by the arrest of five members of a single black family. In April 1979 a total of five members of the Earlington family were arrested by police. Where? In their own home. For what? because, allege the police, Mrs Earlington had been having an argument with a neighbour, it was necessary to arrest first her, then four more members of family in case a ‘breach of the peace' might occur.

Arrest of the Earlington Family

On the afternoon of April 9 1979, Mrs Earlington was at home on sick leave from work. She has been a ward orderly in the local hospital for the last eight years. Mrs Earlington's son, Trevor, on his return 'lame from work, was involved in a short argument with a neighbour's son over a bicycle wheel, which had been removed from his bicycle. Mrs Earlington and the mother of the boy next door joined in. Neighbours have since stated that at this time, no noise or disturbance could be heard.

Then there arrived two policemen (the first of many). They had been 'called', they said in court, but they 'did not know by whom'. And in fact, according to police evidence in court, everyone in the nearby flats refused to speak to them when they arrived. After trying one door, the police arrived at the Earlington's flat where Mrs Earlington was standing in the passage way inside the house. One of the policemen advanced towards Mrs Earlington and said: 'Did you phone for the police you black bastard. Any more noise from you and I'll have you nicked'. Mrs Earlington angered by this provocative racist abuse, protested that she was sick, that she was not doing anything and that the police had no right to be there. The policeman then grabbed hold of her. On hearing his mother calling out for a doctor and for help, Trevor came from upstairs where he had gone to watch TV. Seeing what was happening to his mother, he tried to prevent the policeman from manhandling her. Meanwhile, the second policeman had radioed for help to assist the two in the arrest of this sick woman. Audrey Earlington then arrived. She too was horrified by the scene.

Very quickly, an estimated 18 police in five cars and three meat wagons, arrived outside the flat. Having announced their arrival by knocking down the sitting room door, which was locked, they then proceeded to arrest the family. Mrs Earlington was hand-cuffed and dragged off down three flights of stone steps. It was at this point, neighbours state, that they first heard a disturbance and came out to look. That is, the peace of the neighbourhood was broken only by the activities of the police. Trevor was arrested and so was Audrey. Angela (14) who had just arrived home from school, protested at the sight of her handcuffed mother and tried to prevent her from being dragged off. For her trouble she was slapped on the face, handcuffed and dragged off too. Mr Earlington, who had been dozing in front of the TV, came downstairs and had hardly time to take in the scene before he was punched in the stomach and arrested.

At the police station, all the family were charged with numerous counts of assault etc. Mrs Earlington's thumb had been twisted to a degree where she was unable to work for several weeks. She was refused medical attention at the police station. The blow to Angela's face has since reactivated a childhood illness in her jaw and she is due shortly to go into hospital.

Two of the family, Mrs Earlington and Trevor, charged with both Actual Bodily Harm and assault of a police officer with intent to resist arrest, elected to be tried at Crown Court. However, their belief that this would lead to a 'fairer' trial than at Highbury Magistrates Court, notorious for its racism and the heavy sentences meted out to black people, was shaken. The question of precisely why 18 police had found it necessary to beat up and arrest five members of one family in their own home was never an issue during the trial. The judge's summing up was devoted almost entirely to police evidence. As a result Mrs Earlington and Trevor were found guilty by the jury who failed, however, to reach a unanimous verdict on the second charge. Trevor Earlington lost the job which he had only just managed to get, due to having to take time off for the case.

Defence Committee Formed

Mrs Earlington and Trevor have since decided to appeal against this racist injustice. The cases of Mr Earlington, Angela and Audrey are still to come up at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court. The Earlington Family Defence Committee has been formed by the Earlington Family, friends, Hackney branch of the PNP and supporters of FRFI, to fight the charges and to raise money and support for the Earlington Family. The Defence Committee is determined that police victimisation of black people, in this case the Earlingtons, cannot go unchallenged in this area where such things happen week in week out. The Defence Committee is leafletting the area, holding meetings and other events and collecting money in support of the Earlington Family. Money is urgently needed to pay the fines already incurred, to pay any additional legal costs and to pay for publicity to build up support for the family. Please send money and make cheques payable to the Earlington Family Defence Fund.

Olivia Adamson

November 5th 1979: Chapeltown

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No. 2 - January/February 1980

On November 5 the police launched a violent attack on the black people of Chapeltown. This is not the first time that the police have launched such an attack. In Chapeltown, the police have used Bonfire Night as an excuse to try and terrorise young people because they are black and on the streets. Their record over the past few years proves this.

In 1975, a massive police operation launched against the black youth of Chapeltown failed miserably. Community workers had requested that the police maintain a low profile, since the police presence the year before, coupled with their attempt to extinguish a bonfire, had provoked a disturbance. Despite police agreement, they turned out in force. A police car driven at high speed into a group of youths signalled the beginning of the police attack. But the young people of Chapeltown showed that they were not going to stand around and become hopeless victims of British State barbarity. On the contrary, November 5 1975 will be remembered as a crushing defeat for the police. Four policemen were injured, one of them seriously. At least one police car was a total write-off — several others were damaged. Not one person was arrested at the time, but throughout the night police raided homes, arresting 12 people. Initially they faced minor charges mainly of assault, but nine of the defendants had their charges changed to the more serious one of affray. Undoubtedly, the police were anxious to do in the courts what they had failed to do on the streets. An indication of the lengths they will go to in trying to smash a community came to light later. Younger children at a local school were asked to write essays on ‘Bonfire Night'. The police picked their way through these trying to find 'evidence! However, substantial community protest over the court cases, along with the ease with which contradictory police statements were shown to be largely fictional resulted in a further police defeat in the courts. Out of the 24 charges brought, there were 21 acquittals!

All in all, the police attack resulted in. severe blows being inflicted on them. Throughout the next three years, the police, not wishing to confront such solid resistance, resorted to a low-key approach. This went hand in hand with the development of their 'community relations' police work —their term for gathering information as the ‘friendly community coppers', while continuing and even intensifying their racist oppression.

Hardly anyone is fooled by this rather threadbare velvet glove over an iron fist. They maintained high numbers at each bonfire night, but opted for plain-clothes and unmarked cars — common features at any time in Chapeltown.

The only incident of any note took place on Bonfire Night in 1977 when some cowardly National Front supporters hurled a barrage of racist abuse from a car window while travelling at high speed through a crowd of youths. They disappeared at even greater speed, complete with smashed windscreen. Apart from this incident, these three years were quiet and trouble free, and in spite of the presence of plainclothes policemen, people enjoyed the bonfire night celebrations. Police confidence grew!

The police attack again

1979 saw a return to openly repressive tactics. Police provocation took three main forms. First, there were numbers of uniformed police in almost every single street in the area. Second they were trying to stop people from setting off fireworks. Finally they simply resorted to open violence. A youth on his pushbike, arriving to join his friends, received a completely unprovoked punch in the face from a policeman. This year, it was clear, the police were intent on brutality and intimidation. This is particularly evident in the rapidity with which a military-style operation was launched. The following are extracts of an interview given to a Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! supporter by 'RJ’, a black youth present when the police attack took place. The extracts outline what happened and also show some of the conclusions reached by this youth and others, following this state assault.

What happened

FRFI How soon after the incident involving the youth on the pushbike did the police arrive with riot shields?

RJ Minutes after. They came with riot shields just then. They went all the way down to the 'Gaiety' (a night-club on the opposite edge of the community — FRFI) and were just starting on people even people who had nothing to do with the bonfires.

FRFI How many policemen were there?

RJ About 12 or 13 were chasing us at first and then they were coming from all over. You know those vans they come in, the blue ones, well they started jumping out with riot shields and lining up on the roads and marching down. I've seen it in Belfast, but it's the first time I've seen it here.

FRFI Didn't the police come in cars this time?

RJ No. I didn't see any police cars. Maybe they learned a lesson from 1975.

FRFI Apart from riot shields, what else did the police have?

RJ Those long batons — the kind they can swing and just hit people, and helmets with glass fronts. You know the bricks that we were defending ourselves with the police were trying to pick them up and throw them back, but when they tried to we just kept up and they couldn't. Anyway people were getting dustbin lids and using them as shields to defend themselves.

FRFI How else did people defend themselves?

RJ People just had to pick up whatever was near. Anything. When the police tried to grab somebody others went up to them and made them go back.

FRFI Did you see any of the police being injured?

RJ Yes. One got a brick in his forehead. Others had leg injuries and ankle injuries.

FRFI One story that was going round was that police told a resident that the reason they were in his garden was that they were looking for an air-rifle which they said someone had been using against them. Do you know anything of that?

RJ They weren't. I know why they were there. A whole heap of them hide in gardens and when they see a black youth coming, they jump out and do what they want. They're smart but they're not smart enough.

FRFI Have you seen that happen before?

RJ I've seen that happen in Manchester and Birmingham — Handsworth. That's the problem with the police. As soon as they're faced with a number equal to theirs, they can't handle it. Only a mob of them can mash one up. But say there's twelve of them and twelve black youths, they won't do it 'cos they know who's gonna come off best, and that's the black youth, even though they've got truncheons. Well what would you do, if they're coming and harassing you, pushing you about, if they punch you in the face for nothing? I won't take it. They've really got it in for people with skin this colour. Same as the Irish. They're really getting a battering, but they're fighting back like Hell as well.

I'm glad IRA are doing that. Like when I hear of a bombing in England, I go 'Yeah Man! Go Deh!' That's their revolution. Why should the next country poke their nose into something which has nothing to do with them. I see some black soldiers in there. All I can say to them is they are a partaker of the beast and that's it, I don't want nothing to do with it. He's dealing with their law. One day they'll bring the army in here for something like bonfire night.

FRFI What about 5 November next year?

RJ Well all I can say is people have realised. If they do it again next year there's gonna be a riot for days, 'cos if they come looking for trouble we'll give them it. Even though I'm dealing in Rastafari, a man of peace, there's one thing you got to fight for — your rights.

The Fight Continues

The immediate result of the attack in 1979 was six injured policemen and no arrests. One ANL supporter trying to take photograph of the attacks was beaten up by the police and had his camera taken.

The significance of the police attack is that it is part and parcel of the countrywide terrorising of black people by the British State. During the three quiet years of 1976-8, police hypocrisy reached the level of putting a message of congratulations in the local press. A cynical pat on the back for the community for its good behaviour on bonfire night. But the real message is abundantly clear: it is the police who bring their brutality to Chapeltown, and the British state which uses all the means at its disposal to attack black people in their homes and communities, on the streets and in the courts. Another message is equally clear — black people are fighting back and will continue to do so.

Alison Scott

Chapeltown Rasta - the persecution continues

Readers of FRFI 1 will remember the case of the young Rastafarian who having been suspended from school for refusing to cut off his dreadlocks was threatened with being taken into 'care' by Leeds Local Authority. His case was taken up and fought by the Chapeltown Rasta Defence Committee. The Committee organised protest actions, including a picket of his school and the Headmaster was forced to allow him to re-enter school.

That was on 4 September 1979. Those who have experienced the racist education system in Britain will not be surprised to hear that since that time he has been victimised and suspended no less than four times.

On each of these four occasions he has been singled out for punishment. The first occurred when, about one and a half weeks after he had been re-admitted to school, another boy took his pencil and threw it across the room. It was the young Rastafarian who got suspended. Then on 24 October, when there was no heating in the school the pupils were ordered to take off their coats and jackets. About half of them did not. The young Rastafarian was again singled out and suspended. On November 28th he was yet again suspended for two

weeks. This time a whole number of pupils were larking about, the teacher called the young Rastafarian to the front and immediately began to fill in a suspension form . Finally, he was allowed back into school on 13th December. He had been in school for just three quarters of an hour when a teacher ordered him to remove his Rasta badges. He took all of them off except one, pointing out that many of the pupils wore badges. The Headmaster told him to get out of school. The youth told him that he wanted to stay and that he would not be denied his education. The Headmaster called the police.

Clearly enraged at the success achieved by the Defence Committee the school authorities have put out the word to persecute this youth. They appear quite determined to rob him of any chance of education. To add insult to injury, Leeds Education Authority have again summonsed the youth and his mother to court for his 'non-attendance' at school. By continually suspending him they obviously hope that he will be taken into ‘care'. This for them would remove an embarrassing reminder that their authority was once successfully challenged and can be so again.

Leeds Correspondent


The Attack on Overseas Students in Britain

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! No.2 - January/February 1980

The overseas students in this country are being victimised and harassed by the British state. The massive increase in fees is perhaps the most devastating of the attacks on them. In many instances situations have arisen where students have not been able to cope with the fee increases and have had to leave without completing their courses. To wage a successful campaign against this victimisation it is important to have a correct understanding of its basis.

The presence of overseas students in this country — the vast majority of whom are from the underdeveloped world — is not something which is determined by the free will of these individuals. it is in fact a logical consequence of Britain's colonial relationship with these countries. It is important to emphasise at this point that the word 'past' which is frequently used in this context by sections of the so-called left in Britain is absolutely false and can only serve to demonstrate their ignorance of the workings of imperialism. Once colonial rule had been established — the means of which were always treacherous and brutal — the existing indigenous social and economic formations of these nations (some of which were comparable to those existing in Western Europe) were systematically and ruthlessly destroyed. For centuries all developments beneficial to the colonial masses were suppressed in order to maintain the relationship of exploitation which deprived these people of the benefits of their immense natural resources and labour. As a consequence of this plunder of natural resources and labour and the availability of the colonised nations as markets for the industrial goods of the colonial power great technological and scientific advances were made in the colonialists' camp.

To quote Frantz Fanon:

‘Europe has inordinately stuffed itself with gold and raw materials of the colonised countries: Latin America, Asia and Africa. From all these continents, under whose eyes Europe today raises up her tower of opulence, there has flowed out for centuries towards the same Europe diamonds and oil, silk and cotton, wood and exotic products. Europe is literally the creation of the third world. The wealth that smothers her is that which was stolen from the underdeveloped peoples'.

With this picture in mind it is quite easy to understand the present situation in which there are underdeveloped countries in need of modern science and technology necessary for their development but the facilities and institutions that can provide these are in the advanced capitalist nations.

This is the reason for the flow of students from the underdeveloped world to Britain and is analogous to the migration of labour from the impoverished colonies to the coloniser countries.

The attacks on the overseas students by the British state are not an isolated occurrence. They are part and parcel of a whole barrage of attacks on the working people of this country and should always be considered in that perspective. The attack on the living standards, the massive cuts in social expenditure and education in order to boost private capital are all symptoms of the same disease — the crisis of British capitalism. The onslaught of the British ruling class is of course not uniform. It isolates the weakest sections for the worst excesses. The vicious attacks on the immigrant community and the overseas students are a reflection of just that.

The movement against the racist increases in the fees of overseas students under the chauvinistic leadership of the National Union of Students has been bankrupt. The platform of the NUS has been that the presence of overseas students contrary to general belief benefits the British economy and is in its long term interest and hence the fees increase which endanger these interests should be stopped. If this didn't happen to be the case then of course the overseas students could go to hell, immigration laws permitting.

The Labour Party which itself introduced racist immigration laws and fees increases is most upset by the recent Tory excesses and vociferously champions the anti-Tory cause. Opportunism obviously knows no bounds, the depths to which it can fall are fathomless.

The movement as it stands today is totally bankrupt and an insult to overseas students. It can achieve nothing except maybe the demoralisation of the overseas student community.

The overseas students are aware of this and their awareness is increasing every day. They are refusing to be a tool in the hands of opportunists. They know that their fight is a fight for equality, a fight against racism. They know that they must be the leaders of their struggle which should be based on an anti-imperialist and anti-racist platform. They recognise British imperialism as the basis of their oppression. In this struggle they are one with their immigrant brothers and sisters in this country.

The mobilisation of overseas students for equality and justice could be the rallying point for all student struggles and serve to revitalise the impotent student body as a progressive political force.

Death to racism! Death to imperialism! Long live the revolutionary struggle of the oppressed!


Victory against racism at Leeds school

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 1 – November/December 1979

A particularly blatant example of the use of suspension as a method of racist harassment of black school children has recently occurred in Leeds. We report this not only because it highlights the racism of the British educational and judicial system but also because it shows the effectiveness of resistance to the attempts of the state to deprive black children of their education and to split black families.

On February 26, a fifteen year old black youth was suspended from a school in Leeds for refusing to cut his dreadlocks and there-by break the discipline of his Rastafarian religion. Despite the fact that white youths at the same school were allowed to wear their hair longer than his, the school insisted on suspending the black youth. They thus ensured that he missed five months of his education. The headmaster of the school revealed the colonial mentality which permeates the British state when he suggested that the black youth wear a turban. The headmaster rejected the black youth's suggestion that he wear a hat to school.

In July the Leeds Education Authority, by then responsible for preventing his attendance at school for five months, took their racist harassment one stage further and summonsed his mother to court for failing, they said, to ensure his attendance at school. Despite overwhelming evidence in his favour, proving that it was the education authorities which were preventing his attendance at school, the court ruled that if he missed one more week of school he would immediately be taken into care. The magistrate said:

‘If you don't cut your hair you will go straight into care. It is as simple as that.'

This racist alliance between the British education system and the courts resulted in a very real threat that this black youth would be removed from his family and friends and taken into 'care by the same local authority which had victimised him. By these means the British state would lock up a black youth for three years using the absurd and trivial excuse that his hair is too long.

Had the case been left there, no doubt the Leeds Education authority would have achieved its racist aim. But it was not left there. A local defence committee, the Chapeltown Rasta Defence Committee, was set up to fight the case. This committee achieved considerable local publicity for the case, collected over 1000 signatures for a protest petition including over 100 signatures collected at the Notting Hill Carnival. As well as mobilising support in Leeds the case attracted national support and signatures were collected in Bristol, London, Manchester and Scotland. On the first day of the school year, September 4, a picket of the school was called by the Defence Committee. About 30 people attended. As well as local support from the black community in Leeds the picket was attended by a contingent from Bradford Asian Youth Movement and also from Manchester Revolutionary Communist Group. The picketers' message was made clear by their placards: 'Hair length is not the issue. Racism is', 'Stop the Racist Suspensions', 'British Education is Racist'. While the picket continued, attracting much support from school children going into the school, a meeting was held with the Headmaster. After five months of refusing to change his decision to suspend the youth, his resolve crumbled in the face of resistance. Victory was achieved and he agreed to allow the youth back into school providing he wore a hat (which he had all along offered to do but which previously the Headmaster had refused to accept.)

No doubt the school and the Local Education Authorities were concerned not only about the protests aroused by this one case but also that such protests would throw the spotlight on the whole question of the use of suspension as a weapon against black youth in Britain. For the case in Leeds is not an isolated incident. The latest example to come to light concerns a Sikh girl who has been refused admission to school in Birmingham for wearing a turban as her religion decrees. Throughout the country black children are the victims of an education system which suspends them on the most trivial grounds, which randomly labels them educationally sub-normal and which robs them of even the paltry and inadequate education which is available to the working class.

Leeds correspondent

Racist Attacks

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! 1 – November/December 1979


Every day, in every town, the British state pursues its campaign of harassment against black people. As the following three cases show, no black person is safe — the old, the sick, the young — all are victims of this campaign. We are publishing the following reports of police harassment not because they represent something exceptional but precisely because they are normal and typical examples of what black people are suffering. What the police did at Southall on April 23rd they did on one day in one concerted attack. What they have done to the X family, whose case is reported below, they have done over a period of years. The results for the X family are as shattering as those suffered by the victims of April 23rd in Southall. The X family now has one son in prison, one son facing charges and one son who is threatened with spending the rest of his life in a mental institution.

These attacks cannot be explained by the racism of individual policemen. No doubt the police are racist bullies. Only people of a brutish nature could be attracted to work in the police force. But that is not the main point. The fact is that such attacks are being carried out systematically. They form part of the British state's campaign against black people. British imperialism, having forced black people to be the victims of a racist society must then use its state, its police and courts to contain and control all threats of resistance and rebellion. It must use every weapon in its extensive armoury to attempt to crush resistance and grind black people down. The weapons, as well as immigration laws, Sus laws, frame ups, beatings by police, also include unofficial encouragement to the gangs of white racists who have been responsible for numerous murderous attacks against black people.

The view of the British state was made clear by Metropolitan Police Commissioner McNee when he said: ‘If you keep off the streets and behave yourselves you won't have the SPG to worry about.'

When black people organise to fight racism the British state is threatened and therefore unleashes the frenzied assault that we saw at Southall on April 23rd. But even when black people are simply going about their daily business they are regarded as a threat and a menace. Like warders fearing rebellion by the prisoners in some foul gaol, the British police interpret every action by black people, walking on the streets, looking in a shop window, as threatening. The use of Sus laws against black youths shows that for the British state every black person is suspicious. The result, as the following cases show, is that black people on the street and in their homes are subjected to a harrowing process of harassment and intimidation.


A recent case shows that for the British police, the encouragement of the activities of racist 'irregulars', as in the case of the Virk brothers, is not enough. On June 2 this year, Lindi Toussaint was repairing his car outside his home in East London when he was approached by two policemen. They demanded evidence of ownership of the car which he gave to them, upon which one of the policemen called Lindi a 'clever nigger'. Lindi objected to this racist abuse, at which point the police officers proceeded to search his car. Finding a piece of rag and a funnel, they accused him of syphoning petrol from other vehicles. When Lindi refused to accompany them to the police station on the basis of this trumped-up charge, the police attempted to force him to their car. Lindi's younger brother, Kennis (16), on hearing the noise, rushed out of the house and was coshed over the head by one of the police-men, causing a severe head wound. Within minutes the street was full of police. The two brothers, one of them by now badly injured, ran indoors and were pursued by the police who battered down the door, severely frightening the Toussaint's sister who is handicapped. The brothers were then arrested.

Later, Mr Toussaint, on learning all this, went to the police station and was himself threatened with arrest for demanding to know the grounds of his sons' arrests. Kennis Toussaint was left without medical attention to his head wound for 24 hours.

The Toussaint brothers are now charged with Actual Bodily Harm and theft of a police truncheon. This incident is not a rare or extreme occurrence. It is a fact of life in Britain today that black youth, going about their everyday business, become in the eyes of the police potential criminals. Their everyday possessions become, at the whim of the police, the tools of potential crime. The Newham Defence Committee are taking up the Toussaint case and are asking for support


The following report details police harassment and racist attacks on one black family in Manchester. These attacks are only a small part of what the family has suffered at the hands of the police in the last few months. They show the day to day reality of state racism for black people in Britain today.

In July the police gained access to the family's home by pretending a piece of card was a warrant. They then deliberately smashed in the front door, broke windows and smashed open the bedroom door. R describes what happened then:

‘I was asleep under the sheets, they pulled the sheets off me, dragged me out of bed, and said, "Get out of bed you black bastard." I said, "There's no need for that, why didn't you just tell me to get out of bed?" He was going on giving cheek and my mam was going mad there, so he pushed her. I told him to leave her alone. He said, "What are you going to do about it?" I said, "I can't do anything at the moment, but one day " They dragged me down the stairs and when they got me outside, one of the coppers was choking me. The other copper said, "Hey, you're choking him." He said, "Never mind." And carried on. He punched me in the eye seven or eight times, then they threw me in the Black Maria. They pulled my mam in and tried to arrest her.

We got down to the station, got out of the Black Maria and they had my arms twisted behind my back. There was one of them in front of me and as I was walking in he was back-heeling me in the shins. They got me in the cell and they started asking me about so-and-so, and I don't even know these people. Then this copper starts hitting me in the same eye, then he said, "I'm sorry, I'll hit you in the other eye instead!" I couldn't do nothing about it. After that we got charged (for stealing forty cigarettes). We came out and all four police were standing there laughing, "I wonder how he got that eye?" My eye was blood-shot for a week and I couldn't do nothing about it.

Mrs X, R's mother, who is white, was subjected to racist abuse by the police who called her a 'nigger lover' and told her ‘You'll do well if the NF gets in, you and your niggers.' She also suffered severe bruising to the foot because of a beating with a police truncheon.

Mr X, R's father told what happened when he sent a younger son S, to the shops recently.

‘I sent him one afternoon, the mother was at work, to the shops to get a tin of stewing steak and some potatoes. He was looking in the window to see what the prices were and the police saw him and picked him up. They picked him up just for looking in the shop window and I had sent him for some groceries.'

This son was held overnight and charged, the police claiming that he was about to break into the shop. The police regularly harass this young man, picking him up, holding him for a few hours then releasing him with no charges. Because of such harassment it has become impossible for young men like S and R to walk the streets. In the shopping centre black youths are constantly moved on by the police.

R says, 'You can't do nothing there, they shift you on sight. That's why I stopped going there. Now it's getting the same in the town.'

Mr X sums it up: 'When the black lads decide to go to the disco, you'll find they go around and knock on doors, calling for their mates. They don't dare go out on their own anymore at night. If it's not the white lads it's the coppers. Somewhere along the line they get hounded.'

Manchester correspondent


Only occasionally a major police assault on black people, such as at Southall, is reported in the press. Yet every day the police force shows itself to be racist from top to bottom. As a major agency of the British imperialist, racist state, the police force continually abuses, terrorises and assaults black people, then drags them before the courts for imprisonment on trumped-up charges.

The following account is an example of police racism and the methods they employ to try and convict the victims of such attacks. Just after midnight on 3 July last year, six men and a woman burst into the home of Mr Nazir Ahmed above his shop in Manchester. Two doors were smashed down, five children sleeping in the house were terrified, and, as Nazir tried to ring the Police for help, the phone was ripped off the wall. Rightly thinking themselves to be under racist attack, Nazir and his son Munir tried to defend themselves and their family. Their mistake was in thinking their attackers to be National Front, they were in fact plain-clothes police. Nazir was dragged downstairs by the police, he was beaten up and his face was ground into a metal grating. As a result he suffered cuts and bruises to the face and a cut forehead requiring eight stitches. Still believing a National Front attack to be in progress, Munir tried to defend his father. In the course of the attack not only was Nazir injured, but the children were terrified, doors broken down and the phone and furniture vandalised. Nazir and Munir were arrested, taken to Levenshulme Police station where Nazir was charged with assault on a constable and wounding with intent and Munir with carrying an offensive weapon and two counts of assault on a constable. The police then set about fabricating evidence to convict their victims on these charges, claiming that the Ahmeds knew the men were police from the outset.

There are usually only two ways that black people facing such trumped-up charges are acquitted in a British court. One is, as in the case of George Undo, that the police concerned are caught framing someone in another case; the other is what happened in this case—that the police evidence is so ridiculous and so contradictory, that the trial is stopped to protect the 'reputation' of the police.

The case came to court in July this year, and it soon became obvious that the police evidence was a pack of lies. The first contradiction in their evidence arose after Sgt Barlow claimed that Nazir had come down to the shop in answer to his knock, switched on the light, and seeing the search warrant, ran back upstairs to the flat. PC Thompson, a later police witness could not remember the light going on, and Sgt Barlow himself made no mention of the light in his written statement. The con-fusion arose because the incident never occurred, the police did not knock, they broke the door down without warning. After forcing the door to the flat the police were attacked by Nazir with a bottle and shovel, said Sgt Barlow. He was contradicted by PC Thompson who named (and described) the attacker as Munir: this is rather odd as Nazir is at least twenty years older than Munir, is several stones heavier, and has a full beard while Munir is clean shaven. Sgt Barlow next asked the court to believe that the response of the police to this vicious attack was to produce their identification and say, 'We are Police Officers, we have a warrant to search your premises'! Sgt Barlow who said that Nazir was led quietly down the stairs was contradicted by PC Thompson for the third time when Thompson said Nazir was dragged down the stairs. Fourthly Sgt Barlow denied that Nazir was shouting ‘Help, National Front!' while PC Thompson admitted that he was. The police claimed that Munir was arrested as soon as he came out of the shop to try and free his father, but a neighbour gave evidence that Munir had aroused him by knocking on his door at the time when he was allegedly under arrest six doors and a side street away. The sixth contradiction in the prosecution case concerned the phone; the police denied even seeing a phone, but a neighbour who entered the flat immediately after the Police left gave evidence that the phone lead had been torn out.

Finally Thompson claimed he charged Nazir at about 4am before going off duty at 5am, but the charge sheet (witnessed by Sgt Barry Shaw — since sacked for various irregularities) maintained he was charged at 6.10am. Everyone agreed that Nazir had been interviewed by CID man Lowmass at 5.30am. If Thompson was right, ie if Nazir was charged at 4am, Lowmass had inter-viewed Nazir after he had been charged with the offense — a breach of Judge's Rules, and Sgt Shaw had falsified the charge sheet to cover this up. At this point the Judge had two options, he could proceed with the trial, in which case one or more of the police would be shown to have falsified documents, or he could stop the trial and so cover up for the police. He chose the latter and instructed the jury to find the Ahmeds not guilty.

So this case ended in a victory, but how many hundreds of black people are in prison at the moment through the connivance of the police and the courts? The Ahmeds were spared prison only because of the contradictions in the mountain of lies, distortions, perjury and corruption that the police presented as evidence. The Ahmeds suffered physical injury, distress, anxiety, and damage to their property while their racist attackers—the police—went free. This, along with imprisonment, is what ‘British Justice' means for black people in this country.

Manchester correspondent