Savage sentences

Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! no.7 November/December 1980

On 5 April 1980, referring to the St Pauls uprising, The Sun newspaper said,

‘These are things that we have regarded with horror when they happen in Ulster. We never dreamed that in the England of 1980 we could have ‘no-go’ areas like those of Londonderry. It must never, never happen again.’

In this way The Sun spelt out the fear of the British ruling class that the fightback of the oppressed nationalist people in Ireland would be an example for the oppressed in its ‘own’ country. That black people in Britain would rise up against their oppression and force the racist British police off the streets.

The fear with which the imperialists view this prospect and the ferocity with which they will try to put down resistance was demonstrated yet again in the courts this October when four black youths were tried for the crime of defending themselves against racists.

The four were arrested in April this year by the SPG in Lewisham. They were travelling in a car and each was holding a petrol bomb made of a milk bottle with a newspaper wick. They had heard that their local club was to be attacked by racists and were prepared to defend it – a heinous crime in the eyes of the racist state!

Six months later, appearing at Inner London Crown Court, one of the youths revealed that he had got the idea to use petrol bombs from Belfast – again the example of the Irish war of liberation raises its head to terrify the imperialists! The horrified judge reflected that the youths ‘were in possession of weapons to bring guerrilla war to the streets of Lewisham’.

We have said before in FRFI that the prisons will be increasingly used to incarcerate political prisoners, and this judge clearly knew his duty. Summing up he said, ‘The courts must take action to prevent conduct of this nature and it is my duty to impose severe sentences to deter others’. Imperialism demands brutal repression of all resistance to its rule, and for ‘conspiracy to cause actual bodily harm’, for daring to possess a petrol bomb, he savagely sentenced each to rot in a hell-hole British gaol for six years no less.

Without doubt the severity of this sentence stems from the political nature of the ‘crime’. Yet this outrage is only a sequel to those already meted out in the courts to the people of Southall and St Pauls. As the sentences were read out the four made a failed bid to escape, and as they struggled in the courtroom their relatives shouted at the racist judge that they hoped he rot in hell, and he surely will! For in the spirit of Belfast, and in the spirit of St Pauls and of Soweto the oppressed are fighting back against the racist British state.


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