Today in London’s radical history: the Colin Roach Centre launched, 1993

The Colin Roach Centre, launched on 12 January 1993, was based at 10a Bradbury St, in Dalston, as a local action & resource centre,

Named after a young black man shot dead inside Stoke Newington Police Station (on 12th January 1983), the Colin Roach Centre brought together the once council-funded Trade Union Support Unit, and one of Britain’s best known community organisations at the time – Hackney Community Defence Association.

The latter had uncovered serious corruption, with Panorama and World in Action undercover investigations confirming that some officers at the police station were involved in drug dealing. Many convictions were overturned as a result and people were released from prison and paid compensation. Some of this helped keep the centre open seven days a week to provide support to Hackney’s cosmopolitan community, including many refugees and asylum seekers. The centre was well used and popular amongst ordinary people but less so with the Association of Chief Police Officers, which tried to block the registration of our Defendants Information Services (DIS), which recorded police officers known to have complaints or convictions against them.

Along with the TU Support Unit, HCDA, many more. Activities took place here… Advice was given, a meeting space was made available for many good causes both local and wider, and office space provided for various groups. An alternative Hackney Lesbian & Gay Festival was organised from here., in 1994, for example…

A year after the official opening in 1993 the centre was broken into. No serious damage was done and money and expensive equipment was left untouched. Computers though were smashed up and when the local police were phoned it took hours for them to arrive and only a matter of seconds to depart. If the intention was to put a spoke in DIS this failed as the service was for security reasons run from a different location.

London magazine Time Out was unable to gain comment from either the police or security services after a centre spokesperson suggested either might be behind the break-in.

Other activities were also bound to attract attention. The centre was affiliated to the radical anti-fascist group Anti-Fascist Action (AFA), which had organised large demonstrations through a British National Party stronghold in nearby Bethnal Green. Centre members were involved in physically clearing the BNP from its Sunday morning paper selling point at the top of Brick Lane, an almost exclusively Asian neighbourhood.

After a couple of years the Centre moved to Clarence Road in Clapton…

The Colin Roach Centre was also spied on by an undercover police spy, Mark Cassidy… A story worth reading:

…especially as the Public Inquiry into Undercover Policing is getting underway, which will (we hope) reveal a lot more about Mark Cassidy’s activities, and those of other disgusting police infiltrators…
Find out more about the campaign to expose undercover police activities in activists movements:

Some of the above nicked from Mark Metcalf’s excellent site.:

An entry in the 2016 London Rebel History Calendar – check it out:

On January 12th 1983, Stoke Newington Cops shot dead young black man Colin Roach. In the police station.  A week later 5000 people marched in anger; this led to police saturation and large numbers of arrests. The Stoke Newington and Hackney Defence Campaign was set up as a result. Also set up was the Roach Family Support Campaign, more based around Colin’s family. They worked on getting account for his death, and with Hackney Teachers to prevent racist propaganda in schools, among other campaigns. An Annual ‘We Remember’ march to commemorate the death of Colin and other victims of murderous racist police every January, was held in the area, through the 1980s and into early 1990s.



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