Today in London’s history: police attack march in support of framed Newham 7, 1985.

On 7 April 1984, there was a series of racist attacks in the Upton Park and Forest Gate areas of Newham, carried by the same group of racist thugs driving around in a car. These attacks included a vicious assault on a partially disabled 16-year old Asian youth who was bundled into the car, taken to Wanstead Flats and beaten with a hammer. A family shopping on Green Street were attacked, as was an apprentice returning from work on St Stephens Road and a youth on Plashet Road. Further attacks during the day were orchestrated by racists drinking at The Duke of Edinburgh pub and as news spread, local Asian youths gathered outside the pub to confront the racists. The pub was well-known locally as a haunt of racists The police arrived almost immediately, one Asian was arrested and kept into custody overnight. Three white youths who were inside the pub, throwing with billiard balls, beer glasses and bottles at Asian youths, were also arrested but released that evening without charge.

Over the next few weeks, six more Asians were arrested and although two of the seven were granted bail, the other five subsequently spent around many weeks on remand. Week after week, bail applications were rejected by magistrates, as the prosecution maintained that they were still preparing their case. All seven: Zafar Khan, Khan Bahadur, Parvaiz Khan, Amjad Ali, Jyoti Rajabbanm Jamal Chaudhri, Habib Mohammed – were eventually charged with conspiracy to cause criminal damage and affray. with additional individual charges including possessing offensive weapons.All carried the potential for heavy sentences on conviction. As a result, on 15 June 1984, the Newham 7 Defence Campaign was officially launched at a packed local public meeting.

On the committal hearing on 14 Sept 1984, 200 people picketed outside Stratford Magistrates Court. Conspiracy charge against six of the seven defendants was dismissed that day. The quick dismissal of a major charge like this raised questions about the decision to bring them in the first place.

On 3 November 1984, the Defence Campaign organised a picket outside Duke of Edinburgh pub, supported by Newham Monitoring Project (NMP). Between 150-200 people shut down the pub for the afternoon. Just as the local Asian community was organising, there was another appalling attack: the racist murder of 16-year old Eustace Pryce, who was stabbed in the head outside the Greengate pub on Barking Road in Plaistow on 29 November 1984. Eustace and a group of friends, including his brother Gerald, had confronted a gang of racists: the end of the incident had been witnessed from a passing bus by plain-clothed police officers.

However, when the police arrived at the scene, it was Gerald, not the killer of Eustace Pryce, who was arrested. Three weeks later, Gerald was charged with affray and denied bail, whilst Eustace’s killer, Martin Newhouse, was granted bail on the grounds it would be wrong to keep him in jail over Christmas. When Gerald was finally released, he was prevented from returning to Newham to visit his pregnant girlfriend.

With NMP’s assistance, the Justice for the Pryce Family Support Committee was formed to ‘Defend Gerald and Remember Eustace’.

On 27 April 1985, a National Demonstration Against Racism was held in Newham, with 3000 people marching in support of the Newham 7 and Justice for the Pryce Family campaigns. The march brought together members of the Asian and Afro-Caribbean communities under a common banner and a shared struggle. The march reached Forest Gate Police Station in the afternoon, where the Metropolitan Police’s District Support Unit (DSU) snatch squads charged into the crowd, arresting 10 and accusing them of, amongst other things, ‘spitting and throwing weapons’. Demonstrators refused to move on until all were released and by 6pm, there were DSU reinforcements from across London. Young people were punched and kicked or charged down side-streets in isolated groups. By the end of the day, scores of people were injured and 34 arrests had been made.

Following the events on 27 April, the Defence Campaign decided to hold a second march. On 11 May 1985, over 2000 people participated in a militant but peaceful demonstration that was allowed to complete its route to Plashet Park. However, in a tense atmosphere, the manhandling by police of one black youth led to confrontation, the emergence of officers on horseback and riot officers who charged into the park. It appeared that this had been deliberately engineered: three to four white men in ordinary clothes were seen throwing sticks at the police; but were later seen behind police lines with police radios. Later, riot officers paraded along Green Street and East ham High Street North in a show of strength.

On 13 May 1985, the trial of the Newham 7 started at the Old Bailey. On the second day, one defendant Parvaiz Khan was assaulted by prison wardens for refusing, as a Muslim, to eat a pork pie. His appearance in court with bruises and a swollen eye delayed proceedings for two days. When the trial resumed, two police officers were discovered rifling through defence files and others showed the court how they had compiled notes together, in breach of police rules. The local Asian community also discovered that a meeting place for Asian youths, the Wimpy Bar opposite the Duke of Edinburgh pub, had been placed under constant police surveillance. There was no similar surveillance on white racist organisations. The defence case rested on the right of community self-defence and the use of reasonable force to prevent a crime. The jury eventually convicted four of the seven defendants of affray but by the end of the trial, the actions of the police had been largely discredited. One officer at the trial, a DC Bonczoszek, was so furious at his exposure in court that he wrote an article for Police Review magazine in October 1985 claiming the ‘nebulous’ problem of racism was ‘a fabrication constructed by the left’. The efforts of the Justice for the Pryce Family Support Committee ensured that Gerald Pryce was not criminalised. However, In October 1985, Martin Newhouse, was convicted of manslaughter and affray and sentenced to six and a half years in youth custody.

nicked from the excellent Newham Monitoring Project site.

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

Today in Metropolitan Police History: turn that racket off! 1969

Maybe not exackerly radical, but… allus good to see the blue lobsters make fools of themselves…

30th January 1969: The Beatles performed on the rooftop of the Apple offices at Savile Row, London; police turned up and try to put a stop to the gig.

The Beatles had wild discussions of how to end their film Let it Be with a climaxing live performance – everywhere from the QE2 to the Pyramids, was discussed, but in the end they decided on what became their infamous final gig – a surprise performance on the roof of the Apple Records building at Savile Row.

The Beatles played tracks including “Don’t Let Me Down”, “I’ve Got a Feeling”, “Dig A Pony” and “Get Back”. The police arrived to halt the proceedings, but the band continued to play. Despite their protest, no arrests were made, and the performance continued for 42 minutes.

Ringo said “It was a memorable day for me – we were doin’ what we did best – making music. But I am still disappointed the policemen didn’t drag me off me drums!”.

As the gig progressed, crowds gathered in the streets below and on the surrounding rooftops for what must have been one of the greatest lunch break treats of all time. But not everyone was pleased to see the biggest band in the world playing a free gig. Stanley Davis, the wool merchant next door, is supposed to have said: “I want this bloody noise stopped. It’s an absolute disgrace.” Other reactions of passers-by are captured in the Let It Be film and range from the elated (“Fantastic!” “Fabulous!”), to the buttoned-down (“This type of music has its place”) and the topical (“It’s nice to have something in this country for free at the moment”).

With traffic beginning to back up on the street below, the police at nearby West End Central Police Station (located at 27 Savile Row) were called. Mal Evans had set up a hidden camera in the reception area of the Apple building that later captured their arrival.

The third take of Get Back sees the police arrive on the roof. Lennon and Harrison’s amplifiers are switched off just before the first chorus, before kicking back in just in time for the solo. Paul’s soul preacher ad-lib arrives towards the end of the track: “You’ve been playing on the roofs again, and you know your Momma doesn’t like it, oh she gets angry, she’s gonna have you arrested!” A cheer from Ringo’s wife Maureen then prompts a deadpan “Thanks, Mo” from McCartney. These outtakes can be heard on the Anthology 3 version of Get Back.

The rooftop concert was a short and sweet reminder of The Beatles at their live best, although not everyone was happy with the end result. As Ringo recounts in The Beatles Anthology: “I always feel let down about the police. When they came up I was playing away and I thought, ‘Oh great! I hope they drag me off.’ We were being filmed and it would have looked really great, kicking the cymbals and everything. Well, they didn’t of course, they just came bumbling in: ‘You’ve got to turn that sound down.’ It could have been fabulous.”

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

Today in London’s radical history: Inspector Lovelock acquitted of maliciously wounding Cherry Groce, 1987.

In September 1985, police shot & crippled Cherry Groce, mother of 6, in a dawn raid while searching for her son in Brixton, South London. A large-scale riot broke out in Brixton, in response.

A team of armed officers had gone to Cherry Groce’s home, in Normandy Road, to find her son, Michael, who they claimed had done a runner on a charge of armed robbery. In fact he hadn’t lived there for a year… (And it later turned out, he was no longer considered a suspect… although, the officers involved in the raid hadn’t been informed of this by the higher-ups…) The cops smashed their way in, with a sledgehammer, and then Inspector Douglas Lovelock rushed in… allegedly shouting “armed police”. Mrs Groce said he ran at her pointing a gun, she moved backwards and he shot her. She was paralysed and confined to a wheelchair by her injuries.

On her arrival at hospital, surgeons found that the bullet had penetrated Mrs Groce’s lung and exited through her spine, paralysing her from the waist downwards. She was hospitalised for over a year, and in hospital-based rehabilitation for a further year; friends within the local community looked after her children.

Inspector Lovelock was prosecuted on the charge of ‘maliciously wounding’ Mrs Groce, but was acquitted on 15th January 1987. “The police and the media made sure he got off… by vetting the jury, by calling queues of star witnesses to say how UPSET the POOR man was, how fearful, nervous and unlucky etc…”

Inspector Lovelock told the court it was a “terrible, terrible accident”, which he would regret for the rest of his life. He maintained he hadn’t meant to shoot, and denied telling her to get up afterwards.

About 100 people picketed Brixton Police Station in response to his acquittal, followed by a march through Brixton.

Cherry Groce suffered paralysis for the rest of her life as a result of the shooting. The cops eventually paid her £500,000 in compensation “with no admission of liability.”

She died in 2011, from kidney failure, linked directly to effects of the shooting.

After her death, the district coroner announced that a judicial inquest was to be held into Cherry Groce’s death, which opened in June 2014. Separate pathologists working on behalf of both the family and the police, both independently concluded that there was a more than casual link between the shooting and the death of Mrs Groce.

Although both the Metropolitan Police and (now) former Inspector Lovelock were both to be represented at the inquest by Queen’s Counsel, the Legal Aid Agency refused the Groce family funds on the grounds that “there are no new issues.” This was reversed after a campaign and petition launched by the family.

The inquest found that the police had bollocksed up the whole operation; failing to check who lived in the house, and failing to communicate to the cops on the ground the fact that Michael Groce was not even wanted any more, among numerous mistakes; it concluded that the police were responsible for her death. The Met publicly apologised to her family for her death in April 2014.

A few years too late.

Following the trial of Inspector Lovelock, a review of fire arms procedures within the Metropolitan Police led to new policy which authorised only centrally-controlled specifically-trained specialist squads to be armed. This included parts of Special Branch, but excluded others including CID officers. They’re still shooting and killing people though, huh?

 

More interesting Groce family info at
http://cherrygroce.org/

An entry in the 2016 London Rebel History Calendar – check it out:
http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/calendar.html

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

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.

An excellent introduction to the circumstances around and following Colin’s death, and resisting police violence in Hackney in the 1980s-90s, can be read here. 

Ten years after Colin’s death, the Colin Roach Centre, was launched, on 12 January 1993, based at 10a Bradbury St, in Dalston, as a local action & resource centre.

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: http://writemark.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/i-spy-mark-cassidy.html

…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: http://campaignopposingpolicesurveillance.com/

Some of the above nicked from Mark Metcalf’s excellent site.: http://writemark.blogspot.co.uk/

An entry in the 2016 London Rebel History Calendar – check it out:
http://www.alphabetthreat.co.uk/pasttense/calendar.html