Today is the twenty-fifth anniversary of the St Pauls in Bristol riots that initiated a period of urban unrest in Britain which ultimately led to the Scarman report. The riots followed a police raid on the Black and White cafe on 2nd April 1980. The Bristol Evening Post has some coverage , but I’ve not managed to find much on the web (the BBC’s On This Day page ignores the events entirely). The following day’s Daily Telegraph headlined with:
19 Police Hurt in Black Riot
and editorialized thus:
Lacking parental care many (black youths) ran wild. Incited by race-relations witchfinders and left-wing teachers and social workers to blame British society for their own shortcomings, lacking the work-ethic and perseverance, lost in a society itself demoralized by socialism, they all too easily sink into a criminal sub-culture. (Quotes from an academic paper .)
I doubt that even the Telegraph would dare to cover such events in these terms today. Contrary to the Telegraph’s fantasy version, neither these riots nor the ones of the following year in Brixton, Handsworth, Toxteth and elsewhere were race riots—black and white youths were involved together, though systematic racial harrassment by the police (throught the “Sus” law) and pervasive racial discrimination undoubtedly underlay the events. This was an important moment in postwar British history, now all but forgotten.