One main died, forty people were injured and more than three hundred others were arrested in violent clashes between police and anti-National Front party demonstrators in London, on Monday (23 April).
One main died, forty people were injured and more than three hundred others were arrested in violent clashes between police and anti-National Front party demonstrators in London, on Monday (23 April). Britain's political leaders have condemned the violence, which has inflamed the general election campaign.
SYNOPSIS: The riots broke out in Southall, an area with one of the largest concentrations of Asian immigrants in London. The extreme right-wing National Front group, which is contesting the general election, had planned a campaign meeting at the local town hall. But five hours before it began huge crowds of anti-Front demonstrators, and Asian youths had gathered outside the hall and thousands of police were standing by.
As the build-up around the town hall increased, police moved in to shift groups of youths, gathering on the street corners outside. The first major clash came when police reinforcements arrived by bus. Demonstrators were alleged to have pelted police with bricks, stones, bottles, pots of white paint, and what one officer later described as "curry bombs" -- bags containing curry powder.
The fighting continued for more than half an hour and grew more violent, with demonstrators running through the streets, smashing shop windows and looting. Mounted police and other reinforcements armed with riot shields, managed to quell the violence. But it flared up again when the National Front members arrived, arms raised in "Nazi" style salutes, to attend their meeting.
Two London buses were wrecked by rioters, shops were pillaged and a policeman was stabbed in the stomach during the fighting. Twenty-one police were taken to hospital with injuries. Scotland Yard is holding an inquiry into the death of thirty-one-year-old New Zealand schoolteacher Blair Peach, following allegations that he was brutally beaten by police Mr. Peach died after undergoing brain surgery for head injuries he received in the fighting. Political leaders, Mr. James Callaghan and Mrs. Margaret Thatcher, were unanimous in their condemnation of the riots and violence at Southall.