This year's West Indian Carnival in London has come and gone in an atmosphere of relative peace and calm compared with previous years.
This year's West Indian Carnival in London has come and gone in an atmosphere of relative peace and calm compared with previous years. The Carnival takes place over the Sunday and Monday of the August Bank Holiday at Notting Hill in West London, in an area bordering popular tourist haunts and a predominantly black area.
SYNOPSIS: The majority of the first two days passed without incident other than that caused by the flamboyance associated with traditional Caribbean Carnival and Mardi Gras.
Notting Hill was the scene of serious riots nearly 20 years ago. In the intervening time, sociologists say, the situation has changed. Conditions for anyone who is black in a predominantly white community are always hard. In a depressed economy like England's the conditions for the white working class are now lower than they were before. Black and white tend to blame each other for the prevailing conditions. However, among young blacks, the unemployment rate is six times higher than that among their white equivalents.
Last year, 1600 policemen predominantly white - were on duty at Notting Hill, giving an impression perhaps of oppression and a reason for the rioting which left 600 injured - 400 of them police. This year, the authorities decreed that all efforts would be made to stop that situation arising again.
However as the Carnival was drawing to a close on Monday night (28 August) there were minor outbreaks of fighting. The police, as some reports said, fearing a repetition of last year's violence, over-reacted armed with riot shields. Six policemen were injured and 34 people were arrested on various charges not the least of which was theft. After the police action the people ended their carnival in the spirit in which it started. More than two hundred thousand attended the carnival suggesting that the violence stommed from a very small minority.