Stoke Newington Eight Trial (No. 1 Court, Old Bailey 30 May – 7 Dec 1972)
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Produced by Peter Kavanagh (Broadcast August 9, 2002). The Angry Brigade. Britain’s own urban guerillas. Libertarian socialists. Genteel by comparison with Italy’s Red Brigades and West Germany’s Red Army Faction (Baader-Meinhof Group). Active in the late 60s/early 70s. Made symbolic attacks on property (not people) – embassies of repressive regimes, boutiques (including Biba), police stations, army barracks, government departments, and the homes of Cabinet ministers, the Attorney General & the Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. It’s not publicly known how many attacks they made – for a while their activities were concealed. Research implies that there were about 200. They took direct action because – in their view – the old left had failed to bring change. But this view was transformed when the 1974 strikes brought down Heath’s government. In light of what happened under Thatcher, they were mistaken. But one thing’s for certain though, their analysis of the growing damage consumerism was doing – would continue to do – to society and the planet was spot on. Eight people were selected for trial from two branches of a much larger ‘community’. Four were acquitted. The others each got ten years. Their trial was the longest in British criminal history. And it still looked like a fit-up. This is a reconstruction of the trial combined with other background information. Cast Includes Kenneth Cranham, Juliette Stevenson Mark Strong
Albert Meltzer (1920-1996) was one of the most enduring and respected torchbearers of the international anarchist movement in the second half of the twentieth century. His sixty-year commitment to the vision and practice of anarchism survived both the collapse of the Revolution and Civil War in Spain and the Second World War; he helped fuel the libertarian impetus of the 1960s and 1970s and steer it through the reactionary challenges of the Thatcherite 1980s and post-Cold War 1990s
A weak-willed Italian man becomes a fascist flunky who goes abroad to arrange the assassination of his old teacher, now an anti-fascist.
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The summer of 1981 saw the most violent and extensive disturbances on Britain’s streets since the war. That was the press’s verdict on the week of July 3rd-11th. And for once the press was right. The barricade, the overturned police van, the milk floats driven at police lines, the burnt out cars and pubs and the looted hi-fi shops – all were something new on the streets of Britain. Above all, the novelty was symbolised in the cascades of petrol bombs. The weapon of Budapest ’56 and Watts ’65, of Paris ’68 and Derry ’69 was now the weapon of Brixton and Southall, of Toxteth and Moss Side. The sequence of riots began before 3 July – 14 months earlier, to be precise, in the St Paul area of Bristol. Police raided a black cafe and attempted to make an arrest. A crowd gathered and soon the police were retreating from the area under a hail of broken bricks. For several hours they did not dare return: shops were looted at will and buildings were burnt down. The biggest confrontation took place in Toxteth, Liverpool. It began with a relatively small disturbance the same night as Southall (3 July): the police tried to arrest a black youth who, they claimed (wrongly) had stolen the motor bike he was riding; a crowd rescued him, but another black, whose family had been subject to a campaign of police harassment, was seized. The next evening rioting erupted on a huge scale. Barricades were built with overturned cars and a builders’ compressor; scores of petrol bombs were thrown at the police; rioters donned Ulster-style masks to avoid identification. The police could not cope. The press reported, ‘the police produced a show of force sufficient to enrage the black population, but not enough to quell the riots’. The streets were barricaded again the next night. ‘By then as many whites as blacks had joined the rioting’.
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