The Police and Racist Violence in Britain
Racist violence1 was a phenomenon of the life of black2 people in Britain long before the police — or any other official agency recognised it as such. The riots which occurred in various seaports after the end of the First World War were probably the first in a century-long history of such violence. Black people, usually seamen and their families, were attacked in London, Liverpool, Cardiff and Glasgow. In Liverpool, racist violence was to claim its first fatality when Charles Wooton was chased to the docks where he drowned trying to escape his attackers. The government’s response to the attacks was to encourage black seamen to return to their countries of origin by offering them cheap berths on ships. In the 1930s, there were attacks on Arab seamen in Tyneside and after the Second World War there were further attacks on black people in London and elsewhere. Such semi-orchestrated violence culminated in the 1958 Notting Hill riots when hundreds of white people attacked black people on the streets and in their homes over a period of days.
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