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This introductory chapter introduces the main themes of the book, which locate the anti-police collective violence that spread throughout England in 1980–81 within a longer struggle against racism and disadvantage faced by black Britons that had seen a growth in more militant forms of resistance since the Second World War. This chapter provides introductory overviews of the existing literature related to race and immigration, collective violence, spread of disorder, and the disturbances of 1980–81 themselves. The history of public inquiries is briefly examined, demonstrating their perceived importance within the British legal system and initiating discussion of why they have proven controversial. The chapter ends with a note on the work’s use of a number of key terms, and a brief overview of the book’s structure.

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