‘No other way to make their points of view known’? St Pauls, Bristol, 2 April 1980

in Race and riots in Thatcher’s Britain
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This chapter explores the disturbance occurring in the St Pauls area of Bristol on 2 April 1980; examining the response to and impact of this disturbance, this chapter considers a number of aspects through study of local and national records, media representations and interviews with participants. First, it observes previously poor police/community relations in the area, including numerous accusations of police misconduct and growing concern regarding their tactics. It subsequently examines the police action that ignited disorder – a raid on a local café popular with black locals – and resulting disturbance, which saw the police withdraw from the area for nearly four hours, prompting widespread fears of the emergence of police ‘no-go’ areas and a movement towards ‘hard’ policing tactics. The chapter ends by examining how news of the disturbance spread, initially within the city and later elsewhere, concluding that its influence on subsequent disturbances is undeniable.

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