Welcome to the world of the Vincent D'Onofrio obsessed - and a bit of real life thrown in.
Saturday, July 26, 2008
In the late 1970s there were a couple of occasions when the racist organisation, The National Front, organised marches in the multi-racial area of London where I live and teach. Anti-racist groups were determined to show solidarity with the racial minorities being intimidated by these racist thugs. The police tried to thwart us at every turn, while marching proudly beside the racists and calling out to us that "we aren't on your side". The picture above is of the first march, wth police horses charging the crowd. As someone near me said, "I don't fancy this on an empty stomach". But we got it anyway. It's true that missiles were thrown by some people in the crowd, but the frustration of being denied the right to march in the morning when the racists were allowed to march that afternoon had brought out the anger of some of the anti-racists at the partiality of the police.
A year or two after the demo in the picture, a further demonstration took place against another march a couple of miles away in Catford. Once more, the police took the racists' part, and laid into the counter-demonstrators with truncheons, provoking something akin to a riot. At one point, a high-profile local mixed race actress was dragged off by police by her bright pink hair after she tried to tell those arrested who to contact for legal help.
When it was all over, I was waiting at a bus stop with group of black youths who were making joking comments, first to a bus load of police officers, then at some mounted police. Both these had been amused, and had moved on when a further three mounted officers rode towards us. I was daydreaming, and did not notice at first that the bus queue was being charged by these horses, and I almost did not make it into the shop doorways where everyone was now huddled.
And the transgression for which an innocent group of citizens had been punished? Someone had sworn. Yes. In the words of the police when they had subdued this unruly crowd of - well, people waiting for a bus: "OK, so where are the big boys who were swearing?"
This incident came back to me after reading JoJo's account of her husband's defence of a single homeless man in the face of a massive police intervention. Amazingly, a trainee police officer (who used to be part of the VDO bunch), nearly 30 years the junior of JoJo's husband Brian, from her immense experience of one year wearing a uniform, had the barefaced cheek to say he should have kept out of it.
I have vivid memories of trying to advise this young woman on her attitude towards older people when she was about to start her training. I also remember receiving a bunch of abusive emails (proving my point, really) because I had dared to call her "sweetie".
Somebody lock me up for using an affectionate term to address her.
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