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Welcome to the world of the Vincent D'Onofrio obsessed - and a bit of real life thrown in.

Saturday, July 26, 2008


New Cross, August 1977

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.


Music Wench said...

Wow, it just amazes me to read of accounts like this. I was fortunate as I grew up in Hawaii where there were racial problems but not to that extent. Racists generally have a hard time in Hawaii as it is filled with mixed cultures and people of mixed ethnicity. There is reverse discrimination against Caucasians there sometimes and the Japanese - who constitute 50% of the population - tend to suffer some resentment as well but mostly we get all get along fine.

Nothing on a scale like what you've described. Having moved to Michigan, however, I was rather shocked to know that only 35 miles away a group of white supremists were having a demonstration back in 1995. I found that to be a bit disturbing in this day and age and to be so close to it.

It's also quite upsetting to know that some people are still as stupid as to tell me to my face, knowing full well I, a third generation Japanese American, am married to Caucasian man, that they are against interracial marriages.

I just walked away thinking, wtf? Now I wish I would have said, I'm against lobotomizing people as they come up with stupid ideas like being against interracial marriages.

SnarkAngel said...

Yes, racism is alive and well, even today in 2008. And I doubt it is any less pervasive than in many police departments where "herd/military" mentality is the "law."

Tess said...

Snarkangel is right...Sadly racism is alive and well.

fenwayspal said...

and it's REALLY obvious, here in southeast michigan, where the "city" is over 90% black and the suburbs are mostly white. people's perceptions, (racism) unfortunately, really screwed up this area.

Eliza said...

It never fails to amaze(and disgust)me that the colour of someones skin can provoke such hatred.

Thankfully there are people like you and Brian who won't just sit back and watch.

JoJo said...

That's quite a story and so shocking to hear the cops admitted being on the side of the white supremicists.

So that's what she got mad at you about? Wow, I had no idea. But i'm sure that if she wasn't a rookie cop, she wouldn't have had that reaction. unfortunately I know a lot of people who would agree w/ her and not Brian; many in my own family.

Mariajosé said...

I also am in agreement with SnarkAngel and Tess

Surely you already know this. She is of Equator.

For my the worse thing is people than it watches for another side

jazzy said...

the white supremicists pay a lot of taxes; no wonder governments are on their side.

val said...

Mariajose, I had not seen the film of that incident. It was shocking - especially, as you say, that other people just sat and watched.

Mariajosé said...

One spread at national level in all the news and was a strong popular reaction. The girl, of 15 years, was in psychological treatment. The animal, in freedom with charges, the day after glasses with its friends so calm.

But, still there is more, only days later spread several videos of aggressions to immigrants in the subway of Madrid. The aggressors were the vigiliantes of the turn at night.

And only we know those who are publicized

Yes, racism is very alive and enjoys excellent health.

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