Darcus Howe and the Mangrove Nine

April 3, 2017 at 8:36 pm (Anti-Racism, AWL, black culture, civil rights, From the archives, history, liberation, police, posted by JD, Racism, RIP, solidarity)

Above: Young Radford/Darcus (left) and in later years (right)

The death, yesterday, of Darcus Howe, reminds us of just what an important figure he was. He was a follower of the Caribbean intellectual and Marxist CLR James (to whom he was in fact related), and also a British advocate of the Black Panther movement. Later, of course, he gained fame as an affable but still sharp and highly political TV presenter (‘The Devil’s Advocate’, etc), who memorably and with great humour once took on Bernard Manning (!) … and ended up befriending him.

But now seems like the right time to remember one of Darcus’s early battles, the campaign and eventual Old Bailey trial of the Mangrove Nine.

The trial of the nine arguably represents a high point of the Black Panther movement in the UK, showing the power of black activism and the institutionalised police prejudice. But what prompted the backlash of black British people against the police, leading to a virtual show trial at the Old Bailey?


The Mangrove restaurant in Notting Hill opened in March 1968, and quickly become a centre for the black community, attracting intellectuals, creatives and campaigners.

The restaurant was repeatedly raided by police. Although the raids were carried out on the basis of drug possession, drugs were never found and Mangrove owner Crichlow’s anti-drugs stance was well known.

In response the black community and allies took to the streets to protest on 9 August 1970. The demonstration was organised by a small group from The Action Committee for the Defence of the Mangrove and the (British) Black Panthers. This included Frank Crichlow, Darcus (aka Radford) Howe and barrister Anthony Mohipp, secretary of the Black Improvement Organisation.

The protesters were met with a disproportionate police response: There were 150 demonstrators at the beginning of the march accompanied by 200 police.

The police claimed in court that the Black Power movement was implicated in planning and inciting a riot.

Later a Home Office commissioned report from the Community Relations Commission concluded that contrary to the police reports, the violence was not initiated by the marchers but by the police themselves.

Flyer calling for justice for the Mangrove Nine,1970. In the tenth week of the trial these were distributed to black people around the court and Notting Hill to raise awareness of the case (catalogue reference: HO 325/143)

Flyer distributed outside the court and in Notting Hill, 1971. Darcus was then known as Radford

The Trial of the Mangrove Nine by Constance Lever, Workers Fight (forunner of Workers Liberty), January 1972

The Old Bailey trial of the Mangrove Nine in 1971 took the fight of Notting Hill’s black community against police harassment right into the nerve-centre of the British legal system.

With the unexpected help of a mainly white, working class jury, the Nine won a partial victory: they were cleared of 25 out of 31 charges — including the serious ones of riot and causing grievous bodily harm. 5 were acquitted and 4 got suspended sentences.

In June and July 1970 the Mangrove Restaurant was raided nine times by the police, supposedly looking for drugs, which they never found. Its licence to stay open after 11pm was revoked when the police lodged an objection. Thereafter, those who ran it were repeatedly dragged into court and accused of serving food after hours.

On 9 August 1970 local black people marched in protest at this police harassment.. Without “provocation” police baton-charged the march. Naturally the marchers fought back. The charges — which were later insisted upon by higher police authorities — arose from this battle.

The harassment by the police bully boys is not accidental. The police must protect the private property system of the wealthy against its victims. To forestall trouble they tend to pick most on those who stand out, who have the rawest deal, and try to terrorise them into submission.

The Mangrove was a community restaurant, one of a network of community organisations. The restaurant and its clientele were harassed so as to stamp out a centre of black consciousness.

The trial itself was not quite what the police had bargained for. The accused turned the trial into an indictment of the police and the system. Three of them, Darcus Howe, Rhodan Gordon and Althea Lecointe, conducted their own defence. They all refused to shut up when told to and rejected the judge’s rulings that statements about police brutality in Notting Hill were irrelevant.

The Mangrove Nine refused to behave as individuals charged with crimes, unsure and apologetic, but acted instead as representatives of a militant black community challenging police and court intimidation. And their community backed them up: every day of the 49-day trial they packed the public gallery to give solidarity.

With these tactics they broke through the hidebound ritual of court procedure and managed to actually talk about their lives and experiences and about their conflict with the police, to the ordinary men and women of the jury.

A majority of the Mangrove jury were workers, and only two of the 11 were black. It is known that the jury divided along class lines, with the middle class members inclined to believe the police and favouring conviction. It seems that some of the workers knew better and simply decided the police were liars. Eventually they compromised on the basis of agreement on acquittal on the most serious charges.

And when the trial ended, 7 jurors joined the Nine to spend 3 hours chatting and drinking like old friends long kept apart.

But only partial victories can be won in the courts. The police and the state retaliate. Within 24 hours of hism acquittal, Rhodan Gordon was rearrested on charges of obstructing and assaulting the police.

What is needed is a drive to mobilise the active support of the labour movement for the struggles of black people. It would be pointless and stupid to deny the widespread racialist attitudes in the labour movement. It is the job of socialists to fight to break this down — not to pretend working class racism doesn’t exist.

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Some justice in sight for families of the Birmingham 21?

June 1, 2016 at 3:05 pm (Brum, campaigning, crime, history, Jim D, murder, police, terror)

A coroner has revealed today that she has received 'significant' evidence that police had prior knowledge of the Birmingham pub bombings. Pictured are fire officers searching through debris after the blasts in 1974

Above: the remnants of  one of the pubs immediately after the blast

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The Met: racist, corrupt and still covering up

March 8, 2014 at 8:54 pm (cops, corruption, crime, Jim D, London, murder, police, Racism)

Martin Rowson 8.3.2014
Above: © Martin Rowson, Guardian, 2014

Mark Ellison QC’s report into the Met’s handling of the Stephen Lawrence case, confirms what the family and most informed people suspected: that police corruption (as well as institutional racism) played a major part in the apparent shambles that followed the murder. As Mark Daly, who investigated the case for the 2006 BBC film The Boys Who Killed Stephen Lawrence, writes in today’s Independent:

It seemed to me that there were too many mistakes, too many irregularities to be attributed to incompetence or casual racism. We strongly suspected corruption. And Detective Sergeant John Davidson had been singled out by the Macpherson inquiry in 1998 as a critical figure. What Macpherson didn’t know — and he didn’t know because the Metropolitan police failed to fully tell him — is that Davidson was a suspected corrupt officer. Macpherson was effectively working with one hand tied behind his back.

And it’s beginning to look as though Met corruption may account for another failure to properly investigate a killing: the 1987 axe murder of private detective Alastair Morgan (which Shiraz reported on in 2011). The Ellison report has found a direct link between the Lawrence and the Morgan cases. Crucially, it seems, DS John Davidson can be linked to the inadequate and inconclusive Met inquiries into both killings.

Today’s Times carries the following article:

Detective who rode into the sunset
Detective Sergeant John Davidson retired from the Met in 1998 on health grounds to a life in the sun on a full police pension. He and his wife , Evelyn, moved to the Mediterranean island of Menorca, where they run the Smugglers bar and restaurant.

Yet for Mr Davidson, 68, allegations of corruption and a relationship with Clifford Norris, father of one of Stephen Lawrence’s killers, refuse to go away.

Mt Davidson joined the police in Glasgow in 1968 and transferred to the Met two years later. From the early 1990s his name was linked in intelligence reports with corrupt officers in southeast London nd by 1996 he was facing a disciplinary hearing over alleged links with a businessman.

In August that year a medical report stated that he should be considered for medical retirement  on grounds of tinnitus. Documents uncovered by the Ellison review reveal that his boss, commander Roy Clarke, was angry at the proposal. He wrote: Davidson is, in my opinion, attempting to avoid a Discipline Board and to obtain an enhanced pension in the process.”

However, in 1998 he was allowed to step down. He gave evidence for three days at the Macpherson inquiry and was described in its final report as an “abrasive” witness.

The Ellison review found that he was often referred to in intelligence files as corrupt. In 2000, a report concluded that “Davidson’s history as portrayed by intelligence available suggests that he had no integrity as a police officer and would always have been open to offers from any source if financially viable.”

Yesterday Mr Davidson was not at his home in Menorca. In correspondence with Mr Ellison’s team, he has denied any involvement in corruption. The restaurant is up for sale, for £290,000.

At least one other senior policeman had a direct involvement with both the Lawrence and the Morgan cases: former Met Commissioner Lord Stephens, who was found by the Ellison team to have withheld key evidence of police corruption from the Scotland Yard legal department, which was in charge of disclosure of information to the Macpherson inquiry. He also played an important role in the fruitless investigations into the Morgan murder. While he was commissioner, nearly all the material gathered by Operation Othona, a top-secret anti-corruption operation set up by the Met in 1993, was shredded.

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Labour owes Stevie Deans an apology

January 23, 2014 at 11:55 am (democracy, good people, labour party, law, police, posted by JD, reblogged, solidarity, truth, unions, Unite the union, workers)

By Jon Lansman (at Left Futures, 22 Jan):

Stevie Deans and Grangemouth

Yesterday [ie 21 Jan], the Scottish police confirmed that they had found “no evidence of any criminality” in their inquiry into the activities of Stevie Deans, who was until three months ago full-time convenor at the Ineos plant at Grangemouth (where he’d worked for 25 years) and Chair of Unite in Scotland as well as the sometime Chair of Falkirk Labour Party.

This is the second time, allegations against Stevie Deans have been investigated and dismissed by the Scottish police, the first referral having come from the Labour Party, the second from INEOS. Unsurprisingly, Unite yesterday condemned the fact that “the police’s time has been wasted by vexatious complaints and their attentions diverted from catching real criminals and solving real crimes“.

Labour regards the whole affair as closed, especially now that Karen Whitefield, the former MSP, has been selected as the Labour candidate for Falkirk, but there is no truth and reconciliation process in Labour’s rule book. Stevie Deans may have lost his job, Karie Murphy denied the opportunity to seek the nomination, Tom Watson lost his place in the shadow cabinet, and hundreds of people recruited to the Labour Party denied any participation in the selection, but no apologies are required it seems.

The whole affair was talked up by politicians (including some then in the shadow cabinet) and bloggers associated with Progress, making allegations of ballot-rigging based on nothing more than rumour and speculation, with the express purpose of persuading Ed Miliband to smash what’s left of union influence in the party.

The Labour Party’s investigators failed to speak to Stevie Deans or Karie Murphy who were suspended without a hearing, on the basis of a secret report, and Unite the Union, and its general secretary, were subjected to months of unjustified abuse.

Ed Miliband, on the back of his condemnation of the “machine politics” he claimed was evident in Falkirk, did indeed propose the most radical change in the relationship between the party and the unions, which he continues to seek in some form in spite of the collapse of the justification for doing so.

Stevie Deans and Karie Murphy deserve some apologies.  So do Labour’s affiliated trade unions. And the biggest apologies should come from those associated with Progress. 

What we are shortly likely to get instead from those associated with Progress, whatever appears in the Collins report, is criticism of Ed Miliband for not going far enough to smash what’s left of union influence.

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Tories -v- cops: what Mehdi said

October 15, 2013 at 11:32 pm (Civil liberties, Conseravative Party, cops, Cycling, Jim D, police, strange situations, Tory scum)

We don’t, as they say, have a dog in this fight…
…but we can’t improve on the following. Which is odd, because:
1/ It’s by Mehdi Hasan (not our favourite pundit)
2/ He wrote it in in December 2012.
But note Mehdi’s words:
“Might Mitchell now be able return to government in the next reshuffle? It could be difficult: he did, after all, admit to swearing at the police, plus it was Downing Street that seems to have orchestrated his apology – and resignation.”

Above: Tory scum in foreground; corrupt, lying cops in background

Amusing to see how the Tories are falling over each other to declare their shock and horror – shock! horror! – that the police might not be the paragons of virtue, probity and honesty that they have always assumed them to be. Shocked Tory MPs should, perhaps, have a word with the victims of Hillsborough and the family of Jean Charles de Menezes…

From the Times splash:

“The row between the Conservatives and the police over Andrew Mitchell deepened yesterday when MPs questioned the credibility of the officers’ log at the centre of the “Plebgate” saga.

“David Davis, a senior Tory MP, said that the official record of the former Chief Whip’s brush with police officers in Downing Street contained a falsehood that would not stand up in court. The account was tainted because CCTV footage challenged its assertion that there were shocked witnesses, he added.

“The Tories also seized on the timing of a now discredited e-mail that helped to bring down Mr Mitchell as pointing to police collusion. The e-mail was sent by an officer posing as a passer-by before the police claims that Mr Mitchell had called them “f***ing plebs” became public.

“… Scotland Yard suggested that the 30 officers conducting a “large scale and complex investigation” would take well into the new year before they reached conclusions.”

Might Mitchell now be able return to government in the next reshuffle? It could be difficult: he did, after all, admit to swearing at the police, plus it was Downing Street that seems to have orchestrated his apology – and resignation.

Then again, if expenses cheat David Laws can come back, anyone can come back…

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The Mirror’s McGuire on Falkirk

July 8, 2013 at 6:23 pm (democracy, elections, Jim D, labour party, police, Tony Blair, Tory scum, unions, Unite the union, workers)

At last some sense about Falkirk in the mainstream press:

Kevin Maguire

Kevin McGuire, Daily Mirror:

Falkirk Labour selection: Party must calm down not melt down or Tories will  be only winners

6 Jul 2013 01:15

Cops should be catching muggers, burglars, rapists and murderers – not  deciding who may or may not be a member of a political party

Ed Miliband and low rent Tory MP Henry “who?” Smith deserve a rocket for  wasting police time.

Dragging the boys and girls in blue into Labour’s Falkirk selection row is a  ludicrous abuse of the police.

Cops should be catching muggers, burglars, rapists and murderers – not  deciding who may or may not be a member of a political party.

Internal rules should be investigated internally, preferably with the report  published.

Instead Labour is a party suddenly suffering a nervous breakdown, dis-United  when it should Unite.

The battle over Falkirk is a war extending way beyond who will stand for  Labour in that seat.

“Red Ed” is unwisely seeking to use it as a moment to prove he isn’t in the  pocket of unions who helped crown him Labour leader.

Blairites in the Shadow Cabinet, particularly Jim Murphy and Douglas  Alexander who backed Ed’s brother David, want to change Labour’s direction.

So too does Len McCluskey, Unite’s general secretary, although “Red Len”  thinks it should swerve left not right.

McCluskey, a quietly spoken Scouser, accused Miliband of twisting Falkirk  into a Tony Blair Clause IV moment to impose his authority as leader.

There is something in that, as there is in McCluskey’s jibe that Miliband is  allowing the Tories to call the shots.

The Conservatives are loving it and Grant Shapps’ smugness reminds me I must  chase up the investigation into his get-rich-quick internet scheme under the  alias “Michael Green”.

Labour needs to calm down, not meltdown in the summer heat.

The only winners are the Tories. David Cameron will be laughing into his  Pimm’s.

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Intimidation of Marikana witnesses

October 25, 2012 at 11:03 pm (africa, Civil liberties, class, cops, corruption, Human rights, Jim D, murder, police, protest, solidarity, unions, workers)

Here is a press release [from Wednesday 24th October] from the Marikana Support Campaign  on the intimidation of commission of inquiry witnesses:

Above: the Farlam Commission

The Marikana Support Campaign is deeply shocked by this evening’s violent detention, on unknown grounds, of four Marikana worker leaders, and the abuse of other members of the community, including women, and the Marikana Support Campaign local coordinator by the police.

 The group, returning by taxi to Marikana from a punishing and emotional day in the Farlam Commission, was corralled by an estimated thirty to forty police in a casspir, vans and unmarked vehicles. The group we all wearing campaign T shirts, stating ‘Remember the Slain of Marikana’ was ordered out of the vehicle by police wielding pistols and rifles, forced to lie face down in the dirt, and pinned down with booted feet at their necks. The police slapped and beat members of the group, threatening to shoot them if they attempted to look up. One member of the group was warned “I will blow your head away!” 

Four of the men, all former strike leaders at Lonmin and key witnesses at the commission , were hauled up off the ground, identified by police as “these are the ones that we are looking for.” No reasons were given for their detention, and a member of the group recalls how the sounds of boots striking bodies could be heard as the men were dragged away and thrown into the police vans.

This unlawful and deeply abusive behavior by the police can only test the confidence of the family members of the slain workers, the surviving workers and community members’ in the work of the Commission. The police behavior signals their continued disregard for the civil and political rights of citizens, and the work of the Commission.  

People testifying before or supporting the work of the Commission must be guaranteed their safety. Instead, community members attacked by the police tonight feel that the Commission has “become a hunting ground for the police.” This is the place where the police identify people, and will come after them to punish and silence them. The work of the Commission is being deliberately thwarted by the police to escape the responsibility they carry for the massacre of 34 people.  

The Marikana Solidarity Campaign calls on the Farlam Commission and President Zuma to put in place an immediate moratorium on the SAPS and its harassment and victimization of Marikana workers and community members. We also call on the Commission to demand the immediate release of all strike leaders that have been detained in the past two weeks. The Commission and the President must ensure that the necessary conditions of trust and safety for those appearing before the Commission are met, or it will fail miserably!

H/t: Martyn H

Brits, send protest messages the South African High Commission: http://southafricahouseuk.com/

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Red against Feds

October 20, 2012 at 9:59 pm (police, politics, populism, Rosie B)

I thought the Andrew Mitchell affair was a storm in a teacup, and was thoroughly irritated that it has been the lead item on the news for the last few weeks, displaced only by Jimmy Savile.  Chris Mullin’s take on it is that the real story is of the Police Federation showing their muscle.

Accusing those stoking the row of making a “mountain out of a molehill,” Mr Mullin described the Police Federation, which has repeatedly called for Mr Mitchell to be sacked, as a “bunch of head-bangers”.

Describing his own run-in with the Federation, which, he said, had sought to have him removed as chairman of the Commons’ Home Affairs Select Committee when he raised questions about the probity of the police disciplinary system, he said: “The Federation is a bully.

“It has a long track record of intimidating ministers, journalists and anyone else who gets in its way. It also has a track record of defending the indefensible.”

‘. . .

“The Police Federation is a mighty vested interest that has seen off just about all attempts to reform the least reformed part of the public service. They need to be taken on, not appeased.”

The former minister’s intervention follows claims from three Cabinet colleagues of Mr Mitchell that the Police Federation are seeking to exploit the row for political reasons, and in particular grievances about changes to officers’ pay and conditions.

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The crazy world of George Galloway

October 19, 2012 at 12:40 pm (Asshole, Beyond parody, Champagne Charlie, comedy, conspiracy theories, cops, Galloway, Guardian, insanity, misogyny, MPs, police, populism, Respect)

(or: The Strange Case Of The Sleeping Policeman)

Pure comedy gold from Georgie Galloway and his Respect posse:

George Galloway with Aisha Ali-Khan
Above: any suggestions as to why he hired this woman in the first place?

From today’s Graun:

By Helen Pidd

Even given his own talent for hyperbole, the claim George Galloway made on Sunday night was extraordinary: that he had discovered his secretary was working as an “agent” for a Metropolitan police counterterrorism officer who was running a “dirty tricks” campaign against him.

It was a serious allegation. “A direct attack on not just me but on democracy,” the MP said. He complained to the police, who promised an investigation, voluntarily referring the matter to the Independent Police Complaints Commission. And he wrote to Theresa May, the home secretary, demanding an inquiry, saying he had “incontrovertible evidence” that the duo had set up fake email addresses to spread “rumour, disinformation and downright lies”.

But Galloway’s now former secretary, Aisha Ali-Khan, is fighting back. She says she is married to Afiz Khan, whom Galloway correctly identified as a detective inspector in the Met’s counter-terrorism unit, SO15.

She says the two wed in a Muslim ceremony in 2009 and have had an on-off, hush-hush relationship ever since. She is furious that their relationship is being presented as somehow illicit.

“Not only have I lost my job and my credibility but I’ve been branded this tart sleeping with random police officers.”

Suspended on full pay but not expecting her job back, Ali-Khan has filed a complaint with the Met, accusing Galloway of either hacking into her private emails or ordering someone else to do so. She believes there can be no other explanation for how he was able to quote verbatim, in his letter to May, from emails she and her husband had written to each other. Galloway says he was given the emails by his lawyer.

Ali-Khan believes she has been “thrown to the wolves” because she was disliked by certain male figures in Bradford’s Respect party who wanted her out, and because Galloway wanted to deflect attention from a story about his personal life which he believed was about to hit the papers…

Read the rest of this wonderful story, here

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Police elections: use your vote!

October 10, 2012 at 11:53 am (cops, democracy, elections, fascism, Guest post, Pink Prosecco, police, politics)

Guest post by Pink Prosecco

The Police and Crime Commissioner elections: apathy aids extremism

Police and Crime Commissioner elections are due to be held on November.  A very low turn out is expected: people don’t seem that interested or aware – unless, that is, you venture into the far right/nationalist corner of the blogosphere.

In several areas far right candidates are putting themselves forward for the post.  In Bedfordshire, Kevin Carroll, co-founder of the EDL, is standing.  English Democrat candidates are being put forward in Cambridgeshire, Essex and Kent.  You can find more about the blandly named English Democrats here.


As the AV system is being used I will, for the first time in my life, be voting (somewhere down the list) for a Conservative candidate.  Find out who is standing in your area here


– and use your vote!

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