Our aim is not only to remember the past by learning lessons from the resistance that was created, but also to prepare for the future.

1976: the murder of Gurdip Singh Chaggar

On the 4th of June 1976, a young Sikh boy was killed in a racially motivated attack outside the Dominion Cinema in Southall. The murder galvanised young Asian people in Southall and across Britain, popularising the right of self-defence and self-organisation for BME communities facing perpetual racial violence.

The events led to the establishment of the Southall Youth Movement, Southall Rights and the Peoples Unite centre.

Further reading: (1) Coming of age: 1976 and the road to anti-racism; (2) Southall: the birth of a black community.

April 1979: the murder of Blair Peach and criminalisation of the local community

Peach was not the only casualty of police behaviour on the 23rd of April 1979:

  • Over 700 people were arbitrarily arrested within a few hours.
  • 345 people were charged with various criminal charges and tried in jury less courts by magistrates brought over from Northern Ireland. 11 people were given custodial sentences.
  • Clarence Baker, the manager of reggae group, Misty in Roots, had severe head injuries and spent months in the intensive care unit of a local hospital.
  • The People’s Unite centre was deliberately targeted and damaged by the Special Patrol Group and subsequently demolished by the local Council. Alarmingly, the Thatcher Government awarded an OBE to the Council Leader, Beatrice Howard, for community relations.

The 1979 events led to the establishment of the Southall Black Sisters and local anti racist police monitoring group the Southall Monitoring Group, later renamed The Monitoring Group.

Further reading: (3) NCCL unofficial enquiry; (4) Southall Rights report; (5) Licence to kill; (6) The killing of Blair Peach.

1981: skinheads at the Hambrough Tavern

Unfortunately, two years after the 1979 events, the racist skinheads returned to Southall for a music gig at a local pub called the Hambrough Tavern, situated at the east end of the main shopping and residential area (The Broadway). Despite fears of potential public disturbances, the police failed to take any action or safety measures. The local community organised to successfully prevent an attempted skinhead rampage through the town centre through sheer resistance and the burning of the Tavern. Local people had finally succeeded in stopping fascists from ever returning to Southall.