In 1958, he came to Britain and studied Politics, Economics and Philosophy at Swansea University, where he won the annual student debating competition.
The confidential files, which were closed under the 75-year rule but have been released early, show that senior officers tried to convince the then home secretary, “Rab” Butler, that there had not really been a racial element to the rioting.
Crowds of white youths, reportedly numbering 400, chased the Caribbean population in the area. Petrol bombs and milk bottles were launched as missiles, and some rioters armed themselves with iron bars and butcher’s knives. There were counter-attacks by Black youths similarly armed in self defense.
New Cross is fundamental because it contains all the features of racism that Black people in Britain have long suffered: the racial violence, police abuse, neglect by the state; in turn, it tells us of the community’s resistance. Forty years on, recalling the events seems vital, especially in this moment of renewed optimism after the Black Lives Matter protests, because the legacies of New Cross still resonate.
Today,” she says, “if police were investigating a controversial, serious case like this it would take up to two years, or even longer, before an inquest would be called. To me it seems as though the authorities just wanted to hurry things up so the whole issue could be shut away and forgotten about.”