Segments in this Video

Black Political Power (04:23)


The British government's lack of response to the New Cross Road Fire that left 13 young people dead led to the Black People's Day of Action march. For many, it was the first show of black British political power for those who suffered racial abuse.

Brixton (03:19)

More than 40,000 West Indian families lived in South London district in the 1980s. Reggae music was an important party of the community.

Policing in Brixton (04:19)

Railton Road was the center of activism and was called the front line. Police frequently raided clubs and parties, arresting numerous people and causing damage.

Hostility Toward Police (05:57)

Tensions between the West Indian community and the police in Bristol led to a riot in 1980. In 1981, after the New Cross fire, many thought the same would happen in Brixton. Racial profiling and police brutality were increasing.

Brixton Riot (07:30)

A riot broke out on the night of April 10, 1981, when police attempted to arrest a young black man, who had been stabbed. Another fight broke out the next morning between young black men and the police.

Fighting the Police (08:45)

Brixton residents wanted the police to withdraw, but they refused. Fighting against by those who had faced years of police brutality continued. Police officers feared for their lives.

Aftermath of the Brixton Riot (05:55)

Many officers felt defeated and Brixton residents felt they weakened the police. The riot gained international media coverage and drew attention to racial issues; an inquiry was conducted.

New Cross Inquest (04:06)

Days after the Brixton Riots, the New Cross house fire case was heard in court. The victims' families accused the police of a cover-up and intimidating witnesses. The jury returned an open verdict.

Summer Riots (05:12)

Rioting and violence against the police happened throughout Britain over police brutality and the treatment of black communities. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher condemned the violence and did nothing to solve the issues.

Inquiry into Brixton Riots (03:04)

Lord Scarman's highlighted the problems facing black communities throughout Britain, but it focused on deprivation rather than police oppression.

Collective Action (06:01)

The riots in 1981 showed many in Britain the power of collective action against oppression. Activist viewed it as a positive despite the many injustices that remained. No one was ever charged in connection to the New Cross house fire.

Credits: The Front Line-Resistance in a Hostile Environment: Uprising (00:40)

Credits: The Front Line-Resistance in a Hostile Environment: Uprising

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The Front Line—Resistance in a Hostile Environment: Uprising

Part of the Series : Resistance in a Hostile Environment: Uprising
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After the New Cross fire and the Black People's Day of Action, tensions between the community and the police escalated when a massive stop-and-search operation was launched, targeting black people on the streets of Brixton. In April, the situation boiled over into one of the biggest riots in British history. Buildings were burned down and hundreds of police injured. Riots then flared up all over the country, from Southall to Toxteth, but by the year's end, the people of New Cross were no closer to knowing who started the New Cross fire or why - and a lack of answers and justice has lingered over the case ever since.

Length: 60 minutes

Item#: BVL276569

ISBN: 978-1-63722-901-9

Copyright date: ©2021

Closed Captioned

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