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From The Socialist newspaper, 5 May 2010

Bring the killers of Blair Peach to face justice

Southall in 1979. Police and the Special Patrol Group

Southall in 1979. Police and the Special Patrol Group "ran amok" during killing of Blair Peach   (Click to enlarge)

ON 23 April 1979, Blair Peach, an anti-fascist activist, died after he was struck on the head by a truncheon wielding policeman from the Special Patrol Group.

Along with several thousand, predominately Asian protesters, Blair Peach had been demonstrating against a provocative National Front (a neo-Nazi organisation) meeting being held in Southall Town Hall, west London.

Earlier that day the Indian Workers Association in the area called a local general strike, which was overwhelmingly supported. Later, that afternoon, groups of Asian people and anti-fascists began gathering outside the town hall. It was then that the police started using heavy handed tactics to 'move people on'.

Militant supporters (the precursor of the Socialist Party), then active in the youth section of the Labour Party, were in the thick of the fray that fateful evening.

As the Militant newspaper (The Socialist's forerunner) reported at the time: "Everywhere there were running fracas, police charges and Asian youth gathering to try and fight their way back to the town hall.

"Skirmishes escalated into battles. As evening fell the police became more and more violent....

"Now the police and their elite troop of thugs, the Special Patrol Group, ran amok. It was in the violence that followed that the awful murder of Blair Peach occurred...

"Merlyn Rees [Home Secretary] has announced there will be no inquiry into the events at Southall, just a police investigation into the death of Blair Peach."

The police report was released only last week! It identified the likely killer as one of six riot police, but no prosecution could be brought because his fellow officers colluded and lied to stymie the investigation.

On the Saturday after the police riot over 15,000 people marched through Southall in protest at the National Front, police violence and the murder of Blair Peach.

Dave Carr

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