Found this in my parent’s attic. A local newspaper report from 1978 describing how two skinheads had beaten up an Asian youth. It was yet another example of something described at the time as “paki bashing” – assaults by racist skins on mainly Asian youth.
While the article below quotes a community relations spokesperson saying attacks like this were becoming more frequent – there’s no mention of this being a racist incident. This was typical at the time. Both the media and police were reticent to point out what was blindingly obvious – that this 14 year old had been hospitalised because of the colour of his skin.
Many of the public also didn’t want to acknowledge the problem. But anti-Asian sentiment had been stoked for years by groups like the National Front and British Movement. The influx of Asians from the former British colonies of Kenya and Uganda, expelled by dictators who had taken power in those countries, was greeted with tabloid press hatred. This provoked appalling and senseless thuggery.
Back in 1979, the lawless and only recently financially bankrupt city of New York spawned a group of vigilante do-gooders called the Guardian Angels.
The idea was that these trained young individuals would ride the city’s subway system looking out for any wrongdoing. Like anybody else, they could make a citizen’s arrest.
At the time, this got quite a bit of publicity in the UK media. Then somebody got the bright idea to bring it over to London. I can say from the outset, Londoners didn’t like the Guardian Angels one bit.
You’d be on the tube and these guys in their T-shirts and berets would be standing at the end of the carriage like an ominous presence. It was too weird and alien for Britain and mercifully the whole thing petered out.
In the early 1980s, university students comprised a small percentage of the population compared to today – and most came from fairly middle class backgrounds. There was a strong anti-student feeling in many working class areas and this could lead to conflict.
I remember local people in Liverpool referring to the Uni as the “hotel on the hill” and there was a perception that we were the gilded youth. I’m not sure things were quite as golden as the locals thought but that said, our prospects were better than the average scouser aged eighteen in 1982.
Undergraduates were beaten up and attacked. One Liverpool University student who came a cropper allowed himself to be photographed by the student paper, Guild and City Gazette, sporting two black eyes and a busted nose above the headline:
This student had been set upon by ten youths aged between 18 and 21 in the Aigburth area of the city. As the paper discovered, this was by no means an isolated case. In the course of its investigations, a litany of robberies and attacks was uncovered.
A lecturer had been mugged outside the Roxby building with £20 stolen; a History undergraduate was knocked to the floor and £300 taken; a woman saw youths trying to steal her car and was knocked down and mugged; another lecturer had recently been beaten up in Abercromby Square in broad daylight and a ‘gang of 15 locals’ had turned up at the Brook House pub on Smithdown Road to beat up some students inside.
The University’s Security Superintendant warned that “the number of incidents of this nature is definitely on the increase”. A University spokesman agreed that there was a trend. “We are concerned that such attacks are becoming fashionable among teenagers in the area.”
In 2010, the hardback version of Neville Staple’s biography was published by Aurum Press – co-written with yours truly. The publishers ran several front cover ideas past me and Nev and of course, only one could be chosen. Below was one of the ideas that didn’t make it – but I think was very evocative. I’d almost be tempted to blow it up and hang on my bedroom wall as a ska/2Tone poster.