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Bristol Disturbances

The Runnymede Trust Bulletin in May 1980 reported that:

At approximately 3.30pm on Wednesday 2 April the 'Black and White' cafe in the mainly West Indian district of St Paul's in Bristol was raided by the police. This incident sparked off violent clashes between the police and members of the community which lasted until late the same night. For a period of about four hours the police withdrew from the area at which time a crowd estimated to be about 2,000 in number was on the streets. Clashes between the police and members of the crowd resulted in 21 policemen, 3 firemen and 9 civilians being injured and 21 persons arrested. During the evening about 12 police vehicles were damaged or destroyed and several shops and business premises broken into, robbed and set on fire.

The Home Secretary, Mr William Whitelaw, the next morning made a statement in the Commons in which he said that he agreed 'profoundly' that 'all the evidence suggested that it was not in any sense a race riot'.

On 4 April James Prior, Secretary of State for Employment, said that he intended to set up an inquiry into unemployment in Bristol. He stated: 'We have already recognised that unemployment amongst black youths is higher than among whites. Obviously something like Bristol makes us go through everything again to see whether we are providing the right sort of help.'

Mr David Lane, Chairman of the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE), visited Bristol on 4 April and in Bristolthe Sunday Times on 6 April commented that 'if Bristol shocks us out of complacency, it may be a blessing in disguise'. He said Bristol 'underlined the urgency' of the recommendations for a national youth policy and a major investment of resources in inner-city multi-racial areas.

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