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Bradford 12 Acquitted

Forster Square and Petergate, Bradford © RichTeaIn June 1982, after a 9-week trial, 12 Asian men, known as the Bradford 12, were acquitted of charges of making explosive devices with the intent to cause damage to property and persons.

Less than a year earlier on 11 July 1981, the 12 young men had been arrested after a police found 38 milk bottles filled with petrol in a raid. The men, who were all members of the United Black Youth League, were involved in community and anti-racist activism. The group argued that they made petrol bombs for the purpose of self-defence against skinhead gangs.

Tariq Ali, one of the 12, claimed that many attacks against the Asian community in Bradford – which numbered up to 45,000 – often went unreported and many considered them as a 'way of life'. Four days before the arrest there were two arson attacks on homes perpetrated by three men – one of whom was a National Front member – who were only charged with conspiracy to assault.

Tariq AliIn a statement to West Yorkshire Police, Tariq Ali stated, 'It is my belief that when a people are attacked it is their right to act in self-defence. The nature of that defence depends upon the nature of attack and attackers… the defence of black people or all workers and people who are threatened by the menace of fascism necessitates the forming of defensive organisations; it was with this in mind that we did what we did.'

The right to community self-defence was enshrined in law as a result, and was used as the main defence in other cases such as the Newham 8 (1983) and Newham 7 (1985).

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