It was a terrible time in South East London, when the borough of Greenwich was named by some as 'Britain's racist murder capital' (Independent, 12 June 1993). In February 1991, 15-year-old Rolan Adams was killed on the way home from a vist to the Hawksmoor youth club in Bentham Road, Thamesmead.
|The Rolan Adams banner on a march to the BNP HQ in February 1992|
|Relatives of Rohit Duggal on a November 1992 |
demonstration to the BNP HQ in Welling
|Stephen Lawrence's parents at a vigil in May 1993|
I went on many demonstrations at that time, usually led by the families of murder victims. There was the Anti Racist Alliance demo in June 1993 from Norbury Park to the scene of Ruhullah Aramesh's murder. There was the march against the British National Party demo in Thamesmead in 1991, provocatively called a few months after the murder of Rolan Adams in the same area where he was killed. The police mobilised their forces to stop the anti-racists who outnumbered the BNP ten to one (roughly 1200 to 120).
I remember seeing riot police baton people's heads out of sight of the cameras in a car park between housing blocks on the estate. I took a friend with a head wound to Kings hospital in Camberwell as we didn't think the local casualty department would be a safe place to go. Incidentally Stephen Lawrence (then at Blackheath Bluecoats School), took part on the anti-BNP demo that day too.
Welling demonstration, October 1993
Increasingly the headquarters of the BNP in Upper Wickham Lane, Welling, became the focus of demonstrations. The point wasn't that the racist murders were being explicitly organised by them, but that they were spewing out racist poison that was legitimising these attacks.
The biggest demonstration took place on 16th October 1993. Anti-fascist magazine Searchlight estimated 40,000 people attended, the Independent 25,000 and Socialist Worker 60,000. Either way it must have been one of the biggest demonstrations ever seen in South East London. The Unity demo against the BNP started off with a massive rally on Winns Common, before heading off towards Welling.
|Auschwitz survivor Leon Greenman leads the march|
|Anti-Nazi League chief steward Julie Waterson |
bleeding after being batoned by police in October 1993