In July 1981, 12 young Asian men were arrested in dawn raids across Bradford and charged with conspiracy to make explosives and to cause explosions.

Almost a year later, following a trial which exposed the scale and intensity of everyday racist violence and the extent of police racism faced by their communities, they were all acquitted.

1981 had already witnessed uprisings in Bristol, Brixton, Liverpool and other cities of working class African-Caribbean & Asian youth, joined at times by white youth, angry about poverty, unemployment, racist attacks and police harassment.

On the other side, racist skinhead thugs had invaded Black (mainly African-Caribbean and Asian) communities attacking people on the streets and in their homes.

On July 11th the news that vanloads of skinheads were planning to invade Bradford’s main Asian area spread. Only a week before coachloads of skinheads had attacked Southall’s Asian community. Community self-     defence, not the police had protected Southall.

  In Bradford, the recently-formed United Black Youth League (UBYL) responded by mobilising youth and organising in the community’s defence. They prepared petrol bombs, that were never used in case they were needed to construct ‘a wall of fire’ to keep the fascists out.

Some weeks later the unused petrol bombs were found and 12 activists from the UBYL were arrested with Special branch involvement.  The Bradford 12 trial exposed state and police racism both in Bradford and nationally. It also proved the right of a community to self-defence.

Today, in the face of colonial wars and escalating racism in Britain, particularly targeting Muslim communities, it is time to reclaim the spirit of the Bradford 12 and remember our slogan:

Self-defence is no offence!

  • Racism is as strong as ever but now also recast to include Islamophobia. It serves to justify terror raids on Muslim communities and laws that do not even give you access to the evidence against you.  Fear has led to the isolation of many – the trial of the Bradford 12 proved the importance of solidarity in the struggle for justice.
  • Working class communities like those in Bradford face cuts in public services that leave them facing even more severe unemployment and poverty than in the 1980s.
  • Extreme right wing groups continue to rampage through communities today.

We must defend ourselves!

A Day of Speakers, Discussion and Celebration   With the Bradford 12 defendants, lawyers for the Bradford 12 Ruth Bundey and Gareth Peirce,

Anwar Ditta, Minkah Adofo, Amrit Wilson, Mary Pearson, Leila Khaled on Palestine, Samarendra Das on India, speakers on the Arab uprisings and more. 23rd July, Khalili Theatre, SOAS, London WC1H 0XG. 10.30 am- 5.00pm plus social

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