source: The Guardian
published: 21 April 2019
Campaigners are demanding a fresh inquiry into the death of protester Blair Peach during a demonstration held to prevent the National Front holding a meeting in Southall, west London, 40 years ago this week.
The New Zealand-born teacher was killed during widescale unrest as thousands of protesters fought almost 3,000 police deployed to protect the NF’s right of assembly in one of the most racially diverse areas of London. More than 700 people were arrested, 345 of them charged and hundreds more injured.
Peach, a special needs teacher, was struck on the head as police charged at him and other protesters on the evening of 23 April 1979. A report compiled soon after by Metropolitan police commander John Cass, but only released in 2010, concluded that Peach was “almost certainly” killed by one of six riot police officers who were members of the Special Patrol Group, which was replaced in 1987 by the Territorial Support Group.
Fourteen witnesses saw Peach, a member of the Anti-Nazi League, being struck by an officer but nobody has ever been charged with his death. The events 40 years ago remain a sensitive topic within Southall’s predominantly Asian community and the wider anti-racism movement. Activists accuse the police of instigating the violence, of racism and of using excessive force.