Broadwater Farm revisited – Stafford Scott

Stafford Scott recent spoke at the ‘Nicky Jacobs is Innocent’ seminar about his recollection of the events which led to the Broadwater Farm ‘uprising’. Here is a summary of his statement

prints007At around 1pm on the 5th October 1986, Floyd Jarrett a senior member of the Youth Association was stopped by police officers whilst driving along Roseberry Avenue in Tottenham. Initially he was told that he was being stopped because the tax disc on his BMW was out of date.

After a prolonged search of his vehicle the attending officers, PC Casey and PC Allen, decided that the VIN number on the chassis of the car had been tampered with and arrested him for theft of motor vehicle and assault on police, claiming that he had thrown two punches at the officers. He was taken to Tottenham police station charged with the two offences. He was later to be acquitted on all counts.

Approximately four hours into his detention DC Mike Randall, who was officially off-duty, and three other officers, Sergeant Parsons, PC Casey, & PC Allan, took the decision to search the address of Floyd’s family home. They took Jarrett’s keys from his possessions without signing for them.

Then they attended and entered the family premises using the Jarrett’s keys without knocking the door or ringing the bell to inform the occupants of their presence. Once in the Jarrett household they were challenged by his sister, Patricia Jarrett, as to their right to enter the family home without a search warrant. A warrant was still not produced and despite the family’s protestations the four officers continued with the unlawful search of the premises. Floyd’s mother, Cynthia Jarrett, also challenged the police’s right to search her property as Floyd was no longer residing there.

During the search it is alleged that DC Randall shoved Mrs Jarrett to the floor. Patricia Jarrett later testified during the inquest that DC Randall had shoved her mother to the floor, stepped over her body and continued with his search. At the point that Patricia demanded that she be allowed to administer her mother her medication and that the police call for ambulance. Randle retorted that Cynthia was ‘play acting’ and did not require medical attention.

The officers carried on their unlawful search whilst Cynthia Jarrett was suffering a heartache that was to kill her. Records later showed that Randall left the premises and communicated with the police station that the raid had gone without incident. Patricia Jarrett was eventually able to call for an ambulance. The ambulance arrived at 18.11 and transported the unconscious Cynthia Jarrett to North Middlesex Hospital where she was declared dead on arrival at 18.35 Floyd Jarrett was released from police custody at 19.00.

The police did not inform him of the raid on his mothers home, or of the fact that his mother had died! On Sunday October 6 1985 a small crowd gathered outside of Tottenham Police station to demand that the officers involved were immediately suspended. Bernie Grant who at the time was the leader of Haringey council added his voice to the demands of the community.

In a meeting with senior Met police officers and members of the Jarrett family, chaired by Deputy Assistant Commissioner Richard told the civic leader that he and his officers could neither discuss the ‘incident’ or suspend the officer because the investigation was now in the hands of the Police Complaints Authority (shades of August 2011 here?) The PCA was the predecessor organisation to the IPCC. It did not conduct investigations, it commissioned officers from one force to investigate officers from other forces. It did not have the power to make issues sub-judice. Neither did it have the power to stop a force from implementing its own internal disciplinary actions.

The community’s demand for immediate suspension was not a call for all the officers involved to be suspended. It was for suspension of DC Mike Randall, the officer that the family identified and blamed for Cynthia Jarrett’s death. Randall was well known to the Black youths of the area. He had fast developed a reputation for being a racist who thought he was hard. He had allegedly told many youths that he was going to ‘clean up’ Tottenham single-handed, as a result he had earned himself the nickname of ‘Sweeney’ amongst the youths. So when Randall appeared, grinning widely, from the windows of the police station during the impromptu demonstration it was seen as an incendiary action by some of the youths who then ‘retaliated’ by throwing ‘missiles’ at the windows of the police station.

This then led to clashes with the police officers guarding the station. I was a senior member of the BWF Youth Association made a decision to remove the protesters from the police station to avoid further clashes and possible arrests. To do this he called for a meeting at the BWF Youth Association centre later that afternoon. Approximately 150 people, mainly youths attended the meeting. The unanimous decision of the meeting was to return to Tottenham Police station to reiterate their demand that the officers involved in the search be suspended until a full investigation had been conducted.

At approximately 18.45 the meeting ended and the youths began to make their way to the police station. On attempting to leave the estate the youths found that there had been a build up of the police presence in the area. There were several riot vans filled with officers from the Special Police Group (SPG) parked on the estate. This angered some of the youths who rushed to the riot vans, banging on the sides of the vans demanding that they withdrew from the estate as the presence was considered to be inflammatory.

The response from the police was immediate and emphatic, within moments the estate was swamped with hundreds of police officers in riot gear. At the Gifford Inquiry that followed, witnesses described the police as ‘an invading force’ that swept onto the estate dressed in full riot gear and with long truncheons drawn at the ready. They had certainly come prepared for business! They entered the estate from every entrance, making a cacophony of noise by banging on their shields with the long truncheons and at the same time making loud monkey noises. Their behaviour was clearly designed to scare and intimidate.

They yelled at the youths “Get back into your bloody hole! You’re not leaving until we allow you too!” “Nigger Nigger Nigger! Oi Oi Oi!” They then proceeded to block all of the exits from the estate, only allowing a few elderly white residents and their friends to leave. When a senior Youth Association member approached to challenge the polices authority to ‘kettle’ them and stop them from peacefully demonstrating, he was told to “Fuck off back with the rest of them!” “This isn’t fucking Brixton you Black cunt, go on fuck off!” The last few people who managed to get on the estate spoke about hundreds of police in vans on the estate periphery.

There was also a rumour that the police had officers with dogs in Lordship Recreation Ground, which bordered the estate. The youths became enraged as the same police who had murdered a Black mother in her own home were now here to deny them their right to protest against this act. The same police were now here to deny them their right to demonstrate their anger! The youths now felt threatened by the menacing stance adopted by the police. It was the first time that they had ever been ‘kettled’ and they did not like it one bit. It only added to their anger!

The uprising began at 19.05 and was over by 01.00 the next morning. In the violence that ensued 243 police officers were injured. 2 officers and 3 members of the media suffered gunshot wounds. 1 officer, PC Blakelock was killed.’

Now, one would think that if the police had been preparing for a riot for one year before the event, and one officer was killed, they would have dealt with the murder with some sense of urgency. Well, this is how the event is describe by David Rose in his book, Climate of Fear (1992), “The police did not enter the estate until four o’clock the next day. All this time, the way into the rec to the north stayed open, and the road entrance, people who did not live on Broadwater Farm, who might well have played a part in the riot, were allowed to leave without even giving their names. ‘They were just allowed to wander off’ says a sergeant who was disgusted and amazed at this lack of regard for what might provide to be vital evidence. “It was as if senior officers were still treating this as some kind of community exercise, not the aftermath of the worst UK mainland riot this century’. .. With the agreement of the police, the council began a massive clean up operation. The forensic evidence was shoveled and bulldozed and packaged and eventually removed. All the murder investigation had to go on were some footprints in the mud”.

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