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Race riots not new to Britain

Bradford clashes
Bradford has a history of race-related violence  

LONDON, England -- Bradford was where Britain's race-related disturbances of 2001 first began, with simmering tensions between whites and Asians exploding on Easter Sunday in April.

Several pubs were attacked, 50 cars damaged and 19 people assaulted, while a nurse needed surgery after being hit in the face by a brick. A racial flare-up at a Hindu wedding provoked arson attacks around the city.

The most serious outbreak came in Oldham, northwest England during late May, featuring some of the worst racial violence in the last 15 years. Problems came to a head after it was reported that Asian youths were creating a "no-go" area for whites.

Tensions grew after publicity about an attack on 76-year-old war veteran Walter Chamberlain and the National Front's (NF) violation of a Home Office ban on political marches.

A row between two teenagers -- one Asian and one white -- outside a fish and chip shop on May 26 sparked three nights of pitched battles and street riots between Asian and white gangs and police.

Calm restored after UK riots  

Far-right accused over UK riots  

Less than a week later the troubles spread across the Pennines to Leeds.

More than 100 Asians rioted for six hours after the arrest of local man Hussein Miah, who said police dragged him from his car and squirted him with CS gas.

Police were lured into the Harehills area of the city by a series of bogus calls and then pelted with bricks and stones, leaving two officers injured.

On June 23 violence flared across the Pennine hills in the smaller town of Burnley, 20 miles from Oldham.

Three nights of violence between hundreds of white and Asian youths were sparked by a hammer attack on an Asian taxi driver by a gang of white men.

The fall-out from the riots even extended as far as cricket, with extra police employed at England against Pakistan matches this summer.

Then on July 7, violence raged for two nights in the city of Bradford. Gangs of Asian and white youths fought pitched battles with police, throwing bricks, bottles, petrol bombs and fireworks.

The violence injured 120 police officers and two people -- and a police horse -- were stabbed.

In a chilling preview to this summer's violence, Asian youths rioted through the Manningham district of Bradford six years ago in 1995, setting cars alight, looting shops and throwing petrol bombs at police.

And throughout 1985, a sequence of riots between white police officers and youths, predominantly black, occurred in London and Birmingham -- the UK's second biggest city. The worst violence took place in the Handsworth suburb of Birmingham and the Brixton and Tottenham areas of London.

Though different incidents sparked each riot in 1985, they arose from similar social conditions: complaints of racial discrimination, poverty, unemployment and dilapidated housing, and hostile relations between the police and the community -- all conditions being blamed for much of the violence this year.

In April 1985, a heavy policing approach in Birmingham designed to stamp out street crime and drug trade strained relations between the police and the community.

The tension exploded when a black taxi driver was arrested by a white police officer over a disputed parking ticket.

Looting, arson attacks and serious assaults on police officers by as many as 400 rioters followed.

Officers arrested a total of 437 people of various ethnic backgrounds, most of whom lived in the area. Two Asian men trapped in a burning post office died of smoke inhalation, 79 police, eight fire officers, and 35 civilians were injured. 83 buildings and 23 vehicles were damaged, at an estimated cost of 7.5 million.

The violence in Birmingham prompted "copycat riots" in the West Midland areas of Coventry and Wolverhampton, and the St. Paul's district of Bristol in the west of England.

But the most severe riot of 1985 occurred at the Broadwater Farm housing estate -- where most residents were non-whites -- in the predominantly white Tottenham district of London.

Residents said the police had instituted a heavy policing approach around Broadwater. Tension boiled over as many black youths complained they were harassed, abused, and treated unfairly.

Police were forced for the first time in Britain to use plastic bullets to quell the rioters. The violence culminated in the machete murder of police constable Keith Blakelock. A further 20 civilians and 223 police officers were injured.

The heavy policing operation blamed for the 1985 riots was also said to be the cause of serious disorder in the Brixton inner city area of London in 1981.

Police were attacked, shops looted and 300 people in total were hurt including 200 police. The Scarman investigation into the riots recommended more efforts were made to integrate black and white communities.

230 people were arrested, half of whom were white, and police recorded 724 serious crimes, including over 90 burglaries and a number of assaults and robberies. A photographer, David Hodge, died from injuries he sustained during the riot.

And just a few days after Brixton exploded, some of the worst clashes seen in Britain to date raged for over a week in the dilapidated Toxteth area of Liverpool in north western England.

Days of rioting left Toxteth -- an already deprived neighbourhood -- looking like a war zone. More than 100 buildings were burned out and Margaret Thatcher's government launched a massive urban regeneration programme.

Community leaders in Toxteth still complain many of the problems that sparked the riots 20 years ago have not been solved.

Britain's worst ever race riots occurred in 1958, when a group of white men attacked a mixed race couple on the streets of Notting Hill, an affluent suburb of west London. The incident sparked successive nights of bloodshed between white and black youths.

• More attacks in tense UK towns
June 30, 2001
• Night of violence in UK town
June 25, 2001
• UK race protesters charged
June 17, 2001
• UK race riots break out again
June 5, 2001
• UK riot 'pre-meditated'
June 6, 2001
• UK race riots shock police
May 27, 2001
• UK police on alert after riots
May 28, 2001

• West Yorkshire Police
• City of Bradford

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