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Voice35Years: Standing up for the community

PART OF OUR HISTORY: The Voice newspaper

BRIXTON, SOUTH London, was once again the focal point of anger among the black community when The Voice published its 11th edition on November 13, 1982.

The anger was targeted at Lambeth Council after it's decision to demolish three houses in Railton Road and The Voice front page headline asked the question, 'Why did it have to happen?'.

The Voice reported that the houses, which were demolished on the popular road known as the Frontline, were partly occupied by squatters and one in particular was used as a place for people to eat, drink and listen to music.

It was the destruction of this meeting place that led the residents and onlookers to march and protest outside the nearby town hall.

Fresh on the back of the Brixton riots the year before, police were quickly called in and by mid-afternoon the tension between protestors and the police grew more intense when two petrol bombs were thrown and members of the Immediate Response Unit were called in wearing helmets, flame-proof clothing and carrying riot shields.

A number of houses were set alight and the disturbances went on into the night. The Voice’s story was accompanied by a night-time picture of the activities on Railton Road and described the disturbance as ‘the stormiest 24 hours since the inner city riots of ’81’.

The frontline disturbance was also the news feature story on the centre pages of the same edition as the newspaper’s news team comprising of editor Flip Fraser and news editor Asif Zubairy gave eyewitness accounts of how the trouble unfolded and questioned why the council took the decision to knock down the houses before finding alternative homes to accommodate the occupants.

The Council was facing a rent and rates strike from the local residents who complained about the noise and disturbances from the Frontline, but at the same time were refusing to relocate the squatters elsewhere, and this led to the deadlock.


PICTURED: Marvin Hagler

Also featured on the front cover was a picture of boxer ‘Marvellous’ Marvin Hagler, who had just made the fourth successful defence of his world middleweight title and sent a warning to his next opponent, as well a sneak preview of outlandish singer Grace Jones’s one-woman UK show.

The lead story on page two, headlined ‘Islington backs Kitson campaign’, said the north London council had declared its support of the local Kitson family campaign to free their father David Kitson from prison in South Africa.

SUPPORT

The chairman of Islington’s Housing Committee Chris smith led the move to pass a motion in support of the family. It urged its elected members to assist the picket outside South Africa House in whatever way possible.

The motion also called for the release of all political prisoners in South Africa. On page three, the main story was around the news that a mother and son, who had faced charges of assault, threatening behaviour and obstructing police in Walthamstow, were found not guilty when the case was brought before the local magistrates’ court.

‘Victory for mother’ was the headline after Esme Baker maintained that she was attacked by the police when she protested over the arrest of her 16-year-old son outside their home. Both were taken to the police station and Mrs Baker said they were further assaulted there. The Baker family were represented by Paul Boateng.

The top story on page four announced that the first TV current affairs programme conceived and presented by a team of black journalists, would be shown nationwide.

Black on Black, produced by former president of the National Union of Students, Trevor Phillips, “will aim to get out of the familiar rut of discrimination and downpression and remind people that being black is not all bad news”.

The Voice story said the show would feature topics like the black angle of the National Health Service, vigilante groups and items on poet Louise Bennett, Ghana’s National dance and body building.

The presenters of Black on Black were Beverly Anderson, a former Labour councillor and Victor Romero of ‘Burning an Illusion’ fame. Over in The Buzz section which listed the music charts, Make Me Feel So Good by Rudy Thomas and Susan Cadogan was the number one song in the reggae singles chart, while Gregory Isaacs’ Night Nurse continued to hold on to the number one spot in the album chart.

In the soul charts, Marvin Gaye’s Sexual Healing had the number one spot, while Sharon Redd topped the album chart with her debut Redd Hot.

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