Death of Kevin Gately

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Kevin Gately (18 September 1953[1]–15 June 1974) was a second year student of mathematics at the University of Warwick who died as a result of injuries received in the Red Lion Square disorders in London on 15 June 1974. He was the first person to die on a public political demonstration in Great Britain in 55 years.[2]

Gately, who was 20 when he died[1] was born in England to parents of Irish background. He was tall, well over six foot, and this led several newspapers of the time to allege that his death may have been the result of a blow from a mounted police truncheon.[citation needed] Neither a coroner's inquest nor a public inquiry headed by Lord Scarman were able to find conclusive evidence to prove or disprove this claim. A pathologist was able to establish a blow to his head caused the death.[2]

However, fellow students who were with Gately said that he was injured after several charges and counter-charges involving mounted police, foot police and demonstrators.[citation needed] Clive Bloom, author of Violent London: 2,000 Years of Riots, Rebels and Revolts, asserts Kevin Gately "died under a police horse".[3] Contemporary photos show Gately standing out above the crowd because of his exceptional height.

The Red Lion Square demonstration was an attempt to stop the National Front holding a meeting in London. The primary organisers were the London Area Council of Liberation, with participation from the International Marxist Group and the International Socialists (later the Socialist Workers Party). Gately was not a member of any political group or party. An assertion in the 22 June 2004 edition of the Warwick University student newspaper, the Boar, that he was a member of the International Marxist Group is mistaken.[4]

Gately had no experience of demonstrations before Red Lion Square,[5] although he was aware of the nature of the demonstration against the National Front and wished to take part. His death led to a silent march of protest, and a major campaign by Warwick students against the National Front.

A Kevin Gately Memorial Painting hangs in the Warwick University Students' Union, and was restored in 2004. It is displayed alongside contemporary telegrams of support from many other students' unions and a copy of Socialist Worker from the week following Gately's death. The painting is symbolic of the anti-fascist struggle and contains neither a representation of Gately nor of the events of June 1974.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b
  2. ^ a b "On this day 1974: Man dies in race rally clashes". BBC Online. 15 June 1974. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  3. ^ Bloom, Clive (2009). "Riot? We'd rather have a cup of tea". London: Telegraph. Retrieved 2009-04-08. 
  4. ^ Tony Gilbert page 222 'Sedley [Counsel for the N.U.S. at the Scarman Tribunal] then pointed out, that practically every student who gave evidence was not a member of the I.M.G. nor was Kevin Gately.'
  5. ^ The edition of Socialist Worker (22 June 1974) on display in the Students' Union asserts that Gately had not previously been on a political demonstration