Mangrove Nine

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The Mangrove Nine were a group of British black activists tried for inciting a riot at a protest, in 1970, against the police targeting of the Mangrove Restaurant, Notting Hill, in west London. Their trial lasted 55 days and involved various challenges by the Nine to the legitimacy of the judicial process. They were all acquitted of the most serious charges and the trial became the first judicial acknowledgement of behaviour motivated by racial hatred within the Metropolitan police.[1]

March on Portnall Road[edit]

Photograph of Barbara Beese, August 9th 1970
Barbara Beese during the demonstration of August 9th 1970

The Mangrove Restaurant was an important meeting space for the black community in the Notting Hill area, including for black intellectuals and activists. It was repeatedly raided by the police, on grounds of drug possession, despite a lack of evidence. In response the black community staged a protest, on 9 August 1970, where 150 people marched to the local police station. Violence between police and protesters led to a series of arrests and after considering a variety of options, including inciting racial hatred under the Race Relations Act and deportation under new immigration rules, they were tried for incitement to riot. The case was thrown out by the presiding magistrate, who found that evidence from twelve police officers showed they equated black radicalism with criminal intent, [2] but the Director of Public Prosecutions reinstated the charges and the Mangrove Nine were re-arrested in a series of dawn raids.

List of the Mangrove Nine[edit]

  1. Barbara Beese
  2. Rupert Boyce
  3. Frank Critchlow
  4. Rhodan Gordon
  5. Darcus Howe
  6. Anthony Innis
  7. Althea Jones LeCointe
  8. Rothwell Kentish
  9. Godfrey Millett

Trial[edit]

In a departure from previous British Black Power trials, the accused decided not to adopt traditional legal tactics. Firstly, two of them, Jones-LeConinte and Howe, opted to defend themselves. A second novelty was a demand for the trial to be heard by an all-black jury, a tactic they borrowed from trials in the United States where American Black Power activist had cited the 14th Amendment granting equal protection under the law.[3] In the present case, the claim was based on rights enshrined in Magna Carta to a trial by one's peers. This argument was not accepted. However, after rejecting a total of 63 candidate jurors the defendants did finally ensure that two of the twelve jurors were black. By asking candidates what they understood by the term "black power", the defendants placed their own political stamp on what were judicial proceedings. As evidence emerged, the case turned attention on allegations of brutality and racism in the Metropolitan Police. After a trial lasting 55 days, and jury deliberation of over 8 hours, all were cleared of the main charge: inciting a riot.

Significance[edit]

In his summing up, the judge said the trial had "regrettably shown evidence of racial hatred on both sides", a statement the Metropolitan Police attempted, unsuccessfully, to have withdrawn.[4] The trial was highly significant in being the first judicial acknowledgement of racial prejudice in the Metropolitan Police, and it inspired other civil rights activists seeking to take on the legal establishment. It also resulted in the government "modernising" procedures related to the empanelling of juries.[5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bunce, Robin; Field, Paul (2010-11-29). "Mangrove Nine: the court challenge against police racism in Notting Hill | Robin Bunce and Paul Field". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 2017-10-25.
  2. ^ "LANDMARK COURT CASE AGAINST POLICE RACISM | UK Diversity and Inclusion Specialists". Diverse Magazine. 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  3. ^ "LANDMARK COURT CASE AGAINST POLICE RACISM | UK Diversity and Inclusion Specialists". Diverse Magazine. 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  4. ^ "LANDMARK COURT CASE AGAINST POLICE RACISM | UK Diversity and Inclusion Specialists". Diverse Magazine. 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2018-04-28.
  5. ^ "LANDMARK COURT CASE AGAINST POLICE RACISM | UK Diversity and Inclusion Specialists". Diverse Magazine. 2010-12-01. Retrieved 2018-04-28.