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1985: Policeman killed in Tottenham riots

AUDIO : An all-out assault on police in one of London's worst riots

A police officer has been stabbed to death during riots at the Broadwater Farm housing estate in Tottenham, North London.

Another policeman was shot and injured after a night of horrific violence between the police and hundreds of black and white youths.

By midnight 58 policemen and 24 other people have been taken to hospital.

It is the first time shots have been fired in a British riot.

The trouble was sparked off by the death of local resident Cynthia Jarrett who died of heart failure after four policemen burst into her home during a raid yesterday.

Earlier today, her family met to discuss her death with the police and demanded an inquiry. They made it clear they did not want any kind of public disorder.

Britain's first black council leader, Haringey's Bernie Grant, issued a statement condemning the police for the way they searched Mrs Jarrett's house.

Bricks thrown from walkways

The trouble began at 1845 GMT when police were called to Mount Pleasant, Willan Road and The Avenue.

They were pelted with bottles and petrol bombs, cars were overturned and set alight as were shops and other buildings. There was widespread looting.

About 500 police with shields, helmets and truncheons battled with rampaging youths threw bricks, bottles and cans from walkways within the estate as fires turned the night sky red.

At around 2145 GMT several gunshots were heard and one officer was shot and seriously wounded in Griffin Road.

Half an hour later a police officer was stabbed in the neck, suffering serious injuries. He died later in hospital.

Ten minutes after the stabbing another officer was shot and slightly wounded.

One senior officer said: "This is not England. This is just madness. My men are being used as target practice."

He said three of his men had sufferd burns but that the police did not have the resources to tackle the intense violence.

"We haven't got the weapons to combat this kind of sickening violence."

Teargas equipment is on site but senior commanders are reluctant to use it for fear of harming residents trapped inside their homes.

Police have blocked entrances to the estate to contain the riot.

The Tottenham riots come just a week after violence erupted in Brixton, south London following the accidental shooting of Cherry Groce.

In Context
The police officer who was killed was named the following day as Sunderland-born Pc Keith Blakelock, aged 40 and a father of three.

He and his colleague Pc Richard Coombes had been trying to protect fire-fighters tackling a blaze when they were attacked by an angry mob.

Police in riot gear occupied the estate for two months after the riot, using police dogs, helicopters and surveillance equipment.

Three men - Winston Silcott, Engin Raghip and Mark Braithwaite - were convicted of murdering Pc Blakelock in 1987, but cleared on appeal four years later amid claims the evidence in the case may have been fabricated.

Pc Blakelock was posthumously awarded the Queen's Medal for Bravery.

Police in London began a review of his killing in 1999 after pressure from his widow, Elizabeth Johnson.

Detectives are still trying to gather fresh evidence on the murder. In October 2004 the blood-stained, slashed uniform he was wearing was removed from Scotland Yard's Black Museum for DNA testing.

Soon after the riots Labour council leader Bernie Grant was condemned from all sides for saying, "What the police got was a bloody good hiding."


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