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Published on Jul 27, 2008
Southall became a battlefield in July 1981 as Asian youths and the police fought. Cars and police vehicles were overturned and set on fire, a public house was set ablaze apparently by a petrol bomb, and other fire bombs were thrown at police as Asian youths reacted to an incident started by skinheads. Scotland Yard said 40 police officers had been injured.
The riot, just over two months after Brixton, began in The Broadway, Southall, yesterday evening. When it ended shortly after midnight, Scotland Yard said there had been 21 arrests and 40 policemen had been injured, one seriously. There was no precise figure for the number of civilian casualties.
The police said a group of skinheads smashed several windows and then ran off to a public house where a discotheque was being held. Crowds of Asian youths — Southall has a large Indian and Pakistani community — gathered outside the Hambrough public house and the police arrived to disperse them. One witness said the Asians were incensed that the police seemed to be protecting the skinheads.
The fighting began while the police were trying to keep the two sides separate. Brick walls were smashed to provide ammunition and shop windows, telephone kiosks and bus shelters were also damaged.
Hundreds of police were brought into the area as, two hours after the fighting had started, the Hambrough Tavern, where the skinheads had fled, was still alight.