Small Axe – S01E01 – Mangrove – Transcript

Mangrove tells this true story of The Mangrove Nine, who clashed with London police in 1970. The trial that followed was the first judicial acknowledgment of behavior motivated by racial hatred within the Metropolitan Police.
Small Axe - S01E01 - Mangrove

NOTTING HILL, LONDON, 1968

WOGS OUT

These are new men, new types of human beings.

It is in them that are to be found all the traditional virtues of the English nation, not in decay as they are in official society, but in full flower… Rita.

…because these men have perspective….

Is where you been?

Note particularly that they glory in the struggle.

They are not demoralised or defeated or despairing persons.

They are leaders, but are rooted deep among those they lead.

Linton, I tell you enough times yuh catching your tail in front of here.

Just liming with the limers, man.

Get yuh backside somewhere else.

Oh, man. Respect, bright man.

BLACK OWNERSHIP

The place stinking of varnish.

When we have cook up, no one will smell nutting.

We need a little something to make the place look nice, no?

Yuh asking me? And all day Kendrick sitting on his backside.

Kendrick, run down the market and get some flowers for our opening night.

I don’t know a thing about flowers. What if someone seen me?

Say yuh in love. Go.

Yuh see what I mean, Frank. Good for nutten.

Miss Agnes?

Mr Charles?

Yes, sir?

Okay, we gonna do fish curry. Goat curry. Mutton curry.

Yes, sir.

Me mother’s crab and dumpling. But first, we will start with the roots.

The Trinidadian barrister, Darcus Howe, thinks things could build up dangerous social tensions.

The policeman who, who frames a black man is doing so with a confidence that the system is going to give him a conviction.

And the section of the community who one must call the most alienated either are going to turn to crime in that they are going to be arrested anyway, or seek their revenge against the society in another form.

Now, at this point in time that form has not been expressed and I hope it wouldn’t be but one must be very direct here, and say that the police must either stop it or the black community will have to stop them doing it.

Excellent work!

A toast, a toast. A toast to my beautiful wife Selma, who brought this vitally important programme together.

And to my husband, the great CLR James, who I thank for his love and support.

And Darcus. He’s a leader! He’ll make a great lawyer one day.

Yeah, he done alright, didn’t he? But let’s get one thing straight:

Darcus isn’t interested in being a barrister. He is interested in change.

To change.

Change…

Hey, bruh.

What’s happening?

Oh, so my brudda gone all bourgeois in de ghetto.

You wanna cappuccino?

Hey, Frank. Listen, to de Mangrove. A fresh thing.

A fresh thing, yes!

I’ll drink to that.

Frank… Come on!

Come on, everybody. Let’s play outside. Come on…

You see the thing about the black man is he’s got his place.

He’s just gotta know his place.

If he oversteps he’s gotta be gently nudged back in….

And then you get the odd one or two who need more of a… you know… just like the Micks.

What you have to understand, Dickie, is that the army isn’t up for it.

Not like the old days when they’d have got a small battalion together and, bam.

Wipe the whole lot out in one go….

Did you ever want to be in the army?

No. I grew up thinking I’d never see my country fighting anyone else’s war ever again.

That’s why I’m Bill through and through.

But you never wanted to, you know, be a sergeant or anything?

I’ve seen enough.

You reading Black Jacobins again?

That’s what you should be teaching.

They’re primary school children,

I’m not sure they’re ready for Black Jacobins just yet.

You’re never too young to start.

I’ve lost count of the amount of times I’ve read it.

What are you on about?

One TV show and you think you’re the second coming or what?

No. But not far behind.

Oh, it’s all about you, innit?

You grew up in a society where black people were the majority, yeah?

I grew up in an environment where I was the minority.

From day one I was judged as being ‘too Negroid’ to be adopted.

So don’t you come at me with your lofty words and your Black Jacobins, alright?

Look, you’re right to say that sometimes words aren’t enough.

But know this… No one is going to help us unless we help ourselves.

Yeah, you’re absolutely right, actions do speak louder than words.

And the first thing that I want you to do is tidy up the bloody mess that you have made in the kitchen.

Move it!

You still there? Good for nothing but making a whole of a mess.

Yuh varnish your house like this? You stinking up the place!

PC Pulley. Yes, how can I help you?

I want to talk to the manager of this fancy new… what is it?

It’s a restaurant. And I is the owner, not the manager.

Aren’t you the golden goose?

Yeah, and we closed right now.

Smells like a sex club to me, Mr Crichlow.

No, sir, sex club is not my thing. We setting up for lunch….

So how about a sausage and egg then?

Yeah, the Mangrove don’t do that kind of thing.

It’s just spicy food you know. For a particular palate.

Irregardless you have to book to eat here.

What, with this?

No. With our reservation book.

Do I have to spell it out?

No, I understand enough. I met many a hustler, Constable.

What did you just call me?

I call you Constable.

Maybe you’re an Officer now.

I’ll arrest you right now, bastard.

Arrest me for what?

I haven’t forgotten your antics at your last shithole. The Rio. Degenerates.

Illegal gambling, ponces, nonces…

This is a new business.

Late night queer parties.

It’s a different kind of thing.

Drug-dealing.

I’ve never taken drugs in my life.

We’ll shut you down before you can say, eenie…

I don’t want no trouble.

We got company….

Hey, leave the Mangrove alone.

Leave him alone.

He said move.

Leave the Mangrove alone.

Move on, Pulley. Move on.

Move your backside from our area.

You not got jobs to go to?

Get out of here, man. Get out.

Move your backside. Move.

The Mangrove is a restaurant.

It serves West Indian cuisine to people who eat that kind of food.

Just like any other restaurant.

Greek, French, English, for that matter. We the Mangrove.

We pay we taxes, we pay we bills, and we pay we staff.

You gonna try and arrest me for that, or what?

Yes, Frank.

Tell him, Frank. Tell him.

You can’t out-smart them blue necks, man.

No! The Mangrove ain’t nothing like the Rio.

They have no business here so long as we keep the place clean.

End of the story.

Good afternoon.

Good afternoon.

My name is Altheia Jones.

I am a student studying biochemistry in this country, but today I am here as a member of the Black Panther movement.

I have been invited here by your trade union to talk you about your workers’ rights and your power as a collective force.

We have discovered, discovered and rediscovered, the ways in which we can overcome the fragmentation our people have suffered throughout our history.

The way is through joining the struggle and being part of an organised struggle.

For it is the struggle actually, which makes us whole.

So I have come here today to encourage you to actively support your trade union.

Because the virtue of lending your voice to collective bargaining is that together we become stronger.

If colonialism is good for anything it brought us together on this table.

Sorry, where’s your bathroom?

Through the kitchen.

Excuse me.

Good evening….

Skippy never used to go home.

Skippy carries his toothbrush in his suit pocket.

But that was the Rio. And this place ain’t nothing like that.

Cappuccino….

I think they were serving a different type of coffee at the Rio.

Frank. A beautiful evening. Thank you very much….

I hope you’re walking.

No, I’m flying.

Goodnight, goodnight.

When all the girls in town feeling bad,…

No more Yankees in Trinidad…

They going to close down the base for good

Them girls have to make out all they could…

Brother is now they park up in town

In for a penny, and in for a pound

Believe me it’s competition for so

Trouble in the town when the price drop low

So when you bounce up Jean and Dinah

Rosita and Clemintina, round the corner posing

Bet your life is something they selling

And if you catch them broken

You can get them all for nothing

Don’t make a row, the yankees gone,

Sparrow take over now

Hey, I sorry, yeah. I miss the bus now

See, this is why I don’t wait for nobody. I said meet me at two.

You better be here for two.

Look, just fifteen minutes, now.

No excuses, man. Now we’re late, and I’m never late.

The government believes the British state, with over a million black people living here now, is in grave danger.

Yeah, Roddy speak truth, nuh.

But that shouldn’t come as a surprise to any of us here.

I think the Black Panthers need to actively prepare in order to defend the Black institutions and businesses that can come under threat.

Like Frank Crichlow over at the Mangrove.

C’mon, man, Frank is not interested in the movement….

What you mean?

We have nutten but love for the man, Frank, alright, but that man blood run purer than politics.

If you can call an inveterate gambler pure.

No, listen.

You’re wicked you, you know.

Frank is a charming and gentle person who doesn’t realise what he has done for our community in simply providing us the space.

The Mangrove is now a focal point for black people to come and sit, talk, and exchange views. That is a rare and precious gift.

Damn right. And that Betty make the best roti.

But seriously talking, we need to defend ourselves against Powell and his Rivers of Blood nonsense, before that stream winds its way to our door.

Guy need to wind himself into the sewer, damn rat. Talking foolishness.

Ladies first, yeah….

You know how long I’ve been waiting?

All complaints go through the old lady of the house….

Up! Get up, you black bastard.

Don’t fucking move!

Where is your warrant?

Frank!

Betty!

Get down. Get fucking down.

You black bastard! Where do you think you’re…

Kenny!

If Scotland Yard can’t accept responsibility for the raid on my restaurant, then I have to make a report of an illegal entry on Friday evening of last week.

What happened?

Notting Dale CID carried out the raid, and you can’t tell me why?

It take you three days to find out who and now you can’t say why!

The Dangerous Drug Act?!

What does that have to do with a legitimate restaurant, man?

Chuts, it’s stupidness!

They’re outside right now you know, Frank. Two of them.

Shit!…

I said no trouble inside this place. No trouble, it’s a restaurant.

You want to eat? You come here to eat?

Hold on!

I come here to offer my support and the support of the Black Panthers.

But, yes, I want to eat, thank you.

I’m sorry. It’s a stress.

Nothing to say sorry for.

Just as long as you ain’t run out of crab and callallo?

So, what are you writing?

Pamphlet. Black Dimension.

It’s going to focus on the community and the Police State in West London.

Especially that brute, Pulley.

I like the sound of that. Hold on.

The Black Panthers can do a press release.

I don’t want the Mangrove to have a reputation for what the police do and done.

I lived all that bother at the Rio.

This is a restaurant, a respectable restaurant, and I want to keep it that way.

That’s not to say I ain’t grateful for all your offering of support, but I can’t make no complaint, yah know?

It’s a restaurant, not a battleground….

I hear you.

Food is good.

Yah?

You know, in the Ifa tradition of the Yoruba, Ogun is the energy whose machete is used to clear the path.

Ogun is the energy of iron and Ogun is the energy of the steel pan.

Why you mention Ogun? Why you say that?

Dunno. Perhaps I feeling a little of that energy.

You pan?

Once or twice, a long time ago.

Okay. Well, let we agree.

You can have your Panther meetings upstairs as long as you agree to play in the Mangrove steel band this carnival.

Oh, gosh! As long as you can’t change your mind when you listen me try?

No, no. You want pan?

I want pan.

You want pan now?

No, no.

Look! Yeah!

No, settle yourself.

We made an agreement.

We have everything you need.

Gentlemen, some lead for your pencil.

Royce.

Cheers, gov.

Not married, are you?

No.

Got a girlfriend?

No. I’d like one though.

Well, we better find you one.

That would be nice.

Well, I hope you settle in. You’re in a foreign country now, aren’t you?

What do you mean?

We all look after each other here.

-What?

Quick game.

-What have I done?

Ace of Spades. You know the rules.

What rules?

No one told him? Well, that’s not very fair, gents.

Rules are rules.

Whoever draws the ace of spades has to go out

and nick the first black bastard they clap eyes on.

-Nick him for what? -You’ll learn.

-This is urgent. What’s your name? -Who are you, more like?

I am Frank Crichlow, and this is Mrs Manning.

She son, Kendrick Manning, is missing, and we have reason to believe…

How long has he been missing?

Well, he disappeared from…

I didn’t ask you. Did I? How long?

Kenny’s supposed to reach home at nine. Nine o’clock.

Six hours? Nah, that don’t make a missing person.

I know something happened to my boy.

How?

Hey, let me tell you something.

Kendrick Manning vanished on Tavistock Gardens

leaving his family’s food shopping on the street.

I can repeat it for you? -Alright, alright. Take a seat.

No. I insist on seeing him…

You having trouble understanding? Take a seat I said!

Frank ! Calm down, calm down.

Calm down.

Come, let we sit down, let we sit down. We’re right here.

Come, let we sit down. -That’s it.

Davis, do we have any visitors?

Yeah, perfect timing….

Looks like he had a fall….

Calm her down. Out.

Calm down, madam.

You need to calm down.

You need to calm down.

See you, you devil!

Hey, Frank, let it go.

Go back to wherever you come from.

How’s your tea?

How many you thinking about doing this time?

I’m going for a bigger run.

You can read, can’t you?

Get out of my house!

Shut up, you whore!

Come on. Come on, come on, come on.

You’ll regret this.

You’re the one who’s gonna regret it.

Get out. Get out.

Smash that for us.

Get out of my house!

Get out.

Get out.

Police!

-Stay down. -I haven’t done nothing.

Kendrick! Don’t resist.

Shut it you fucking black bastard. Shut it!

Who want to play me for the Mangrove?

You’re joking or what?

No, I serious. Number Eight All Saints Road. What you saying?

Look, nobody is gonna take that.

Alright, it’s my business.

Come on. What I can’t give it away?…

Mangrove man. Him listen?

Who do good fuh jumbie is dem jumbie does frighten.

Me want tuh hail out de good yuh mek fuh de people. Nutten go unseen.

But de Mangrove’s a burden yuh gonna have to carry yuhself.

Dat ah truth.

Go on, man.

Play the cards.

Pulley will sue me for criminal libel as long as my black skin is in Notting Hill.

I actively encourage you to go and live in the North of England.

In East Lancashire.

Yeah, that could work.

I could come and visit you all the time, maybe…

Pulley will still be able to sue my black backside in East Lancashire.

Tunapuna. Trinidad. I will go home….

You can’t do that, Darcus, because I’ll never get to see you, will I?

At this moment in history you could inspire a revolution.

Yeah, and how we gonna afford to do that, then? You selfish git.

Excuse me, sorry.

Just let me get set up, Frank.

I will send them up in a minute.

Right, listen up, boys. This is Mr Stedman.

I brought him down here to help with the police.

So, listen, and listen carefully.

Go ahead, Mr Stedman.

Now, if you get stopped and searched…

You mean when.

Yes. I mean, as a citizen of this country you are legally intitled to insist on having a lawyer present before you say anything.

But how is we supposed to say something, if you is saying we ain’t supposed to say anything.

You’re supposed to say something, fool, you just don’t say nothing.

I can see I haven’t explained it too well.

I advise you to say nothing other than to remind them you that have the right to remain silent and require a lawyer present before you say anything else.

So we is supposed to say something.

Yes, look, the system is…

The system? The system crooked as a damn ram’s horn, that’s what it is…

We were waltzing together

To a sweet, sweet melody

When they called out, ‘change partners’

And you waltzed away from me

Open the door.

Tell them we’re closed.

We’re closed!

Police! Open the door!

What you doing?

Don’t touch me!

Betty!

Get your hands off me. Betty! Betty!

Warrant.

I don’t care for no blasted warrant.

What in God’s name is going on in here?

You serving drinks without a license? At this hour?

Tea. We’re drinking blasted tea.

You’re breaking the law of this country, that’s what’s happening.

Who d’you think you are?

Opening up a restaurant, thinking your some sort of… chief.

I opened this place for people to come and go no matter who they are.

And that’s all well and good.

But the problem is your menu. Certain things have to be added in order for you to continue with your establishment.

We only serve spicy cuisine here!

You see, you people don’t really understand, do you?

You come over here with your bright clothes, you sleep with our women, make like you’re a big shot.

But guess what? It isn’t happening.

Not on my watch.

Pulley, stop! Pulley!

You bastard! You devil!…

You are a devil! You are a devil! What’s wrong with you?…

You’re a devil, Pulley….

Shall we go and play some music?

Crichlow?

Which leaves me to ask the question, was the Mangrove used as a night café?

I find that it was. I do not feel it’s necessary for it to be open if customers can knock and be let in….

It’s also not necessary to prove that money has changed hands.

The defendant is fined £25 and must pay for the legal costs of all those involved. Next.

I want a transcript of what the judge just said.

Biting your finger nail. What you thinking?

Nothing, Tanty.

Crapaud smoke yuh pipe. Why you lying?

Don’t play with me, child.

Me head hot.

Seems like we reaching the end of the road, yah know….

One raid lead to another raid lead to another raid,

then they use that as an excuse to give me a different type of licks.

They taking away the alcohol license now….

The police in cahoots with the council, the council with the damn judge, the judge with the police….

And the customers not stepping foot in here.

Too frighten. They ain’t coming day or night.

Why the police harassing us in this place, eh?

The business buss.

Well, you don’t put water in your mouth to spell it out, eh.

Me don’t have nobody to cook for!

The place is like a jumbie ballroom!

I ain’t know why I boddering.

Frank? Frank?

Oh, Miss Tetley.

Dorothy, if you come with your belly hungry, you’re in luck.

Betty in need of a mouth to feed.

I come for give you this.

Every Sunday since me come ah England, me ah save ah likkle ting.

Thinking about going back Jamaica, one time.

I can’t do that…

The Mangrove is part of this story and me need to say this.

This ah the place what makes me know this really my home from home now.

And everybody in the community say that them need this place, too.

So this, for you.

If me stay, me a gwan cry.

Just know, Frank, this make me happy.

Probably nothing but a shilling.

Elizabeth Crichlow! Get your dirty fingers off that thing there.

And you sit there with your face screw-up.

Dolston?…

What?…

We closing down the restaurant….

Yeah, boy. But we keeping the Mangrove open. Twenty four hours a day open.

Yeah, you hear me correct?…

I want poker games. Dice. As many tables as the police ain’t broke.

But we keeping this place open by the hook or by the crook.

You gone cuckoo? Close down the kitchen and what?

You can still use your long broom to sweep up in the corner.

Yes, what you want, boy?

Wanna seat at the big table downstairs.

Listen, we don’t have no drugs in here, you understand?

You think me stupid enough to bring drugs in here

when them raid four times in the last six weeks?

Nine times.

See? What cat can handle that?

Look, that’s a man’s nine lives right there, Frank.

Come again.

Fucking business, no!

What in hell… this boy. Stop, stop. Pull over, pull over.

Hold up. Pull up, pull over.

Leave the boy alone, man.

You alright, Benson? Yeah?

Marsha. Go up to the Mangrove and get Mr Stedman, okay? Go. Go!

Why you stop the boy?

Are you interfering with police?

Yes! Why you stopping the boy?

He matches the description.

Description? What description?

Pulley. There’s a robbery in progress. We’ve gotta go. Sir.

Just your luck.

Go and get your r’aas out.

Shut up, you twat!

Why’d he stop you?

No reason.

No reason?

Come, we go. Come. Come.

Trinidad has been remade, Frank. I saw it. I heard it.

The revolution has changed the very rhythm of the people’s speech.

They, they talking with greater deliberation,

they pausing before speaking and such.

It’s as if it has provoked an unconscious social patience that…

it was truly something to behold.

Yeah.

Yeah. It is a complete harassment on this restaurant.

A complete harassment on a Black business.

They’re trying to destroy it. And all the people they’re afraid to come.

We’ve made complaints. We’ve made complaints to the Home Office.

To my embassy. And now to you, my local Member of Parliament…

Because the bodderation continue and continue and I know it is because I am a Black citizen of this country which is why I am being discriminated against…

Pr-proof? What more proof you need, man? Chuts, man.

All development come from self-movement.

Not because of external forces acting on the organism.

What shit you talking?

Your strategy of relying on the white establishment will never work, Frank.

Not… Darco, not now.

I see a man before me, right, a man of, of great patience and humility

who, unbeknownst to him, has become a leader of his people.

CLR James have it written.

‘These are new men.’

He say, ‘new types of human beings, because these men have perspective.

They are leaders, but leaders who are rooted deep among those they lead.’

Now, he speaks of you, Frank.

He does too….

But I see this leader suffering the consequences

of a state-sponsored attempt to close down his business.

My brother, this government will never take up its responsibility to you and this community, not unless it sees people on the street.

Let us organise a demonstration….

We’re not in Trinidad now, boy. This is Notting Hill.

This is Notting Hill. This place, the Mangrove, it is Notting Hill.

Whether you can recognise so or not. This is the front line.

The Mangrove… the, this, this, is community, the black community is your community.

The Black community who rely on the Mangrove just as much as you rely on them….

Take it to the street. Take it to the street, Frank….

They’d just use it as an excuse to take down the whole dam thing.

That is the truth. If we hold a demonstration, right, you stand to lose the restaurant you have spent your life building.

They might use it to shut down the Mangrove permanently.

But a demonstration is the right thing to do.

Self-movement….

Yeah, we march.

Who dat? Who dat?

Watch it, man.

Hi.

So, what you have in that bag?

Just been at the butchers. It’s a surprise.

HANDS OFF MANGROVE

Hands off the Mangrove!

‘The pigs, the pigs. We gotta get rid of the pigs.

The pigs, the pigs. We gotta get rid of the pigs’

What our Mother country seeks to do is not just to close down a restaurant, but to close down what they see as a space where Black people can put up some kind of resistance to day-to-day harassments by the police.

And I believe the Mangrove not only serves as a negative in putting up that space for black people.

But I believe it serves as a positive purpose in that people in the community have a place to call our own, and we as Black people have lacked that since we were invited here.

So this attack on a Black establishment and our right to gather is not an isolated event.

But a sustained campaign against Black people by the British State, and today we are saying enough is enough!

Black power! Black power!

Black power! Black power!

So let we go and march, and let we march peacefully.

Brothers and sisters.

It has been for some time now that Black people have been caught up in complaining to police about police.

That’s right.

Complaining to magistrates about magistrates.

Complaining to judges about judges.

We must become the shepherds of our own destiny.

What our objective is today, what it’s going to continue to be, is a concerted, determined attempt to prevent any infringement on our rights.

Hands off.

Black people!

Where is Pulley?

Where is Pulley?

Wait, wait, wait. What’s going on?

Shut your mouth, you fucking…

Get in there, lads.

Black Power!

People Power!

What?

Get back. Get back.

Let’s go. Go!

Black Power!

What the hell’s going on?

Hold on!

Black Power! Black Power!

I told you.

Get back. Back off.

Don’t touch me.

Bloody savages.

Black Power! Black Power! Black…

Take your fucking sign and fuck off….

What the fuck are you doing?

Barbara! Barbara!

Take your fucking hands off her. Barbara! Barbara!

Get off me. Get your fucking hands off me!

Why are you doing that? Eh? Are you mad?

Get off me. Get off me. Hey. Eddie!

Altheia!

Eddie!

Take your fucking hands off her… Take your hands off her.

Come on, boys!

In you come.

Alright, boys.

Out the fucking lot of you black bastards. Come on.

Alright, Frank. It’s Frank. You’re nicked.

Why’re you doing this, man?

You not happy to see me?

Man, leave us alone, we’ve done nothing wrong, man.

Ian.

I’m sorry. I’m so sorry, I’ve had to bring him with me in the end.

Don’t worry about it. No, no, it’s no trouble, not at all.

Hello!

So… I thought the Old Bailey was for proper criminals.

You know, like bank robbers, murderers and that.

It’s only a courtroom if you think about it. Nothing more.

Yeah, but we were already found innocent.

The last magistrate threw the charges straight out of court. And now this.

It’s been nearly a year and we’re already back to where we started, only this time at the Old Bailey. I mean, what’s it all about, Ian?

Well, you’re on the front line of change, Barbara.

So they want to try to make an example out of you.

But they can’t do that, can they?

I don’t even understand who’s doing this.

So, the Director of Public Prosecutions has introduced a new charge of riot and affray. It’s a very serious charge indeed, and I’m afraid they’re not obliged to explain themselves to anyone.

But, with your permission, I intend to make it much more unpleasant for them than it has to be for you.

No, I’m not interested in playing silly games.

I’ve got this one to worry about now.

I can’t have him ending up like me. I won’t.

If the two of us get sent away… It just makes me sick to think about it.

I know.

I thought you were retired anyway?

No. I was never retired, honestly. And plus, the revolution’s coming, so I certainly never intended to be practicing law when it did.

Yeah, well, it’s a nightmare, innit?

Well, maybe we’re about to wake up.

Wake up? I just wanna wake up now, Ian.

I hoped never to see us all together in one place again.

No offence to anybody, but what is with this? How could this be allowed to happen, eh?

Ay, relax man. Where is the father, eh?

Oh, don’t ask me, mate.

Sorry, I’m Ian McDonald.

I’m representing Barbara for those that don’t know.

I hope you don’t mind if I just jump in.

The trial, as I’m sure you’re all aware, is taking place at the Old Bailey.

Somewhere normally reserved for only the most serious of crimes.

Murder, terrorism and treason,

so this is just another example of intimidation.

-Hello, Mr Croft! -You look ridiculous.

Oh, thank you.

Early retirement’s been very kind to me. I highly recommend it.

I’m delighted to see you here. Makes me feel safer already.

You don’t need to worry, this is the finest legal system in the world.

How you can trust the system when one judge say

you’re innocent of the riot and affray.

Only for them to bring the charges then back! That don’t make no sense.

Five years!

The counsel tell me to plead guilty and accept five years jail time.

-What? -For real, boy.

So I said I’ll spend five years with your wife.

What are you talking about his wife for, eh?

But concerning legal proceedings and all that skullduggery…

British courtroom is designed to keep the defendant shackled to ignorance.

I say no more. Not in my name. I spent enough time at the bar,

so Darcus Howe going to represent himself.

Which bar you been to? The Red Lion? You wanna go ah prison?

-I studied law, you know, Rhodan. -This case isn’t just about you.

It’s nine defendants, Darcus.

You’re making a decision that will affect everyone.

-Me say nuh. -Actually, that’s a brilliant idea.

Darcus self-representing, that’s brilliant.

It’s the perfect way to challenge the courts archaic set up,

and really take your message inside that building. No, it’s brilliant.

Self-representing means being able to cross-examine witnesses.

Think about that. Make objections in the courtroom. But……

Most importantly, it allows you to speak directly to the jury

in a manner that I for one couldn’t.

Him talking a set of shit to the jury is never gonna help nobody.

I agree with Darcus. I will also represent myself.

-Ah ya yie! Nobody listen to me. -I think that’s a good idea.

Oh, listen! Listen! We need to challenge the system.

Is a system where the judge wearing a dress,

the lawyer all put on a dress and they all wearing a wig.

But the men are all just himself to himself.

They speak only himself to himself.

We mustn’t be victims but protagonists of our stories.

And what better way of representing ourselves,

than self-representing ourselves. He’s right!

Hold on, hold on. Everybody turn crazy or something?

It’s not a game we’re playing here now.

This is our lives. We are facing ten years in prison.

The legal system is designed for experts.

You’re harming yourselves by pursuing this course.

You’ll have to learn how to cross examine witnesses.

It’s going to be a lot of extra work for you.

Doesn’t matter, we can all work together.

Listen, all of you heading to the jail-house. Not me, no sir.

I agree with Mr Gordon. This is a grave mistake.

I wish you luck Mrs Jones-Le Cointe.

No, no, no. We don’t need luck, mister. We need justice.

We need more than that. We need more than that for true.

Oh God, man.

Yes, man.

Over here. Name?

Mr Darcus Howe, acting counsel.

Says you’re in the dock down here. Up arms.

If you were to make a more thorough investigation,

you’ll find that I am in fact, acting counsel.

-I should be treated as such. -Up!

Sorry, is there… Is there an issue here?

I can confirm that Mr Howe is acting counsel.

Self-representing, are we? First time for everything.

So you’ll be wanting to search me too then, yes?

No, sir. That won’t be necessary.

Right. Thank you, Darcus. This way.

-Self-representing? -No.

Let’s have the bag.

Up arms. Round you go. Thank you.

-Name? -Altheia Jones. Self-representing.

Mangrove nine are innocent! The police should be on trial!

The Mangrove nine are innocent! The police should be on trial!

The Mangrove nine are innocent!

Clerk of the court.

Mr Mendel, please ensure that none of the protesters

are admitted this morning.

I don’t care if they have tickets.

Okay. Everyone, everyone.

Now, as you all know,

Altheia and Darcus will be representing themselves in court today.

Meaning that they will be able to cross examine witnesses,

make submissions to the judge and so on.

My role, as well as defending Barbara,

will be to act as a sort of… bridge for those less familiar

with the legal witchcraftery that’s practised in this building.

So, I’d like to start by bringing everyone up to speed on his Lordship.

Judge Edward Clark. Now the good news for us

is that he’s an old, cantankerous, upper-class bully.

And Mr Short Back and Sides, that’s a good thing, is it?

Yes, it is, because it means he won’t like being wound up.

But wind him up, we must. And wind him up, we will.

I’m struggling to understand how you consider

antagonising the judge to be a viable strategy.

That’s just the start, Mr Croft.

We also have to find ourselves an all-black jury.

A black jury?

Yes, okay, if you want to pass these round.

We pay a pound for a list of all the proposed jurors.

-Make sure everyone’s got one. -Wimbledon? Ealing and such?

Doctors, civil servants don’t understand our struggle.

You’re damn right! Their mind’s made up already.

Listen, some of them got to be black.

But if every one of us exercises our right to reject seven jurors.

That’s seven-nines.

Sixty-three. We’ve got sixty-three attempts.

Exactly.

Look, ain’t no matter. The system is rigged me a tell you.

The judge man a bully.

You think him let a single black man on the jury? Hear me counsel.

All ah youse better start listening to him instead of running up your mouth.

Well with all due respect, Rhodan. And to you too, Mr Lock.

I actually think that mouthing off might be our best strategy.

We are here to defend our lives.

So we are going to be loud and we are going to be decisive.

Step aside, please sir.

I have my ticket. Look.

If you’d like to step to one side, please.

It’s my wife on trial. No, you have to let me in.

Sir. Step to one side.

Ya tell all need to have a ticket. Look it’s right here.

Ya blasted ragamuffin.

And you. You only standing there not saying nothing.

Ya see how they treating me. And the ticket right here!

And you only standing there like some macco. Man, take your fucking ticket.

Silence. Be upstanding in court.

All persons who have anything to do before My Lords and Ladies,

the Queen’s justices draw near and give your attention. God save the Queen.

Good morning.

Mr Hill, are we ready to proceed?

Good morning, My Lord. Almost ready.

Before jury selection, we will discuss access to the courtroom.

The defence will then raise concerns about the composition of the jury….

Thank you, Mr Hill, thank you.

Good morning, your Lordship!

My Lord, some relatives were prevented

from entering court this morning.

I’m a little disturbed that at the very beginning of this case,

the very people who need to hear what happens

suffered at the door of the court.

The public do not have unreserved access to my courtroom.

-‘My courtroom,’ your Lordship? -In this instance, my courtroom.

The officers have every right to keep out those

who are not playing an essential part in this case.

But, your Lordship, such is the public interest in this case

that might I actually suggest a few extra seats be made available.

Somewhere at the rear of the courtroom, I think we can squeeze a couple in.

You need know, I issued the instructions myself.

And it’s not a matter I wish to continue discussing in this courtroom.

Well, justice must be seen to be done by members of the public surely?

For Christ’s sake, get a hold of yourself man.

On the matter of extra seats… Your application is denied.

When the jury have been sworn in, it can be a matter…

My husband was refused admission to the public gallery,

even though he had a valid ticket.

That is the luck of the draw as with most things in life.

What do the defence have to say about selection of the jury?

Yes, My Lord.

On behalf of my client and the rest of the defendants sat,

rather uncomfortably, in the dock today.

I am making an application for an all-black jury to be appointed.

The decision to grant this application would be hailed throughout the world…

as a great victory for liberty.

And why on God’s Earth would I agree to that?

Well, an all-black jury is required in this case, your Lordship,

because they are the only persons who qualify,

in the conditions of our modern society, as equals of the defendants.

And are you implying that a white jury would not treat the defendants fairly,

as they are required to do by law.

No. Not at all, your Lordship, no.

Only that, with a white jury you cannot guarantee against persons

prejudicing the defendants solely because they are black.

My Lord, as my esteemed colleague Mr Howe here has enlightened me,

my request is based on the common law of England,

which has existed for over seven-hundred years.

Stretching as far back as the Magna Carta, which was in twelve-fifteen,

there’s a great swathe of historical examples that give precedent

that a man should be tried by his peers, or his equals.

So what I am asking for is something

that I am entitled to under British law.

I’m not asking for an extension of the law,

nor am I asking the court to make any special concessions.

I am grateful for your argument but your application is rejected.

Would his Lordship consider expanding on the reasons for his judgement?

I do not regard these circumstances so exceptional

that I should give my reasons.

My Lord, I have no precedence to state, but I have a sense of justice.

Need I repeat myself? The application is rejected. Move on.

My Lord. I’d ask the court for a short adjournment

so that I might consult with the defendants.

Your request is rejected.

A lot of very simple things are already becoming complicated in this case.

Do not make inflammatory remarks, Mr McDonald.

I am trying to keep things simple

because there are unrepresented defendants in the dock.

-Do not do it again. -Of course.

Take the Bible in your right hand.

-I swear… -Challenge!

-Take the Bible in your right hand. -Challenge!

-Take the Bible in your right… -Challenge!

Exercising my right, My Lord.

Challenging the jury may be within your judicial rights,

but I don’t want this trial to deteriorate

into a black and white contest.

If you are going to challenge,

I ask you to do it before the swearing in begins. Understood?

Of course.

-Take the Bible in your right hand. -Challenge!

My Lord, you’ve just said that all challenges must be lodged

before the oaths commence.

As was the case. Challenge upheld. You may leave the court.

-My Lord… -Mr McDonald! I said upheld.

You’re not doing anyone any favours by behaving like that.

Well once Altheia and Darcus get going Mr Croft

I’m gonna seem positively timid. I’m just warming the old bastard up.

The judge wanna purge all ah we. I see it in the eye, plain as day.

Every request we make he rejects straight up.

Just a likkle sparring man. Me wanna join in.

British justice. What a joke. It’s a disaster, isn’t it, Ian.

No! It’s not a disaster, no.

See, we just made a judge at the Old Bailey discuss race in his courtroom.

He didn’t want to do that. He want to pretend this is a case

about violence, about criminals, about malcontents.

But we have made it about what it is. About the colour of our skin.

It’s a victory, uh?

It’s our first victory.

Darcus is right. It might not be pretty but we keep it going.

An idea float eventually by itself.

Me have a idea.

For real.

On Sunday the ninth of August in North Kensington,

a demonstration took place against the police

which degenerated into totally inexcusable and unacceptable violence.

There may be some in here who believe

that they have been the victim of injustice

at the hands of the police.

But there are others who like parasites feed on these beliefs.

And seek to turn them to their own advantage.

Encouraging, and sometimes deliberately creating

hate, mistrust and violence.

Ladies and gentlemen,

this was not just a flamboyant demonstration that got out of control.

The crown will prove, that this demonstration was led by those

intent on fanning what they knew to be an emotional situation.

They egged on the violence and deliberately joined in.

These defendants are all guilty

of the serious criminal offence riot and affray.

My Lord, I detect a certain vagueness in the way the prosecution

has brought this new charge of affray. As a famous philosopher once said…

I am giving you enormous latitude here, Mr Howe.

Sit down before I find you in contempt of court.

And take that ridiculous hat off.

-Will you please proceed, Mr Hill. -Thank you, My Lord.

Would you like to take the affirmation or the oath?

The oath.

Please hold the Bible and read the oath out aloud.

I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I shall give,

shall be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Please state your name and rank.

Police Constable, Frank Pulley.

PC Pulley, when did you join the police force?

-Nineteen-fifty-four. -Seventeen years ago.

And in all that time, how many complaints have been made against you?

No more than is normal. Maybe seven or eight official complaints.

None of them have been substantiated.

And how many times have you been commended for service

to Her Majesty’s police force?

A few times. More than a few.

My Lord, my understanding from you is that questions

are to be focused on matters concerning the trial.

Madam, I think the jury will understand

that this is a member of the Metropolitan Police

and is to be respected as such….

As long as the defendants are afforded

the same privileges as PC Pulley, Your Lordship.

Mr MacDonald, sit down and be quiet. Mr Hill, please continue.

Thank you, My Lord. Do go on, PC Pulley.

About my commendations.

In nineteen-sixty-eight I received the British Empire medal

for gallantry whilst on duty.

Thank you.

Can you describe your role on the day of the demonstration?

At two-fifteen p.m., myself and three other police constables,

PC Dixon, PC Royce and PC Johnson

went to the Mangrove in an observation van.

For what purpose?

For the purpose of identifying people who were involved in the demonstration.

We arrived just before Howe addressed the crowd.

What did he say?

We were going back and forth in our vehicle,

so I couldn’t make any note of what he said.

So the demonstration then set off from All Saints Road

in the direction of Notting Dale police station, correct?

Correct. With Howe and Crichlow leading the way.

I did see them also leave the main procession to try

and get more people to join in.

Millet was selling newspapers.

I saw him approach a black woman with a half-caste child.

And she said to him

‘Go away and leave us alone, man. You stupid troublemakers.’

Did you hear his response?

Millet told her ‘You better think black, baby.

Or you die with the white pigs when the time comes.’

Liar. No…

THE PIGS THE PIGS HANDS OFF BLACK

Did you see what started the fighting?

I did not, no. I saw Crichlow and Howe talking together

before joining in the main fight.

Please describe their actions for the courtroom as you recorded it.

They were acting like savages.

Howe was encouraging the mob and standing on a brick wall screaming,

‘Kill the white pigs.’

I saw Crichlow throw a piece of wood right at an officer.

Him and LeCointe, both throwing bricks and bottles.

How’s Darcus coping in all this?

Yeah, okay. I think he’s nervous about his coming speech.

Not that Darcus. Darcus junior.

Yeah. He’s teething, you know, so he’s not sleeping.

What if he’s taken into care? Like I was?

It’s not going to happen.

Well, it will if both of his parents get sent away. It will.

I’m scared too, you know. But we have to have faith.

Faith in the British justice system.

Yeah. Yeah, there’s a thought.

At least they can’t take yours away from you. Not whilst it’s in there.

And they can’t take yours either. Not whilst he’s in here.

You gon’ eat a likkle, Frank?

Just now….

What you’re doing’ is a good ting, you know.

Might not feel like it but… it is.

Everybody come together over this. Have so much food…

I can’t go to the jail-house, Dol.

Justice stay upon your side, eh?

My backside maybe.

Dice fix you up, man. A game later tonight.

No. But don’t make me stop you lose your pension.

You me pension, Frank.

You and everybody else.

-Can you take him a minute, please? -I can’t, I working.

-Yeah, well I’m working too. -Look, I can’t hear myself think!

I’m trying to prepare for cross examining Pulley,

can you just shut up!

Come on.

I have it. I have them this time.

My Lord. I am defending myself against some very serious allegations

made by PC Pulley and three other police officers

who were stationed in a van.

I would like to start by stating my intention to question

the credibility of this witness, PC Frank Pulley.

Noted. Now is your opportunity.

May I ask, PC Pulley, if you think

anybody who goes to the Mangrove restaurant is already corrupted?

Yes, I believe so.

So frequent visitors like,

the local MP, Mr Bruce Douglas-Mann are corrupted?

Is this what you are suggesting?

I don’t know the local MP.

Are you suggesting I am corrupted?

I have been to the Mangrove on several occasions.

I should think you are, yes.

I know the place to be a haunt of criminals,

prostitutes, ponces and the like.

I put it to you, that all your comments on this case,

all the information you put to the jury is rooted in prejudice.

It’s rooted in experience of an area I have served

as a police officer for a considerable length of time.

-When did you join the police force? -Nineteen-fifty-four.

Almost the same time as Detective Inspector Stockwell joined too?

Yes.

And yet you are a constable still?

That’s correct.

May I be so bold as to ask why you have never risen through the ranks?

I left school quite young.

Truth is I’ve never been able to pass the police examinations.

My Lord, I cannot see the relevance.

Mr Howe, please keep to the incidents of August the ninth.

Very well, my Lord.

Police Constable Pulley, you made a statement,

that at the beginning of the demonstration during the speeches

that the crowd had started chanting.

I ask you to compare your statement

with that of your three other colleagues present,

who had made no mention of chanting.

They hadn’t said they couldn’t hear, there is a difference.

Did you and your other colleagues in the observation van,

did you write your statements at the same time, in the same room?

Yes, we did. When you work in the same room, that’s normal.

Is it quite normal too,

to decide together what to put in, and what to leave out your statements?

I’m not sure where you’re going with this, but we did no such thing.

Of course not.

Far be it from me to imply such chicanery.

PC Pulley, can you please confirm

that this is the size of the slit in the observation van?

It’s roughly the same I guess, yeah.

Very good guess, PC Pulley. This is roughly the size of the slit.

Two by eight inches….

Not much bigger, and not much smaller.

It is your testament that you,

PC Dixon and PC Johnson were all looking through this same hole

at the same time. Correct?

-I’m sorry. Is that correct? -Yes, that’s correct.

I would like to know, PC Pulley,

how it is possible that even two men

could look through this same hole at the same time?

Quiet, at once!

It’s possible if you… It’s possible if they both look through one eye.

So, where was your face PC Pulley?

Next to PC Royce or next to PC Dixon?

Was it like this?

Or like this?

Where was your face, Pulley?

My Lord, please direct Mr Howe to address the witness correctly.

Constable Pulley, you know why you are now being ridiculed?

The image of four police officers

behaving in such a manner is worthy of ridicule, is it not?

It could make a stuffed bird laugh.

Could make a stuffed bird laugh.

PC Pulley, I suggest that substantial and important parts

of your evidence are deliberate lies.

Deliberate and conspiratorial lies,

designed to have my freedom taken away from me!

So, where exactly was your face then?

Like this? Or perhaps like this? Where was it?

I don’t remember.

You don’t remember.

No.

PC Royce, thirteen times you say, you don’t remember or you can’t say.

PC Pulley said thirty-three times he didn’t remember.

PC Johnson, twenty-eight times.

About seventy times the three of you say, you can’t remember.

You were put in a van to observe and record.

From beginning to end, in order to provide information

that would give the truth as to what took place.

I suggest you failed distinctly in your responsibility to observe and record.

Let me ask you again. Where was your face, PC Royce?

Where was your face?

If you do not accept responsibility now,

history will bestow it upon you.

Pulley’s signalling at the witness.

I seen him. Royce taking instruction upon the witness stand.

Is a breach ah court, a court breach.

Constable Pulley, this is a very serious allegation.

I must ask that you leave the courtroom at once.

Is only that? Shouldn’t a crooked man be lock up or something?

Will the defendant sit down at once!

Mr Pulley….

You will not return until your fellow officers in the observation van

have all given their evidence.

You should consider yourself lucky that no further action will be taken.

No further questions, my Lord.

Should have been bang-up if you ask me. Least been given some licks.

But if you hadn’t shouted at the judge we’d have had a much better chance

at a sterner punishment.

Don’t give me a six for a nine. Cause you is working for me.

-Brother, no hot up you head now? -Gonna cool down, boy?

It’s alright for you. The cunumunu supposed to be working for me!

Me done. Me don’t need no counsel. Go on! Get out my eyeball range!

Rhodan. Where you go to, boy?

I’ll represent myself. If them two can, me can too.

No disrespect, yah? But ya sure you up for that?

Altheia and Darcus they put in the work, you know?

And if you vex the judge, that could do you more harm.

That could do all ah we more harm.

Frank! It’s every man for him own self.

It’s dem and we.

Be upstanding in court.

I swear by Almighty God that the evidence

I shall give shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

I swear by Almighty God that the evidence I shall give

shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

-State your name and rank. -PC Charles Wheeler.

-Where are you stationed? -Notting Dale police station.

And how long have you been serving in the Metropolitan police?

It’s been about five years now.

And in those five years, how many complaints have been made against you?

None. None at all.

None? And how many commendations?

I’ve had three.

Could you please tell the court what the first commendation was for?

I was involved in a rescue.

A rescue? What sort of rescue?

A father had abducted a…

It’s also repetitious and irrelevant. Where is the justice?

Sit down!

No! No, no I won’t. The officer has nothing to do with the case.

It is a complete waste of time! Where is the justice?

The officer has nothing to do with the case.

The officer has nothing to do with the case.

I am warning you. Take control of your client.

Silence in court!

Silence!

Nothing to do with the case!…

Silence!

If any, of the defendants…

Whatever man, it’s a bloodclaat conspiracy, man!

If any of the defendants continue to disrupt these proceedings

they will be taken downstairs! Is that understood?

To let emotions settle,

we will continue with the Crown’s witness after an adjournment.

-God’s sake! -Justice!

-Bumbaclaat! -Typical!

Come on, now. Come on down. Clear the court.

-Ian! -Yes?

-Talk to me, boy. -I said, clear the court!

Take your hands off him!

Darcus do not resist. Don’t resist! Darcus!

Get in there!…

What’s wrong with you?

Come on, then. Come on, then. Fight me, come on!

All of ya, come on! Fight me!

Fight me!

Ya savages! All a’ ya wicked men, ya wicked!

Ya dutty mothers, nanas skunt. Ya skunt. All ya wicked men.

What’s wrong with you?

Come on! Come on!

Ya dirty, ya dirt nanas skunt.

Ya skunt. All you wicked, you wicked men.

Ya dirty, nasty skunt. Ya skunt!

What’s wrong with you!

Let the court be upstanding.

Your Honour.

It’s my Lord or Your Lordship. Yes, Mr Howe.

My Lord. I want to bring a matter to your attention.

Before the break, I was trying to speak to my co-counsel, Mr MacDonald.

As acting counsel, I’m perfectly entitled to do this.

When a prison officer, suddenly went berserk,

manhandling me worse than if I were a convicted prisoner.

So I said, ‘hold on, please let me have a few words with him.’

Whereupon he dragged me to the top there, slammed me down the stairs.

I am now concerned about my physical well-being

which I had presumed safe at the Old Bailey.

Are there any witnesses to these allegations?

I can confirm that Mr Howe’s version of events is correct my Lord, yes.

My Lord. My client Frank Crichlow was also manhandled by court officers.

Thank you, Mr Woodley, but that is quite enough on this matter….

Mr Howe, this should not have been discussed in front of the jury….

The jury must not be concerned with external matters

that have nothing at all to do with this case.

Please, find a way to purge this from your minds.

Your sole considerations are with those events that happened last year

on August the ninth on Portnall Road.

My Lord. This is a matter of the utmost seriousness.

And all we are asking is that it should be dealt with accordingly.

And that is precisely what this court intends to do.

But according to the law. I insist that you apologise for your rudeness.

I’ll apologise to His Lordship, when His Lordship apologises to Mr Howe.

Mr Mendel, after the break I suggest all court officers be replaced.

I see the matter ending there.

The aerobic and anaerobic organisms transmitted by the mouth

when human teeth pierce or lacerate the skin can cause cellulitis,

an infection that…

Thank you, Dr Chadee.

Where in your statement do you mention punctures or lacerations to the skin?

Nowhere in your statement.

You only talk of bite marks and indentations to the skin.

Now can you tell the courtroom, how many days after the demonstration,

and my subsequent arrest on the ninth of August,

was it before you examined the police officers?

And if you need any sort of help,

it is written clearly at the top of your statement.

-Four days. -Sorry, so we can all hear.

Four days later.

Four days later?

Thank you. So my question is this.

In your expert medical opinion, how much time do you have,

once these bite marks, these indentations have been inflicted

to precisely identify when they were made.

Oh, gosh. You quiet.

It’s not a trick question. Shall I repeat it for you?

Three hours. About three hours.

And so, after three hours,

it is no longer possible to tell when the bite marks were made, correct?

I’ve been accused of biting a police officer who was examined by you

four days after the events, Dr Chadee.

Four days! Someone is obviously lying in this courtroom. Is it you?

My Lord, I must object to the phrase used in the line of questioning.

Please rephrase your question Miss Jones-LeCointe.

Seems like a fitting way to end a prosecution’s case

if you ask me, My Lord.

No further questions.

Dr Chadee, you may stand down.

Now that the prosecution’s case has come to an end,

we will adjourn for a few days while legal submissions are made.

What they gonna do to try and get us this time?

Forgive me, My Lord, but it is evidently clear

that there are pronounced contradictions and inconsistencies

between the Crown and prosecution.

Therefore, if it please Your Lordship,

the defence submit that the prosecution’s case should not proceed,

that there is no case to answer,

and that these matters should not be left with a jury.

Much as there is a temptation to remove your presence from this court.

I find there is a Prima facie case to be made.

I reject your submission.

Be upstanding in court.

I don’t wanna go to jail.

The only crime you’ve committed is to give a space to these people.

You’re a law-abiding citizen.

Your premises were overrun by a bunch of agitators.

What ya really saying, man?

I can’t help these people, Mr Crichlow.

But I can help you, if you plead guilty.

Is what he telling you, Frank?

Look how you screwing up your face. Is what he telling you to do?

Plead guilty.

Plead what? Is that what you said for real?

Mrs Jones-LeCointe, these are very serious charges

and now that you all have to give testimony on the witness stand.

I think it highly likely you will be found guilty!

All a’ ya wicked. You flipping…

-What you say? Plead what? -Guilty.

All ya better take this fricking man out my face.

Move out my face!

Is that what you gon’ do?

You can’t be doing that.

Not now, you can’t, Frank. He trying to divide us.

For four-hundred years people like him

trying to divide our people, undermine us.

This trial is another way of doing that.

Of destroying a strong black movement in this country.

We have to stick together. As a collective.

The Mangrove Nine. As a people.

It’s what you telling me, boy?

That’s all that matters.

I don’t get it.

You want to sit in a courthouse for the next six weeks

so we can get more time in jail?

I don’t want go to jail. You understand?

These people, they like vampires.

You think you beat them, but they keep coming back and back, again, again.

It’s like a silver bullet ain’t enough.

You have to stick them through the heart.

Then get the garlic, then chop off their head too.

It’s never enough.

The best we can hope for is a draw. A draw.

The system rigged. It’s rotten.

And what are we fighting for, huh? For what, Altheia?…

For my unborn child.

That’s what.

All of this…

All of our fight… It counts beyond us here.

This trial is more than just about our freedom.

What is being called into question in this case is the right of anybody,

not just us as black people, but the right of anybody to demonstrate.

I’m not just here defending myself, but trying to defend all of us.

But if we fold now and we let, and we let them take over,

and we give in to them, they will take it all from us.

And they will take it from our children, too.

We are the example, and we must bear this responsibility.

Please, if all ya want to take your plea, you take it.

As is your right to.

What’s the matter?

Nothing.

Come back to bed.

-So where were you then? -I told you, Portnall.

Speak up, Mr Crichlow.

If I can’t hear you, how can the jury be expected to?

I was on Portnall Road.

Where the fighting was?

So you went there deliberately to get involved in the fighting,

which had by then, you say, already started?

No, I told you. I already knew where the march was headed….

Because you organised the demonstration?

Because I was on the organising committee, yes.

But, it was an accident that we meet when we did.

So, let me get this correct.

You knew exactly where the march was going

but it was just an accident that you joined up with it again when you did?

-The whole thing was an accident. -An accident?

Even the Chief Inspector say so. You don’t know Notting Hill.

-Possibly not. -You understand nothing.

What I would strongly suggest, Mr Crichlow,

is that you were at the heart of the disturbance,

and one of its chief agitators.

Well, like I said, you understand nothing.

-You already knew PC Pulley? -What you yapping, man?

Everyone know the heavy mob in Notting Hill.

So please describe PC Pulley’s standing in the community.

His standing?

Forgive me, members of the jury.

I find it difficult to control myself when the prosecutor chat

about the stature of Pulley.

I have known that man for ten years

and no bigger bully, no greater thug, no greater gangster plant him big foot

in the Notting Hill in all that time.

No, sir.

Mr Gordon, I am once again granting an enormous amount of latitude here.

Channa man!

Mr Gordon.

I was not holding the pig’s head at that point.

What were you holding?

A placard that said, ‘Hands off Black people.’

And then a man came and snatched it away from me.

A white man, tall and heavily built. He looked like a lunatic.

I asked him what the hell he thought he was doing,

but he just broke the placard over his knee.

So I tried to get it back from him.

You tried to get it back from him,

even though, as you say, he looked like a lunatic.

Not afraid of loons. Been surrounded by them all my life.

So you attacked the man?

No, I did not. Before I knew it, I was being arrested.

Did you resist arrest?

Course I resisted arrest. Done nothing wrong, had I?

Did you ask where the demonstration was going?

No. I hung around to show my solidarity.

You see, I wasn’t too concerned with where it was going

because I’d always intended to get myself down to prayer meeting

down at Acklam Road at three-thirty.

-Hallelujah. -Yeah, man….

But whilst on All Saints Road, did you join in with the chants?

No, I did not. Although it is true that me daughter,

she did like the one that went

‘The pigs. The pigs. We have to get rid of the pigs.’

Mr Caboo, please take the stand….

I am not Roy Caboo, as identified by the arrest warrant.

My name is Godfrey Millett.

But, in fact and truth, Millett is only my slave name….

I myself deny all the charges made against me.

I do also deny saying to a black woman,

‘Think black, baby, or die with the white pigs, when the time comes.’

I am innocent of all the charges.

Over the past eleven weeks, you have heard expressions of passion,

of emotion and perhaps of prejudice.

There was nothing illegal in police searching the Mangrove restaurant.

They were acting within the law. And yet, members of the jury,

you are here being asked

if you accept the testimony of the Metropolitan policemen as truth?

The prosecution invites you to say that you do.

Because they are officers of the law in whom you can

and should place an absolute trust.

There is no grey area about PC Pulley.

PC Pulley is either telling the truth, or he is totally dishonest.

Do you really imagine that police officers would take the risk

of making up evidence? Of course not. They wouldn’t dare.

The prosecution contends that this demonstration,

organised and inflamed by the men and women in the dock before you today,

was violent in manner and in tone.

It was mounted generally and specifically against the police,

and in favour of what is called ‘the black community.’

We have heard from distinguished witnesses who described

a ‘screaming mob’, that were ‘behaving like savages’.

Like savages. The prosecution says that you can rely

on the testimony of an experienced police officer,

and, difficult as it may be, that you are bound to accept his evidence

and faithfully to return your verdict, of guilty.

That is the case for the Crown.

-Go on, Darcus. -Silence….

The time is out of joint….

Oh cursed spite,

that ever a black people, were born to set it right….

We say it’s closing time….

But in a certain sense, the matter has just begun.

For I believe that this case has opened issues which are likely to decide

the shape and future of British society.

I believe. And Europe.

I believe that this case has opened issues.

It has seared the consciousness of the Black community to an extent

that the history of Britain cannot now be written without it.

I want to make myself abundantly clear.

Whatever verdict you come to, I mean it when I say, ‘I don’t care.’

I don’t care because I believe history is on my side.

That if riot and affray carries that maximum sentence,

the sky’s the limit. I don’t care. I don’t care. I don’t care!

I stand accused of riot and affray. No.

I stand here accusing those who’ve been involved in conspiracy.

That’s my position.

It’s closing time….

Now you have heard an awful lot about the Mangrove.

It has been portrayed by the prosecution as an ordinary restaurant

with licensing problems.

How ignorant can people get?…

How superficial, and surface-like can people be?

It’s not his fault. His masters’ fault.

Black people are criminals, ponces and prostitutes.

That is a myth that has been created about us.

That was a statement that was made by one police officer

who gave evidence during this trial.

But I submit to you that Notting Hill is a very unique community

where many people from the West Indies live.

It is a community that was born out of a resistance

to a series of backward attacks from the police

that had nothing to do with the advanced ideas

and values going around in the twentieth century.

It has something that was located somewhere

in the stench of British colonialism. His masters again.

In defending themselves against attack a community is born.

And wherever a community is born it creates institutions that it needs.

Frank Crichlow.

He wasn’t conscious of the fact that he was forming a community restaurant.

But that sense of community, born out of struggle in Notting Hill, was so profound that there was no other way for it to be but a community restaurant.

We created the Mangrove. We shaped it….

We formed it to satisfy our needs….

The Mangrove is ours. It is ours….

It’s not Frank’s. He lost it to the community, he knows that.

And so when the Mangrove came under attack from the police.

Not once, not twice but three times, members of the jury. Three times!

We said no more.

I have been forced to take a stand and to take a stand I will.

They prefer to call a riot and affray inquiry instead of an inquiry into the police.

They prefer that, but let it be, eh?…

It’s closing time….

It’s closing time….

History will take its course, so frequently a brutal one, and we will continue to resist intelligently and reasonably.

That is what the demonstration was about.

An intelligent and reasonable resistance to certain concrete facts.

Members of the jury.

After what has been an unusually wearisome case, a long eleven weeks in court, at last comes the time for you to consider your verdicts.

There have been many attacks on people during this trial.

The prosecution accused of prejudice.

And you the jury told that only two among you, the two black members, are in a position to judge.

If any of the counsel have overstepped the bounds of propriety in their remarks, you should not hold that against the defendant.

You have sworn on oaths to try this case on the evidence you have heard.

Do not count uniforms, and most important, do not take into account the colour of anyone’s skin.

Silence. Be upstanding in court….

Will the first defendant, Mr Crichlow, please stand.

Will the foreman of the jury please stand.

Have you reached any verdicts upon which you are all agreed?

We have….

On count one, the charge of riot, how do you find the first defendant, Mr Crichlow?

Not guilty….

On count two, affray, how do you find the first defendant, Mr Crichlow?

Not guilty….

Will the second defendant, Mr Howe, please stand.

On count one, the charge of riot, how do you find the second defendant, Mr Howe?

Not guilty….

On count two, affray, how do you find the second defendant, Mr Howe?

Not guilty….

Will the third defendant, Miss Beese, please stand.

On count one, the charge of riot,

how do you find the third defendant, Miss Beese?

Not guilty….

On count two, affray, how do you find the third defendant, Miss Beese?

Not guilty….

Will the fourth defendant, Miss Jones-LeCointe, please stand.

On count one, the charge of riot, how do you find the fourth defendant, Althea Jones-LeCointe?

Not guilty….

On count two, affray, how do you find the fourth defendant…

This has been a very unpleasant experience for everyone concerned.

Regrettably, what this trial has shown is that there is evidence of racial hatred on both sides….

The penalties I am going to impose on the four defendants guilty of the lesser charges, are imposed in a spirit of this particular season of the year, which should be a season for promoting peace and goodwill to all men…

Yes, sir. Yes, sir. I wasn’t sure, you know. I wasn’t sure…

Congratulations.

Barbara.

Yes, Frank!

Thank you.

Mrs Tetley, you reach?…

Reach long time….

Lovely….

We have three jury inside of there and they celebrating. With us.

You told me.

I never see the like.

We might ah won the battle, Frank.

But we’ll see about the war.

I can’t suffer another winter here, boss. I going back home.

This we home, Dol. The Mangrove.

I going back inside.

Yes, Frank!

Granville?…

Liming at last.

Respect, Frank. Respect, brother.

Little roll on the dice to celebrate?

I will catch ya soon yeah, Granville….

The Mangrove restaurant and Frank Crichlow continued to be harassed for a further eighteen years.

In 1989 his name was finally cleared at the High Court.

He accepted a settlement of £50,000, which was the highest sum ever paid in damages by the Metropolitan police at that time.

In all Frank Crichlow faced three trials and was acquitted three times.

He pressed for an apology from the police but never received one.

He closed the Mangrove for good in 1992.

End of episode


ON TELEVISION

ROCK STEADY

Steve McQueen’s Small Axe, on Amazon Prime.

by Doreen St. Félix

One way to measure a filmmakers commitment to his subject is to look at the not so minor details, such as costumes, wigs, and food. If the paraphernalia of a people doesn’t feel forged but, rather, appears to have been lifted unmolested from observation or memory, or both, then the effect is immersion—the melding of reality with the world of the screen. Black folks haven’t often felt that rush. Looking to support the film industry, over the past century we have excused everything from minstrelsy to bad drag. So when a story comes along that wants not to extract from you but to support you, you take notice. In “Small Axe,” a collection of five films by Steve McQueen about the British West Indian experience, three of which are reviewed in this column, a kind of revolutionary attention is paid to the physical world of the characters. Across the interrelated films, recurring sequences—head-wrapped women fussing over a bubbling vat of sunshine-yellow curry goat; men haggling over cards in true patois—evince the sincerity of the project s creator, who is publicly claiming his place in a community, and who wants every aspect in the political tableau to be just so.

McQueen, who is of Trinidadian and Grenadan descent, was born in West London in 1969. His parents were members of the Windrush generation—the inaugural group of West Indians to set-de in Britain in the mid-century. McQueen’s films have grappled with the struggles of other nations: the 1981 Irish hunger strike, in “Hunger,” and the story of a free African-American man who, in 1841, was kidnapped and sold into bondage, in “12 Years a Slave.” It took McQueen a while to address home. Why? In a recent interview with the Times, he explained, “Sometimes, you’ve got to have a certain maturity, and I wouldn’t have had that ten, fifteen years ago.” Maturity, here, could mean the spirit of vulnerability and plainspokenness that we feel in the anthology, which is McQueen’s small-screen debut. (In 2014,1 worked as a Haitian-Creole-language consultant on his unaired pilot for a scrapped HBO show, “Codes of Conduct.”) The films are neither condescending nor shy about being educations. The title comes from a proverb, popularized by a Bob Marley song, in which it is sung with portent in the throat: “If you are the big tree, we are the small axe, ready to cut you down.” The collection opens with “Mangrove,” a feature-length film based on the Mangrove Nine, Black Londoners who, in 1971, following a protest, were put on trial for incitement to riot and affray. The trial was the government’s first, albeit reluctant, admission of racism in the British police force. When the film premiered in the U.K., in mid-November, many young Black British people expressed anger that they had not encountered the history in school. That “Small Axe” airs on the BBC, then, is a kind of populist restitution. (In the U.S., the series is available on Amazon Prime.)

Some of the Mangrove Nine were British Black Panthers. Frank Crichlow, the owner of the Mangrove Restaurant, a Trinidadian spot in Notting Hill, was not. He is the emotional center of McQueen’s film. (Shaun Parkes expertly shoulders the role.) Crichlow seems largely uninterested in politics, but everywhere politics is happening to him. Before Notting Hill was gentrified, it was the hub of the West Indian diaspora in London. The opening shot, of Crichlow strolling through the streets, places him amid construction sites, a sign of the upheaval to come. When he reaches a lime-green restaurant with a “Black Ownership” placard in the window, the viewer understands that she is about to enter a protected place. Crichlow and his cook, Aunt Betty, joke around. He sends a boy, Kendrick, to the market to buy flowers for the restaurant. Kendrick worries that he will look effete. What if someone sees him? Crichlow replies, “Say yuh in love, go!”

Meanwhile, a political movement is beginning: a scene shows campaigners huddled at the feet of C. L. R. James, the Trinidadian theorist. Crichlow’s restaurant becomes a haven for young activists and intellectuals, who are literally inventing the British-Caribbean identity. The police see the Mangrove as the cradle of an encroachment—a dreaded reverse-colonization, in which the white British way is under threat. Officers begin raiding the place. (Crichlow tries to explain, “We only serve spicy cuisine here!”) A police assault turns Kendrick, the boy who had been bashful about flowers, the color of a bruised tulip. In one lingering shot, the camera is almost level with the kitchen floor, as it traces the chaos of brutality—a colander, knocked off its base, rocking without purchase. A raid on the home of two activists is more pointed: officers knock books off the shelves, smash the printer. McQueen wants to vanquish any idea that British racism is somehow more repressed and less violent than the American kind; he spotlights the myth of the country’s politesse in order to do some smashing of his own.

In its second hour, the film becomes a legal drama, as Crichlow and eight others go to trial after being arrested at the protest. The courtroom is a stage, and the judge has planned for the play to be a prim farce. (“Take that ridiculous hat off,” he barks at a defendant, but whose head is the one covered by a ridiculous wig?) Two defendants, Darcus Howe and Altheia Jones-LeCointe (Malachi Kirby and Letitia Wright), wrest control of the proceedings by representing, in more than the technical sense, themselves. The Mangrove Nine beat the rioting charges, but McQueen is careful not to write the conclusion as a win. As the rulings are read, the camera focusses on Crichlow, who had wanted to avoid a trial. It is not only relief that causes the tears to flow and the muscles of his face to twitch.

Red, White and Blue” is the melancholic complement to “Mangrove.” It is also based on a true story, that of Leroy Logan (John Boyega), a British-Jamaican who, in the eighties, left his research-science job to join the Metropolitan Police. The film opens with Leroy as a boy, in his school uniform, carting a musical instrument and waiting to be picked up after class. He is approached by the police, who claim that he fits “the description” of a robber. His father, Ken (Steve Toussaint), pulls up, outraged. On the way home, he warns Leroy not to be a roughneck, to never bring the police to his yard. We think that we are watching the beginning of a familiar tragedy, in which the light of a boys life is doused before it can begin to thrive.

That both is and isn’t what happens. It is Ken who is later beaten by the police. The assault intensifies Leroys desire to be part of the force—to fix the institutions relationship with the Black community from the inside. There is a rote-ness to the depiction of Leroy s initiation; the swing of a locker door, to reveal the message “dirty n*gger,” in graffiti, is merely affecting. He should have expected this treatment from his colleagues. The film is best when it explores why he did not.

In their scenes together, Toussaint and Boyega are often metres away, representing the distance between the immigrant and the subsequent generation. Their relationship speaks to the paradoxes of West Indian child rearing. Ken drilled down on the importance of exceptionalism; is it a surprise that his son is fixated on taming Blackness? “You wanted us more British than the British!” Leroy yells at his father.

The soundtrack vitalizes “Small Axe.” Reggae classics do not overlay these dramas but, rather, melt into them. McQueen’s cast are dancers, too. The film “Lovers Rock,” named for the romantic subgenre of reggae that flourished in seventies-era London, borrows from music-video aesthetics, raising them to the divine. In the piece, which is set during a fictionalized houseparty, the camera loiters on pairs of lovers discovering each others waists while they dance, lost in the rapture of a slow wine. Young men take out their frustration with the state on the baseboards, stomping and curling and flailing to “Kunta Kinte” by the Revolutionaries. The film is an anomaly: a plotless fresco, tracking a party into the morning. But it moved me more than anything else in the collection. You can’t help but experience a somatic response to the surfeit of beauty and omen and ecstasy in McQueens living painting.

The films climax is timed to the high-note climax of Janet Kay’s track “Silly Games.” Mind you, there is danger in the story—racist and sexual threats abound. But McQueen doesn’t pathologize or dwell on these bursts of ugliness; he lets them pass over us like waves, as they might in life. For much of “Small Axe,” the viewer is a student, processing the post-colonial horrors that were wreaked on Black Londoners. “Lovers Rock,” though, gives viewers an opportunity to feel abandon. This is the Caribbean way of doing things. The revolutions were set to drums.

The New Yorker, November 30, 2020

SHARE THIS ARTICLE

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on whatsapp
Share on email
Share on reddit
Share on tumblr
Share on linkedin

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Read More