On the 2nd April 1980, the St Paul's area of Bristol caught nationwide attention when it became the scene of a prolonged and intensely violent confrontation between the police and a predominantly Black crowd.
This was not a singular or isolated event however, being both anticipated and followed by similar events in almost every major city in Britain with a deprived, mostly Black population. Clearly there was a problem. But the severity and extent of the underlying issues connecting this pattern of events were still far from being acknowledged, let alone addressed at the time. Many of the grievances felt by the people of St Paul's were of long-standing origin, deeply rooted in decades of discrimination and social inequality, and, combined with deteriorating relationships between the community and the local police, produced a time bomb simply waiting to explode.
The trigger event would be a police raid on the Black and White Cafe, a popular meeting place for the African Caribbean community of St Paul's.
The riot in St Paul's on 2nd April 1980 lasted just under seven hours but had far-reaching repercussions. 19 police officers were wounded and there was widespread property damage.
There was a complete review of relations with the local community and the police and a realisation that years of deprivation in the area had provoked the disturbances. A year later, more serious riots broke out in Brixton, Toxteth and Handsworth, initiated by similar concerns.