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The Notting Hill Riots (1958)

Amidst racial intolerance and competition over resources, the white working class of the Notting Hill area, London, UK, launched an attack against members of the black community on August the 30, 1958. Forced to arm themselves in defence, the confrontation lasted a week.

The roots of the Notting Hill Riots are found in the migration of people from the Caribbean to London right after World War II.  With the population influx Notting Hill became a more international district. The Caribbean population across London grew to be well over 100,000 by 1961 with most in the Notting Hill area.  North Kensington, the borough in which Notting Hill is situated, had high rates of poverty, crime and violence. There was also competition for housing between poor black and white families; tensions that were exploited by ruthless landlords. While the governments of Great Britain, France, and the Netherlands encouraged this immigration to meet labor shortages at home, many local residents feared being displaced in housing by the newcomers.  Moreover, many African and Caribbean colonies were pushing for independence which also contributed to racial tension.

A group of white working class youth known as the Teddy Boys were openly hostile to the black newcomers in Notting Hill. Their resentment was further stoked by right wing political groups who sought power on a platform of racial intolerance. The “Union for British Freedom” established a presence in Notting Hill and the founder of the “British Union of Fascists,” Sir Oswald Mosely, rallied the local population with the cry of “Keep Britain White” at meetings in West London. Repeatedly concerns were raised by Caribbean community leaders about this flourishing prejudice and the potential it had to develop into conflict, yet government officials took no action.

Violence broke out on August 20 when property owned by Caribbean immigrants was vandalised and the owners were subject to physical harassment. The violence quickly escalated on August 24 when nine “Teddy Boys” attacked

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