Demonstrations in London between 1950 and 1980 reflected the new concerns of the period: race relations, nuclear disarmament, industrial unrest and the war in Vietnam. They also illustrated the new assertiveness of the young.
A series of massive 'ban the bomb' marches were organised by the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament to protest against Britain's programme of hydrogen bomb testing that had begun in 1955. The demonstrators marched from Aldermaston, the atomic weapons research establishment, to Trafalgar Square. The 1960 demonstration of over 100,000 people was said to be the largest ever seen in London.
Many protests were staged against the Vietnam war. In March 1968, a protest of 10,000 people outside the American embassy in Grosvenor Square turned violent: 56 people including 25 police officers were taken to hospital.
23 April 1968
Up to 1,000 London dockers marched to parliament in support of the recently sacked Enoch Powell, whom they thought had been victimised because of his views on immigration.
August 1976 -August 1977
Asian women employees at the Grunwick photo-developing factory in North London called a strike in protest against poor working conditions. The year-long strike escalated into the biggest industrial dispute of the decade. There was mass picketing at the site and sympathy action from postal workers.
Numerous demonstrations and clashes took place between the National Front and the two main anti-racist groups: Rock against Racism founded in 1976, and the Anti-Nazi League, founded in 1977. In August 1977, clashes in Lewisham turned violent. In the first Rock against Racism Carnival, 40,000 people marched from Trafalgar Square to Victoria Park in April 1978.
On 14 May, 7,000 people marched from Hyde Park to Downing Street to demand a government inquiry into the murder of Altab Ali, a racist crime in Whitechapel. The following months saw many clashes between racists and Anti-Nazi league supporters in Brick Lane.
22 April 1979
When an anti-racism protest in Southall turned violent, Blair Peach, a London teacher from New Zealand, received a fatal blow to the head.
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