Remembering the murder of PC Keith Henry Blakelock
Broadwater Farm riot
Tottenham, North London
October 6, 1985
During the Broadwater Farm riot on 6 October 1985, PC Blakelock was one of the police officers called to the scene where he was issued with riot protection equipment and placed in a team with eleven other officers commanded by a police sergeant. At 9:30 p.m. the sergeant led the officers to the assistance of local firefighters who had been forced out of the Tangmere tower block, where a fire had been started at a news agent's shop. The officers were also forced back by rioters. As they retreated, Blakelock tripped and fell. Immediately he was surrounded by balaclava-wearing rioters armed with sticks, knives and machetes who inflicted fatal injuries upon Blakelock. He suffered forty-two wounds and his head was slashed eight times with a machete.
A fellow officer tried to run to his aid, but was felled by a blow to the face which broke his jaw, leaving him unconscious. The sergeant and two PCs ran at the mob, forcing them away. The chief superintendent in charge of the operation and another PC helped Blakelock to his feet, but he fell again shortly afterwards and died. Blakelock's helmet was never recovered.
As Terry Lloyd reported for ITN news a few days later:
...his attackers were trying to decapitate him. Witnesses say that having wrenched his riot helmet from him,his attackers then repeatedly stabbed him in the body, and continuously hackedaway at his neck. PC Blakelock lost several fingers as he tried to defend himself before the attackers fled, as more police, firemen, and ambulance men moved in to try and save him. Tonight Scotland Yard confirmed that the injuries were so grievous that it did appear the men were trying to behead the officer.
Another officer, PC Richard Coombes,was seriously injured in the incident Any suspect in Blakelock's murder case is also wanted for the attempted murder of Coombes. Coombes continues to suffer impaired hearing and eyesight; frequent epileptic fits and emotional trauma; poor short-term memory and low concentration levels.
Everyone who saw Keith Blakelock die said the same. The mob behaved like wild animals. It was like a pack of dogs attacking its prey, according to a man watching from his flat. 'Vultures tearing at his body,' was the way a police officer who tried to save him described it.
But animals don't kill for revenge. On a drizzling October night (over) 25 years ago, however, that is precisely why the 40-year-old PC died.
A few fatal seconds after slipping in some mud, he fell into the hands of screaming savages. In an instant, he became the target of a hatred that had been brewing for years.
As the knives, swords and machetes hacked into him, he suffered 42 different wounds. When they had finished, they simply ran off.
That night, a few miles away, Britain's latest police widow would have to explain to three young sons why their father would not be coming home. At that time, the savagery of PC Blakelock's murder was almost unimaginable. But the seeds for the riot, we now know, were sown here long before the first petrol bomb was thrown.
The summer of 1985 had been a time of mounting tension between members of the black community and police. Riots had already broken out in Handsworth in the West Midlands, and Brixton, South London. Despite public denials, Broadwater Farm had effectively become a virtual no-go area for police in this climate of seething hostility.
Just a few minutes spent alone in its network of walkways, narrow staircases and corridors at that time was enough to tell you why. 'The Farm', as local youths called it, was a monstrous-looking collection of high-rise flats, built in the Sixties around a central block called Tangmere.
The buildings housed 3,400 people, more than one in three of whom was from an ethnic minority background. Unemployment on the estate was more than twice the national average.
Yet scores of other areas of Britain could claim to be worse off. What made it so dangerous for police was the poisonous mixture of politics and geography.
Officers had to risk making rat-runs between the blocks and along the walkways, at the mercy of missiles thrown from above. They put their safety in daily jeopardy simply to patrol the area or visit residents, and were frequently abused or attacked. Privately, they called it Ambush City.
Gradually, a softly-softly approach imposed by senior officers left the estate at the mercy of lawlessness. Gangs of masked youths roamed unchallenged for at least three months before the riot.
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/arti...#ixzz1UNzLffx1
Blakelock's murder remains unsolved.