|Issue 8 - November 1972
the 6th July this year, there was a demonstration in Beech Grove Road,
in the West End of Newcastle, attended by the residents of Beech Grove
Road, Kennilworth Road, Westmoreland Road and Warrington Road. About 80
people in all. Barricades were set up on both ends of Beech Grove.
The issue was over a zebra crossing that the residents had requested some time earlier. Already this year four kids have been knocked down and injured by cars in the Grove.
Soon after the barricades were up the pigs came. A dozen or so, accompanied by two superintendents! These boys in blue wished to talk to the people back at the Station, but the majority didn't want to know. One or two agreed however, and the pigs took this as a majority decision and ordered a Corporation lorry into the street. At this point, a guy called Larry had had enough. He put a dustbin and a sofa in front of the lorry and tried to stop it. He was immediately grabbed by several pigs, who tried to haul him away, and force him into their car. Now Larry is almost blind, and on seeing all this going on, his friend Jim went to his rescue, and was also grabbed. They refused to enter the car until they had witnesses to accompany them. They were taken to the Station and charged with obstruction. Later in court, after miserable defence by Jeremy Beecham, their lawyer, they were fined £13 each. The only result of this was the installation of a 'lollipop man' on Beech Grove Road, for about an hour a day. This wasn't good enough, so a meeting was held and a second demo was fixed for Aug 9th.
On the day about 60 people turned up with their kids, and before much could be done the pigs arrived again and hauled off Larry for no apparent reason, and charged him with obstruction. He was later fined £20. Half an hour later, a meeting was held in the Elswick Action Centre, at which Supt Dobson and Alderman Gilbert were present. The question of safety barriers was brought up and rejected by the good Alderman on the grounds that the planners said they were not necessary (4 kids injured), and anyway they cost £7 per yard to erect.
By taking this attitude, the Council are saying, in so many words, that their money is more important than kids' lives.
In both court cases the fact was overlooked that Larry and the other demonstrators were simply fighting to protect their kids. Not, as was suggested, for any political reasons.
Since the second demo, some refuges have been built, but this is still nowhere near enough. The tenants will not rest until their area is safe for kids.