Arrested At Lewisham 1971

It was 7am at Elliots Brothers in Lewisham, I was selling ‘Keep Left’.  I was standing under the railway arches, and a policeman and up to me and said ‘Gotcha! You have been arrested’.  Eventually, there were 3 of us arrested.  Winston, a   black boy about a year older than me, and a 24 year old man, 'x', who at the  BBC as a Camera Man.

We were all taken in a van, and 'x' said ‘Are you going to prosecute us?…’ 'x' had not finished when the Policeman said ‘Grievous bodily harm! I saw you putting the boot into the policemen!. This was just nonsense. The first we saw the Police was when we were arrested.

For me, it was excellent. Everyone in the SLL believed Lewisham Police was pro National Front, and in my 14 year brain, I now believed them.  As the police station, they put us in 3 different cells.  For me, it was the bad cop and the good cop. The bad cop came in first. He immediately said ‘You bastard!!’ and  smacked me  in the stomach. The then good cop came in. He said ‘Why don't you go back to school? ’ (actually; he made sense, but I do not realize it).

Several hours later my Father came down to the Police Station to arrange my release. He was shocked and said “Did they beat you?”  He was relieved it I told him ‘No, not really’. The policemen said that  the Court Case will be at Greenwich Magistrates Court next month

I went out and saw in front of the Police station and saw both  Winston and 'x'. Winston had clearly suffered more  than me. Sadly, he was Black - not a good thing in 1970s Lewisham.  But he smiled and he  gingerly said ‘I’m ok!”.

'x' was gloomy. ’ I hate that place! It is awful! Now, the police are after the SLL! It is awful!. What on earth do we do?’’.

For me, I could not understand 'x'.‘ The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.’  If the police were after us, that’s great!! The revolution would happen faster! I went home with my father, convinced  that 'x' was a bourgeois intellectual. As Gerry Healy said: ‘  The Socialist Labour League is the only organisation with a revolutionary policy which can politically prepare the working class to meet the present crisis.’

I meet with Claire Cowan, the head of the SLL South East London branch, in the Cafe at Lewisham. I didn't not have any money for the coffee, but she paid.  She agreed with me. 'x' was a bourgeois intellectual. And she quickly  said that  the SLL will want me to plead ‘Not Guilty’ next month in Greenwich Magistrates Court. She wisely said ‘Trust me. The SLL is doing to make a big deal of it’. The Keep Left  and  the Workers Press unquestionably said on the  front page next week: “Drop all charges against the Lewisham Three!!!’