The 1975 Spaghetti House siege: making the rhetoric real - Jenny Bourne

A history of the Spaghetti House siege of 1975, when three armed black liberation activists intent on a small-scale robbery ended up holding nine waiters hostage for five days. The piece also looks at the life of Wesley Dick (Shujaa Moshesh), one of the ‘gunmen’ protagonists, and is interspersed with his poems on black politics, imprisonment and world events.

Submitted by Ed on August 9, 2017

Abstract:  The author, who has worked at the Institute of Race Relations since 1970, recalls the Spaghetti House siege of 1975, when three armed, young, political black men intent on a small-scale robbery ended up holding nine waiters hostage for five days. The home secretary and senior police officers, anxious that such an event should not be repeated, played down the political element of the crime; the black community thought otherwise. The piece goes on to record the reaction to his incarceration of Wesley Dick (Shujaa Moshesh), one of the ‘gunmen’ protagonists, who had used the IRR as an educational centre and later kept in touch via letter, visits from IRR staff and by sending out his poetry in two collections. This account is interspersed with Shujaa’s poems on black politics, imprisonment and world events.

From Race & Class Vol. 53(2): 1–13.

Sorry people, we failed.
An important mission and we failed
To all the revolutionary people across the world You have a right
To look on us as mere jokers
Playing a game of ‘how long will it last’

But, I promise, we shall redeem ourselves.

Thus wrote Wesley Dick (later known as Shujaa Moshesh) as he waited on remand in Brixton prison for his part in what became known as the Spaghetti House siege.

On 28 September 1975, three armed young black men held up the Knights­ bridge, West London branch of the Spaghetti House chain at the end of a Saturday evening, hoping to rob the weekly takings being prepared for the bank. A member of staff sounded an alarm, and suddenly the police were on the scene. Unable to make their escape, the three young men bundled the Italian staff into a back storeroom. There they were to remain for five days while police negotiated with the ‘gunmen’ to release the hostages unharmed.

The Spaghetti House siege became a cause célèbre – in the media, in policing and in domestic policy on radicalism. Four hundred officers were deployed at the scene and fibre optics were, for the first time, used in the live surveillance of the storeroom. Knightsbridge was closed to traffic for days. Sir Robert Mark, then Metropolitan police commissioner, was known as a hard man and he made it known in briefing after press briefing that this kind of crime would never pay.1 The three robbers had put out a statement in the name of the Black Liberation Army. According to Commander Ernest Bond of Scotland Yard, police were ‘taking [the statement] seriously but the incident is still being treated as a robbery which went wrong’.2 Sir Robert Mark said that the fact that the police had arrested an Italian and a German for allegedly helping to plan the robbery was proof that this was an ‘ordinary armed robbery with no racial or political connotation’.3 (The Italian and German were never convicted.)4 Everyone was at pains to pronounce the siege a crime, not a political act; a rob-bery that went wrong was the consensus. In the event, all the hostages were released unharmed. Not surprisingly, however, these three young men received extremely long sentences of seventeen, eighteen and twenty-one years in jail.

The reality of the siege has not really been put on record. Books on policing and surveillance make reference to it; Sir Robert Mark covered it in his autobiography; and film maker Horace Ové made a valiant attempt to capture the mood in A Hole in Babylon.5 It faded from public memory and black folklore for a variety of reasons: the protagonists were locked up, and two later died young, but another important reason was the fact that a section within the black community bought into the idea that this was a criminal, and not a political, act. As someone who met two of the ‘gunmen’ and knew one very well, both during and after his incarceration, I will try to set the record straight.6

First, the three came from very different backgrounds and probably had very different motives. Franklyn Davies (28) was a Nigerian who had already served time in prison for armed robbery, although he had also tried to enlist in Zanu and Frelimo to further the struggle to free Africa.7 Frank it was who pulled in Anthony (Bonsu) Munroe (22) and Wesley Dick (24). Bonsu came from an upwardly mobile Guyanese family; one of the most prominent black actresses on our screens was his aunt. He had done well at school and managed to secure a place to study medicine. Middle-class bound he might have been, except for his political commitment. He had links to the Black Power movement and, in his spare time, had set up a black supplementary school, which was run in the front room of a derelict house in Hammersmith, West London.8 Wesley Dick, whom I knew far better, was a highly intelligent, humorous, impetuous, politically committed young man, with one eye on the struggle and one on weed, his looks and his girlfriend(s). He had petty convictions for minor offences such as throwing a can and stealing a book from Foyles and had already been in Ashford Remand Home, where he began to write poetry.

‘The leather coat’9
I had seen a leather coat, and I wanted it bad.
I told all my friends about the coat
I would’ve bought it last week
But I had bought three pairs of trousers instead
Anyway today I was going to buy
The leather coat.
It was big, black and beautiful,
It had a belt but I decided that
I would never tie it.
Have the belt hanging loose, looked better that way.
I also bought a hat,
Took me half-hour in the shop mirror
To get the tilt right
And another hour when I got home
Took me almost two hours
To bathe and dress that night
All my clothes were new
And everything was perfect
At last I was ready
To go to a party, to show off
In my brand new hat
And my brand new leather coat.

How we knew him sums up the tenor of the times. The Institute of Race Relations (post its internal revolution)10 had moved in 1973 to new premises at King’s Cross and could afford few staff. It relied on volunteers to man its phones over the lunch hour. Wesley and his mates were working in a factory near the station, refurbishing old firearms to send, according to them, to Third World countries. Wesley, who had variously been in or at meetings of the Black Panthers, the Fasimbas, the Black Liberation Front (BLF), and the Black Unity and Freedom party, came in during his lunch break to badger Sivanandan (the librarian) about new books that had come in from the US, to read the Black Panther and Mohammed Speaks and also to use our phones to call his girlfriend. He settled happily, if eccentrically, into our routines, helping out on the switch-board. He told us of his interest in Pan-Africanism and how he had persuaded a white priest in south London to sponsor him to go to the Sixth Pan-African Congress in Tanzania in 1974. We talked to Wesley about his going back to college and getting some qualifications to take his political interests further.

The black culture in which the three operated had three reference points: Africa was the lodestar; the combusting force was the actualities of racism on the ground in Britain;11 and the US provided the idiom. It was essentially the words of Angela Davis, George Jackson, Bobby Seale and Malcolm X that honed the resistance: ‘Seize the time’, ‘Off the pigs’, ‘Fuck the man’ were the themes they transposed to Britain. The three of the Spaghetti House siege simply tried to turn rhetoric into reality.

As the police, home secretary, Italian Consul and others held a public vigil outside the siege, sending in black Doctor-about-to-be knighted David Pitt12 as a prospective go-between, there was another private vigil taking place elsewhere in central London. This was a rolling meeting of London’s black power groups and key radical black leaders. They realised how serious the siege was, how dangerous it was to have three impatient and angry young men, suddenly with arms, holed up with nine hostages and a whole phalanx of police outside – and how likely they might be to do something impetuous. The three had put out a completely unrealistic message, in the name of the Black Liberation Army (a title stolen from the US), demanding safe passage and a flight out of the country.

The first short statement from ‘black organisations and black community workers’, signed by the Black Unity and Freedom party, Black Roof, Race Today, Afro-Caribbean Group, Brixton-Croydon Collective and Fasimbas, John La Rose, A. Sivanandan, Colin Prescod, Darcus Howe, Sybil Phoenix, Terry Leander et al., stated: ‘We understand and sympathise with the situation of the three brothers in the Spaghetti House. We further support the demands of the three brothers – specifically for food and a plane out of the country. To avoid blood-shed their demands should be met.’

The second and longer statement gave a whole political background to mitigate, as it were, the actions of ‘the brothers’. It spoke of:

the social context within which these youths have had to exist … normal avenues to other members of society were closed to them … the action of the brothers symbolises the plight of the black community and suggests government action be taken on … miseducation of black children particularly with regard to their placement in ESN schools … an independent enquiry into the degrading housing conditions in the black communities … that the government commits itself to alleviating the high rates of unemployment among workers in general and the abnormally high rate among black youths in particular.

Pointedly, this statement also included a paragraph explaining why there was support for the demand for a plane out of the country: ‘This is not to say that they are above the law but to emphasise that it is the duty of the Home Secretary in a critical situation like this to exercise a political judgement in the interests of preserving life and in the larger interest of preventing social unrest.’ The statement was signed only by the Black Unity and Freedom party, Afro-Caribbean Group, Brixton-Croydon Collective and Fasimbas.

For, as the siege dragged on, some of the black groups and individuals gathered, for once, together could not agree on politics. Some individuals felt (despite knowing at least one and sometimes two of the three robbers through political work) that, ‘they just wanted easy money, they will give black politics a bad name, we should stay out of it’. But, while it has to be acknowledged that this was never intended to be anything more than a hold-up and that the young men had previous convictions, this division between the criminal and the political was specious. As Sivanandan has written, tackling the same issue, but in the context of evaluating the actions of Michael X during the late 1960s: ‘The line between politics and crime, after all, is a thin one – in a racist, capitalist society.’13 ‘Imprisonment in the ghetto’
Every day, yeah,
The same damn thing,
Pressure, pressure, pressure.
The grey morning
Is greeted by a bellyful of worries
And the shivering coldness
Of a condemned slum
No money, no hope
Just tribulation.
Family squabbles may turn serious
But are always eclipsed
By the dangers on the street
The graffiti screams ‘Nigger go home’,
Racial attacks,
Police harassment,
More tribulation.
For each one who makes
The ‘sing’ or ‘run’ escape
Ten thousand and one barely scrape through
The daily drudgery, somehow, someway.
Wage slavery, the dole queue, or crime
A life sentence of working for somebody else
A life sentence of beggary
Or a life sentence
No reprieve – just tribulation.

For many young black people at that time on the margins of education, the margins of work, the margins of family life, the margins of housing, everything was about hustling. Hustling was about making money wherever you could.14 And, whether that money went to fund you personally or to fund ‘the movement’ politically, was also a close call. This is not casuistry. The young people who formed the ranks of the black political parties lived their politics almost all the time; it was what they read, it was where they went of an evening, it was the demos they went on at the weekend, the welfare schemes they contributed to as volunteers, the confrontations at night. There was also a strong school of thought, epitomised by Brother Herman Edwards (who had been politicised in Michael X’s Black House and ended up in jail for non-payment of rates on one of his community centres), that so much had been stolen from black people through slavery, that it was now their right to claim some back.15

But there were significantly more people and groups at those rolling meetings who realised that a stand had to be taken, which would, if possible, help to defuse the situation. Although they certainly did not agree with the action, they also realised that it was not the moment to forsake the three young men. The siege was, after all, the fallout from the political classes (on capitalism, imperialism and Black Power) that they had conducted, the result of taking to heart the lessons from George Jackson’s Blood in My Eye, the autobiographies of Malcolm X and Angela Davis. The three were the proxies for the war that others shouted on street corners.16

One Black Unity and Freedom party leader offered to exchange places with a hostage, so as to go in and influence the three, but this was refused by the authorities. The BLF (publishers of Grassroots) had members at these black meetings, but, significantly, did not sign any general release – perhaps because, fol-lowing the trial of Grassroots’ editor Tony Soares for incitement to cause explosions (in reprinting an article from the US Black Panther on how to make Molotov cocktails), they felt they should be more circumspect. It also later transpired that, soon after the siege began, the police raided the printers of Grassroots and the houses of BLF members, including those in which they had housed homeless youths, where both Wesley and Bonsu had rooms.17 However, the BLF did (with the agreement of the other black groups) send a senior ‘member’ to the siege. She was allowed ‘to communicate briefly with the three brothers’, who handed her two letters (which, after being read, were taken by the police). The letters, signed ‘Black Liberation Army’, according to the BLF, declared that ‘these three men were fighting to make white society realise that they can’t push Black people around too often any more’. The BLF’s statement ended:

At various periods over the last few years all three brothers helped in our educational and welfare projects. No other member of the BLF had any prior knowledge of this act. The brothers conveyed their love to the Black community. We again repeat, that in our view violence can only be avoided in this case if the demand for an aircraft is met.

This was, sadly, all to no avail.

At 3am on the morning of the sixth day, the three gave themselves up, after some wrangling among themselves about tactics, and after bonds had begun to form with the hostages. One hostage, Giovanni Scrano, continued to be in contact with Frank and actually gave evidence in defence of the three at the trial. Frank shot and wounded himself just as the siege ended, but everyone else was left shaken, hungry, thirsty, but otherwise unscathed.

Not political? The problem was that the three were now ultrapolitical. While on remand at Brixton, they met and were deeply influenced by IRA prisoners there. So, when at last the Spaghetti House siege trial started in June 1976, the three men decided neither to have legal representation (although the charges of armed robbery and holding people against their will were clearly very serious), nor to recognise the legitimacy of the British court and turned their backs on the judge, as they held up a poster.

‘Men of selfless courage’
In a drab and dreary prison cell
A man slowly wastes away
A man of selfless courage
Who can only hope and pray
On what should be peaceful streets
Youths build barricades
They defend a war zone
Imperialism made
Army patrols, torture centres
Courts without juries
Tools of terror to maintain the rule
Of British hypocrisy
A parliament buys votes
With undiluted lies
A plastic bullet finds its target
Another child dies
The people raise their voice in protest
To demand liberty
While agents of collaboration
Sell-out to tyranny
The day will come when history
Honours liberation
And men of selfless courage will see
A united Irish nation

The prisoners were then sent down to the holding cells and never came back, except for verdict and sentence, when they tried to read a prepared statement to the court and the gathered press.

From ‘Black defiance’ (written some years later)
How do we plead you ask again
We have been pleading for centuries
We plead no more
Clenched fist salutes
And Black Defiance is our reply

Not political? I can only write now about the response to incarceration of one of the three, Shujaa Moshesh, whom I and my colleagues were to visit regularly over the next twelve years or so in every top security prison in England, from Wakefield to Parkhurst, Long Lartin to Gartree. His problem was his political resistance, which meant that he refused to appeal against his inordinate sentence.

I’ll make my position clear to you. We set out to use our trial as a form of protest and I’m going to stick at that. Besides if I was going to beg the wicked for their non-existent mercy, I wouldn’t have protested in the first place. Anyway I stopped begging when I was 19 [this was when, in 1972, he had been badly beaten up in Bow Street police station].

His resistance caused him to be held way over the normal time as a category ‘A’ (i.e. dangerous) prisoner, which meant that he was never considered for parole, which meant that he was repeatedly moved from prison to prison (five times in ten months during a stint at Gartree) and that he spent much time in solitary confinement. He also lost months of remission for his resistance. Most people serve half their given tariff. Shujaa could have been out, therefore, after nine years, but was not finally released until 1988.

‘When the fighting is done’
When the fighting is done
And we have won
There will be a lot of work to do
We have to build a new society
A society founded on love and peace
A society that has a spirit common to everybody
So that we can be a strong people
With each other’s interest at heart
For to love others is to love life

Shujaa was a fighter by nature. He would fight at the drop of a hat. But in prison, although he fought authority whenever possible, those fights became less about his personal needs and more about those of other prisoners. Whilst he was constantly on his guard for his rights – to education, to reclassification, to parole, to receive all his mail and the books sent in to him, to his possessions after those frequent moves – his main struggles were on behalf of other prisoners. He became a Catholic and a Muslim at different points in his incarceration; the chapel, he explained, was the only place where one could really talk freely to other inmates. The thing that made him saddest in prison was when prisoners fought one another instead of the system.

* * * * *

In 1979, he is involved with others in organising prisoners at Wormwood Scrubs, which turns into a full-scale riot.18 It begins as a work strike of 260 prisoners on D-Wing on 20 August. Three prisoners are chosen to represent the three sections of prisoners – white, Irish, black. Shujaa represents the black. The governor agrees to a meeting on 31 August when someone from the prison service or the Home Office will come to discuss their grievances. Men sit peacefully outside their cells, only to be met by a MUFTI squad19 of 200 officers with truncheons and riot shields. Many prisoners are badly beaten, and the warders strike the prison bars with staves to register their victory. Shujaa gets moved to Hull, where he is on the punishment block for over three months and loses hundreds of days of remission and his property.

‘Scrubs – 10 o’clock peacemakers’
When called upon
The mufti squad
helmets, shields, four-foot batons –
Come in swinging;
They smash heads
Stamp on bodies
And beat shit out of anybody
Who comes within range – and that’s just for asking to see the governor

A year later, Shujaa organises an official petition (which gets sixty-five signatures) regarding the fact that prisoners in Northern Irish jails have far better rights as regards letters, visits, parcels, clothing, association, earnings and remission. In January 1982, he organises a three-day strike to demand half-remission, own clothing, eight letters per week, four visits per month. A press release is sent out by him to the organisation PROP (the national prisoners’ movement), which is holding a press conference outside. By the beginning of 1983, he is again planning a strike to bring prisoners’ rights in UK jails up to the standards of those in Northern Ireland. When, in October, Home Secretary Leon Brittan outlines draconian proposals on how long ‘life sentences’ should actually run, Shujaa tries to get prisoners to see how these will affect them. A peaceful protest demonstration ends in an argument, a broken TV and an overturned billiard table. Shujaa writes from ‘the block’ where he and others are held, ‘they say we are the cause of people getting injured. We are charging Brittan.’

‘Doing time’
I hate Mondays
Tuesdays kill me
Wednesdays are boringly monotonous
I can’t stand Thursdays
Fridays should be abolished
Saturdays are deadly
And on Sundays I pray that Monday doesn’t come

Often he campaigned on behalf of individual prisoners, asking groups outside to find out how X or Y, who had suddenly been moved, was faring at their new prison or showing solidarity with those whom he thought were being treated unfairly. This was epitomised by the stand he took after the Bury inquest’s ‘suicide’ verdict on the death of his friend Harold Roberts in the security wing of Prestwich Hospital in March 1985. He petitioned the Home Office for an independent public inquiry into the death because, knowing Harold so well, he could not believe, given his friend’s complete lack of suicidal tendencies or thoughts and the fact that he had been ‘forcibly restrained and drugged’ two days before he died, that suicide could have been the cause of death.

Looking back over his many letters, appeals and petitions sent from prison, it is clear that what kept his politics so sharp was not just that he read so avidly (anything from Capital to Fat Is a Feminist Issue ), studied for an Open University degree and always had one ear on the radio news, but the fact that, existentially, he refused to see the distinction between his incarceration and the free world. A racist attack on an Asian shopkeeper in East London, the assassination of Walter Rodney, the New Cross massacre, the treatment of Nelson Mandela, the IMF in Jamaica, Reagan’s escapades; he felt them all acutely. Twice only his letters turned to joy, exultation even: when he heard, in April 1981, of riots on the streets of Brixton; and when, in 1983, he could write, ‘At last good news! Bonsu is out.’

But that non-acceptance of being in another and cut-off world extended to the way he managed to find the means of carrying his agitations to the outside, whether it be asking people to intervene on behalf of wronged prisoners, smuggling out text for a PROP press conference or endlessly petitioning the home secretary. The world was part of him and he was part of the world.

Shujaa learnt to fight, not physically, but with his mouth and his pen. In prison, he began to collect and rewrite his poetry, which he then classified into the collection Asleep, Awake, Aware to describe his journey to political consciousness. His second collection, entitled Shadow, all written as the long sentence was taking its toll, had a darker tone. It was divided into sections: ‘Tomb of dementia’, ‘Never tell an Englishman’, ‘New Cross massacre’, ‘Rising star-star rising’, ‘Angels are made on earth’ and ‘Look for him in the long grass’ (a beautiful tribute to Nelson Mandela). The last poem in this collection is ‘Sweet freedom’:

‘Sweet freedom’
Are we not allowed to dream,
To have ideals to aim for?
Can we not put even a little trust
Into making a simple idea come true?
If aspirations of a peaceful world
Can spread joy
Dream on.
Principle upheld
Conscience clear
Faith strong
Love true, true
Sweet freedom
One day you will plant a flower
In my land
Which will bloom
And I will smile at you
From beyond the blue
Beyond the blue
Love true, true.

Shujaa died just as he would have wished – not incarcerated, but free – and he died in his continent of choice, Africa. He died swiftly, almost impetuously, as he had lived. Having spent a day digging in the hot fields, he threw off his clothes and plunged into the river to cool himself. The shock of the cold water was too much for the system, he suffered a massive heart attack. He died young, which is also probably what he wanted. Trying to imagine a Shujaa of 59 or 60 years old, which he would have been now, is an impossibility, for he never left the Black Power days of the early 1970s; prison honed them into his Never Never Land.

  • 1 Mark was to face a similar, but far more serious and professional, siege just months later at Balcombe Street, where he confronted IRA activists.
  • 2 Times (29 September 1975).
  • 3 Daily Telegraph (3 October 1975).
  • 4 This is asserted in H. O. Nazareth, ‘No simple robbery’, Time Out (23–9 November 1979). There is some evidence to suggest that the police purposefully put out on the radio false information about arrests so as to inveigle the three to give themselves up. However, there are two additional names in Crown Prosecution documents, Samuel Addison and Lillo Calogero Termine, and in the obituary in the Guardian (22 July 2009) of ‘West End “hard man”’ Norbert Rondel, Termine is mentioned in connection with the robbery.
  • 5 See In the Office of Constable, Sir Robert Mark, A Hole in Babylon, Play for Today (BBC), directed by Horace Ové, and a number of references in textbooks on the psychology of kidnapping and surveillance techniques.
  • 6 I am not trying to assert any particular claim over the siege. It is rather that working at the IRR, when it was used as an educational centre by many black groups, and working there still, I had and continue to have access to information about the siege. It was by chance that colleague Hazel Waters and I became frequent visitors to Shujaa. Once the three were sentenced and categorised high-risk category ‘A’ prisoners, visitors had to be vetted by Special Branch, and many of the black leaders who had visited them on remand were not prepared to do so further or could not get clearance. Originally, IRR librarian/director A. Sivanandan, to whom Wesley directed his many, many questions and requests for books, was also a visitor and correspondent. But, latterly, it was Hazel and I who visited and corresponded with Shujaa. Upon the IRR recently being approached by a BBC producer for information on the siege, I realised how much had still never been said.
  • 7 The backgrounds of the three young men were explained by Roger Lofters, the chairman of the Defence Committee of the Spaghetti House Three, at a talk to black students at the University of Sussex and later reproduced in AFRAS Review (no. 2, summer 1976).
  • 8I visited that school in 1973 when I had the job of helping to dispense grants to community groups from a large London-based charity. In return, I had to report on how the money was spent. The Marcus Garvey school received £300.
  • 9 This is from a collection of poems written by Shujaa and divided into three sections: ‘Asleep’, ‘Awake’ and ‘Aware’. This poem is taken from ‘Asleep’. In the introduction to the collection, reproduced here as Figure 1, he explains that: ‘These poems describe a period in my life where I changed from being an uncaring individual ignorant of the sufferings of the world at large, in pursuit of selfish material gain, to becoming politically conscious. From being an unpolitical Black rebelling against unknown forces to becoming aware, learning first from the limited politics of Black Nationalism and then moving on to a level of Revolutionary Consciousness, which although at the moment is very shallow, I am working on.’
  • 10 For an account of the IRR’s history, see A. Sivanandan, ‘Race and resistance: the IRR story’, Race & Class (Vol. 50, no. 2, October–December 2008).
  • 11 This was borne out in, for example, the recollection of a senior member of the BLF, who remembered how Wesley had gone mad with anger after witnessing a violent police raid on a blues party, after which a pregnant black sister lost her baby (cited in Nazareth, op. cit.).
  • 12 David Pitt was a founder of the Campaign Against Racial Discrimination in the 1960s, a group of middle-class black and white professionals who lobbied on the analogy of US laws for anti-discrimination legislation in the UK. He stood unsuccessfully as a Labour candidate in the 1970 general election.
  • 13 See A. Sivanandan, ‘From resistance to rebellion’, in Catching History on the Wing (Pluto Press, 2008).
  • 14 In fact, some of those who turned their backs on the Spaghetti House three could be called hustlers, too, albeit at a higher level, by taking money from local government or charitable trusts.
  • 15 I heard him mount this argument very seriously with the borough’s Engineering Department when arguing about work that needed doing to sewers and drains on a Harambee property in Hackney.
  • 16 The late Roger Lofters, a leader of the Black Unity and Freedom party, did confide privately, when he was planning to return home to Jamaica, how guilty he felt leaving the three to face such long prison terms. He felt that part of the responsibility for what had happened was his, as political mentor. A member of the BLF interviewed in Nazareth (op. cit.), as the Ové film on the siege was shown on television, admitted: ‘You see, the BLF was trying to put down roots in the community, but many of the youths were impatient. After all, how long can you take a beating without fighting back? We used to have a lot of people coming to us with wild and violent schemes, and we were in a very difficult position at the centre of it. We had to try and deal with their impatience, to contain it till the community could support more militant action.’
  • 17 Nazareth, op. cit.
  • 18 See Home Office Statement on the Background, Circumstance and Action Subsequently Taken Relative to the Disturbance in ‘D’ Wing at HM Prison Wormwood Scrubs on 31 August 1979 … (HMSO, 1982), which bears out much of how Shujaa described matters, albeit from the other side. Interestingly, it comments on the politicisation of black consciousness in the prison.
  • 19 This is a special force of officers, not from the particular jail in question, brought in to calm down protests. The term MUFTI stands, somewhat ironically, for Minimum Use of Force Tactical Intervention.



2 years 9 months ago

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Submitted by Jaimz on September 2, 2021

Wes, now Shuja was my good friend in Wakefield . The incident referred to over Leon Brittain taking away parole was a planned riot but as usual someone snitched and many were shanghaid over the teatime lock up, Alan Lord being one of them. There wasn't really an argument. Wes put the record on Take it to the limit one more time. Then the 3 of us, thats all was left of the mutineers, strolled up to the end of the wing. Wes turned the tv sound down and told everyone word was Alan Lord had been beaten so severely he had died. Then he threw the tv set into the crowd and we made our way to the other end of the wing throwing chairs and punching the odd nonce until we reached the centre gate. And were then escorted to solitary and eventual lie downs across the country. 8 month later i ended up back there in solitary and Wes was still there. Still studying and still happy resisting. I miss him very much and wish he had made it to 69 yr old Shuja. Rest in peace brother. X