The Murder of Police Constable Keith Blakelock. Part 1

Mrs Groce's shooting sparked riots in Brixton in 1985
Daily Mail
PC Keith Blakelock
Independent
On 5 October 1985 Cynthia Jarrett died during a police raid on her home on Tottenham's Broadwater Farm estate.
Photograph: Pa/EMPICS
Cherry Groce
Daily Mail

PC Blakelock

PC Blakelock was born in Sunderland on the 28th June 1945, and came to London and joined the Metropolitan Police in 1980. When he was murdered he was 40 years of age, and he had just completed 5 years’ service. His badge number was 176050. He was the second policeman to be murdered while attending a riot situation. The first police officer to be murdered while attending a riot was police Constable Robert Culley in 1833. Training for these type of incidents was in it’s infancy in 1985 but the training in modern times is a lot more professional.

Constable Keith Blakelock with other officers were detailed in Serial 502, a mobile unit consisting of 10 constables and led by a sergeant. They were called to a scene of a riot which was serious on the Broadwater housing estate. A number of buildings were on fire and the fire brigade were doing their best to contain these various fires. The firemen then came under attack by a screaming mob, hell bent on driving the firemen away. They in turn called for police protection. Serial 502 were one of the ones who were sent to the scene. The police were the ones the black community hated the most. This riot was by now in a very serious state of affairs.

On Saturday 5th October 1985, which was just a week after the Brixton riot, the police arrested a black man, Floyd Jarrett, 24 years from Tottenham, on suspicion of being in a stolen car. It was a suspicion that after some investigation turned out to be totally groundless. However, the police decided to search the home of his mother, Cynthia Jarrett, for stolen goods.  Four police officers were detailed for the search In the course of this search she collapsed onto the floor. An ambulance was summoned but was pronounced dead on the arrival at hospital.  The Jarrett’s home was very close to the Broadwater farm estate. Cynthia Jarrett’s death caused, what was already high tension on the estate, quickly escalated to a very high tension between the black community and the police in that area. Trouble was about to explode.

Broadwater farm estate

Broadwater farm estate. Cynthia Jarrett’s death caused, what was already high tension on the estate, quickly escalated to a very high tension between the black community and the police in that area. Trouble was about to explode.

On the 28th September 1985, a black woman of 8, Dorothy Groce, known as Cherry, had been shot by the police in Brixton, South London during another raid and was paralysed below the waist. This incident led to an outcry from the Black Communities across the UK, and resulted in the second riot in the Brixton area in the last 4 years. These disturbances lasted a total of 48 hours. Meanwhile on the same evening in Tottenham, in north London, Roger Scott, a member of the Broadwater Farm Youth Association, was arrested on the estate for allegedly breaking and entering in the local Social Club., which actually, was run by the same group. The arrest turned out be a very violent one and those who saw what happened protested vehemently at the manner in which this arrest was carried out by several police officers. Several of the black youths knew the police were arresting the wrong person. A delegation went to the Tottenham police station to make them aware of the situation.

The delegation

This delegation, were perfectly well behaved but their information was totally dismissed by the station Officer. This delegation, completely peaceful was brutally seized and 4 youths a young woman were seized, and being man-handled and arrested, charged with various offences including assaults and police obstructions.  They were acquitted at court. Gradually the various instances where the police were involved was mounting and the Black Community were getting more and more frustrated with the police.  What was already very poor relations between the Police and the Black Community was now just about at its end.

Cherry Groce died 26 years later in 2011 from kidney failure, which a pathologist directly linked to the gunshot wound.

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