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Liverpool Murder

At the end of the WWI segment we are shown a shot of the Bradford Daily Telegraph dated Friday, June 6, 1919. This then focuses on the article titled "No More Khaki for Looms" which talks about how Barbara's father isn't making any more khaki for the troops in his Bradford mill and has turned them over to making a wedding dress for his daughter.

But there is also that intriguing article about the Liverpool Murder. Freddy from the Britmovie Group has investigated this and has discovered:


Firstly the history of the Bradford Telegraph:

Bradford Daily Telegraph
First published July 16 (daily price 1/2d) - Thomas Shields, Bond Street

Bradford Daily Telegraph
Acquired by Bradford & District Newspaper Co Ltd

Bradford Daily Telegraph
Merged with Yorkshire Evening Argus to form the Bradford Telegraph and Argus

Bradford Telegraph & Argus
Title changed to Telegraph & Argus


I came across details of the murder at
Nerve 12 - Migrant Myths

1919 - The Murder of Charles Wootton
On the evening of 5 June 1919, a fight took place in Great Georges Square, Liverpool. It involved rival groups of black and .Scandinavian. men. The police were called and decided to arrest the black men. They went at the head of an angry white crowd to Upper Pitt Street, where there were hostels and other houses occupied by the black community. There was resistance to this incursion and two police officers sustained gunshot wounds, seemingly from the same bullet.

Charles Wootton, a 24-year-old ships fireman from Bermuda, lived at 18 Upper Pitt Street. He fled from the house to escape. He was chased about half a mile to the Queens Dock. A police officer took hold of him there but the crowd snatched him away. He either jumped or was thrown into the water. He was then hit on the head by a stone and drowned.

You might expect such an event to make people stop and think, but if anything the horror increased. The police raid on Upper Pitt Street continued and eleven black men appeared in court the next morning, several with bandaged heads. One was wearing his naval uniform. All were charged with attempted murder on the flimsiest identification evidence.

As for the actual murder, no one was as much as questioned. Charles Wootton.s inquest opened and closed in a single day a week later. It was said that the dead man was reasonably believed to have fired at the police and that he was escaping lawful arrest. The stone that hit him was thrown .from the middle of the crowd. while a police officer tried to .rescue. him. The jury recorded these events without even calling the event an unlawful killing.

The atrocities continued in the following days. Crowds - at times several thousand strong - attacked black-occupied homes and hostels. Whole buildings were vandalised, emptied of their furniture and even set alight. The writer Ernest Marke describes the chilling experience of being chased all over town by white mobs. Within a week over seven hundred black residents were detained in police stations for their own protection, as the police could not cope.

There was of course a background to all this. There had been a black community in Liverpool for centuries, largely by reason of the shipping trade. World War I brought many more people from all corners of the British Empire either to fight or to fill gaps in the labour force left by recruitment and conscription. These new arrivals were British subjects and there was no work permit system.

Come the end of the war, there was massive demobilisation and unemployment. Black ex-servicemen were cast adrift and found homes in communities like Liverpool.s South End. At the same time, white ex-soldiers and sailors demanded civilian employment that had been promised them in .a land fit for heroes..

So it was that the black community became a target. A city that in so many other respects was on the brink of revolution drew on its slave trade experience and turned on its black citizens.

On 10 June 1919 a black delegation visited the Liverpool Echo. They were led by the secretary of the Ethiopian Hall (off Brownlow Hill) where some seventy men had taken refuge against attack. This is an extract from their statement:

"The majority of Negroes at present are discharged soldiers and sailors without employment; in fact some of them are practically starving, work having been refused them on account of their colour.

"On May 13 I visited the Lord Mayor with a view to the repatriation of some coloured men and to find if it was possible for a bounty to be given to these men through the Colonial Office, as the majority of them have pawned their clothes in order to obtain food. This was due to their being unable to obtain work as seafarers. Our goods and our houses have been broken and taken away from us.

"Some of us have been wounded and lost limbs and eyes fighting for the Empire in which we have the honour to belong.

"At present between 40 and 43 coloured men report themselves daily for repatriation.

"During the war, when the Mauretania was due to sail, the white crew failed to put in an appearance. She was manned by 'niggers'. We ask for British justice, to be treated as true and loyal sons of Great Britain. We must remind the public that in Africa there are white men and last week 180 Europeans came home on leave from the West Coast. The Liverpool public must reflect on these points."


And this from the Liverpool Echo
The roots of racism in city of many cultures
Aug 3 2005 Liverpool Echo

Political reporter Ian Hernon on the day a lynch mob brought race terror to Liverpool

DRIVING through the vibrant, bustling Chinatown or along Brougham Terrace past Britain's oldest mosque, it is clear to see why our Capital of Culture logo is "the world in one city".

For decades, people of every creed and colour have lived together relatively harmoniously.

While old mill towns like Oldham, Burnley and Bradford struggled with the post-war influx of ethnic minorities, Liverpool's - albeit dubious - role in the slave trade meant people of Afro Caribbean descent had long been in residence in the city.

But the development of such tolerance has not been an easy process. And although there are many who would deny inter-racial problems in the city, there are an equal number who would argue that there has always been an undercurrent of racial tension running through its veins.

Because while the city can boast ownership of the country's oldest mosque and Europe's oldest Chinatown, it also witnessed Britain's first black public lynching.

The roots of the racism believed to be involved in the killing of Huyton student Anthony Walker, 18, run deep.

During World War l, black seamen increasingly found jobs ashore, plugging manpower shortages. Many moved in with white women, causing widespread outrage.

With demobilisation in spring 1919, the city's black population swelled to 5,000. Tensions mounted as black and white ex-servicemen competed for work.

Those reached boiling point when 120 black workers employed in the sugar refineries and oilcake mills were sacked because whites refused to work alongside them.

Many were at the end of their credit limit and were evicted from their lodgings. They joined several hundred destitute black ex-servicemen, some of whom had lost limbs in the war.

The Colonial Office was petitioned to repatriate the men with a 5 bursary for food, clothing and tools. At the same time, a deputation representing 5,000 jobless white ex-servicemen complained that black workers were under-cutting them in the wages market.

The port was a racial tinderbox - and on June 4 of that year it exploded.

Two white sailors stabbed a West Indian in the face because he refused to give them a cigarette in a pub. The following night his mates returned to take revenge and, in the melee, a policeman was kicked unconscious.

The police responded by raiding a row of lodging houses with black occupants. This time the fight was more serious and four police officers were injured, one of them shot in the mouth.

An enraged lynch mob gathered outside the houses. Charles Wootton, a 24-year-old black ship's fireman who had not been involved in the fighting, ran out and was pursued by two policemen and a crowd of around 300.

The officers caught him at King's Dock but he was snatched by the mob. A screaming Wootton was hurled into the dock waters and pelted with bricks and rocks as he tried to swim. Eventually his battered corpse was dragged out.

Over the next three days, white mobs up to 10,000 strong ruled Liverpool's tough streets, attacking any black people they saw.

Houses in Toxteth which were believed to have black tenants were systematically looted and torched.

The Times reported: "White men appear determined to clear out the black people who have been advised to stay indoors. This counsel many of them disregard.

"The district was in an uproar and every coloured man seen was followed by a large hostile crowd."

The victims included an ex-soldier with three medals for courage in the recent war. Some blacks fought back with razors and bottles, but were overwhelmed.

The violence gradually abated, but similar riots erupted that summer in other ports, including London, Glasgow, Newport and Cardiff.


Nerve 14 - A Christian Greeting to the Former Capital of Culture
The Charles Wootton Centre for Further Education, was set up in the 1970s by Blacks for Blacks, and named after the victim of a 1919 racist killing. It closed in 2000.

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