Rubika Shah’s “White Riot ” captures the rise of the extreme right during the 1970’s, and the counter grass roots movement started by Red Saunders when he set up Rock against Racism (RAR) and Temporary Hoarding their in-house fanzine.
Temporary Hoarding reported stories and issues that mainstream British media ignored, like immigration, the Catholic side of the Northern Ireland conflict, and the police’s controversial “suspected persons” (sus) powers.
Outraged by a racist speech made by Eric Clapton, music photographer Red Saunders writes a letter to the music press, calling for rock to come together and be a force against racism. NME, Melody Maker, and Sounds all publish the letter, mobilising the people of the East End and up and down the country against the rising National Front. Ironically, it was in Hackney and Bethnal Green that the National Front won most of its support, two of London’s most diverse and poorest boroughs at the time.
The National Front began to fight back and despite the dangers that most of the RAR team faced, including having their offices, petrol bombed, this was an all too common method of terrorising immigrant and ethnic minority families and led to several petrol bomb deaths during this period, bullets been sent through the post to their home addresses and their constant presence and marches throughout 1979, RAR continued.
“The timeliness of it just kept magnifying day by day. It’s crazy how relevant the film is now.The grim reality of Brexit and the resurgence of the far right was obviously uppermost in ourminds, but then Extinction Rebellion came along, giving us hope.” Producer Ed Gibbs
On 30 April 1978, 42 coaches from Glasgow, 15 from Sheffield, trains from Manchester arrived in Trafalgar Square, London to march and to attend a special all-day concert headlined by Tom Robinson and the Clash in Victoria Park, Bethnal Green. Rock Against Racism radicalised a generation and its supporters claim it helped destroy the National Front who in the following week’s local elections failed to secure any seats and its level of support fell.