JIMI JAGNE – MEMORIES OF THE TOXTETH RIOTS
Jimi Jagne, now 47, recalls the part he played in the Toxteth riots.
I was a 17-year-old youth, Toxteth born and bred, and I was actively engaged in the uprisings. At one point, on the penultimate day of the riots, on July 27, I was arrested and subsequently received a conviction for my part in the rioting.
Like everyone else, it was a part of what was happening among the residents and the community at the time.
There was a long, long history of police trouble. Walking around the community during the daytime was bad enough, but when it was the winter and it got dark early from about 5 o’clock onwards you dare not walk out alone on the streets if you were a young male. It would become inevitable you would be seen, stopped, at least questioned, possibly searched and perhaps arrested after having received a beating of some sort.
I was there on the Friday night. I’m one of those people who believes that it was one incident that, along with all the other incidents over the years, amounted to the final straw.
Here we had a young man being stopped, on a motorcycle and being questioned on the corner of Granby Street and Selbourne Street right where everyone used to frequent. He was well-known to everyone in the community. We knew this guy.
Curiosity being what it is, people were wandering over wanting to know what was going on and wanting to ask questions.
It was clear the man seemed indignant that he hadn’t done anything wrong. Then something like seven or eight vehicles arrived, chock a block with police officers. There didn’t seem to be any apparent reason for that because there was no actual trouble or tension. There was no understandable reason why so many police officers should be called in with the intention of finishing off arresting one person.
When they arrived, there was a series of exchanges which also included the police threatening bystanders, who were just observers, and trying to move them on.
A crowd had gathered, and amongst them one or two people had started to throw stones. A fracas broke out, blows were exchanged – both ways – which led to five officers being injured, and Leroy Cooper being arrested.
There were incidents through the night which involved several attacks on police vans but in my mind what actually sparkled the whole situation was the heavy police presence the following day from the Saturday morning through to the afternoon.
Everyone out walking the streets in broad daylight was being stopped or arrested. People were constantly running into each other and exchanging stories about what had happened, one thing led to another, and people decided ‘we’re not going to take it any more’, and the trouble started late that afternoon on the corner of Upper Parliament Street and Grove Street.
Jimi later went to university and gained a degree. He now works as a lead mentor with the Aimhigh Reaching High Project.