On the March 16, 1972, Winston Trew, Sterling Christie, George Griffiths and Omar Boucher were heading home from a Black Liberation Front meeting. They were organising their response to the arrest of fellow black power activist Tony Soares. The meeting was a success, so spirits were high.
But when they arrived into Oval tube station, they were apprehended by a group of white men claiming to be police. Except no IDs were shown. A fight broke out, with Winston believing his assailants to be racist thugs. ‘One of the men put me in a headlock,’ he told Calum McCrae who presents the latest episode of the UNJUST podcast. ‘I felt my face getting really tight, I could hardly breathe. Good God, he’s trying to kill me.’
This altercation was just the prelude to a 50 year story of injustice in which the four men, who would become known as the Oval Four, were wrongfully convicted of non-existent crimes. According to Winston, they were beaten into signing confessions that made no sense.
In March of this year, the last of the Oval Four’s convictions was overturned after the case was referred back to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission – as reported on the Justice Gap here. You can also read an interview with Winston Trew by Harriet Bland.
‘The streets were a hostile place, especially late at night, for young black men. There was a general antagonism between black and white, and the police fell into that category. They were suspicious of us, and we were suspicious of them.’
This episode of Un:Just is the first in a two-parter that attempts to tell that story: what happened that day. Listen to Winston Trew in conversation with Calum McCrae below, on iTunes or on Spotify.