Charged with “wilfully obstructing the passage of the gateway”, three people were arrested when selling “the Little Red Book” at Hyde Park corner on August 8th 1967. While they were being arrested, China’s Hsinhua news agency reported, “the here progressives shouted ‘Long Live Chairman Mao!’ and held up the red book of ‘Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse Tung’ by way of protest at the fascist actions by the British police.”
The Times on the virtues of “Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung” Jacketed in red plastic, it is a handy size for waving outside embassies,and fits comfortably into the pocket between riots.” [The Profitable Thoughts of Chairman Mao. 31st August 1967]
The three were pro-cultural revolution ‘Friends of China’ active around London ; G.Bijur, an Indian progressive, Paul Pawlowski , a WW2 displaced Person of Polish descent and Martin Darling, a young British school teacher. The trial of Pawlowski (40) of Kidderminister Road, Croydon Surrey, Darling (27) of Marylands Paddington and Gajaman Bijur (50) of Bayswater came after a week spent in custody on remand.
Pawlowski was sentenced to three months imprisonment partly for refusing to pay fines for obstruction and use of obscene language. The Times records, he told the court
“We protest against fascist violence on the part of the police to interfere with the spreading of the thoughts of Chairman Mao. We protest at being illegally arrested and sent to Brixton prison without trial.” [The Times August 15th 1967]
Darling was conditionally discharged for obstruction, while Bijur was unconditionally discharged.
Darling was re-arrested on August 28th and charged with obstruction once again when selling ‘Quotations’ at Hyde Park. The charge was withdrawn at his trial on September 8th 1967.
A further series of arrest took place on September 11th when four people (three British and one African) were arrested while selling Mao’s Little Red Book near Earl’s Court underground station. At their trial on September 20th there was a further incident as Yu Hang, Hsinhua correspondent, suffered a “brutal fascist attack”, being dragged out of the court by force and thrown to the ground:
“two British friends present at the court’s public gallery were brutally beaten up by a dozen of policemen and plainsclothes men and were illegally arrested because they voiced support for the Chinese correspondent and vehemently denounced the fascist outrage of the police.” [Hsinhua Daily Bulletin September 24th, 1967]
The version reported in The Times was that as the three magistrates entered West London Magistrates Court, the ushers call “All rise please,” a request ignored by four Chinese and a dozen others, most British who were sitting in the public gallery.
The magistrates ordered the gallery to be clear. Those in it were taken from the court struggling but later tried to force their way back-in. Sergeant Bertram described the scene:
“Four people of Chinese appearance remained seated. The Chairman of the magistrates directed the usher to ask them to leave, but they would not and had to be ejected. We took them out down the passage way. Roberts and Sewell followed on. They were shouting: Fascist pigs, imperialist bastards and other such stereotyped phrases.” [The Times September 21st 1967]
Uniformed police and detectives struggled on the pavement with a crowd of civilians while four Chinese stood by, jumping up and down, waving Chairman Mao’s book about their heads and screaming. The newspaper report noted that Clifford Roberts (44) and Dennis Sewell (32) both of Penn Road, Holloway were remained in custody for a week, charged with assaulting police, causing actual bodily harm and using threatening behaviour.
The four men originally accused with obstruction at Earl’s Court station were acquitted.
At the incident outside the Chinese Legation in Portland Place on August 29th, Eric Levy “aged 39 of Shirlock Road, Hampstead N.W.” was arrested and charged under the Public Order Act of using insulting words whereby a breach of peace was likely to be caused amongst the 300 strong crowd (Dennis Pyne (22) was later found guilty of striking Mr Levy, causing a cut under his eye).
Mr Levy said in evidence, at his trial in late September, “that it was ironic that he should be charged with insulting words when there were people in the crowd making provocative, chauvinistic and racialist remarks like ‘Hang Mao TseTung’. He replied by shouting: ‘Long Live Chairman Mao beloved head of 700 million people.’” [The Times September 29th 1967]
As Eric Levy was found guilty, fined and bound over to keep the peace for 12 months “there were shouts from the public gallery and one man was forcibly removed from the court.”
It was not the only time that the one time YCL activist was involved in court proceedings:
“When Eric Levy was charged with obstructing the police and using insulting behaviour and brought before the magistrate at Great Marlborough Police Court he pleaded not guilty. He said he did not obstruct the police and the only words he used to them were ‘ You guys are behaving like paper tigers ‘.
When the magistrate expressed some concern about the insulting connotations of the term ‘ paper tigers ‘ Eric Levy whipped out his copy of Mao’s Thoughts, opened it at page 72 and handed it to the magistrate, explaining that the expression had been popularised by Mao Tse-tung.
The magistrate had to admit that according to that definition ‘ paper tiger’ was not insulting. Eric Levy was found not guilty on both counts.”
[SACU News Vol. 3 Numbers 6 and 7, June—July 1968]