The difference between the gang on the Ordsall estate which became Ordsall Class War and the other gangs mentioned was that the Ordsall gang consciously decided to become political. I think it was Sean Keating who described it ‘the year a criminal gang became political’ and at its heart were Ken and Sean Keating. I can’t recall in modern times of any similar transformation.
The day after the Poll Tax Riot Strangeways prison erupted. The police got the fire brigade to train their hoses on the mutineers on the roof. The Ordsall mob cut the hoses and warned the fire brigade they would be attacked like the cops whenever they entered Ordsall. They stopped. Day after day you could Hear Ken with his megaphone urging the mutineers on.
The political theory that grabbed Ordsall Class War was ‘The catechism of a revolutionary’ by Sergei Nechaev. It suited their all or nothing approach….they brought it to a CW conference to be adopted as CW’s constitution. If anyone can tell me of a gang reading and adopting anything similar I’d like to fucking know about it. And they walked the walk:
The Manchester police unveiled a flash new Ford Cosworth high speed police car to local tv at lunchtime. After being lured onto Ordsall the drivers were attacked by a baseball bat wielding mob who triumphally drove round the estate before torching it for the benefit of local telly.
‘On the Ordsall Estate in Salford (near Manchester), in the space of several days in the first week of July, fires were started at a council neighbourhood office, a housing office, a careers office, a Department of Health office, a MacDonald’s restaraunt, and several other buildings. Shots were fired at police vehicles and a petrol bomb thrown at a police station. Also in Salford, eight people in balaclavas attacked a police car that they had lured into an ambush by setting off an alarm. Local youths complained of police violence, with one saying: “There’s people who can’t pay for electricity. And they’re at home in bed, in the dark, and the door’s kicked in and all they can see is big torches coming up the stairs and the Bill [the police] is saying ‘Stay where you are or you’ll get your heads blown off'”. Another said: “It’s just like Belfast. The police don’t relate to the kids. Why are they dragging them in, beating them up?”
It was with this background that they came to the Communities of resistance Class war conference that year and linked up with others from riot hit areas….Hartcliffe, Blackbird leys amongst others. Ken Keating died last year but his commitment and revolutionary intransigence lives on in his family, friends and comrades. His tribute – the temporary autonomous zone that was Ordsall in 1992. All Hail.