In last week's post Beats, Beatniks and the Beaulieu Jazz Riot I mentioned a riot by jazz fans in Hackney's Victoria Park. I couldn't find out much more about it at the time but Monkey Snr's investigative skills are greater than mine and he turned up this report of bobbies versus ruffians in - of all places - The Miami News on 31 May 1960. I love the headline: Dogs Rout "Cats".
"London bobbies last night used snarling dogs to scare 2,500 rioting jazz fans into order at an East London park.
The dogs, growling and tugging at their leashes, routed teen-age ruffians who for 90 minutes had been belting law officers with fists, chairs and bottles.
Nineteen persons eventually were rounded up in darkness-shrouded Victoria Park and taken into custody. Seven policemen suffered cuts and bruises.
A police spokesman said later the dogs – most German shepherds – could not have been loose on the rioters or “they would have torn them to pieces.”
“It is enough of a psychological impact to keep them on a chain,” he said. “People are not anxious to be mauled by fierce dogs.”
The teenagers had gathered in the park for a jazz concert by Chris Barber, one of England’s leading popular band leaders.
It was not clear how the riot started. Bobbies had been circulating in the crowd on a tip that two rival gangs were planning to start “trouble” but it also was possible some the fans were angered at being turned away from the performance because of limited seating capacity.
The first scuffles broke out near the bandstand and quickly spread throughout the park
Officials declined to say how many dogs were used but added it was not unusual for them to be employed to deal with “unmanageable crowds.”"