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The 1970s was a bleak, violent decade. America fought in Southeast Asia, the economy sputtered and suffered from stagflation, and there were a number of homegrown radical movements that used violent methods. Of these the SLA and the Patty Hearst Abduction comes to mind, as well as the actions of the Weaterman Underground. The United Kingdom suffered similarly, minus the conflict in Vietnam. Much like the US, the UK had it’s own counter culture with it’s particular violent outgrowths.

In the UK, The Angry Brigade planted bombs, but didn’t kill anyone. As Martin Bright writes:

In the series of 25 bombings attributed to them no one was killed (one person was slightly injured), but they were a serious embarrassment to Edward Heath’s government. For a brief period between August 1970 and August 1971, the authorities were unable to stop a group of left-wing adventurers bombing the homes of Tory politicians, as well as government and corporate offices.

Eventually, suspects were nabbed, but after the police raids, the alleged perpetrators become wrapped up in counter culture imagery:

It didn’t take long for a mythology of hippie outlaws and their molls to develop around the two couples from Amhurst Road. This was helped in no small degree by the Angry Brigade’s own ironic propaganda: one early communiquĂ© was signed ‘Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid’ and another ‘The Wild Bunch’. The prurient drooling began even before the four had been identified. ‘Girl slept with bedside arsenal’ claimed one tabloid, while another screamed, ‘Dropouts with brains tried to launch bloody revolution.’ Meanwhile, a Sun reporter produced a bizarre story headlined ‘Sex Orgies at the Cottage of Blood’ about a house where the four were once said to have stayed. Here they were said to have ritually sacrificed a turkey while indulging in the nightmare revolutionary cocktail of ‘bizarre sexual activities’ and ‘anarchist-type meetings.’ Even the broadsheets couldn’t resist. On the weekend after their trial was over, The Observer used the by-now iconic pictures of the two 22-year-olds as an eye-catching addition to its table of contents. What the press didn’t know was that every time they used the images, they were contributing to a defence group fund. In a move that demonstrated a canny understanding of the media’s thirst for images of pretty girls, Creek and Mendleson had a set of photographs secretly taken during the trial and gave the copyright to friends to manage.

Now, it’s more than 30 years later. Much of the resulting trail has largely been forgetton, especially as a new generation has sprung up.


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