Leeds Carnival has been renowned for its peaceful history.

Leeds Carnival has been renowned for its peaceful history. Even when Notting Hill Carnival was erupting in violence with battles taking place between Caribbean youths and the Metropolitan police, the Leeds carnival was reported in the Yorkshire Evening Post in 1976 with the headline ‘Wonderful day, say police’. The opening paragraph reported that ‘Leeds West Indian Carnival was last night said by police to have been a “wonderful day, and an example to other carnivals”’.

Ian Charles, who by 1976 was the official Co-ordinator of the Carnival, was quoted as saying that there was no trouble in Leeds among the estimated 10,000 who gathered for the Carnival, because ‘Unlike London, we set out to organise a one-day event with people taking part in a three-hour parade and then going home to rest and change before dancing at night. No-one has time to get tired, or restless, and the result is an enjoyable day out and brings different sections of the community together – our main aim. Everyone on the committee was impressed with the co-operation from the police’.

It was not until the early nineties that the Carnival experienced any real trouble. Three people were killed on the Monday evening, after the procession had finished, at the 1990 Carnival. Frank Harris was fatally stabbed in Harehills Avenue after an argument broke out around the Live Wire Sound System from Birmingham. His friend Jeffrey Miles who lived in the West Midlands was later acquitted of wounding after using a machete to defend himself. Tony Salmon, a Birmingham disc jockey was found not guilty of murdering Mr Harris. The police claimed that witnesses were terrified of giving evidence against him (Yorkshire Post 3 and 4.12.1991). Two other people died from gunshot wounds, one accidentally from a ricochet, and the other, Sedley Sullivan, 28, from Birmingham, was thought to have been murdered by Tony Johnson, a 22 year old white man, known as White Tony, from Manchester, who himself was executed in late February 1991 (Yorkshire Evening Post 26.2.1991).

This was an exception and the Leeds festival has continued to run relatively problem free with the co-operation and close realtions with the local police force.