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Brawling Mods and Rockers Face Sentencing

May 18, 1964 - The law got tough today with the Mods and the Rockers, the flamboyant young people who have been making Britain’s coastal resort towns a nightmare for peaceful vacationers.

After a day and night of brawling along the beach at Margate in Kent, 50 youths between 15 and 22 years old were sentenced to stiff fines or up to nine months in jail or detention centers. The fines ranged to $210.

Two youths are in the hospital with stab wounds.

Margate was relatively quiet and peaceful today, with only four arrested. But there was violence at Brighton, which was jammed for the sunny three-day Whitsun holiday.

Nearly 60 youngsters were arrested in Brighton. The fines and jail sentences there were lighter than in Margate but still harsh enough, the authorities hoped, to end what The Evening Standard called “teenage barbarism.”

The Mods and the Rockers come from a similar, poorer place on the socioeconomic scale. The Mods, for moderns, wear flashily cut clothes in what the British call “Italian style” and pointed-toe shoes. The race around on motor scooters.

The Rockers scorn these clothes, preferring black leather jackets, as well as the sculptured hairstyles of the Mods, preferring flowing, sometimes shoulder-length hair. The Rockers, who champion the rock ’n’ roll the Mods consider outmoded, ride motorcycles.

As the first accused appeared in Margate Court, Dr. George Simpson, the court chairman, said: “It is not likely that the air of this town has ever been polluted by hordes of hooligans, male and female, such as we have seen this weekend.

“These long-haired, mentally unstable, petty little hoodlums, these sawdust Caesars who can only find courage, like rats, in hunting in packs, came to Margate with the avowed intent of interfering with the life and property of its inhabitants.”

The Mods and Rockers showed up in large numbers at almost every coastal resort. The violence was confined to Margate, Brighton, and Bournemouth.

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