One year ago today riots that began in Tottenham were emulated south of the river in Brixton and Peckham. Although sparked by the actions seen in Tottenham, people in the local communities have argued that the motivations behind events there was opportunism and dissatisfaction, and is not comparable with the reaction in Tottenham following the death of a young man from a community that wanted answers.
Although looting was seen in Tottenham, it followed a protest which escalated. In Brixton and Peckham the looting appeared to be the initial activity, with those taking part running in and out of shops ‘like ants’ carryings televisions, electrical goods and other products. SHops that were targeted included Foot Locker, Halfords, WHSmith, McDonalds and KFC among others. As in other areas, although mainstream media focused on young people especially those involved were of all ages. With adults especially filling cars with looted goods.
Fires were also started on the roads, and in shops. In Peckham clashes between participants and police took a nasty turn as looted fireworks were hurled at officers.
In Peckham eye witnesses reported that local people were attacking local shops, the same places they buy their groceries everyday. Such community on community violence raised serious concerns about the affinity people have with their local area.
In Brixton the disappointment was, and still is palpable. Infamous for the 1981 riots, Brixton has come a long way in repairing its reputation, and creating cohesion both within the community and between the people and police.
Although the evidence of the civil disturbance is long gone in both Brixton and Peckham, efforts are being made to remind people in the area to not only mark the anniversary of the riots, but encourage positive feelings about the community in the hope of preventing future incidents.
In Peckham in particular, being proud of your local area is being championed. Messages from the ‘Peace Wall’ which began the day after the riots [pictured below], has been encased in glass and will be displayed in Peckham Square from August 8th. The wall, which became an iconic image of the events last August, includes messages from people of all ages including:
‘Love where you are’
‘Stop burning my city’
‘London is my house’
‘Proud of Peckham’
One year on, although the reasons that lead to that the level of violence and destruction seen in Peckham and Brixton, may not have been addressed, efforts have been made to make people proud of where they’re from, and respect others and the impact that riots had on helpless shop and home owners.