This time last year Clapham Junction was the scene of some of the worst civil unrest in three decades. With an estimated 1,000 people taking part, and relatively low police presence, participants smashed shop windows, looted stock, and set fire to buildings and cars with little opposition.
The following day eye witnesses reported that Clapham Junction looked ‘like a war zone’. One year on, while damage to the large chain stores [seen in videos] such as Debenhams, JD Sports Currys and Ladbrokes, has been repaired, the Party Superstore that was torched remains a shell of a building, with extensive work to make the building safe still incomplete. A smaller shop remains in premises next door, but the business has obviously been scaled-down and is yet to recover from its complete destruction last August.
However, although the damage can never be truly repaired, and shop owners cannot be compensated in full, the party shop in Clapham, while still serving as a stark reminder of the events, will also be the site of a community mural to celebrate the local area and encourage a sense of working together. So-called ‘I Art This’ is a paint-by-numbers style wall painting, members of the community will be encouraged to come and take part in creating the mural’s creation which will take place on 11-12 August.
Although the violence in Clapham was among the worst, the community spirit in the immediate aftermath was among the best. The day after the looting on August 8 2011, an estimated 500 people gathered at Clapham Junction with brooms to help clean up the high street and show solidarity in the face of unprecedented unrest.
The mural that will mark the first anniversary since the riots is a sign that the community spirit in Clapham remains strong and disturbances in the future will not be tolerated. As in other areas, and as is the general feeling one year on, there remains a concern that similar scenes could return, however in Clapham at least efforts have been made to remember the events and prevent them in the future.