Brixton is quickly returning to normal after last night’s disgraceful looting and disorder. Let’s be clear about one thing first: this was no re-run of 1981. What we saw last night was a mob of mainly young people taking advantage of the violence in Tottenham the night before to stage copycat activities so they could break into local shops. They targeted businesses selling mobile phones, video games, electronic goods including plasma screen TV sets, and sports clothing. It seems they used social media to move quickly in an attempt to out-run the police. There is universal condemnation from across the community this morning for what was nothing more than criminality and opportunistic theft.
I went on a walkabout around Brixton first thing and saw the clean-up operation in full swing. The damaged shops are being secured. Broken glass and litter – some of it left over from the Brixton Splash event yesterday afternoon – was being cleaned away. The Council is working with businesses and the police to make sure our town centre is restored to normal working as quickly as possible.
With the tube station closed and the high street cordoned off by the police there were crowds of people wondering how to get to work, but the buses were still running through. The media were very visible with TV cameras, notepads and interview mics out in force. But the good people of Brixton were making one thing very loud and very clear – this is a great place to live, community relations are good, there is strong support for the sensitive policing we’ve seen in recent years. No gang of looters is going to jeopardise that. This is a community that works and we will all rally round to condemn those responsible for last night’s hooliganism.
The Council has offered the police our full support. We have CCTV footage that will be made available to help identify the ringleaders. There were some extraordinary reports of people driving up to Curry’s on Effra Road in cars to help themselves to electronic goods. If their number plates were caught on CCTV they can expect to be brought to book. Brixton is an open and tolerant place, but we do not tolerate lawlessness.
This afternoon the council will host a meeting for community leaders and business owners to share information about what happened last night. More importantly, we will also offer help to get our businesses and communities back on their feet where they’ve suffered any damage. We are calling on London’s Mayor and the Metropolitan Police to make sure there are enough policein Brixton over the coming days to prevent any attempt to repeat last night’s disorder.
I was astonished to find Ms Cupcake, owner of a bakery on Brixton’s Coldharbour Lane, out in Brixton this morning handing out brightly-coloured iced cakes. She told me this was no day to sell cakes, and she wanted to show the world the true face of Brixton –smiling, generous, and big-hearted. So she came out to spread a little love in the form of her cupcakes. That for me is what Brixton’s really about. And that’s why last night’s incidents will not scar our community. This is a community that is strong, cohesive, and proud of itself. No mindless thugs are going to damage that.