- Tower Hamlets
As the first anniversary of London’s riots approaches, has it changed the communities it dominated? EastLondonLines reporter Emma Marvin took to the streets of Hackney to find out.
John Harris, 67, owner of Harris Electrical Ltd on Lower Clapton Road in Hackney – one of the shops that was heavily looted:
“The looters did a lot of damage. We were all a bit traumatized to start with, but we just got on and did what we had to do.
“We’ve had a lot of support from the local people, which proved that there is a real community spirit. Since it happened, we’ve noticed that Hackney has improved a lot. There seems to be much more emphasis on family life. Earlier this year, Clapton held a festival and there were a lot of young people with their children getting together.
“We’re not feeling nervous about the anniversary approaching. Some people say it’s going to kick off, but I don’t see anything happening like that happening again in the immediate future. On the day, we’re going to put out flags and say ‘Hurray! We’re still going, we’re still surviving.”
Debbie Harris, 41, daughter of John Harris and director of Harris Electrical Ltd:
“I’m over it now but it did affect me quite badly at the time. I was quite tearful during the two months after it had happened but we’re back on track now and really busy.
“It surprised us how it brought the community together. It makes you realise how many nice people are around. We’ve heard there could be a riot reunion for the anniversary, but I’m sure there won’t be.”
Kwasi Oswi, 41, unemployed:
“Hackney’s changed for the better. The streets are quieter. The people that were the ringleaders are still on the streets but are no longer in that position anymore”
Zoe Owens, 21, unemployed:
The borough has changed but that’s because of the arrival of the Olympics. There is a lot of new things happening, especially for my generation.”
Folashade Oje, 20, a volunteer at Hackney Police Station:
“A lot of people are still upset because of what was done to this community. There was no reason to do it. There’s no justification to destroy someone’s business or to destroy someone’s home.
“With the Olympics bringing people together, it will help those memories of the riots fade away.”