Riots aftermath: residents speak of fear, division – and what’s next

riots in Croydon

As EastLondonLines continues to examine the aftermath of the riots that tore through our boroughs three months ago, we asked the people of Hackney, Tower Hamlets, Lewisham and Croydon three questions: Are the riots still affecting their lives? How well have the authorities dealt with the aftermath in their area? and do they think it could happen again?

Cocoa Rose, 21, Clapton

Cocoa Rose


I’ve grown up in this hood, and have got a lot of friends. It’s not the same as it was. People my age are angry and getting angrier. I am scared about how far the riots went. Violence only gets more violence. They taught us if you fight us, we will rise to whatever means we have to stop you.

“The way the government handled the situation doesn’t mean it won’t happen again. They have just swept it under the rug for now. The riots are a small reflection of how the world works. People will fight out when they are given new rules to follow. The government doesn’t mind us wrecking our little town that is already wrecked. It wouldn’t happen in the West End. It’s not racism anymore – it’s classism.”


Moira Irwin, 73, recently retired from the London Ambulance Service, New Cross Gate

Moira Irwin

“I’ve worked in the ambulance service and I know people are without, people have nowhere to turn. The riots got out of hand – people made an opportunity out of it. I love young people and I think they’re very misrepresented. I come from Ireland, I’ve lived here now for 22 years and I love it.

“I’ve not noticed any money being invested in the community since the riots – not noticed any more police on the streets. Not at all. We don’t seem to have a say as older people, but I feel for the young – everybody’s down on them. They have reasons to do what they have.

“Do I think the riots could happen again? I hope not. I hope the government will do something. Like this apprenticeship scheme now, I think every young person who leaves school, there should be something there for them. I hate to see the young people always blamed for everything. I don’t know if it could happen again – I’d like to believe it was a one-off.”


Kachrihas Stefanos, 37, Doctor, Bomley by Bow

Kachrihas Stefanos

“Tower Hamlets has had an electric feeling both before and after the riots. There are a lot of problems here. The area has a mix of different people, and to make them communicate is not so easy. I don’t feel less safe, but I know that other people and especially women in Tower Hamlets feel unsafe.

“I am sure the authorities are trying to find some solution, but they are not really aware of what they are doing. There are going to be even more problems – we are a civilisation in crisis. I have the feeling that riots will happen again in this area. I don’t see any solution to the problems and think this will go on and on. Sure people who rioted will react again. They are not integrated in the system, and react against strangers, which then react back. These things will get worse because of the economic crisis.”


David Elkins, 62, semi-retired, from Selsdon

David Elkins

“I’ve seen burnt out buildings and so on but nothing much happened in Selsdon – it didn’t affect us at all. But the authorities should be doing more to create jobs for young people, apprenticeships. People have got nothing to do, so they’re going to just go with the mob.  We should bring back national service.

“It could happen again. As unemployment for youngsters increases and things get tighter, people are going to take the law into their own hands.”


Clifton Hoylett, 42, Chef, Tulse Hill

Clifton Hoylett

“Everything’s gone back to normal now. You definitely noticed it at first – derelict buldings. There were quite a few shops closed down, but they’re all open again now. I feel safe, definitely. I see the same amount of police on the street as there was before – I’ve not noticed any change with policing now it’s three months later.

“It could easily happen again. A lot of people are out of work, got time on their hands. Not a lot of money going about, a lot of people haven’t got anything to do.”


James Artcha, 29, Tottenham musician who plays in Tower Hamlets

Janes Artcha

“I was not directly affected, but hurt and annoyed that it could happen in my hometown. On a bigger scale, the riots have just made things a lot worse.  I think [the riots] have put fear in people, people are defiantly more worried than before, also there is a greater divide between young and old people than it used to be.

“The authorities have been quite good to deal with the aftermath of the riots, and there have been a lot more foot police. They have had a big impact, and proved that even though riots happened they are not tolerated.

“I hope it doesn’t happen again, but the problems are always there, and if the issues are not resolved it could happen over again. The riots were not about any particular group like black or white, old or young, it was about people who have fallen outside society.”


Lisa Cade, 41, School officer, Bethnal Green

Lisa Cade

“After the riots it’s been quiet in Tower Hamlets. I also think that shops and businesses were the most affected during the riots, not local people.

“However, it has always been a quite intimidating environment here. We are used to see big groups of lads hanging around at night, and I think many women feel unsafe. Not much has changed after the riots, except from the fact that I have seen more neighbourhood police.

“Yes, I think it can happen again because the people who did it last time are not done yet. Why did they do it in the first place is another question. Youth sentiments have worsened in the aftermath of the riots.”


Yemi Akinyemi, 25, London Fields, Student at Roehampton studying Media, Culture & Identity

Yemi Akinyemi

It’s kind of a forgotten memory for a lot of Hackney residents. I think Tottenham has been stigmatised for what happened there as that is where it all began and where the violence started. Hackney is not where people refer to when they talk about the riots.

“Since it has happened, they [the authorities] have done an ok job – compared to Tottenham. The day after Mark Duggan was shot, there was a carnival in Dalston, but the local authorities then stopped that. Then they issued stop and search  – which led to the riots further on in the week.

There are a lot of issues with unemployment, and not many opportunities in this part of London. The police haven’t come out to say why it happened, so it could all start again.”

By Claire Shaw, Tom Chlebik, Tabby Kinder, Lene Wold, Rachel Healy and Laurence Dodds

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