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On this day in 1981: the Brixton riots reached their peak

By
James Manning
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Morning Star Photographic Archive, Bishopsgate Institute

Thirty-six years ago today, protests in Brixton against overbearing policing erupted into violence. Following heavy use of stop-and-search powers and accusations of official racism in the area, locals confronted police officers on April 10 1981. The next day, Saturday April 11, rumours spread that a young Brixton man had died from police brutality.

The stories fuelled a huge outbreak of rioting, looting and arson. By Sunday morning, more than two thousand police officers had been sent onto the streets of Brixton to quash the uprising. There had been no deaths, but at least 360 people were injured, including nearly 300 police. The riots were a major flashpoint for race relations and policing in London, and part of a chain of unrest and confrontation that connects the social problems of the Thatcher era to many of the challenges facing our city today. Let’s not forget them.

Now read the stories of those involved in the 2011 London riots.

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