Comment: After The Riots: Brixton One Year On

Chuka Umunna MP commented for the Brixton Bugle, looking back on the unrest the area suffered last August:

Brixton is usually one of the best places in the world to be – vibrant, happy, always with something going on. For those few days last summer it was quiet, and it was fearful. I don’t think there was anybody in our community who didn’t feel affected. Everybody, rich or poor – from whatever background – felt the same sense of fear and insecurity that had pervaded our streets.

The ultimate responsibility for that lies unquestionably with those involved in the disorder, who thought it their right to plunge our streets into chaos, and fill our community with fear. There was no sense in Brixton that this was comparable – in cause or context – with the riots we witnessed in the 1980s. We have been making steady progress since then. Yet it seems clear that there were longer-term issues at play, that some people felt that they didn’t have enough of a stake in our community to respect it, and that there are an increasing number of people in our society who define themselves by what they have, not by who they are.

If we are to move forward, and ensure that events like those of last summer do not happen again, we need to make sure that all of us, no matter our own situations, work together to make sure that we have the kind of society that we want to live in, and that everyone feels they have a stake in. Of course, there are things the government can do, the fact there are now more than 30 people chasing every job in our area is a scandal – and in the context of last year’s riots 20% cuts to Police funding are simply irresponsible – but over and above this I hope we can move forward as a society, to address together the social issues that did contribute to the disorder. As a community, we rise and fall together, and we must work together so that the terrible events of last summer are never repeated.