What with all the Olympic mania, it could be easy to forget that it was only a year ago on this very day that the city was recovering from the aftermath of the previous evening’s violent riots. I don’t know about you, but at that time a part of me feared it was the start of something epically horrible where the capital would tear itself apart like a scene from a Batman film. Luckily, my worst fears weren’t realised and Londoners pulled together and quickly got to work cleaning up the city. @RiotCleanUp immediately appeared on Twitter organising groups of broom-brandishing do gooders, people donated money to help those affected including 89-year-old Aaron Biber’s Tottenham Barber shop and Malaysian student Ashraf Haziq, Hackney’s Lady P became an internet sensation, lots of peaceful comedic responses popped up (remember Operation Cup of Tea?) and Londoners made some great art.
One year on the anniversary of the riots has been somewhat muffled by the barrage of Olympic coverage, but people have still been continuing to work together to build upon the projects started last August. The Peckham Peace Wall which started with as a DIY post-it love-in, has been transformed into a permanent local feature in Peckham Square by artist Garudio Studiage. The burnt-out Reeves of Croydon has risen from the ashes with the help of Reverse Riots‘ Do Something UK campaign, which is working hard to empower British young people.
Meanwhile, the PIAS warehouse which was destroyed (and along with it 3.5 million independent music releases) has recovered and is set to reopen next month. Clapham will making murals this weekend on the site of the destruction last year and projects like We Will Gather continue to encourage people to get involved to make positive change in their communities. Dan Thompson, who organised #riotcleanup, is even back with plans for #futureclearup.
All in all, let’s just use this anniversary as another good excuse to celebrate our amazing city and the people who live in it. Get out there, enjoy the sun and make the most of all this brilliant place that we call home. Sonya Barber