Another month means another London area for Don’t Panic Online to champion and this time it's Brixton! This famously multi-cultural area offers a multitude of opportunities for Londoners; it has a thriving arts scene and is home to a burgeoning independent business scene. Its also a breeding ground for seminal music, from recent stars La Roux and Adele to the late, great David Bowie the famous musical children of Brixton put it on the map and the importance of music is reflected in the destination music venues that the district offers.
Identified in the London Plan as one of 35 major centres in Greater London, Brixton has seen some major events happen over the years, from crime to gentrification Brixton has seen it all and if you were to scroll down its Wikipedia page you wouldn’t be judged for thinking that Brixton may, in fact, be one of the most incendiary areas in London. But Brixton offers a lot more than headlines. It's a bastion of coalition and acceptance and is steeped in counter-cultural history. Brixton is a hotbed of social commentary that reaches far beyond the border of Herne Hill and is relevant to a lot of conversation happening right now, in both London and the rest of the UK.
During an era of urban decay after WWII, which unlike today didn’t mean everyone is beat to the gods but actually meant there was barely any housing, immigrants began to arrive in Brixton during the 40’s and 50’s. Many immigrants only intended to stay in Britain for a few years and a number returned to the Caribbean, but the majority decided to settle in the UK permanently. This first group of residents would go on to be known as the Windrush generation and their arrival has become an important landmark in the history of modern Britain, and the image of West Indians filing off its gangplank has come to symbolise the beginning of modern British multicultural society. Despite this, these citizens now face deportation at the hands of Theresa Slay.
Riots broke out in Brixton in April 1981 at a time of deep socio-economic problems; high unemployment, high crime, poor housing, no amenities—in a predominantly African-Caribbean community. At the beginning of April, the Metropolitan Police began Operation Swamp 81, aimed at reducing street crime, largely through the repeated use of the so-called sus law, which allowed police officers to stop and search any individual on the grounds of mere "suspicion" of possible wrongdoing. The Government commissioned a public inquiry into the riot headed by Lord Scarman. The subsequent Scarman report was published and found unquestionable evidence of the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of 'stop and search' powers by the police against black people. Countless recommendations in the report were continuously ignored by the police, resulting and after an investigation into the tragic murder of Stephen Lawrence, it was concluded that the police force was institutionally racist.
Though the stories of gang violence and drugs have calmed in recent year Brixton is still under threat from much more insidious enemies. The new measures being taken by the Metropolitan Police regarding drill music and their new ‘gang database’ that has a disproportionate amount of minorities are both reminiscent of the deplorable sus law. And despite Brixton's roots in immigration, new residents and the Tory government threaten to dilute everything that makes Brixton, Brixton. Because of this, we will be investigating what is being done and what can be done to defend the communities and spirit of SW2 this month.
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