More than 25 years on from Broadwater Farm, has anything changed?

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Analysis

At first glance, the parallels appear to be striking. On 5 October 1985, a young West Indian named Floyd Jarrett was stopped by the police near the Broadwater Farm estate in Tottenham, north London, on suspicion of driving with a forged tax disc.

Mr Jarrett was arrested and a few hours later officers raided the home nearby of his middle-aged mother, Cynthia.

Her family said she was pushed. The police denied it. But what is indisputable is that she collapsed and died – bringing into the open long-standing racial tensions in the area and triggering some of the worst rioting in Britain's recent history. Poignantly, like the weekend's rioting, it was a protest outside Tottenham Police Station which sparked the conflict. It led, the night after Jarrett's arrest, to the grotesque murder of PC Keith Blakelock, who was surrounded and stabbed to death. When the ashes had been cleared, the events at Broadwater Farm lead to much soul-searching about community relations and the economic viability of one of London's poorest areas.

How much has changed? In the immediate aftermath of the rioting, Bernie Grant, then the leader of Haringey council and later the area's MP, caused outrage when he reacted to the police request for plastic bullets to deal with future potential rioting. "The reason why the police are calling for plastic bullets is because the police got a bloody good hiding," he told a crowd in the days after the riot. Turning to a handful of police officers who were standing nearby he added: "I hope you're listening. There is no way I am going to condemn the actions of the youth on Sunday night." By contrast David Lammy, the area's current MP, said yesterday: "We have officers in hospital, some of whom are seriously injured. It's a disgrace. This must stop."

But, underlining the problems that still remain, the MP's comments were met with cries of "the police want to see the place burn" from the crowd.

Clive Crichlow, president of the National Black Police Association, said this reaction was not atypical. "People feel disenfranchised. The police are a long way off representing the community.

"While we wouldn't want to use that as an excuse to justify that sort of violence, there's no way we can ignore what has happened. There will be lessons to learn but this time we have to learn them. What we are missing is the issue of representation."

Tottenham is in Haringey, where more than 10,000 people claim jobseeker's allowance. In Tottenham itself, recent government figures showed there were 54 people chasing each job.

Brian Haley, who served as a councillor in Tottenham for 16 years until last year, said the area had received a lot of investment after the 1985 riots – but that had not altered the fundamental problems. "Nothing changes," he said. "Politicians are coming out saying it is different to 25 years ago but it is not. They were not there; I was. There have been promises but no delivery. Northumberland Park Ward [near the scene of the rioting] is one of the most deprived areas in Europe, it has been like that for decades," he added. "There is high unemployment, low educational achievement – but none of this is new.

"The media will be gone in a few days and the people of Tottenham will be the ones who have to pick up the pieces," he said.

Additional reporting by Paul Cahalan

News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
News
i100
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
arts + entsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker