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
people
Arts and Entertainment
Armstrong, left, and Bain's writing credits include Peep Show, Fresh Meat, and The Old Guys
TVThe pair have presented their view of 21st-century foibles in shows such as Peep Show and Fresh Meat
Arts and Entertainment
Keys to success: Andrew and Julian Lloyd Webber
arts + entsMrs Bach had too many kids to write the great man's music, says Julian Lloyd Webber
Sport
footballMan City manager would have loved to have signed Argentine
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
people
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Hand out press photograph/film still from the movie Mad Max Fury Road (Downloaded from the Warner Bro's media site/Jasin Boland/© 2014 Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.)
films'You have to try everything and it’s all a process of elimination, but ultimately you find your path'
Arts and Entertainment
Imelda Staunton as Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films
books

New essay by JK Rowling went live on Pottermore site on Friday

News
people

Top Gear presenter is no stranger to foot-in-mouth controversy

News
Russia Today’s new UK channel began broadcasting yesterday. Discussions so far have included why Britons see Russia as ‘the bad guy’
news

New UK station Russia Today gives a very bizarre view of Britain

Arts and Entertainment
Keira Knightley and Benedict Cumberbatch at the premiere of The Imitation Game at the BFI London Film Festival
filmsKeira Knightley tried to miss The Imitation Game premiere to watch Bake Off
News
i100
Sport
Enner Valencia
footballStriker has enjoyed a rapid rise to fame via winning the title with ‘The Blue Ballet’ in Ecuador
Arts and Entertainment
A top literary agent has compared online giant Amazon to Isis
arts + entsAndrew Wylie has pulled no punches in criticism of Amazon
Arts and Entertainment
Charlie Sheen said he would
tv

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

Bryan Adams' heartstopping images of wounded British soldiers to go on show at Somerset House

Bryan Adams' images of wounded soldiers

Taken over the course of four years, Adams' portraits are an astonishing document of the aftermath of war
The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

The drugs revolution starts now as MPs agree its high time for change

Commons debate highlights growing cross-party consensus on softening UK drugs legislation, unchanged for 43 years
The camera is turned on tabloid editors in Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter'

Gotcha! The camera is turned on tabloid editors

Hugh Grant says Richard Peppiatt's 'One Rogue Reporter' documentary will highlight issues raised by Leveson
Fall of the Berlin Wall: It was thanks to Mikhail Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell

Fall of the Berlin Wall

It was thanks to Gorbachev that this symbol of division fell
Halloween 2014: What makes Ouija boards, demon dolls, and evil clowns so frightening?

What makes ouija boards and demon dolls scary?

Ouija boards, demon dolls, evil children and clowns are all classic tropes of horror, and this year’s Halloween releases feature them all. What makes them so frightening, decade after decade?
A safari in modern Britain: Rose Rouse reveals how her four-year tour of Harlesden taught her as much about the UK as it did about NW10

Rose Rouse's safari in modern Britain

Rouse decided to walk and talk with as many different people as possible in her neighbourhood of Harlesden and her experiences have been published in a new book
Welcome to my world of no smell and odd tastes: How a bike accident left one woman living with unwanted food mash-ups

'My world of no smell and odd tastes'

A head injury from a bicycle accident had the surprising effect of robbing Nell Frizzell of two of her senses

Matt Parker is proud of his square roots

The "stand-up mathematician" is using comedy nights to preach maths to big audiences
Paul Scholes column: Beating Manchester City is vital part of life at Manchester United. This is first major test for Luke Shaw, Angel Di Maria and Radamel Falcao – it’s not a game to lose

Paul Scholes column

Beating City is vital part of life at United. This is first major test for Shaw, Di Maria and Falcao – it’s not a game to lose
Frank Warren: Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing

Frank Warren column

Call me an old git, but I just can't see that there's a place for women’s boxing
Adrian Heath interview: Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room

Adrian Heath's American dream...

Former Everton striker prepares his Orlando City side for the MLS - and having Kaka in the dressing room
Simon Hart: Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manchester City will rise again but they need to change their attitude

Manuel Pellegrini’s side are too good to fail and derby allows them to start again, says Simon Hart
Isis in Syria: A general reveals the lack of communication with the US - and his country's awkward relationship with their allies-by-default

A Syrian general speaks

A senior officer of Bashar al-Assad’s regime talks to Robert Fisk about his army’s brutal struggle with Isis, in a dirty war whose challenges include widespread atrocities