The community: 'I don't feel safe staying out late'

 

Situated in one of the most ethnically diverse boroughs in the country, Woolwich is home to many people of African descent who fled their home countries for a more stable life in the UK.

But there were fears that the sectarian violence that has scarred countries such as Nigeria could find an echo on the streets of London, as alleged killer Michael Adebolajo's barbaric attack in the name of Islam sparked fears of revenge attacks – and calls from some locals for exemplary justice.

Ify Eleazer, 46, a care worker, could not get home early enough at lunchtime. She was one of many British Nigerians in Woolwich planning to spend the day behind locked doors. Her arms laden with shopping, she told The Independent: "I don't want to go out later, that's why I'm shopping early. I just want to stay at home. It's scary. I don't want to stay out late because you just don't know what will happen. I wouldn't blame people for reacting angrily. It was terrible what happened to a serving officer."

Another mother, originally from Nigeria, was pushing two toddlers in a pushchair laden with shopping down Woolwich High Street. She was too frightened to give her name, and said she was so scared of possible reprisals that she did not intend to leave her house all weekend.

"That's why I came out to buy things now," she said, "I wanted to buy food and things for my children because nobody knows what will happen in the evening. It's not good."

Joy, a Nigerian mother of two adult sons, who lives locally and did not want her surname in the paper, said she was a Christian and that she believed the killer should pay with his life. "The law in this country is so lenient. It should be an eye for an eye," she said. "If you're not happy living here then go back to where you came from."

Monday Martin, 41, runs New Monday's barber shop, 200 yards from the Queen's Arms where members of the English Defence League gathered on Wednesday night. A British Nigerian, he had glass bottles thrown at his shop by gangs of EDL men shouting "blacks out" on Wednesday and was planning to shut early last night.

"I was working in the shop when they ran down the street. I went out to close the shutters and they threw a bottle at me," he said. "I'm going to close early now because I'm scared. They've attacked me before. In 2004, it was EDL guys who threw a bottle at me, too, and I've still got a scar on the back of my head. The police did nothing."

Tony Northover, 35, landlord of the Queen's Arms, said: "There's no race relations anywhere. Nobody is integrated. Over there, you've got Little Nigeria," he said, gesturing towards the centre of town and the crime scene, "and Somalia is down there," he added, pointing at a nearby estate.

It was not only British Nigerians who were feeling the racist fallout of Wednesday's attack. Alpha Balo, 42, a trainee accountant originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, said things had been tense for all black people in Woolwich since the incident. "People just say it's a black person that killed a white person and then that's it," he said. "we're not safe any more."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Day In a Page

The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

They fled war in Syria...

...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

Kelis interview

The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea