Brixton riots again
Just as in 1981 when the area had erupted into rioting, Brixton was already on a knife edge in September 1985 when a tragic event tipped the area into its second major riot in five years.
During a raid on her home, Cherry Groce was accidentally shot by a police inspector as she lay in bed. The police had burst in with dogs, looking for Mrs Groce’s son Michael who had allegedly been seen with a firearm, but he was elsewhere.
Resentment boiled over. Within hours angry demonstrators were chanting slogans outside the local police station; confrontations between these people and police followed; things escalated at a frightening rate, and the violence and threat reached such a point that for two days Brixton was lost to the forces of law and order. Shops were looted; several were fire-bombed.
As with the 1981 riots opinion was polarised about what happened in 1985. If anything the 1985 eruption was more politicised than its forerunner, with the gulf between police and sections of the black community having perhaps grown in spite of the actions taken after the Scarman report. Cherry Groce spent two years in hospital and was disabled for life. A young photo-journalist covering the story, David Hodge, died as the result of an attack on him during which his camera equipment was stolen. Nobody was convicted in relation to either.
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