Hurrah to the good people of Hackney (and elsewhere in the city), who turned out in droves on the streets of the neighbourhood, indignation in their eyes, anger in their hearts, armed to the teeth with brooms and bin bags. And even greater hurrah to council services — hurrah to the council! let’s not cut their funding! — who were on the streets from 3am, cleaning up the litter, removing the burnt-out cars, sweeping up the glass, and generally obviating any need for the well-meaning pocket of people who turned up at 10am in front of Hackney Town Hall to help out with any hashtag clean-up.
The DLR would like to take a moment to note that Hackney’s streets are already so well-looked after that the group were asked to go to once stately Clapham, where help is still needed. (Presumably they are waiting for their housekeepers to arrive.)
By 9am most of the cars had been carted away; there were some still on Clarence Road, which was the epicentre of the stand-off. Residents were taking camera pictures, talking to clean-up crews, talking to each other. There was a general air of disappointment, and a fair amount of shock at the sheer lawlessness the area reached. Police, already tired from being up three nights’ running, were stretched and thin on the ground (they were likely also on the edge of their seats and at the end of their rope). The well-publicised stand-off on Kingsland Road between the Turks (“this is our livelihood”) and the rioters (“this is a recession”) is heart-stirring for sure, but also deeply wrong — violence is the monopoly of the state and no other’s.
Gentrification seems to have played little part in the events, though arguably the coexistence of a middle class and a working class makes the gulf in living standards more palpable. The would-be clean-up gathering at Hackney Town Hall unified under the “take back our streets” rallying cry of a vicar who spoke, but when a (black female) reverend grabbed the microphone, and noted that most in the (white middle-class) crowd probably did not live on estates but in “nice houses”, gentrification seemed visible for a flicker of a second — though we still feel it has largely been a non-issue.
What will happen tonight? The police have been careful about holding themselves back; there seem to have been no events that could serve as future flash points. So, good people of Hackney and elsewhere in the city, go buy your kebabs from the heroic Turks and chocolate from raided off-licences. And lastly, a shout-out, thumbs-up, thank-you to @DalstonDin and @Dalstonpeople (also: http://www.dalstonpeople.co.uk/home) on Twitter, for excellent coverage of the events as they unfolded — hopefully you will get some sleep tonight!