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'Progress' since Brixton - Mayor

Anger over the death of reggae star Smiley Culture must not undermine 30 years of "huge advancements" since the Brixton riots, the Mayor of London has said.

Boris Johnson admitted there was "still a long way to go" after one leading equality campaigner said the black community was at "boiling point" over the police reponse to the death of the singer while under arrest.

Lee Jasper, a former senior adviser to ex-London mayor Ken Livingstone, is one of several campaigners to attack Scotland Yard for its handling of the death.

The singer - real name David Emmanuel - died of a single stab wound through the heart after four Metropolitan Police officers executed a search warrant at his Surrey home.

Mr Johnson said it came as no surprise the death stirred "anger, memories and suspicions", but he said the situation was much better than the atmosphere of tension before the Brixton riots in 1981.

"The Brixton riots, as I know them though some people prefer 'uprising', was a seminal event in London's history, but also in the history of policing in London," he told the Voice newspaper. "I think when we look where we are now compared to where we were 30 years ago we have made a great deal of progress but it's important that we look back and remember how bad things were then, look how much they've improved today but also recognise there's still a long way to go."

The Metropolitan Police Authority's Race and Faith Inquiry, published in 2010, showed progress had been made, he said.

The riot that reshaped national attitudes towards deprivation, race and policing began when a Pc tried to stop a frightened young black man who was bleeding profusely from a stab wound.

Community relations in Brixton were at an all-time low amid an aggressive police crackdown which saw almost a thousand people searched on the street in a few days.

During a weekend of chaos, more than 350 police officers were injured and about two dozen buildings were gutted by fires. By the end of an entire summer of urban discontent, similar scenes ravaged parts of Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham.


From Belfast Telegraph