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1985 - British Inner-City Riots


Title: 1985 - British Inner-City Riots

About: Riots broke out in predominately black areas of Birmingham and London, sparked by heavy-handed policing, although with deeper underlying causes of discrimination and deprivation among inner-city black communities.

Simmering racial tensions and other community problems in the predominately black communities of Handsworth, in Birmingham, and Brixton and Broadwater Farm estate in London, finally boiled over in autumn of 1985. 

The riots in Handsworth started over a minor driving infringement. The man who was being arrested fled into a cafe, and when the police tried to pursue him they were pelted with stones and bottles. The violence escalated, and by nightfall, buildings were burning in Lozells Road, and looters were out raiding shops.

A few weeks later similar scenes were witnessed in London. The riots in Brixton and Broadwater Farm were caused by the death of black women during police raids on their houses. Police and rioters battled each other for days, with angry youth hurling missiles and abuse, while buildings burned and shops were looted.  Particularity shocking was the brutal murder of London policemen Keith Blakelock at the hands of a mob.


For their part, the police were criticized for their violent approach, particularly regarding the unacceptable treatment of matriarchal black women, who more often than not occupied a reverential status, even among the most delinquent or disaffected of black youth.

Decade: 1980s

Year: 1985

Region: Europe

Country: UK

Politics: Protest

Society: Race Relations
Society: Crime

Type: Historical Event

Impact: 1

Artist: Yulia Kozlova


Group: Genesis

Number: 85/100

Price: 0.1 ETH


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