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1985: Riots erupt in Toxteth and Peckham

VIDEO : The atmosphere on the streets remains tense

Police in riot gear have closed off areas of Liverpool and London tonight in efforts to contain continued outbreaks of violence and vandalism.

In a second night of disturbances in Peckham, south London, gangs of youths have been throwing petrol bombs and setting shops alight.

A major fire at a carpet warehouse off Peckham High Street has been reported.

At least ten people are believed to have been injured in the Liverpool district of Toxteth, including three police officers, after gangs stoned cars and set them on fire.

The Liverpool violence follows angry protests over a court case involving four local men earlier today.

Noisy protest

Proceedings were disrupted at Liverpool magistrates court by a large crowd of demonstrators protesting against the charging of four black defendants in relation to a stabbing investigation.

As protesters left the court several shouted at police: "We'll see you tonight."

An hour later trouble broke out in the Toxteth area. At least five vehicles including a mail van were pelted with stones and their occupants dragged out. The vehicles were overturned and torched.

Missiles were also thrown at the police station in Hope Street, the headquarters of Toxteth community policing.

Police say the violence has now subsided and crowds have dispersed although small gangs are still roaming the side streets.

Local community leaders have visited the area hoping to calm the atmosphere but police remain on alert. A spokesman said: "It's a warm night and we don't know which way it's going to go."

In Context
The previous weekend some 250 people were arrested after riots in Brixton. The following weekend a policeman was killed in heavy rioting in the London district of Tottenham.

Birmingham, Coventry, Wolverhampton and Bristol also experienced violent civil unrest in 1985.

Disturbances occurred in poverty-stricken areas comprised mainly, though not exclusively, of black and Asian communities.

In July 1981 riots raged in Toxteth for nine days. A report the same year by Lord Scarman acknowleged much of the widespread unrest had its roots in social and economic deprivation and in racial discrimination.


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