This is a sad day for London. It was a sad night but I was buoyed up when so many people on Twitter started organising clean ups and urging people to stand up for their communities. And this morning I went to Clapham Junction. I lived in the area for 12 years. I still go there regularly. I wanted to show my solidarity. I wanted to do something.
I got the bus as far as Wandsworth and had to walk the rest of the way as buses were on diversion. I found the centre of one of London’s most thriving shopping centres cordoned off as it was still a crime scene and the London Fire Brigade were still damping down the fire at the party shop.
But all around me were people with brooms. Not all had joined because of Twitter. One local business of builders – Affleck Property Services – had mobilised all their staff to help with the clean up. Other locals had seen people with brooms and come out to join them. Others had travelled from other London boroughs to show their support.
But there was nothing to clean up. So people just waited. Patiently. It was good humoured and friendly. We stood around for over an hour. We weren’t going anywhere. We eventually dispersed when the police told us that it would be this afternoon before they would finish their investigations. People were offering to host other would be cleaner uppers in their own homes, ready to come back later.
I really thought the community spirit would win out. But now I hear that shops in Peckham and Greenwich have closed already – at lunchtime – because of the threat of more rioting.
I’m also worried that this could turn into street battles between looters and local people determined to protect their communities. Many people who were waiting for the clean up were talking about going back this evening to create human shields.
I thought I would share a few photos with you, from Clapham Junction this morning: