Two thousand people gathered in Brixton on Saturday 25 April under the banner of Reclaim Brixton.
The day included a short lived occupation of the Town Hall, several marches and speeches and music in Windrush Square.
Reclaim Brixton brings together a number of new and existing campaigns together.
Demands of the protest included:
• Refurbishment not regeneration of council estates — no evictions of Lambeth residents
• Stop racist policing, stop police violence, no more stop and search
• No cuts to local services — save Lambeth Libraries
• Private rent cap, new property development to be used for those on the housing list
• Save the Arches and Brixton Market
Though covering a number of issues, the demands are united by the overarching theme of “Lambeth is Not For Sale” — we will resist our homes and services and communities being treated as simply commodities.
The windows of Foxtons, an estate agents which has come to symbolise the spiraling cost of housing and evictions in the area, were smashes and “Yuppies Out” painted on the window. Organisers were disappointed that Foxton’s broken window received so much attention. One community organiser commented;
“The world won’t be changed by broken Foxton’s windows, it wasn’t the aim of the day but put it in context. Is a broken window, of a company making millions and can easily replace it, a big deal? More important than people ripped from their homes? Torn from their communities? Losing their Services? Come on violence is committed against people, not against high street windows!”
Turnout at the gathering was impressive given it was organised over a few weeks by an ad hoc organising group. Largely organised by word of mouth and a Facebook event announcing;
“Earning less than £25,000? Or long-standing Afro-Caribbean resident? Maybe artist, musician? Shopkeeper? Librarian? Community worker? A teenage skater? A senior resident? A child who likes to play outside pens? Show the world your love for Brixton. The fight against gentrification starts here!!”
Campaigns and individuals behind the protest vow to keep up the momentum from the demonstration, 2000 people in Windrush Square has to be the beginning, not the end of Reclaim Brixton.
We have to meet the new government, whoever they are with resistance and a commitment top defend our communities.