The Deptford Fire – months before the Brixton Riots


Thirteen young people died at a house fire in Deptford in January, 1981. The event would have been shocking enough but there was a feeling that the media and society in general was more than a little indifferent. Why? Because all the victims were black. This was a time of greater underlying racism in society, police harassment and the notorious SUS laws. With black jobless rates skyrocketing – even worse than the high white jobless rates of the time – an explosive situation was developing. Just four months after the Deptford Fire, Brixton became a firestorm of violence. A whirlwind had been reaped.

A demonstration outside the house in Deptford
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