Thousands of protestors took to the streets of Brixton against increasing gentrification and social exclusion in the area.
The protest was dubbed a ‘party’ by organisers, Reclaim Brixton, showcasing the best of what makes the area unique.
They demand to reclaim the streets and take back Brixton market, once the heart of the community but now the famous covered market increasingly reflects the tastes of newer residents, and their budgets.
Reclaim Brixton advocate for regeneration and change beneficial to the existing communities, rather than the gentrification process taking place.
In the past decade, public spaces available for people to gather have been down-sized, repurposed or relocated out of the area entirely.
“Social diversity is driven out by lack of truly affordable housing. Local businesses are driven out by increasing rents and redevelopment schemes that benefit national and multinational businesses, siphoning money out of the area,” they said.
“Brixton’s vibrancy now has a question mark on it.”
One Brixton resident, Dred, in his 40s, said: “They’re smashing Brixton to pieces.”
He agrees with the idea of attracting wealth into the area, but not if it forces the ‘real’ people, who have grown up in the area, out of their neighbourhoods.
He said: “They’re just trying to get people out so that rich people can move in. It just isn’t right.”
Another protest, organised by London Black Revs, took place at the same time to highlight the influx of young middle class bourgeoisie flocking to the trendy bars, cafes and shops and leaving the black community feeling socially marginalised.
They argue that Brixton has historically been the heartland of London’s black community, a black community which they believe today is under attack by local government and private business and developers.
They said: “Today, on any given evening it is swamped by a young middle class that these businesses cater towards.
“The black community and residents have been socially cleansed from the market, and on any given weekday or weekend, there is hardly a black local to be seen.”
Linking arms, in rows of three, in recognition of the civil rights struggle, protestors set off to meet with the wider Reclaim Brixton congregation at Windchurch Square, opposite the Black Cultural Archives.
Josh, 28, spoke on behalf of the group saying the racial aspect of the issue cannot be avoided.
Many families are being evicted from their homes to give way to developers as new, luxury gated apartments take their place, pricing them out of the area they’ve called home all their lives.
He says the regeneration scheme is not being implemented to improve people’s homes, but rather to push existing communities out to make better homes for wealthier people to come in.
“Black communities have been the heartland of resistance against racism and colonialism,” he said.
“When you lose a black community you lose the ability of being able to address that very unique issue of white supremacy.”
The protests have been organised as part of an ever increasing movement that has gained momentum after 13,000 people signed a petition against the plans by Network Rail to redevelop the famous Brixton Arches.
The redevelopment will temporarily force traders and residents out of their premises before allowing them to return at much higher rates of rent.