A ROYAL Wedding – and unrest on the streets. Viewed from the vantage point of 2011, there is something uncomfortably familiar about the events of 30 years ago.
It was the time when first Brixton, and then Toxteth, Moss Side, Handsworth and many other inner-city areas erupted in orgies of violence.
A mixture of racial tensions, poverty, unemployment, hopelessness, powerlessness and insensitive policing all came together with explosive results. In today’s catch-phrase, it was a perfect storm.
The Toxteth riots were the most destructive. Four nights of rioting saw 150 buildings burned down, 258 police officers treated in hospital and 160 arrests.
There were sporadic outbreaks of violence right through into August. The final toll was 781 police injured, 214 vehicles damaged and one man dead – a rioter or an innocent bystander, according to whichever version of events you choose. A badly-hurt policeman also died five years later as a direct consequence of his injuries.
To mark the 30th anniversary of the riots, Liverpool University Press has published a new book looking at the riots and their aftermath, and the personal memories of those involved.
Liverpool 81: Remembering the Riots was edited by Diane Frost and Richard Phillips, of Liverpool University, with all royalties going towards the Liverpool Black History Project.
The Toxteth riots are said to have started on the evening of Friday, July 3, when police intercepted a suspected stolen motorcycle in Selbourne Street.
They tried to arrest the rider, a crowd gathered, and in the scuffle that followed a young black man was arrested while the bike rider made his escape.
Toxteth Riots 1981 - a Liverpool 8 perspective (watch below)