Youth set police cars and buildings on fire in the Tottenham district of North London in the aftermath of the cop killing of Mark Duggan. People marched on the station when violence later erupted., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
UK Black and working class rebellion spread beyond London
Tue, Aug 09, 2011
Rioting and looting spread across and beyond London overnight as hooded youths set fire to cars and buildings, smashed shop windows and hurled bottles and stones at police in a third night of violence in Britain's worst unrest in decades.
Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his holiday to fly home to tackle the violence, which appeared to be led by mobs of young people who coordinated their attacks through mobile phones, and spread to the cities of Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol late last night.
Many of the looters came from areas of high unemployment that are also suffering from cuts in social services and said they felt alienated from society. Police and politicians said they were simply criminals.
"It's been building up for years. All it needed was a spark," said on young man in a baseball cap surrounded by other youths in Hackney in east London. "We ain't got no jobs, no money. . . . We heard that other people were getting things for free, so why not us?"
The violence erupted late on Saturday in London's northern Tottenham district when a peaceful protest over the police shooting of a suspect two days earlier was followed by outbreaks of looting and arson.
By yesterday, the violence had spread to parts of the south of the city, including Clapham Junction, one of London's busiest railway junctions; Woolwich in the capital's southeast; Ealing in west London and the southern suburb of Croydon.
Rioting spreading beyond the capital, and police said they arrested about 100 people in Birmingham after looters smashed shops and stole goods. Police reported looting and damage in Liverpool and "copy-cat violence" in Bristol in the southwest.
In Hackney, a multi-ethnic area in east London close to the site of next year's Olympic Games, hooded youths set fire to rubbish bins and pushed them down a street towards police, while hurling bottles and bricks. Looters smashed their way into a local shop, stealing whisky and beer.
In the southeast London district of Woolwich, dozens of locals of all ages and colours looted shops and set at least two buildings on fire, leaving the streets strewn with broken glass and clothes, a Reuters reporter said.
Mobile phone, sports goods and clothing boutiques were the looters' favoured targets, followed by jewellers and pawnshops, he said. Several young men strolled by, balancing flat-screen televisions and computer consoles on their heads. The thinly stretched police were unable to prevent the looting.
In Peckham, south London, flames leapt into the air from a torched building and rubble was strewn across the street. A Reuters witness saw two people break into a shop and rip a 50-inch plasma television off the wall. A youth in a balaclava carried the screen away, to applause from the watching crowd.
Despite a heavy presence on some streets, police appeared unable to contain the violence as rioters who had initially co-ordinated through mobile phones and Twitter became increasingly confident.
Mr Cameron's office said he would cut short his holiday in Italy to chair a crisis meeting, amid growing calls from the public for officials to take control of the situation. Police had arrested 215 people before yesterday's violence, according to Home Secretary Theresa May, and late yesterday police said they had arrested about 100 people in
Birmingham and nearly 240 in London.
"The violence we've seen, the looting we've seen, the thuggery we've seen, this is sheer criminality . . . these people will be brought to justice, they will be made to face the consequences of their actions," Ms May said.
"It was needless, opportunistic theft and violence, nothing more, nothing less. It is completely unacceptable," said Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.