It all started in the North London area of Tottenham. What began as a peaceful vigil in the name of justice two days after Metropolitan police shot and killed 29-year-old father of four Mark Duggan has turned into three days and nights of civil unrest that spread from Tottenham to Hackney to Lewisham to Croydon to Peckham and beyond the capital, to Birmingham, to Liverpool, to Manchester.
Mobs of equally angry and greedy teenagers and young adult dickheads turned up en masse to set ablaze cars, double-decker buses, shops and buildings before switching into loot-and-rob mode.
Three days after the match lit the tinderbox, police in London say they have arrested more than 560 people (100+ charged) in connection with the riots that spread across the city and nation. Police upped their forces from an estimated 6,000 in London on Monday to now 16,000 on Tuesday.
British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his August holiday to throw down the Stern Uncle Routine on the rioters and looters: “You will feel the full force of the law and if you are old enough to commit these crimes you are old enough to face the punishment,” he said. “You’re not only ruining the lives of others and ruining your own communities you are potentially ruining your own lives, too.”
Click here for a first-hand account of what happened in Manchester on Tuesday…
Amy Weston, the WENN photographer who took this famous shot from Croydon, relayed this bit of back story: “There were six or seven people screaming and crying outside, and they looked like they lived at the flats that were burning. The flats were above small independent shops. A man in a white shirt was screaming that a girl was at the window and that she was ready to jump. He ran towards her but riot police had appeared and pulled him back, and they went to her instead. As soon as she dropped, the crowds pushed back and there was no way to see what happened to her. I remember hearing people screaming that there were more people in the building. The crowds started getting angry with each other, with one group blaming another group for starting the fire.”
To get a feel for what it’s like out there on the streets, check out this amateur footage showing feckless thugs robbing an injured, bleeding teenager after someone in the group helps him of the ground.
Surely Britain and the world will debate the causes and the underlying issues that led to this rioting at length over the new few weeks and months. The focal point may be these comments by Home Secretary Theresa May. This, from a Guardian article in September 2010: “The home secretary, Theresa May, has dismissed fears that deep spending cuts could undermine the ability of the police to tackle possible civil unrest, and insisted the British did not respond to austerity by rioting on the streets. May told the police superintendents’ annual conference that it was ‘ridiculous’ to suggest savings could not be made in policing, and went on to challenge the political orthodoxy that fewer officers would inevitably mean more crime. The home secretary pointed out that around the world significant falls in crime had happened alongside stable or even falling police numbers.” That’s being tested now.
Is this riot about austerity measures, about the dispossessed, about the downtrodden, about the voiceless making themselves heard? It might be. It might just be roving thugs. But what many UK news outlets are calling “mindless violence” doesn’t exist in a vacuum — why are these roving gangs of mostly young males trying to steal as many huge TVs as possible? Why are they standing up to police and torching cars? How are police responding to this provocation? England has some soul-searching to do.
This video shows what the police are dealing with — “Police overrun in Woolwich”:
Great exchange: “Why are you stealing everything?” “F*&k off!”
A rioter fights police:
A brave Hackney woman takes a stand and makes an impassioned speech:
Hard to understand so here’s a rough transcript: “This is a fucking realtiy. Allow out burning peoples property. Allow out burning peoples shops that they work so hard to start thier business. Do you understand? That lady is trying to make her busines work and you lot wana go and burn it up? For what? To say your war-ing and your bad man? This is about a man who got shot in Tottenham. This anit about having fun on the road and burning up the place. Get it real black people. Get real. Do it for a cause. If your fighting for a cause then fight for a fucking cause. You lot piss me the fuck off! I’m shamed to be a Hackney person. Because we are not all gathering together and fighting for a cause. We are running out of Footlocker and theifin shoes. Dirty thiefs ya know.”
Just like Vancouver, CCTV and public shaming will lead to subsequent arrests.
“Operation Withern‘s priority is to bring to justice those who have committed violent and criminal acts. As the detailed and thorough investigation progresses we will be issuing photographs of suspects, like those of alleged looters we are releasing today (Tuesday 9 August). These CCTV images are from incidents of looting in Croydon over last night and in Norwood Road SE27 in the early hours of this morning. If anyone recognises individuals in the photographs or has any information about the violence and disorder that has occurred they should contact the Major Investigation Team on 020 8345 4142. Alternatively anyone can report crime and provide information anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.”
And, like Vancouver, there has been a concerted clean-up effort:
We’ll end it on this note, from the short-lived British parody show The Day Today:
“This is Britain. And everything’s alright. Everything’s alright. It’s okay. It’s fine.”