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What It Looked Like on the Ground in Manchester During Tuesday’s Riot

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The riots, which began in the North London area of Tottenham, quickly spread to other parts of the city. Eventually young thugs began to mobilize in Birmingham and Liverpool and Manchester. We contacted independent filmmaker Luke Hupton for a first-hand look at the happenings in Manchester. He sent us this eyewitness account and the following photos as part of our ongoing Anarchy in the UK series…

A sign on the door of Subway in Manchester

Just before 4pm this afternoon (GMT) there were rumours circulating via social networking sites that the London riots had spread to the north, and there had been a stand-off with 70 youths and a group of riot police outside a shopping precinct in Salford, down the road from where I attended university, and 20 minutes from my home. The Greater Manchester Police have been attempting to keep a level of calm via its own Twitter feed (@gmpolice), stating that it was a cause of gross exaggeration and that it was a mere 20 youths who were quickly dispersed after failing to get into a Bargain Booze store.

We all breathed a sigh of relief, I think silently hoping that Manchester would be different and set an example for what this country truly stands for. But at around 6:30pm this evening, a large group of 70/80 youths descended on Manchester’s main strip, Market Street. They set fire to a Miss Selfridge store before pulling and smashing the doors off of a Tesco Express grocery store, causing customers inside to be locked in via metal shutters for their own safety.

They continued up Market Street and into Piccadilly Gardens, where riot police caught up with them, and they dispersed into various side streets, attempting to break into the Arndale Shopping Centre, which had closed early. Gaining entrance, these youths terrorised members of the public who were still attempting to leave, including a woman and her young child. (My friend was leaving work as this happened).

If you are close to the city centre, all you can see is smoke in the sky and the sound of sirens dancing around it. It’s genuinely upsetting to see my home in such disarray through the actions of people who don’t have the maturity to comprehend the ramifications their actions will have on our community and our country. It’s selfishness and tyranny at its highest. There have been reports or people being mugged as they attempt to flee the city centre. There doesn’t seem to be any political drive, or else they would be attacking police stations and the city hall, which have yet to see any damage.

Waterstones, a book store, pledged to stay open through out the ordeal, saying “We’ll stay open, if they steal any books they might learn something.”

Many of us are meeting Wednesday morning in Piccadilly Gardens with brooms to begin the clean-up. This went on today across London, as local communities proved to the rest of the country and to the world that there is still humanity left beyond all of this. The damage however, has already been done.

People locked inside Tesco Express on Market Street in Manchester

The rioters began to form outside the Arndale Shopping Centre on Market Street in Manchester. Eventually, people ran from the Arndale Shopping Centre…

One man decided to get some planking in during the riots on Market Street in Manchester. My friend sent it around so much it made it to Facebook, where a group formed called “The Legend who was planking during the 2011 Manchester riots.” It’s pixelated, taken on a crappy mobile.

Dawson’s Instrumental Store was smashed near Piccadilly Gardens in Manchester

Miss Selfridge goes up in flames on Market Street in Manchester

Another of Miss Selfridge on Market Street in Manchester

Smoke rising up from Salford Shopping Precinct where the rioting youths attempted to set a Library on fire. It was quickly put out by the fire brigade

People are blaming David Cameron getting us to this point and ignoring the cries for help. But the truth is, had no action been taken by the government to relieve pressure, we may have ended up in the same sort of condition Greece is in. It’s so easy to point fingers when no one is taking the blame. I believe he is doing what he can, I think the real problem lies in the restrictions the police have in dealing with the scum.

The Home Secretary, Theresa May, said the police will work alongside the community to help bring back peace and calm. But that it isn’t working, the army needs to be brought in and the use of water cannons (which were used in Belfast last year) and rubber bullets should be authorised.

We have 16,000 police men and women out there who are stood like statues with their shields up, restricted from doing anything, and not all of them are trained in riot policing.

For more on the riots, read the full story in our Anarchy in the UK post.

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