London riots spread beyond capital: day three roundup
A third night of
violence in London led to the death of a man and widespread destruction.
Disturbances spread to other UK cities, and David Cameron
A cleanup operation is under way across London after the third and worst night of violence resulted in widespread damage across the capital, with unrest spreading to cities around the UK.
Buildings were set ablaze, businesses ransacked; overstretched officers were pelted with petrol bombs, bricks and other makeshift missiles. Normally peaceful streets were laid waste as rioting flashed around the city. A man died after being shot in Croydon, south London.
At times the police appeared overwhelmed by the sheer number of incidents – which began with serious rioting in Hackney and spread to the south London neighborurhoods of Peckham, Lewisham, Colliers Wood and Croydon, where a 100-year-old furniture store was torched.House of Reeves furniture store on fire in Croydon. Photograph: Dominic Lipinski/PA
There was trouble too in the relatively well-off west London suburb of Ealing, and even sporadic outbreaks of violence in Notting Hill, where diners a Michelin-starred restaurant barricaded themselves in the wine cellar to avoid an attack.
In north London, Guardian video journalist John Domokos found Turkish shopkeepers defending their premises against attack.
From south London, a commenter on the Guardian live blog described the scenes he witnessed.
It was so surreal to watch Clapham Junction being systematically looted, almost every shop was looted, although the bookshop, charity shops and M&S remained unscathed...There were no police for nearly three hours, even the most secure shops, like the Jewellers were breached, they had plenty of time to batter their way in...By the time the Police arrived most of the looters where struggling home, laden down with clothes, trainers and electrical goods. They took everything!
In Hackney, trouble flared at around 4.45pm, in broad daylight and captured live by a BBC News helicopter. Gangs of youths fought pitched battles along the length of the main street in Hackney, Mare Street. Buses were trapped, shops were looted and vans were disgorged of their contents.Police confront youths in Hackney, London Photograph: BBC
This Guardian map, showing every verified incident, shows the extent of the disturbances.
The widespread looting and vandalism has prompted a strong backlash online, with many commenters calling for a much more severe police crackdown, includiong the deployment of water cannon and even the army.
This commenter on the Guardian live blog expressed anger and frustration:
Even though what my neighbours and I have had to endure has (so far!) been mild by the standards of what's happened elsewhere, I'm incredibly angry about this. This is not a wealthy estate; most of my neighbours are manual workers or (like me) employed in the public sector – no bankers here except possibly high-street branch staff, not that it would be justified even if there were.
Smashing up my neighbours' cars isn't a statement against the system; it's thuggery, pure and simple – violence for the simple enjoyment of violence. It's not the Tories, it's not the cuts; it's the simple joy of causing grief. Don't forget that for all the pictures of major violence on the highstreets and shopping centres, there seem to be dozens of smaller groups making lives a misery in the backstreets, away from the cameras.
It might be tiredness talking, but right now, I feel like these people don't need somebody to speak up for them; they need very long prison sentences – not primarily to punish them, but to give the rest of us some respite.
Other commenters tried to understand the reasons for the violence:
Politicians and police tell us there is no excuse for wanton vandalism, arson and attacks on police and property. I genuinely feel for residents and small business owners affected by these events.
However, like all riots throughout our history these were kicked off by groups of marginalised, disaffected 'have and have nots'. We can only expect more in the current climate of cuts - especially to youth services (8 out of 13 in one area of London according to this paper).
Looking at the targets of opportunist looters, they are taking the easy option so they too can jump on the materialistic, consumerist bandwagon that has become so important to so many personal lives, families and communities: at the core of the financial/economic debacle we now find ourselves in thanks to a lot of greedy, selfish monetarists.
Thing is, due to developments way beyond these kids' control, opportunities to buy these goods legitimately with hard earned wages are few and far between. Seriously, what would you do in their situation?
David Cameron, the prime minister, who arrived back from holiday in Tuscany in the early hours of the morning, chaired a meeting of the emergency committee Cobra.David Cameron outside No 10 on 9 August 2011. Photograph: Andy Rain/EPA
When the meeting ended, he emerged to face the cameras in Downing Street and signalled the heavier crackdown that many had been urging. Some 16,000 officers will be deployed in London on Tuesday night, up from 6,000 the night before.
All leave within the Metropolitan police has been cancelled. There will be aid coming from police forces up and down the country and we will do everything necessary to strengthen and assist those police forces that are meeting this disorder.
There's already been 450 people arrested; we will make sure that court procedures and processes are speeded up and people should expect to see more – many more – arrests in the days to come.
I am determined, the government is determined, that justice will be done and these people will see the consequences of their action.
And I have this very clear message to those people who are responsible for this wrongdoing and criminality: you will feel the full force of the law. If you are old enough to commit these crimes you are old enough to face the punishments.
And to these people I would say this: you are not only wrecking the lives of others; you are not only wrecking your own communities — you are potentially wrecking your own life too.
Once again, the social networks provided some of the rawest coverage. In a particularly nihilistic moment captured on video and posted to Facebook and later YouTube, youths are seen apparently comforting a teenager who has been injured. But then, almost imperceptibly, and without the victim initially realising it, they start to rifle through his rucksack and make off with the contents.
But there was defiance, too: another popular video shows a woman in Hackney remonstrating with local youths.
In an impassioned denunciation, she says:
If we're fighting for a cause, let's fight for a cause. You lot piss me off. I'm ashamed to be a Hackney person. We're not all gathering together and fighting for a cause, we're running down Foot Locker.