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London Calling

By Wen Jian in Culture
Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 02:32:23 PM EST
Tags: riots, police, shootings, race relations, craziness (all tags)

I'm not sure why, but I went into work today. And for a while that seemed almost a normal thing to do. But the last three nights now have been the most chaotic thing I've ever seen. It has got to the point where seeing 50 or a hundred youths having a ding-dong battle with the police is kind of an anticlimax, because while they're doing that they are at least not torching fucking everything. A tiger seems to have been released from London Zoo, last spotted in Primrose Hill -what we Brits lack in firepower, we make up for in ingeniuity. (Note, this is now confirmed a hoax - too good to let go, though).

This situation started on Friday, the result of the shooting of a Tottenham resident, Mark Duggan, by police during an Operation Trident raid. The man was armed but uncertainty over the details of the incident led local residents to march in protest to the local police station, to ask for dialogue with senior police. The community asked for dialogue with the police, and they were ignored. So they waited. they had intended to stay for an hour, but by the time they gave up, night had fallen, and a more unsavoury element - who did not call for dialogue with police, was waiting in the wings to take advantage of tensions.

The destruction of Tottenham on Saturday night was utter. Residents are comparing it to the Blitz. Looting was sadly already rife at this stage and riots spread to Wood Green apparently based upon the availability of suitable shops. Even at this stage, people were asking questions about police actions in the riots. Remember that these same has been violently kettling largely peaceful protestors for years - and yet they seemed perfectly happy to give the rioters the run of large areas of Tottenham High Road and the surrounding streets, where they lit fires, torching around 45 buildings which will now need to be demolished.

During Sunday, there was relative calm, and it was only towards the evening that we heard of riots beginning in Enfield. Police moved to disperse crowds, but not before Krispy Kreme and other businesses were burnt out. Again, the police seemed reticent to contain or control rioters, preferring to periodically disperse them. As a result, rioting in Enfield was more widespread but less intense than in Tottenham the night before. Riots were also reported in Camden, Islington, Dalston in Hackney, and even some in Oxford Street, where 50 youths ran amok for a short time. More significantly, the great grandaddy of rioting, Brixton, rolled up its' sleeves and kicked off big time, which was somewhat inevitable - Brixton rudeboys likely not wanting to be upstaged as uber-rowdies, and the Victoria Line tube linking Tottenham and Brixton conveniently. Thankfully around midnight extremely heavy rain put a dampener on proceedings and what could have been a very long night was called short. A bit like the cricket.

This leap South was probably significant for a few reasons; it mean that once and for all the vague hint of a link to the initial shooting, always weak if not tenuous, had now broken. In addition the ethnic tension element which certain supposed politicians were making was exposed as so much hot air. Nick Griffin ludicruously suggested that the Hasidic Jews and the Carribeans were joining forces to throw out the Saxons at one point - in reality the yids were there to makes sure the trouble didn't spread into Stamford Hill - one advantage to living in this area. Secondly, the great geographical barrier of London, the river, had been breached, and the radioactive badlands of South London, particularly the famously criminal South East, were likely to erupt. A lot of big-man reputations were riding on their doing so. Perhaps more worrying, Enfield's riots showed loose organisation and calculation that allowed rioters to maximise chaos and access to loot. there were suggestions that net-savvy anarchists were coordinating raids - no doubt to facilitate the impending crackdown upon internet freedom.

So if not motivated by anger at the death of a well-known and liked member of the community, what is driving this mob behaviour? Well, it is hard to fathom, but the factors are many and painful to recount. Young men (mainly, though girls seem to act as the ignition point in several riots including the first) are swaggering down the rubble-strewn streets like they invented it, and this braggadocio - the refuge of all men who have nothing else - plays a powerful role in keeping this conflict kindled. And the powerful sense of being done wrong is all the more dangerous because it is so inarticulate - people don't know what's wrong, they can't explain what's wrong, they don't understand why life has dealt them such a poor hand - but that just compounds the sense of aggrievement that they feel. And finally, I think that the way that successive government policies have shaped the provision and allocation of social housing has created a toxic stew of resentment and bitterness on the estates where the uneducated dross of society are cloistered and forgotten. We have, as a society, mistreated these people - just not quite as badly as they think we have.

Particularly as I have slept little in the past two days, I was hoping that the week would bring calm and Monday would bring a reduction in rioting, that it would peter out. However my perception is that tonights conflicts are actually worse. Hackney was already in the warm-up stages at 6.30pm, fighting breaking out in Mare St before spreading rapidly in all directions, engulfing London Fields, Dalston, and Clapton and despite our Hasidic friends, into Stamford Hill too. Only Stoke Newington High Street remains inviolate, due to the large numbers of Turkish Kurds owning shops and houses in the area - they're all in the street with bats, and down the way on Kingsland Road, they have clashed with the rampaging mob (or become it?) several times. A friend of mine is holed up in his flat in Clapton with his mother (visiting from Spain), as they were able to get a ride home, only to find their house on the front line, surrounded by burning cars and riot police. Camden has been sealed off by police - well, the Qatari royal family own most of it so we'd better look after it for them. Over in Chalk Farm, on the other hand, motorists are being targeted with bricks amid cries of `who's next?!'.

South London has been burning for hours now, particularly Croydon (where shootings have also been reported), Lewisham and Peckham. Catford reports rioting, Elephant and Castle is too - for all the difference that makes there. And, almost equally distantly, we now hear that Birmingham, which vied long in the 80s with the capital for title of `the UKs biggest toilet' before getting the top slot, has begun to fall into the grip of disorder too. No one knows where this will end, least of all the police or the perpetrators of the violence. I have already considered leaving town, but I want to be there for my community. There are so many old people in my area, too frightened to leave their homes, and I want to be here in case they need help. I am trying to contact the pastor of the local church to secure it as refuge if things take a turn for the worst here, but have heard nothing - and perhaps unsurprisingly, as he lives in Tottenham too.

Amazingly, news punters are already asking when the army will be called in - only minutes after humanoid David Cameron announced that he would be calling short his vacation in cloud cuckoo land, as did Boris Johnson (neither thought it particularly necessary until they saw how much such sanguinity was pissing everyone off). Whatever. They are going to crack the whip, deliberalise the internet, and do nothing to alleviate the conditions in which these thugs spawn. And that's the thing - the left is easily accused of preaching tolerance, and a few do, but really, people from all degrees of the political spectrum must recognise that it is intolerance which is required - we must not tolerate this behaviour, and we must no longer tolerate the conditions which propagate this behaviour. Too many of this generation of young people have been lost to our indolence, or willingness to close our eyes and ignore the parlous conditions that so many of our young people experience, and we have failed abymsally to take up the challenge of showing people the value of socially responsible living. We must strive to prevent another generation from falling this low.

There's a saying from the antiestablishment scene of the early 90s -"there are two things that can stop a riot - rain or a rave". The words of Tool have never been more appropriate - I'm praying for rain.


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Related Links
o A tiger seems to have been released from London Zoo, last spotted in Primrose Hill
o Hasidic Jews and the Carribeans were joining forces
o girls seem to act as the ignition point in several riots including the first
o I'm praying for rain.
o Also by Wen Jian

Display: Sort:
London Calling | 61 comments (55 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
Freedom is dead, film at -11 (2.00 / 3) (#1)
by Enlarged to Show Texture on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 09:34:32 PM EST

But this story, however, deserves a trip to the FP.

"Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." -- Isaac Asimov
cricket (none / 0) (#3)
by Marvin Suggs on Mon Aug 08, 2011 at 10:36:34 PM EST

"Turkish Kurds owning shops and houses in the area - they're all in the street with bats,"  
Please tell me they're cricket bats and not (sigh) baseball bats.
   .0. gimme a bitcoin: 1M9vApgDo5Dw45Awfem75mrVtMJvaMKpjy
Looks like a mixture to me. (none / 1) (#10)
by Wen Jian on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 06:26:21 AM EST

Good lads anyway.

It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
mandatory musical interlude (none / 0) (#4)
by N0574 on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 12:50:48 AM EST

when they kick in your front door...

srsly (none / 0) (#5)
by LilDebbie on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 01:59:22 AM EST

if it's this fucking easy to flank the coppers, why hasn't this shit escalated proper like?

how's that for an approximation of british english?

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

No point surrounding a force you can't contain. (2.25 / 4) (#11)
by Wen Jian on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 06:31:05 AM EST

The yoot can't withstand a baton charge, but the police can't chase all of them down. the police tactics are terrible though. They should be encircling and party vanning the thugs, one gang at a time. Instead they allow them to disperse and re-form elsewhere - actually spreading the violence across a wider area. Of course, that might be the plan. If senior officers are risking their staff's well-being, and that of local people, like this, to score political points, then that is truly diabolical - but this event could not have come at a better time for the police as an institution. I can't stress that enough.
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
Also, good approximation of British English: (none / 1) (#21)
by Wen Jian on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 02:58:03 PM EST

If you were going for a sort of 'Get Carter' estuarial dialect, you could even substitute 'escalated' with 'gone down', which is confusing, isn't it?
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
solution: channel that energy into innovation (1.87 / 8) (#9)
by donnalee on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 03:57:12 AM EST

End the artificial scarcity of money, provide everyone with a basic income, encourage ppl to unleash their native curiosity and wonder and creativity through challenges. Legalize drugs. Stop being so uptight!

Guess I'll be adding this to tomorrow's comment dump!
actually, my understanding (none / 1) (#50)
by Morally Inflexible on Fri Aug 12, 2011 at 03:10:37 AM EST

which may be way off, is that most of these people live in "the estates"  government subsidized housing, and many of them are on the dole.   This isn't America;  my understanding is that England really does have something very much like a basic income.  

I think most people are not particularly happy with just being given stuff, even if it's kinda okay stuff.  For most of us, we have to feel like we earned it to feel okay about it;  Really, I think this is the root of why we made the (irrational, in my mind) decision to tie social security to a (regressive) payroll tax, and to have social security pay out more to the people who earned the most.  

I mean, it's completely irrational, those are the people who need it the least, but this way it feels like we are paying for it, so we can feel okay about taking it out.  

Of course, this is just my opinion, and to be honest, I know very little of the British welfare system, so I could be completely wrong.  

[ Parent ]

Yeah, I think you're on to something (1.50 / 2) (#52)
by Wen Jian on Fri Aug 12, 2011 at 10:35:01 AM EST

The State support was designed for an industrial society with full or close to full employment. So it is only ever really intended as a stop gap between jobs - and really directed at a working class who were living in rented private or state housng anyway. Now, however, a larger proportion of society is unemployed, it tends to be longer term, because it isn't due to individual companies closing but rather whole sectors not existing anymore, and it's a struggle therefore to find or develop opportunities for everyone. People can rant about how benefits recipients get it on a plate - but what they're getting is subsistence, when what they want is opportunity.

Give a man a fish, ansdhe will feed himself for a day...but give him a brick and a window, and he'll watch 46" of daytime tv for a lifetime!
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]

The 'inspector gadget' (none / 1) (#14)
by some nerd on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:44:00 AM EST

blog by some anonymous senior copper is perhaps the best resource for seeing this from the police's point of view. It's attracting a lot of apparently legitimate, named-account comments from officers on the front line. One reported finding bullet holes in their carrier last night.

For whatever reasons, there is still a lot of political reluctance to give the police the tools and orders they need to deal with this. I would have thought the Tories would have broken out the water cannon at least some time ago, but apparently that wouldn't be "policing by consent" - er, I'm pretty sure everyone in the country other than the criminals consents wholeheartedly to the use of such measures at this point. It's a miracle that, so far as we know, no innocents have been killed yet, although many including children have been injured. It seems likely that they will (eventually) get a lid on this via some temporary band-aid like redeploying half the nation's police to London, merely for it to flare up again soon afterwards.

Longer term, we also need reform of the courts / CPS / prison service to provide some actual deterrent to this chav underclass with no fear of the law, which is unlikely to happen for cost reasons. Perhaps it would be cheaper than having our city centres razed to the ground, however.

Home Sweet Home

lol enforcement based solutions (none / 0) (#15)
by LilDebbie on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:15:50 AM EST

worked so well for the war on drugs.

perhaps you should consider reforming the welfare state that created the chav underclass in the first place. or would that not be progressive? yeah, better to shoot them in the streets.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]

That's certainly desirable (3.00 / 3) (#16)
by some nerd on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:48:57 AM EST

However, reform on the necessary scale is a political impossibility for the foreseeable future. Despite our spectacular national debt, the "austerity" measures are rather half-hearted with vast money pits like the NHS being ring-fenced entirely, and we got huge riots anyway. The coalition government is weak and not in any position to resolve this fundamental problem which has been decades in the making. Meanwhile it's not exactly helping national morale that defrauding billions from the treasury is apparently OK for major corporations.

Home Sweet Home

[ Parent ]
What you have to ask yourself (none / 0) (#17)
by TDS on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 10:44:07 AM EST

is how hard the Tories can push the police given they are going to sack 16,200 of them when this is finished.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]
Suspect they may have to rethink those plans (none / 0) (#18)
by some nerd on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 11:24:42 AM EST

assuming such a thing is financially possible, but then it somehow always seems to be when the opportunity to embroil ourselves in another inadvisable military campaign or bail out a bank arises. Over the weekend they were pretty reliant on police voluntarily coming in to do overtime in a warzone, and more than a few Inspector Gadget commentators reported "forgetting" to charge their force-registered mobile or not answering it, which they can't be disciplined for.

Home Sweet Home

[ Parent ]
I rather think that that will be off the cards. (none / 1) (#23)
by Wen Jian on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 03:13:38 PM EST

Just imagine the front page of the Daily Mail.
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
Theresa May will have to go. (none / 0) (#30)
by TDS on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:49:40 PM EST

Remember, they can make these cuts with no reduction in service.

To be fair, I think May may well be the sacrificial offering over all this so perhaps, yeah.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]

Funny how they're talking about community so much (2.00 / 3) (#22)
by Wen Jian on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 03:12:20 PM EST

They have failed to deliver community policing under normal conditions. This is part of the problem; people only ever see coppers in tottenham if they're shaking someone down, arresting someone, raiding someone's house, etc. they never see police doing the beat; they don't know them by name, they've never had a chat with one. The safer neighbourhoods teams go to meetings with Residents' Associations and are otherwise completely invisible. Often they don't even manage that. They're never about when you need them, and no institution of authority is. This situation arises out of that - seeing no benefit to being governed lawfully and policed by consent, a large number of people have withdrawn their consent to be policed and/or governed. How do you now police by consent when the target of policing has withdrawn it?

All a bit late now. The police need to restore order quickly and effectively, and then we can wring our hands over it all at leisure. There's a lot to be fixed, and it goes way beyond policing, but we can't build anything until people stop smashing it all up.
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]

consent to be policed (none / 0) (#36)
by N0574 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 04:14:49 AM EST

what a novel idea...In most places in the US this went out long ago, like pre-Rodney King days. Since Watts probably. Time to realize that you need to be protected from both criminals and the police. In fact, wasn't that the problem that sparked the riots in the first place? The trigger-happy assumption that a regular citizen was a criminal who deserved to die? We pretend we believe in innocent-until, but the modern police apparently works w/the opposite assumption, so if you consent to that probably you are a fool.

[ Parent ]
Well exactly: (2.00 / 3) (#37)
by Wen Jian on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 06:05:22 AM EST

If they aren't delivering policing by consent in day-to-day operation, they can't hide behind it during crisis.
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
the water cannons are only for students (3.00 / 2) (#24)
by Delirium on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 03:41:46 PM EST

When someone's burning things down, the police can't be arsed, but if it's a bunch of peaceful students protesting tuition cuts, that's when it's time to bring the full force of the state to bear.

[ Parent ]
Yeah, gotta admit that was my conclusion: (2.00 / 3) (#25)
by Wen Jian on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 03:45:58 PM EST

Riot police; great for cracking peacenik skulls; shit in a real fight.
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
Anonymous senior cunt more like (2.25 / 4) (#26)
by Wen Jian on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 04:47:22 PM EST

The source information he provides is useful and interesting, his 'analysis' woefully Daily Mail. He reads like Guido Fawkes.
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
wow, that's pretty bad (none / 0) (#34)
by Delirium on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:41:40 PM EST

Classy the part where he blames "diversity nonsense".

[ Parent ]
You're misreading, I think (none / 0) (#61)
by some nerd on Tue Aug 30, 2011 at 11:40:20 AM EST

Politically correct indoctrination / monitoring, and penalties for violations, have long been such that little actual racism can survive in the police force. Complaints about "diversity" refer to the unnecessarily high levels of patronising "diversity training" (in that case given by people who, er, turned out to be criminals) and the fact that in London they are accused of racism for using stop and search mostly on black people, despite the statistical fact that this is because London's violent gang members are mostly black.

Private Eye do a police beat log feature that satirises this, whereby they ignore serious crimes (as 'expressions of cultural identity') then go in mob-handed with batons and tasers and often accidentally kill people in response to some ridiculously minor violation of PC, like a Church Fête not having their banner translated into Bengali.

Home Sweet Home

[ Parent ]

wait,what? (3.00 / 2) (#51)
by Morally Inflexible on Fri Aug 12, 2011 at 03:42:46 AM EST

the guy says he wants an ironclad guarantee that no cop will get in trouble for using force?

sounds to me like the cops are on strike... and they don't even have the decency to say so outright;  they are showing up, but taking that risk is part of the job.  

i mean maybe they have a legitimate beef, maybe the guy he mentioned really did nothing wrong and the rules are bad; but if the cops are on strike, people need to know.

[ Parent ]

It's illegal for them to strike. (1.50 / 2) (#53)
by Wen Jian on Fri Aug 12, 2011 at 10:36:07 AM EST

In return they're meant to get better bargaining conditions, but, well, AHAHAHHAHAHAHA
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
Ian Tomlinson (none / 1) (#54)
by some nerd on Fri Aug 12, 2011 at 08:38:31 PM EST

(wiki) has been perceived by the force as "if you use moderate force against a rioter and they somehow are injured or die, we will betray you and have you prosecuted." Which is somewhat unfair, since pushing him over was needless and their subsequent attempt to cover it up was shameful. Nonetheless that's the exasperated feeling the rank and file are expressing on police blogs, that they can't do anything right, one minute being prosecuted for excess force and the next harangued for not being "robust" enough.

Home Sweet Home

[ Parent ]
yeah, so they stand by and let it burn? (none / 0) (#55)
by Morally Inflexible on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 12:14:23 AM EST

seems weird to me.  Something that I'd not expect in America.  

Of course, there's no way America could have a riot of this duration involving this many people with this much property damage without a lot more than five deaths.  Even (or maybe even especially) without our more-aggressive police force, our immigrant shopkeepers have a lot more firepower than a few friends with baseball bats, and generally speaking, won't face particularly harsh charges for using that firepower defending their property.  

[ Parent ]

Apparently a consequence of command structure (none / 0) (#56)
by some nerd on Sat Aug 13, 2011 at 04:50:10 PM EST

They have gold / silver commanders back at base now, who are supposed to make tactical decisions rather than officers on the ground, and often their default choice is "hold the line" i.e. uselessly stand there having missiles thrown at them.

Also, before they were deployed in force the rioters were often better organised and faster moving, so they were not infrequently outnumbered and charging would have been a bad idea.

Home Sweet Home

[ Parent ]

I agree, it's a ridiculous position: (2.25 / 4) (#57)
by Wen Jian on Sun Aug 14, 2011 at 06:16:07 AM EST

I followed that enquiry very closely. The officer who attacked Ian Tomlinson was obviously spoiling for a fight. His CO had told him to remain in the van, an order which he ignored, and he had attacked other people at the scene, including a photojournalist, immediately before he went for Tomlinson. By closing ranks with officers who behave like that, the police force are damaging their ability to make dialogue with the public. They give the impression that a policeman who breaks the law or behaves like a thug gets preference over ordinary citizens.

It again serves to illustrate how keen the police are to crack skulls of people who don't appear threatening, but how little stomach they have to face real aggression as opposed to mere disrespect.
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]

i figured nottingham would be pretty safe (3.00 / 2) (#19)
by mrbastard on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 12:24:26 PM EST

And it's been OK apart from a few morons trying to break into a shopping centre.

But it turns out tonight's Nottingham Forest v Nottingham City football game is going ahead. That would have meant hundreds of violent morons all over the city centre anyway, but now I'm wondering if the neo-nazi 'football firm 'types will go looking for the 'black yoof'. Could get interesting.

But yeah, comparatively speaking, I'd be a big girl to worry about it.

"ohmygod I have a boyfriend" - Wen Jian

Are you kidding? (2.25 / 4) (#27)
by Wen Jian on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 05:41:53 PM EST

Canning Circus Police Station has just been firebombed.

This is beginning to feel a bit like 'Warriors' - all the gangs setting aside their differences to kick off against the police...
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]

Fuck. Seemed quiet on my way through (none / 0) (#28)
by mrbastard on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 05:58:21 PM EST

When I went through hyson green at about 7 it seemed pretty quiet. Came back through the centre of the city down mansfield road and out past the notts county ground at about 10, all quiet and no more than the usual police numbers for the football game.

"ohmygod I have a boyfriend" - Wen Jian
[ Parent ]

best images of the riots yet (3.00 / 2) (#20)
by mrbastard on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 12:37:22 PM EST

shooped looters

"ohmygod I have a boyfriend" - Wen Jian

For actual photos, (none / 0) (#60)
by thiswillbegreat on Mon Aug 29, 2011 at 09:55:31 AM EST

I direct to a source of consistent awesomeness, the Big Picture.
Semper ubi sub ubi.
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[ Parent ]
Wanted to go to sleep: (none / 1) (#29)
by Wen Jian on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 08:14:54 PM EST

But heard a series of dull thuds from the direction of Seven Sisters.

No information from the twattersphere as to possible causes. I'm hoping Flux Capacitors are involved.
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty

Tottenham recycling centre apparently. (none / 1) (#31)
by TDS on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:06:22 PM EST

Police warned local residents to stay indoors.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]
Maybe anyway. here: (none / 0) (#32)
by TDS on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:07:23 PM EST

12.33pm Peter Beaumont of the Observer has reporter a number of loud explosions at a recycling and storage depot near his house in Tottenham. "The police warning people on that street to stay away from the windows because of the risk of another large explosion that might shatter windows," he said.

Fire tenders are now attending the scene.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]

Moar (none / 0) (#33)
by TDS on Tue Aug 09, 2011 at 09:09:33 PM EST

1.53am: Peter Beaumont has filed this eyewitness account from the scene of explosions earlier tonight in Tottenham at a council-run recycling plant:

About 12.30 we were woken by shouting and a small bang like a bin being pushed over and the sound of a revving engine, followed by a small explosion.

Opening the window my wife could see a tall column of thick black smoke rising above the houses right beyond our garden full of sparks, perhaps two hundred feet tall. As we were getting dressed heard a second boom.

To give a sense of how frightening it was, we felt scared enough to think about getting in the car and leaving Tottenham. Other neighbours in the street, many of them looking very frightened told us it was the local council depot which also has a recycling centre attached.
Apparently fuel is stored there for council trucks which is what we could hear going off.

Rounding the corner to the street that runs parallel to ours we could see a wall engulfed in flames, while police were warning householders closest to get inside away from the windows.

Worryingly the first question the fire brigade asked when I called 999 was whether there were youths nearby. Indeed our biggest worry at first was that the fire would be used as a distraction for unrest in our back streets.

Fortunately, unlike other events I've covered in last few days, the police and fire brigade weren't harrassed and managed to put out the fire quickly.

A sense of how scared people are was supplied by one of my neighbours who told me she had had her bags packed for last couple of days in case of trouble worsening.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]

Fuck, that was loud then! (none / 1) (#38)
by Wen Jian on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 06:09:37 AM EST

Good spot though.

Based upon the volume, I would have placed it within 500m of my house. I thought it was at Seven Sisters, where a few buildings were torched last night.

Hope my fiancee doesn't read this. She's out of the country for a fortnight and I've been telling her it's all peachy.
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]

Perhaps not. (none / 0) (#41)
by TDS on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 08:10:05 AM EST

Having said that, I remember reading somewhere that urban acoustics are pretty strange for big loud noises. Lots of local reverberation within streets.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]
I hope someone collected data (none / 1) (#42)
by Delirium on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 08:21:20 AM EST

These grad students rioters went to a lot of trouble to produce a test signal, so I hope you science jerks recorded and are analyzing the data. Otherwise they're gonna have to waste their time blowing up another diesel depot for your lazy ass.

[ Parent ]
This would not be the first time (none / 0) (#46)
by TDS on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:40:08 AM EST

I had to restrain myself from saying it was really good that so much interesting data have become available...as a result of a terrible event.

Science hasn't moved on much from Burke & Hare in its slightly ghoulish opportunism.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]

glad this went FP (none / 0) (#35)
by N0574 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 04:00:14 AM EST

finally some kind of discussion going on.

Is 'ZombieK5' worth $5? (none / 1) (#39)
by Wen Jian on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 06:11:00 AM EST

It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]
why of course (none / 0) (#40)
by N0574 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 08:08:29 AM EST

the more money you give rusty the more time he can spend on the Kuro5hin Yacht, tooling around in the waters around Peaks Island.

[ Parent ]
There's a really good piece of analysis: (2.00 / 3) (#43)
by Wen Jian on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:09:46 AM EST

In the Guardian

Forensic psychologist Kay Nooney deals impatiently with the idea of cuts, specifically tuition fees, as an engine of lawlessness. "These people aren't interested in tuition fees. In constituency, it's most similar to a prison riot: what will happen is that, usually in the segregation unit, nobody will ever know exactly, but a rumour will emanate that someone has been hurt in some way. There will be some form of moral outrage that takes its expression in self-interested revenge. There is no higher purpose, you just have a high volume of people with a history of impulsive behaviour, having a giant adventure."

Of course, the difference is that, in a prison, liberty has already been lost. So something pretty serious must have happened in order for young people on the streets to be behaving as though they have already been incarcerated. As another criminologist, Professor John Pitts, has said: "Many of the people involved are likely to have been from low-income, high-unemployment estates, and many, if not most, do not have much of a legitimate future. There is a social question to be asked about young people with nothing to lose."

It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty

I'm not sure how this happened in Ukia (none / 0) (#44)
by Strom Thurmond on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:33:03 AM EST

I thought all the guns, knives and bats were confiscated to assure public safety.

VEGETARIAN: An Indian word meaning "lousy hunter"

It started (none / 0) (#45)
by TDS on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:37:43 AM EST

with someone being shot dead for being suspected of having a gun actually.

Quite robust in that particular area.

And when we die, we will die with our hands unbound. This is why we fight.
[ Parent ]

Not exactly (none / 0) (#48)
by some nerd on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 03:44:16 PM EST

bats are increasingly popular.

Home Sweet Home

[ Parent ]
Heh, now it's mysteriously changed completely (none / 0) (#49)
by some nerd on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 08:27:23 PM EST

mostly to innocuous things. Perhaps amazon got a call from the Home Office, or maybe the nation is simply selling out of baseball bats.

Home Sweet Home

[ Parent ]
just found this link (none / 0) (#47)
by Marvin Suggs on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 11:47:09 AM EST

somewhere else: more comment.
   .0. gimme a bitcoin: 1M9vApgDo5Dw45Awfem75mrVtMJvaMKpjy
This is bollocks. (none / 0) (#58)
by creature on Thu Aug 18, 2011 at 02:57:15 PM EST

I live in London. In Hackney, actually. Just across the road from the Pembury estate. You make London sound like a war zone, which really isn't the case. There were "reports" of riots all over, but most of them were baseless echo-chamber rumours. And yeah, people compared it to the Blitz. But only stupid, over-excitable people.

Over a million houses were destroyed in the Blitz. Maybe a hundred properties were looted and destroyed in the rioting. As far as I know there were no riots in Catford, Elephant & Castle, or Dalston (it had a little looting though).

I cycled down Mare Street the morning after the riots, and you know what I saw? A couple of boarded up shops, and a couple more with smashed glass. That's it.

I'm not saying it was nothing; I'm not saying it wasn't shocking. But the apocalyptic jizz-spurt you posted makes it sound like London was a war zone. It wasn't. It really, really wasn't.

Bearing in mind that the Blitz was 76 days long (1.50 / 2) (#59)
by Wen Jian on Sat Aug 20, 2011 at 05:35:45 AM EST

And brought the finest technology the Wehrmacht had to offer to bear, naturally the level of destruction is not equal.

That said, I think that given 45 buildings were destroyed in a single night it's not unreasonable of people living in the area to describe it as such.

I'm quite surprised that you report seeing nothing given your proximity to the Pembury Estate. I actually found video from the early stages of the rioting on my friend's street, which adjoins the estate. I'll try and dig it out. And similarly, another friend of mine was at s business meeting on Mare St, and had to be escorted to safety by security. As for Mare St being clear the next day, Hackney council's quick action on clear-up has been widely reported, leaving do-gooding middle class women with little to sweep up.

Do bear in mind that this story was written at the height of the rioting - at the climax of 3 days of intensifying unrest with no real indication of how likely it was to escalate or disperse. With hindsight, it's easy to play down how bad it all was, though I'd point out that it's categorically the worst rioting the country has seen in at least 50 years, and there has been a continuing spike in criminal damage, particularly in South London. So actually 'apocalyptic jizz-spurt' is a fairly accurate description of the passage of events. It happened, it was civil disturbance of a scale far beyond our or our parent's experience, and now it's over. Pass me a cigarette.
It was an experiment in lulz. - Rusty
[ Parent ]

London Calling | 61 comments (55 topical, 6 editorial, 0 hidden)
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