Riot blaze: North London in flames as police cars, bus and shops burn over police shooting of 'gangster'

Sunday, August 7, 2011

-Twenty-six police officers hurt in clashes, with eight treated in hospital
-Scotland Yard still dealing with 'isolated pockets of crime' this morning
-Mob of 500 people protest about death of father-of-four Mark Duggan who was shot by officers
-100 riot police on the streets as Tottenham burns
-Fears that violence was fanned by Twitter as picture of burning police car was re-tweeted more than 100 times
-Shop looted and youths storm McDonald's and start cooking their own food
-Mail on Sunday photographers beaten and mugged by masked thugs

By Ian Gallagher and Steve Farrell

Aftermath: A building that was set ablaze in Tottenham is just an empty shell this morning

Twenty-six police officers were injured in riots that broke out two days after a man was shot dead by police.

Scotland Yard said at least one of the officers had suffered head injuries after protesters clashed with police in Tottenham, north London.

Scotland Yard said this morning: 'There remain isolated pockets of criminality in the Tottenham area involving a small number of people. Officers are currently taking steps to deal with these incidents.'

Shocking: This morning the mangled burnt out shell of a double-decker bus that was set on fire sits in Tottenham's High Road, left, while on the right is a travel agent shop that was one of the many businesses attacked during a night of anarchy

The morning after: Bricks and debris from the previous night's riots litter High Road

Clear-up: A fireman watches as a building that was set ablaze is dowsed with water, left, while the picture on the right shows the extent of the looting that took place with this shop stripped bare of TVs

In a statement, Commander Adrian Hanstock said: 'Last night's disorder and violence in Tottenham is completely unacceptable. The behaviour by a criminal minority put police officers, fire brigade personnel and the public at significant risk.

'The death of Mr. Duggan is extremely regrettable and will be the subject of an independent investigation by the IPCC. It is absolutely tragic that someone has died, but that does not give a criminal minority the right to destroy businesses and people's livelihoods and steal from their local community.

'There was no indication that the protest would deteriorate into the levels of criminal and violent disorder that we saw. We believe that certain elements, who were not involved with the vigil, took the opportunity to commit disorder and physically attack police officers, verbally abuse fire brigade personnel and destroy vehicles and buildings.

'We do not believe that this is something that the vast majority of law abiding citizens in Tottenham would condone or would want.'

Smouldering: This aerial shot shows the extent of the damage caused by rioters in Tottenham. Commander Adrian Hanstock described the trouble as 'absolutely unacceptable'

Devastation: The peaceful vigil over the death of Mark Duggan quickly escalated into a full-scale riot in which huge amounts of damage was caused. Fire crews spent hours bring the flames under control

Wrecked: Two police cars used as a road block were set alight during the troubles

So far police have made 42 arrests in connection with the trouble, which flared after members of the community took to the streets last night to demand 'justice', after Mark Duggan, 29, was shot dead by police on Thursday.

Patrol cars, a shop and a double-decker bus were set ablaze and there were reports of looting amid scenes reminiscent of the violent unrest in the same area 26 years ago when PC Keith Blakelock was hacked to death.

More than 100 officers and specialist riot police faced crowds of more than 500 people protesting about the death of Mr Duggan, who lived on the estate and was described last week by police sources as a ‘gangster’.

Senior political figures were united in their condemnation of last night's unrest.

Home Secretary Theresa May said: 'I condemn utterly the violence in Tottenham last night. Such disregard for public safety and property will not be tolerated, and the Metropolitan Police have my full support in restoring order.

'I want to pay tribute to the officers who put themselves in harm's way.'

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: 'I'm appalled at the scenes of violence and destruction in Tottenham. The Acting Commissioner has assured me that the police are doing everything they can to resolve this situation. The events leading to these disturbances are rightly being investigated by the IPCC. Harming people and property will do nothing to facilitate the investigation, it will only make the situation worse.'

There was concern that the disturbances were fanned by Twitter, with some of those taking part posting inflammatory comments from the scene and calling for reinforcements.

One picture of a police car on fire in the area was re-tweeted more than 100 times on the social networking site within an hour.

Mr Duggan was shot by officers from the Metropolitan Police’s CO19 unit on Thursday evening after the minicab he was travelling in was stopped. There was an apparent ‘exchange’ of fire and a bullet was found lodged in a police radio.

Mr Duggan died at the scene and an officer was injured, but left hospital after treatment.

The violence last night started soon after a crowd of about 120 had begun to gather at the High Road, near Tottenham Hotspur’s football ground, from about 5.30pm.

Out of control: Scores of police tackle rioters in Tottenham last night

Fire fighters attempt to put out one of the many blazes that were started last night in a night of anarchy

Inferno: Flames rages through a building in Tottenham, with fire crews prevented from tackling it in case they were attacked by rioters

Twitter riot: A red London double decker bus burns as riot police try and bring rioting under control in Tottenham late last night

Their target was the police station which was being guarded late last night by lines of officers and police vans. As the disorder spread, and the numbers of demonstrators swelled, two police cars being used to block the road were set ablaze by masked youths.

Flames began to billow from a shop and then a double-decker bus was engulfed in flames and quickly reduced to a twisted shell. Witnesses also reported seeing a jewellery shop and a bookmakers being looted. Teenagers and younger children were seen carrying valuables through the shattered glass front of an electrical shop.

Windows were smashed at a Barclays Bank and pictures on Twitter appeared to show the building being looted. There were also reports that youths had stormed McDonald’s and had started frying their own burgers and chips.

Battle: The riots saw violent clashes between police and youths with rocks and fireworks being hurled at officers

Stand-off: Rioters wearing bandanas confront police officers. The trouble saw 26 policeman injured and taken to hospital

Footage was posted on YouTube of local solicitor’s office Attridge on fire.

Resident David Akinsanya, 46, who was on the scene, said: ‘It’s really bad. There are two police cars on fire. I’m feeling unsafe. It looks like it’s going to get very tasty. I saw a guy getting attacked.’

A local woman, who declined to give her name, said: ‘There’s a theory going on that the man who was shot had dropped his gun, but they still shot him. I’m hearing that most of the shops in the High Road are being burgled and robbed.’

Several fire crews could only stand ready nearby as they were barred from the High Road where buildings and the bus were ablaze.

One fireman complained to The Mail on Sunday that earlier, three engines had been dispatched to the scene without being warned they were entering a riot zone. He said: ‘We were sent to a road accident but it was the police cars on fire.

‘We were then ordered to leave them burning and to drive off, probably for our own safety.

Violent clashes: Riot police treat a man for his injuries before arresting him in Tottenham

Brutal: An injured policeman is tended to by his colleagues and a paramedic in a night that saw 26 officers and three members of the public hurt

‘I cannot believe what we have just driven through. As we pulled out of the station, there was a car on fire on the High Road and there were people in the middle of the road – it was very scary. We didn’t give them a chance to try to stop us. I am still shaking.’

Meanwhile, two Mail on Sunday photographers were viciously beaten and robbed by masked youths armed with crowbars and other makeshift weapons and reporters on the scene were threatened by looters in balaclavas.

The photographers said there was ‘total lawlessness’ in the area with the contents of shops strewn across the streets and the police unable to gain access.

One said: ‘It is utter carnage out there. We have been beaten up quite badly and had about £8,000 of equipment stolen. We were quite discreet but as soon as we got a camera out we were set on by youths with masks who were armed with crowbars.’

In a separate incident, a Mail on Sunday reporter was chased down a side street and struck on the back of the head with a rock.

In a parallel with the 1985 riot, residents claimed the roots of last night’s violence lay in allegations of police harassment.

John Blake, who grew up with Mr Duggan on the Broadwater estate, claimed the dead man had been victimised by police in recent weeks.

He said: ‘I know the police were harassing him. The police were following him. If you’re from Broadwater Farm, police are on you every day, you’re not allowed to come off the estate. If you come off the estate they follow you.’

A family friend of Mr Duggan, who gave her name only as Nikki, 53, said the man’s friends and relatives had organised the protest because ‘something has to be done’ and the marchers wanted ‘justice for the family’.

Some of those involved lay in the road to make their point, she said.

‘They’re making their presence known because people are not happy,’ she added. ‘This guy was not violent. Yes, he was involved in things but he was not an aggressive person. He had never hurt anyone.’

As the rioting escalated, trouble-makers on Twitter seemed keen to orchestrate the violence, bringing scores more people into the area. One user calling himself ‘English Frank’ urged attacks on the police, saying: ‘Everyone up and roll to Tottenham f*** the 50 [police]. I hope 1 dead tonight.’

And in a clear incitement to looting, ‘Sonny Twag’ tweeted: ‘Want to roll Tottenham to loot. I do want a free TV. Who wudn’t.’

‘Mrs Lulu’ tweeted: ‘Brehs [men] asking who’s down to roll [go] Tottenham right now, to get justice. – RIP Mark x.’

A tweet apparently passed on by chart-topping rapper Chipmunk, who comes from Tottenham, paid tribute to the dead man: ‘R.I.P Mark Duggan a real straight up and down respected man. LOVE!!!!!!!!’

Joining in the Twitter frenzy, ‘Ashley AR’ tweeted: ‘I hear Tottenham’s going coco-bananas right now. Watch me roll.’

Officers from Trident, the police unit that deals with gun crime in the black community, had been attempting to arrest Mr Duggan when Thursday’s shooting took place.

‘Shots were fired and a 29-year-old man, who was a passenger in the cab, died at the scene,’ said a spokesman for the Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating. It is believed that two shots were fired by a firearms officer, equipped with a Heckler & Koch MP5 carbine.

Local MP David Lammy called for calm last night. On his website, he said: ‘We already have one grieving family in our community and further violence will not heal that pain.’

Last night, a Scotland Yard spokesman explained how the riot began.

‘Two police cars had parked up at Forster Road/High Road while their officers conducted traffic patrols on foot. At approximately 2020 hours a number of bottles were thrown at these two cars – one was set alight and the second was pushed into the middle of the High Road. It was subsequently set alight.’


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