London riots spread on third night of violence
REUTERS LONDON RIOTS spread to new areas of London on Monday while looting also erupted in the city of Birmingham as Britain’s worst unrest in decades escalated in a third night of violence.
In Hackney, a multi-ethnic area in east London close to the site of next year’s Olympic Games, hooded youths set fire to rubbish bins and pushed them down a street toward police, while hurling bottles and bricks. Many laughed as they ran back when police charged them.
Others shouted into their cellphones telling their friends to join in. The disturbances started late on Saturday in London’s northern Tottenham district when a peaceful protest over the police’s shooting of a suspect turned violent. On Monday, the violence had spread to the south of the city, including the areas of Peckham, Croydon and Lewisham. Attackers also smashed shops and looted property in the central England city of Birmingham, police said, in the first sign of the riots spreading beyond the capital.
In Hackney, with the street thick with smoke, looters smashed their way into a local shop, stealing whisky and beer. One had even grabbed a packet of cornflakes. Another man ran away laughing while carrying four bottles of whisky. “I am from South Africa and it reminds me of the riots there, except the police here are not so rough,” said one middle-aged local resident, who declined to give his name. “But the kids don’t have any respect for the police or for property.
It’s sad for the people who live round here.” In Peckam, flames leapt into the air from a torched building, while rubble was strewn across the street. People walked in and out of shops looting.
Police had arrested 215 people, according to Home Secretary Theresa May, who cut short her holiday because of the riots. “The violence we’ve seen, the looting we’ve seen, the thuggery we’ve seen, this is sheer criminality ... these people will be brought to justice, they will be made to face the consequences of their actions,” she said.
But despite a heavy police presence, they appeared unable to contain the violence as looters coordinated through mobile phones and Twitter to try to keep one step ahead of them. In Hackney, youths in brown hoods posed for pictures in front of a burning car on a street corner.
Others swarmed around a skip full of bricks and gathered them up. “I don’t know why they are doing this,” said a middle-aged woman who lived nearby. “It’s senseless ... they are just cacking on their own doorstep.” The BBC said the Hackney clashes broke out after police stopped and searched a man.
British government officials branded rioters as opportunistic criminals and said the violence would not affect preparations for next summer’s Olympic Games.