Police Shooting in London Triggers Summer Riots and Fire Bombs
There were wild scenes in North London as a protest outside a police station started a night of fire bombing and looting. Earlier police had shot dead a passenger in a cab after an exchange of fire – full investigation under way.
The long hot summer arrived late late in North London – but it started with an explosion of violence on the streets. Police cars and a London bus were set on fire as a mob went on a looting rampage.
Police were caught unprepared and seemed overwhelmed as crowds poured into the North London suburb of Tottenham. Once again Twitter spread the news with messages saying “If you want a TV – come to Tottenham now.” There was widespread looting and calls for calm were ignored.
Some reports described how a mob took over a McDonalds and customers were seen behind the counter – cooking their own burgers.
Other rioters were more ambitious with jewellery stores and electrical shops attacked as TVs, smart phones and computers were snatched.
Nothing has been like this has been seen for a long time – but the last full scale riot was also in Tottenham as crowds reacted to a police crackdown.
This time the fuel that started the blaze was a police shooting as a passenger in a cab was shot dead after an exchange of fire. A policeman was also injured and enquiries are proceeding with no details released yet. A crowd of 200 had assembled outside a police station in a peaceful protest but it is likely that this was taken over by a violent faction that took the chance to start a riot.
Questions will be asked about the speed of the police reaction. By the time riot control officers had arrived the situation was already out of hand with buildings, cars and a London bus on fire.
The riots also caught politicians on the hop. In spite of the financial crisis leading government ministers were all away on holiday with Prime Minister Cameron in Italy, his deputy Nick Clegg in Spain and Chancellor George Osborne in the US. Now they have another headache to deal with. London Police are already under fire over the links with Rupert Murdock’s News Corp and the phone hacking scandals. London’s Police Chief has resigned following the scandal – and another Police Chief has been arrested on corruption charges.
Not a good night for London. Politicians will be praying this was a one off - not the start of a summer season of political riots and criminal looting.