In the north London neighborhood of Tottenham, rioters and looters ranged freely for over 12 hours while police vainly tried to regain control. According to reports, the riot started after a protest outside the police station on Tottenham High Road got out of control.
The initial gathering on Saturday was to protest the shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29-year old gang member. Duggan was shot and killed on Thursday by a police constable after Duggan shot the constable in the chest. The constable’s radio deflected the bullet and saved his life. Of course, given the British laws on firearms, Mr. Duggan’s possession of a handgun should have been unpossible.
According to the Telegraph, the Metropolitan Police focused their efforts in Tottenham where rioters burned police cars, stores, and apartment buildings. Looters took advantage of this to hit other areas less than a mile away.
But its tactics meant gangs of youths were free to break into stores at nearby Tottenham Hale retail park and in Wood Green, with looters forming an orderly queue in broad daylight to steal from a sports shop.
Riot police did not intervene to stop the looting in some areas until 7.30am the following morning, almost 12 hours after the riots began, and last night there were fresh disturbances in Enfield.
An orderly queue? Only in the U.K.!
The looting continued into the daylight hours. Lest it be said this looting was racially motivated, check out the looters in the video below. Some are black and some are white. They are all thieves.
There are many who believe Mr. Duggan got what he deserved as this video makes clear. It does contain quite a bit of swearing so you may not want to play it if young kids are in the room or they will be dropping the F Word with a weird accent at the worst possible time.
I spent the fall of 1978 in London on a Semester Abroad program. There was a considerable amount of labor unrest in the UK at the time and the IRA was still active in their bombing campaign against the British. That said, I don’t remember any riots happening while I was there nor do I remember seeing the police regularly carrying firearms. The gun laws at that time were much less restrictive than they are now and the only police who regularly carried firearms was the Special Branch of Scotland Yard.