London Riots Spread South Of Thames – UK Police Arrest Over 160 in Weekend London Riots

UK Police Arrest Over 160 in Weekend London Riots (AP, August 8, 2011):

British police on Monday promised a “momentous operation” to arrest rioters after a weekend of vandalism and looting that erupted in a disadvantaged London neighborhood just miles (kilometers) from the site of next year’s Olympic Games.

Groups of masked and hooded young people looted shops, attacked police officers and set fire to vehicles in violence that has raised questions about security ahead of the 2012 Olympics and revealed pent-up anger against the city’s police. Over 160 people were arrested.

Around 35 police officers were injured, including three hit by a car while trying to make arrests in northeast London. Police commander Christine Jones said officers were “shocked at the outrageous level of violence directed against them.”

“This has changed from a local issue into organized criminality,” police deputy assistant commissioner Steve Kavanagh said Monday as he announced a “momentous investigation” to track down the perpetrators.

“We will make sure that this criminality is not allowed to continue,” Kavanagh told Sky News.

The violence broke out in the gritty north London suburb of Tottenham on Saturday night amid community anger over a fatal police shooting of a 29-year-old father of four. Police said “copycat criminal” violence spread to other parts of the city Sunday night and early Monday, including, briefly, London’s busy shopping and tourist district at Oxford Circus.

London riots spread south of Thames (Guardian, August 8, 2011):

Violence, vandalism and looting spread beyond Tottenham and Enfield to reach Brixton, leaving 35 police injured

There has been a second night of rioting across London, with violence erupting in several of the capital’s boroughs, from Brixton in the south to Enfield and Islington in the north and Walthamstow to the east.

What police are calling “copycat criminal activity” – some of it apparently part of an orchestrated plan – has so far resulted in 100 arrests.

Sunday night’s rioting followed disturbances on Saturday night in Tottenham, which came after the fatal shooting by police of Mark Duggan, 29, on Thursday.

In a statement on Monday morning, the Metropolitan police said they were shocked at the levels of “disgraceful violence” that had left 35 officers injured.

“Officers responding to sporadic disorder in a number of boroughs made more than 100 arrests throughout last night and early this morning.

“This is in addition to the 61 arrests made on Saturday night and Sunday morning … Officers are shocked at the outrageous level of violence directed against them. At least nine officers were injured overnight in addition to the 26 injured on Saturday night.

“We will not tolerate this disgraceful violence. The investigation continues to bring these criminals to justice.”

Shops in Enfield Town and the A10 retail park were vandalised and looted, and there were reports of two vehicles set on fire.

Mounted police were seen chasing groups of masked youths, some carrying sticks, away from stores, while lines of riot police readied themselves for trouble.

At 9.30pm on Sunday Met police and reinforcements from Kent began turning the whole of Enfield into a “sterile area”. Hundreds of riot police arrived with vans and police dogs, charging at groups of teenagers who disappeared into sidestreets, smashing cars and shop windows as they ran.

A large crowd of youths moved off westwards, with some teenagers saying the plan was to go to nearby Ponders End. A retail park and shops were attacked, among them a closed Tesco Extra store. Workers inside described hearing windows smashing as dozens of youths poured into the store. “They left carrying TVs, alcohol – they were stuffing trolleys,” said one shop assistant.

Unlike the previous night’s disturbances, this time riot police appeared on the scene in large numbers. Their stance was also more aggressive, with baton charges and dogs used to disperse crowds.

Three officers were taken to hospital after being hit by a fast-moving vehicle at 12.45am, a Metropolitan police spokesman said, while a fight broke out when rival gangs went to King’s College Hospital in Denmark Hill, south London, after two victims of minor stabbings were admitted. The hospital brought in extra security for the rest of the night and officers remained on scene dealing with the initial stabbings.

Six fire engines were dispatched to deal with a blaze at a Foot Locker shop in Brixton, south London, and witnesses saw riot police clash with looters at a Currys store nearby.

The looting across London was carried out by “small and mobile” groups, the police spokesman said.

As violence spread, about 50 youths gathered in Oxford Circus, central London, and damaged property.

Elsewhere, more than 30 youths, many in masks, vandalised and looted shops in Walthamstow Central, including BHS.

Meanwhile, the family of Mark Duggan’s said it was “not condoning” the riots and looting that had rocked their local area.

Duggan’s brother Shaun Hall told Sky News: “It seems to be the press who are generally saying that it is linked to my brother. OK, some questions were supposed to have been answered, they weren’t answered, therefore there was a domino effect from that, we don’t condone that at all.

“I know people are frustrated, they’re angry out there at the moment, but I would say please try and hold it down. Please don’t make this about my brother’s life. He was a good man.”

Hall said the family was “devastated” by his death and dismissed as “utter rubbish” the allegation that he had shot at police.

The Guardian has reported that initial tests suggest a bullet found lodged in a police radio after Duggan’s death was police issue. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which has launched an inquiry into the shooting, said it would not comment until all ballistics and forensic tests were complete.

A major investigation codenamed Operation Withern has been launched followed the unrest in Tottenham.

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