Cameron rushes back to UK as London burns
Stefano Ambrogi and Matt Faloon
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.
Prime Minister David Cameron
cut short his holiday to fly home to tackle the violence, which
politicians and police have blamed on criminal thugs and which come amid
deep economic gloom in Britain.
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 towards 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.
disturbances started late on Saturday in London's northern Tottenham
district when a peaceful protest over the police's shooting of a suspect
On Monday, the violence had spread to the south of the city, including the areas of Peckham, Croydon and Lewisham.
also smashed shops and looted property in the central England city of
Birmingham, police said, in the first sign of the riots spreading beyond
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.
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."
Peckam, flames leapt into the air from a torched building, while rubble
was strewn across the street. People walked in and out of shops
Cameron's office said he
would cut short his holiday in Italy to chair an emergency crisis
meeting, amid growing calls from the public for officials to take
control of the crisis.
Police had arrested 215 people, according to Home Secretary Theresa May.
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.
despite a heavy police presence, they appeared unable to contain the
violence as looters co-ordinated through cellphones and Twitter to try
to keep one step ahead of them.
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.
officials branded rioters as opportunistic criminals and said the
violence would not affect preparations for next summer's Olympic Games.
deputy assistant commissioner Steve Kavanagh said the force was putting
more officers on the streets in Hackney and other areas on Monday
"Let me make it clear that
people who are using current events as an excuse or cover to break the
law, steal, attack police officers and cause fear to Londoners will not
be tolerated by the vast majority of Londoners and us," he said.
small group of people said they had barricaded themselves inside the
110-year-old Hackney Empire theatre to escape the violence.
"We are stuck inside," said one person, who did not give her name, in a telephone conversation with Reuters.
"We don't want to be near the windows. They seem to be targeting shops at the moment. It's very scary."
"We are in the back of the building, staying away from the front. We have barricaded the doors and put chains on the doors."
Youths appeared to have used a free message service on Blackberry cellphones to co-ordinate attacks on shops and police.
In Motion, the Canadian manufacturer of Blackberry smartphones, said it
would work with British authorities, but gave no details on what
information, if any, it would give the police.
feel for those impacted by this weekend's riots in London. We have
engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can," RIM spokesperson
Patrick Spence said in a statement.
have branded the disturbances as a cry for help from impoverished areas
reeling from the government's harsh austerity cuts to tackle a big
budget deficit, with youth services and other facilities cut back
"Tottenham is a deprived
area. Unemployment is very, very high ... they are frustrated," said
Uzodinma Wigwe, 49, who was made redundant from his job as a cleaner
Officials said there was no excuse.
was needless, opportunistic theft and violence, nothing more, nothing
less. It is completely unacceptable," said Deputy Prime Minister Nick