London riots: Spending cuts, police blamed

2011-08-07 22:53

London - Anger at high unemployment and cuts in public services, coupled with resentment of the police, contributed to an explosion of violence and looting in a deprived London neighbourhood, residents said on Sunday.

The riot in Tottenham, an area of sprawling north London that is home to many different ethnic groups, erupted on Saturday night after a street protest over the fatal shooting of a local man by police.

Rioters set police patrol cars, buildings and a double-decker bus on fire. Others took advantage of the police being occupied to loot a nearby retail park, smashing shop windows and hauling away televisions, computers and sports shoes.

Police sealed off the main road through Tottenham on Sunday as they investigated violence that injured 26 officers. A burnt-out car stood nearby and the street was littered with pieces of brick dug up from the street to use as missiles.

The area remained tense as residents gathered to gape at the destruction, some loudly venting grievances against the police and government.

Several said long-mounting frustration over the gloomy economic situation, which has led the government to slash many public services to rein in a big budget deficit, and anger at what some saw as unfair treatment of ethnic minorities by the police, had boiled over.

Fears of violence elsewhere

Unemployed local man Scott Allen said he feared similar violence might happen in other parts of London.

"Tension is building because of the coalition government's cost-cutting measures. People in the poorer communities of London and around the country are going to feel victimised," Allen, who said he was in his 40s, told Reuters.

The riot comes less than a year before London's metropolitan police must shoulder the burden of policing the Olympic Games. Allen said deprived areas such as Tottenham were not seeing benefits from billions of pounds spent on the Olympics.

"The last few weeks have all been about how the Olympics are going to ... transform London and how we are going to have a massive legacy. Well, this is the legacy. The legacy is already here," he said, motioning towards the damage caused by the riot.

Tottenham had been "massively" affected by steep spending cuts ordered by the 15-month-old coalition government to try to balance its books, he said. Youth services had been cut and unemployment had risen as public sector workers were laid off.

Cry for help

The riot follows several outbreaks of violence in London in the past year at political protests against the government's austerity policies. A 26-year-old black man, who gave his name only as Jason, said the riot was a "cry for help".

"I have no job, no prospects, no anything. Then they wonder why there's crime," he said, adding he had been unemployed since he left school.

"This is the ghetto, this is the slums, they don't care about us. I've been stopped outside my house by the police for no reason. There's no jobs ... but still they want to cut benefits. We ain't got no way to survive and it's like no-one don't care about us.

"There's injustice and we've had enough," he added.

A 28-year-old mother of two from nearby Enfield who gave her name as Diana X, said anger had been building among ethnic minorities for a long time because many felt police did not deal with them fairly.

"So many opportunities are being taken away from those who are working class and that tends to affect the ethnic minorities," she said.

Looting was not justified, but people were upset and saw it as a way to vent frustration on big organisations, she said.

Stunned shopowners

At nearby Tottenham Hale retail park, stunned shopworkers arrived to find stores had been trashed and ransacked.

Windows or doors were smashed at electrical goods stores PC World and Currys, cellphone shops O2 and Orange, catalogue store Argos and sports clothing retailer JD Sports. Empty boxes from giant plasma TV screens and sports shoes littered the parking lot.

"They've taken almost everything. Whatever is left they've damaged," JD Sports branch manager Saad Kamal, 27, said. "It's a huge loss for us. It's unbelievable," he said.

Read more on:    uk riots

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions. publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24


Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts

The moon has moved out of your sign and into the more sensitive and gentle sign of Pisces. There is a strong desire to keep more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.