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Monday, 8 August 2011

Second night of violence in London – and this time it was organised

02:16 |

There was mounting evidence on Sunday night that some of the second night of rioting in London was part of an orchestrated plan, as violent disturbances broke out sporadically across parts of the capital.

Police in riot gear were deployed across the city to deal with trouble in Enfield, six miles north of the site of riots in Tottenham, while looters later pillaged shops in Brixton.

The scenes in Enfield, while reminiscent of Saturday night's clashes, were smaller in scale, and they took place from about 7pm.

Teenagers gathered on St Andrews Road – said to have been a preplanned destination – broke down walls on terraced streets so they could collect bricks to throw at police. About a dozen shops were ransacked and a police car smashed on Church Street. Riot police moved in to secure the area and train station.

Shortly after 8.30pm, a crowd of about 100 mainly teenage boys broke into a jewellery store. When police arrived less than a minute later, there were chaotic scenes, with a number of people struck with batons and attacked by dogs.

Resident Mizu Rahman, 34, said a plainclothes police officer had told him at around 2pm that there was intelligence that disorder was imminent. "The officer came down the street warning us there would be trouble," he said. "He showed me his ID. He said, 'Do you live here?' I said yes. He said, 'St Andrews Road is going to be the frontline tonight'."

There was no obvious reason why the rioting should have spread to Enfield, which is in the outskirts of north London.

Rahman, an engineer, said he had seen a message on Facebook that Enfield would be "next on the hitlist".

At 9.30pm, 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 melted into sidestreets. They smashed cars and shop windows as they ran.

Some teenagers knew exactly where they were heading, saying the plan was to go to Ponders End. A large crowd of youths then sprinted west, attacking a retail park and shops. Among them was 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 supermarket worker.

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

At 11pm, on a nearby road called Elizabeth Ride, a young man was stabbed under the arm. He could walk to an ambulance but his friends refused to talk to police and disappeared, shouting: "Why would we talk to feds? You're the reason this is happening."

Amid evidence that locals were turning against the rioters, one young woman, aged about 20, was in tears, shouting: "What are you doing? Is this how you pay your respects to Mark? Is this what he would have wanted?"

The leader of Enfield council, Doug Taylor said he believed disturbances there were linked to events in Tottenham. He said: "There's got to be a link to that extent that it's the day after and the police are hugely well organised in Tottenham so maybe this was seen as the place to have a second night."

In Brixton, crowds attending a daytime festival were good-natured but gangs of youths ransacked shops in the area as darkness fell. Branches of Vodafone, Footlocker and H&M were all targeted by looters, who made off in scooters and cars. Police in riot gear were pushing people up Brixton High Street at around 1am.

Elsewhere, there were reports of disturbances in areas including Dalston and Walthamstow.

The latter area's local Labour MP, Stella Creasy, said that branches of Argos, BHS and Barclays were all attacked, while angry locals said that looters asked them for directions to shops and banks.

The Metropolitan police said on Twitter on Sunday night: "Police are responding to a significant amount of criminal activity across London and are deploying officers to tackle it."



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