London streets ablaze: now residents call for answers
Published 08/08/2011 | 03:24
Residents of Tottenham were demanding answers from the police amid accusations that too little was done to control London's worst riots in a generation.
Twenty-six police officers and three members of the public were injured in violence on Saturday night, which erupted after a vigil for Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old man shot dead by police on Thursday.
Anger spread before opportunistic looters ripped cash machines out of walls and stormed shops, carrying away what they could or loading up shopping trolleys.
The looting continued yesterday morning as smoke still rose from burnt shops, a bus and two police cars.
The London Fire Brigade said it attended 49 fires on Saturday night, while 55 people were arrested for offences ranging from violent disorder to burglary and theft.
Police were last night reportedly drawing reinforcements from the Home Counties as they tried to prevent a second night of violence.
There were unconfirmed reports of skirmishes in Enfield in north London.
The Metropolitan Police has also launched a "major investigation" - codenamed Operation Withern - into the riots and will review hours of CCTV and interview witnesses.
Large sections of Tottenham High Road remained closed off yesterday evening after the smouldering remains of what had been a large carpet store were declared structurally unsafe. Meanwhile, the owners of dozens more businesses were left to assess the damage and board up their shop windows.
"A community that was already hurting has had its heart ripped out," said the local MP David Lammy, whose constituency still holds bitter memories of the race-fuelled Broadwater Farm riot in 1985.
Mr Lammy warned: "There are homeless people standing back there.
"We don't know if there are fatalities within some of those homes and flats which are now burned out."
The most severe violence took place on the High Road, where riot police on horseback faced streams of hooded youths armed with petrol bombs, bricks and other weapons.
Unrest then spread to the nearby Tottenham Hale retail park, where large outlets of Argos, Currys, Comet and JD Sports were ransacked.
By morning, looting had spread to the separate neighbourhood of Wood Green, which is some two miles away.
Sources close to Mr Lammy also spoke of frustration that the police had not done more to calm anger surrounding Mr Duggan's death, though Mr Duggan's family strongly condemned the rioters.