London Riot Turns District into War Zone: "The System is Cracking and It's Starting to Show"

 LONDON — A police station disemboweled, a double-decker bus reduced to a smoking carcass, shops pillaged, buildings razed by flames -- London's Tottenham quarter resembled a war zone Sunday following overnight riots.

"So many people have lost everything. It's just crazy. It looks like it's the Second World War. It looks like the Blitz where we were living," said Tottenham resident Stuart Radose.

Several shops and homes on the High Road, the main street running through the multi-ethnic district, are now nothing more than blackened red-brick walls.

Firemen armed with water hoses continued to douse the embers on Sunday afternoon, several hours after calm had been restored.

The surrounding streets, littered with hundreds of bricks and a sea of broken glass, were marshalled by hoards of policemen, in sharp contrast to the overnight scenes of lawlessness, some of the worst witnessed in London for many years.

The burnt-out vehicles and discarded rubbish bins bore testament to the chaos which had consumed the area several hours earlier.

"I feel angry that such a thing happened because I don't know who did it," said local resident Nadine Knight, 24. "I don't know if it's people who live in this area or people who don't live in this area."

"Why are they doing it?" asked 22-year-old Christian Macani. "They don't think. It will achieve nothing."

Other residents were more sympathetic to the rioters, who were stirred into action after police shot dead a local man on Thursday.

"I can understand they're angry and above all that there's unemployment and cutting benefits so everything comes together and the cup is full," said 37-year-old security guard Norman McKenzie.

"I think people are unhappy, discontented," a young local woman reflected. "I think the system is cracking and it's starting to show, so it's time that people get up, and do something about it."

Curious bystanders gathered behind police lines on Sunday to photograph the aftermath of the looting.

Limbless shop mannequins remained spread across the streets while broken display panels and upturned shopping trolleys littered the footpaths.

Meanwhile, a policewoman stood guard in front of a bank, whose toughened glass windows had been smashed, while charred furniture from a nearby torched police station remained strewn across the thoroughfare.

Shop alarms continued to ring out, but were largely drowned out by the police and media helicopters on constant patrol overhead.


Agence France Presse / By Jonathan Klein

Posted at August 9, 2011, 4:08am

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