The ugly face of austerity? Massive riots in Tottenham

by Jerome Roos on August 7, 2011

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Massive riots have turned North London into an “absolute war zone”, with a bus, three patrol cars and numerous buildings set on fire.

North London has erupted in violence tonight following the shooting dead of a 29-year old father of four by police on Thursday. Earlier tonight, a peaceful protest was held to demand answers about the circumstances of the lethal shooting. As night fell, the protests turned to violence.

A bus, three patrol cars and numerous buildings were set on fire, with looting going on too. Police were seen to be in heated clashes and running street battles with rioters who threw stones and firebombs at the officers. According to one witness cited by the BBC, the scene looked like “an absolute war zone.”

Another witness reports that “the whole of the police station is surrounded by… about 100 police officers in riot gear and they threw a wheelie bin into it and then started throwing bricks, street signs, anything they could get their hands on, straight at them.” Police have brought in horses, dogs and even a helicopter.

The Tottenham disturbances instantly raised memories of the Broadwater Farm riots that rocked the neighborhood 26 years ago. While an early report claimed tonight’s violence to have been much more limited, Twitter is currently ablaze with live reporting. At one point, BBC reporter @rickin_majithia tweeted that he was being pulled out by the BBC because the situation was getting too dangerous, after one man was allegedly beaten up for taking pictures.

The violence was not entirely unpredicted. Earlier this year, the Guardian published a report with the following message: “after Haringey council shuts eight of its 13 youth clubs, local teenagers fear boredom will fuel violence between young gang members on the streets of north London.” At the end of the video clip, one man can be heard saying, with near-frightening conviction in his voice, “there’ll be riots, there’ll be riots.”

Is this a troubling early sign of what lies ahead in the coming years? As Martin Luther King put it, “a riot is at bottom the language of the unheard.” The UK already was one of the most unequal societies in the Western world, but the dismantling of social services will only further accentuate these economic inequities. As social cohesion unravels, violence and disturbance will become an increasingly common feature in everyday life.

Tonight, Tottenham showed the world the new face of austerity England — and it certainly wasn’t pretty.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Dereailed August 9, 2011 at 10:28

are you sure about this? i have people sayin’ its basically a load of scum and immigrants who are doing it for the fun of it and for the loot from local shops. root cause can be anything if this is the outcome …


Fritz August 9, 2011 at 14:44

My man, you should distance yourself from all of this as soon as you can. I am sure you don’t want to be heard the way you are right now.
Just to add another story to the ones you have presented above:

A 2 star michelin restaurant was attacked – guys with machetes entered and fucked up the whole place, robbed all the guests of their valuables. Theft? Looting? Burning of cars and whole apartment blocks and stores of innocent inhabitants and shop owners struggling to survive? Is that something you want to categorize as “the new face of austerity”?

As far as I know there is no real ’cause’. There is no pronunciation of any ‘goals’ or ‘demands’. It’s a core group of 40 hardcore anarchists, moving from place to place and motivating and activating similar minded people in other cities.

I hope you come up with a new article on this soon.


Hassan i Sabba August 16, 2011 at 06:22

Dude -you need to switch off the ‘right-wing propaganda’ or ‘news’ as some call it. Or simply pull your head out of your ass. You’ll know its out when you hear that ‘popping’ sound.


Conor Loughran August 9, 2011 at 21:33

Reply to Fritz

I’m sorry but Anarchists do not rob people! If robberies have occurred then this is simply local gangsters taking advantage of the situation! Do you have proof that Anarchists carried out the robberies? Or, are you just a propagandist trying to influence people who do not understand what Anarchism is? Read the book ‘Anarchism’ by Daniel Guerin. This is a detailed historical study of what committed Anarchists have tried to effect in the past. They know society as it is is bankrupt. They desire real civilisation and an end to barbarism. However, the only way this can happen is if the monetary system is destroyed and replaced with a resource based economy. As Jacque Fresco said ‘in a monetary system everything becomes corrupt.’ So keep fighting. Non-violence is a necessary prerequsite because we want our new society to imbue these characteristics. The violence came about because police shot a father of four dead. Once the violence receeds, this is the time for local groups to organise and take control of the situation. They must issue a proclaimation and insist that those that commit violence are not part of the movement for a new world. Agent Provocateurs or gangsters will no doubt attempt to derail the movement and paint it as an agressive reaction rather than a committed peaceful protest against the Banksters and their governmental cohorts that artificially created the world wide economic crisis in order to get a violent response world wide. They cause the Problem, so as to encourage a violent Reaction in order to propose their violent Solution. Problem – Reaction – Solution, or, Thesis – Antithesis – Synthesis as Hegel entitled it.


Hannah JONES August 13, 2011 at 14:51

America is now advising tougher treatment for offenders but do we really want American style prisons This atmostphere where rioting was born from should have been tackled ages ago Nothing gets done and nothing will ever get done until the next riot and the one after


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