View Full Version : The ‘Queen’s London’ On Fire

The Informer
10th August 2011, 11:49 AM
London: seat of former empire, the Queen’s hometown, 2012 Olympic venue and since the weekend, a city under siege.

I’m writing this article while listening to local radio here in London with callers describing the shocking situation all over London.

Last night I couldn’t get any sleep due to the wails of emergency vehicle sirens and the occasional police helicopter swooping by. Since Saturday night’s looting, arson and violence in the streets have become the norm.

Turning on the television, images of historic buildings swamped with fire and masked looters scrambling for the latest sneakers and plasma televisions through the smashed shop fronts on high streets all over the city are shown on the rolling 24-hour news channels.


The reason: on Thursday 6th August a black man and father of four called Mark Duggan, was shot dead by police marksman in Tottenham after he was reported to have shot at them first.
His family only realised that he had been killed when they saw the report on the news. On Saturday night his friends and community led a peaceful protest to the police station in order to demand details about the incident.
However after a few hours no senior police officials would come out and talk to them. There have been reports that the crowd was incited to attack the police by throwing missiles after a teenage girl who had approached the police line was pushed to the ground by a group of policemen.
This was apparently the catalyst that has ignited three nights of violence across the capital that is spreading to other major UK cities (such as Birmingham) and is lighting up the night sky with flames.

Who are the looters and rioters? Judging by television footage they are a broad cross-section of society – children, teenagers and adults of all races. What may have started off as a protest by a majority black crowd had escalated to rioting by the second night to a mix of races all across London.
As I write this I have heard radio reports that all areas of London are facing problems which have spread into the West of the capital. The phrase ‘disenfranchised youth’ has become a cliché used by the UK media, but the rioters include bored children and teenagers on their summer holidays, youth that are tired of being stopped and searched by police and blatant opportunists.

The emergency services like the police and fire service cannot keep up with the demands on them.
I spent the earlier part of this evening watching a furniture shop in Croydon burn to its timbers before fireman were able to attend then scene. On Saturday night people were evacuated from their flats in Tottenham clad in only pyjamas minutes before their homes were reduced to blackened timber.

The most worrying trend occurred Monday when the looting and rioting began in broad daylight, in the middle of the day! My friend texted me at 4pm to say that everyone in her workplace had been told to go home because of trouble in Stratford shopping centre (where the Olympics will be taking place exactly a year from now) which was going to be closed down as a result. I departed my own workplace in order to get home as quickly and as safely as possible.

I’m constantly listening to the radio and devouring online live blogs to keep abreast with the latest situation. Finally the Prime Minster, David Cameron and the London Mayor Boris Johnson have cut their holidays short to come and deal with the situation which had escalated beyond all belief.

This torched and tortured city is not the London that I love. Summer in the city is a wonderful time. Where else can you walk the same streets as Charles Dickens and Shakespeare, sample cuisine from every continent and just stroll beside the Thames in the twilight with the Canary Wharf tower winking at you in the distance? It has been reported that another great bastion of British culture has been affected by the events of the last few days as football matches to kick off the 2011-12 season due to take place in London this weekend have all been cancelled.

What started off as a peaceful protest about one man’s death has become completely out of control and like an arsonist’s match has struck fear and panic into the hearts of many Londoners.

Adwoa Oforiwa is a UK based Ghanaian journalist

Source: Adwoa Oforiwa