Arson and looting and smashing! Oh my!

9 Aug

For the last three days, talk has centred around the London riots. I first heard of them Sunday morning when I learned that at 8:00pm on Saturday the violence began with bottles being thrown at patrol cars, vehicles set alight and looting in Tottenham area (northeast).

The situation has escalated and spread as close to me as Camden (12 minutes by tube) and throughout Croydon, Walthamstow, and Dalston to name a few. On Monday and today I received numerous calls, emails and messages from friends and family asking to be reassured of my safety. I’m OK.

The atmosphere here is not one of a threatened community, but of people who are annoyed by these trouble-making youths and an inability of the police and the government to squelch the violence – though some are more sympathetic to police. Today the increasingly disliked PM David Cameron called for a suspension of Blackberry messenger (so far my BBM has not been suspended).

The Blackberry Blog had been hacked this morning; hackers’ message eloquently read: “You Will _NOT_ assist the UK Police because if u do innocent members of the public who were at the wrong place at the wrong time and owned a blackberry will get charged for no reason at all.”

Though the riots have not personally touched me, they have hit close to home, affecting people I know or the area I work.

One friend who lives in Brick lane couldn’t get home last night because parts of Shoreditch were shut down due to the riots.

Another, who works close two blocks from me, was sent home at 1pm – due to potential rioting in Hatton Garden (the road full of jewellery shops) – to her flat in Wimbledon where more rioting was rumoured to occur tonight.

My boss did a run to the nearby Waitrose and came back saying he thought the grocery store was being advised to close early.

And my housemate tells me there are rumours circulating that looters will hit my high street tonight.

Angry Londoners are utilising social media to express their anger, joining Facebook groups like “I’m a Londoner…I want my city back”, calling the rioters “dicks” in their status, or posting outrageous footage.

At the park near my work, a girl rides in on her bicycle telling her sister they have to get home.

“Mum says they’re smashing up cars and stuff, so we’ve got to get back,” she says, making a fist and smashing it into her opposite palm.

On the train home, two female colleagues chatter about the ongoings. One expresses girlish delight that her flat was on TV last night because rioters looted the shops below.

“Oh, that’s what you texted me last night,” laughs the other.

Still, as they say their goodbyes, they end with “stay safe” (a greeting that has become standard in the last couple days) and the woman whose flat was on TV is left holding her book, staring off into space.

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