Posted on August 10, 2011

Reclaiming the Streets: Sikhs Defend Their Temple and Locals Protect Their Pubs as Ordinary Britons Defy the Rioters

Daily Mail (London), August 10, 2011

Some armed with swords, some carrying hockey sticks, defiant Sikhs stood guard outside their temples last night.

More than 700 men, some in their 80s, took to the streets to protect the homes, businesses and places of worship in Southall, West London.

The residents rallied together in a show of unity against looters echoed in other parts of the country as ordinary Britons attempted to reclaim the streets.

Pictures of the crowds emerged as the Met Police today urged the public against forming groups intent on vigilante justice.

Many of those who gathered in the late night public patrols had done so after becoming frustrated by the lack of police response to the riots.

It was only on Monday night that police tactics changed and armoured vehicles called Jankels were used to disperse the crowds.

Large groups gathered in Enfield, north London, and Eltham, south east London, last night and joined police in patrolling the streets.

One video filmed in Enfield shows a huge crowd surge through the streets near the London suburb’s Southbury Road station.

But while many pictures this week have shown crowds clashing with police in destructive stand-offs, the video clearly shows officers and crowds running in the same direction in a bid to ward off looters.

However, Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Kavanagh told Sky News: ‘What I don’t need is these so-called vigilantes, who appeared to have been drinking too much and taking policing resources away from what they should have been doing–which is preventing the looting.

‘These are small pockets of people. They’re frustrated, they’re angry, and that’s totally understandable.

‘The sadness of those images through the night and the night before last will affect everyone.

‘But the support that we need is to allow those officers to prevent looting and prevent crime.

‘I have personally spoken to members of our community and business owners, who have lost their livelihoods. I want communities to engage with us, and support us.

‘We have seen some outstanding acts of courage, youth workers, community leaders, teachers and alike taking to the streets with our officers to stop those people out there from breaking the law and persuading them to go home.

‘Ironically, when you see those images with no police available, the police are now having to go and do the vigilantes as well as the other problems that they’ve got. That needs to stop.

‘I do not support vigilantism and we do not want to see more violence on our streets. I would urge everyone to remain calm.’

One of those involved in the Enfield patrol, Nick Davidson, told Sky News: ‘We’ve had enough of the police just standing there . . . while people are looting and ruining the whole area.

‘Everybody here pays tax and we’ve all had enough of it. We’re sickened by the police doing absolutely nothing.

‘They’re not policing our streets, we have to police them.’

One man in his 20s, who would not give his name said: ‘We won’t stand for it. If anyone wants to come down here and start looting tonight, let them try–we’ll be ready for them.

‘We’re here to protect the town. What went on last night was a disgrace. It shouldn’t be allowed.’

In Southall, the locals rallied to keep the rioters at bay following reports of a planned attack on the area. It is just a few miles from Ealing, which was targeted on Monday night. Each of the Sikh temples was guarded by around 200 men.

Amarjit Singh Klair from nearby Hounslow, who helped rally the men, said: ‘We are working along side the police, they’re doing what they can but they are stretched.

‘Why shouldn’t we defend our homes, businesses and places of worship? This is our area. There’s lots of talk about it kicking off here. But we’re ready for them.’

Hooded youths could be seen scouting the area but appear to be have frightened off. Only a handful of police could be seen patrolling the area.

The Sikh community were running a military style operation to protect themselves after almost 100 rioters tried to attack the heart of the area early on Tuesday.

With few police around, elders at London’s largest Sikh temple in Havelock Road resorted to telephoning male worshippers for help.

Last night groups of Sikh men stood guard at different parts of the town, keeping in touch via their mobiles.

One man in his 20s said: ‘They caught us off guard last night but we still managed to get people together to protect the area. We saw them putting on their balaclavas preparing to jump out of three cars but we charged at them and managed to chase them off.’

Turkish shopkeepers who stood guard outside their businesses and chased off looters on Monday night have been hailed as heroes.

When the gangs of youngsters arrived to wreak havoc in Dalston, East London, on Monday night, the men, armed with baseball bats, snooker cues and even chair legs, sent them packing.

Trouble started about 8.30pm when a group of 15 youths set fire to a bus. Later another mob of around 20 arrived. Kebab shop owner Omer Asili, 29, said: ‘The police were telling us not to chase them, but it was only down to us that they went away.’