Posted on August 8, 2011

Tottenham Riot: Eight Police in Hospital as Night of Violence Follows Fatal Shooting

Michael Howie, Telegraph (London), August 7, 2011

Patrol cars, a double-decker bus and shops were set alight after a crowd of more than 300 people clashed with officers near Tottenham police station.

Missiles, including Molotov cocktails, fireworks, rocks and fire extinguishers, were thrown at the police. Scotland Yard said at least one of the officers had suffered head injuries.

Trouble flared after members of the community took to the streets on Saturday night to demand “justice”, after Mark Duggan, 29, was shot dead on Thursday.

After sections of Tottenham High Road were cleared of protesters, “pockets of trouble” continue to flare in nearby areas, a Scotland Yard spokesman said.

Two vans were reported to have been set ablaze in nearby Rheola Close, and Sky News said that its reporter and cameraman had to withdraw from the area over safety fears.

There were also reports of looting in Tottenham Hale Retail Park.

A spokeswoman for London Ambulance Service said paramedics had treated 10 people, and nine were taken to hospital.

The violence erupted after around 120 people marched from the local Broadwater Farm area to Tottenham police station on Saturday, forcing officers to close the High Road and put traffic diversions in place.

After night fell, two police cars parked about 200 yards from the police station were set upon.

Scotland Yard said in a statement: “Two police cars had parked up at Forster Road/ High Road while their officers conducted traffic patrols on foot. This is about 200 yards north of Tottenham Police Station.

“At approximately 8.20pm a number of bottles were thrown at these two cars. One was set alight and the second was pushed into the middle of the High Road. It was subsequently set alight.

“The officers were not in the vehicles and were unhurt.

“Officers from the Territorial Support Group have been deployed to disperse the crowd. They are deployed to the north and south of Tottenham Police Station in the High Road, and are subject to bottles and other missiles being thrown at them by the crowd.”

A family friend of Mr Duggan, who gave her name only as Nikki, 53, said the man’s friends and relatives had organised the protest because “something has to be done” and the marchers wanted “justice for the family.”

Some of those involved lay in the road to make their point, she said.

“They’re making their presence known because people are not happy,” she added. “This guy was not violent. Yes, he was involved in things but he was not an aggressive person. He had never hurt anyone.”

As the scenes of violence escalated, local MP David Lammy appealed for calm, saying in a statement that the events were “not representative of the vast majority of people in Tottenham”.

He added: “Those who remember the destructive conflicts of the past will be determined not to go back to them.

“We already have one grieving family in our community and further violence will not heal that pain.

“True justice can only follow a thorough investigation of the facts.

“The Tottenham community and Mark Duggan’s family and friends need to understand what happened on Thursday evening when Mark lost his life. To understand those facts, we must have calm.”

A spokesman for the Mayor of London Boris Johnson urged those involved in the violence to “respect the rule of the law”, adding that “violence and destruction of property will do nothing to facilitate this investigation”.

Commander Stephen Watson of the Metropolitan Police, which has set up a gold command room in Lambeth to oversee the incident, stressed that “a significant number of police officers” had been deployed to the scene, telling BBC News: “Our people are very well trained and led. We are exercising contingency plans which are well rehearsed.”

He added: “Our intention is to restore calm and normality to the area as soon as possible.”

He said there would be arrests for criminal offences, but that they came second to preserving public safety.

Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne, of the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), said in a statement: “I understand the distress that the shooting of Mark Duggan has caused to his family and in the community and that people need answers about what happened to him.”

She said the IPCC yesterday supported 14 family members and friends in formally identifying Mr Duggan’s body, and would have further meetings with his family today.

“We are still gathering evidence and will release further details about our progress with the investigation as soon as we can.”

On Friday, it emerged that Mr Duggan had been travelling in a minicab and was gunned down after an apparent exchange of fire.

A police officer’s radio was found to have a bullet lodged in it afterwards, suggesting they may have narrowly escaped being struck.

Officers had been attempting to carry out an arrest under the Trident operational command unit, which deals with gun crime in the black community, according to the IPCC.

The troubles evoked memories of 1985, when a police officer, Pc Keith Blakelock, was hacked to death following a riot in Broadwater Farm, where the marchers set off from on Saturday.

Riots Ravage Tottenham

The Sun (London), August 7, 2011

Eight police officers were hospitalised following rioting in North London last night.

Cop cars were torched, shops looted and a bus burned out as hundreds rampaged through Tottenham.

Scotland Yard said at least one officer had received a head injury, but all were discharged this afternoon.

There were also fears dead bodies could be inside the wreckage of fire ravaged homes.

The violence followed local anger over the fatal shooting of a suspected gangster Mark Duggan by police.

Police said 26 cops had been injured and 55 people had so far been arrested.

Meanwhile the police version of events at Thursday’s shooting of Duggan was challenged. They said he was shot after firing at a cop, who was saved by the bullet hitting his radio.

But tests on a bullet lodged in the radio are said to show it was police issue, not from the handgun Duggan was carrying.

In a separate incident tonight, youths vandalised a police car and smashed two windows on Enfield High Street in North London.

Groups of hooded teenagers, some numbering 30 or so, were running around the town centre, many with their faces covered and some carrying sticks and other weapons.

They were repeatedly chased away from shops by mounted police officers and dog handlers, although the troublemakers were said to have managed to break into a few stores.

Lines of riot police were readying themselves tonight in Enfield in case the trouble escalates.

Scotland Yard said it had an operation in place across the capital tonight, with “high visibility” patrols being carried out.

Additional officers will be stationed in Tottenham throughout the night.

An initially-peaceful demonstration had been held outside a police station on the area’s High Road from about 5pm last night, where locals called for “justice” after 29-year-old Mark Duggan was killed on Thursday night.

Police had stopped a taxi he was travelling in, but the situation exploded when he was said to have shot at an officer–prompting them to fatally gun him down.

Anger over his death turned to violence yesterday as hundreds more protesters appeared on the scene–apparently alerted by people using Twitter.

Late this afternoon Mr Duggan’s family called for an end to the rioting, saying any violence was not in his name.

His older brother Shaun Hall said the idea he had shot at a cop was “rubbish”.

He added: “My brother’s not that kind of person, he’s not stupid.

“To shoot after the police, that’s ridiculous.

“We’re all devastated to hear about the mishap, we don’t actually know what has happened.

“That is the worst thing at the moment is that nobody has actually come forward and said this is what has taken place.

“Whether we believe what they’re saying or whether we don’t, there should be somebody here putting my parents’ mind at rest about what is actually going on.

“The whole family’s devastated. We don’t want Mark portrayed as some kind of gangster.

“He was a family man as you see from the true pictures that you see of him.

“I know people are frustrated, they are angry out there at the moment, but I please try hold it down.

“We’re not condoning any kind of actions like that at all.

“Please don’t make this about my brother’s life–my brother is a good man.”

Cops, who had apparently been expecting trouble, responded to last night’s violence with hundreds of heavily-protected riot officers as well as mounted police while fire crews struggled to get near the blazes.

It is not believed that any officers were inside the police cars when they were attacked and set on fire.

Looters hurried away from wrecked stores in nearby Tottenham Hale Retail Park with trolleys loaded with stolen goods.

Today Stafford Scott, described as a leading member of the community, said the initial protest was sparked because people thought police had not thought about Mr Duggan’s family’s feelings.

He said: “Up until now they hadn’t come to help and advise them.

“We were absolutely disgusted by that so we decided we needed to go to Tottenham Police Station.

“We wanted someone senior from the police service to come and explain to us what was happening.

“Eventually they sent for a superintendent but by then it was too late.

“I am telling you, had they dealt with us early in the day we would have removed ourselves from this area.

“Those people that tell you it is not the same as 1985 were not here in 1985–it’s exactly the same as 1985.”

Mr Scott also made claims about Mr Duggan’s gun at odds with the currently accepted version of events.

He said: “We don’t believe that Mark was bad enough or mad enough to come out of a car and want to shoot at armed police officers.

“Our information is telling us that the gun that was found there was actually found in a sock, meaning that it wasn’t prepared for action.”

Speaking earlier today Commander Adrian Hanstock said the disorder had been completely unacceptable.

He said: “The behaviour by a criminal minority put police officers, fire brigade personnel and the public at significant risk.

“The death of Mr Duggan is extremely regrettable and will be the subject of an independent investigation by the IPCC.

“It is absolutely tragic that someone has died, but that does not give a criminal minority the right to destroy businesses and people’s livelihoods and steal from their local community.

“There was no indication that the protest would deteriorate into the levels of criminal and violent disorder that we saw.

“We believe that certain elements, who were not involved with the vigil, took the opportunity to commit disorder and physically attack police officers, verbally abuse fire brigade personnel and destroy vehicles and buildings.

“Our officers were subjected to bottles, petrol bombs and other missiles being thrown at them.

“We have recovered excellent CCTV and those who committed disorder and criminal acts will be identified and held account for their actions.”

Live TV pictures from last night showed a double-decker bus first emitting clouds of smoke where Tottenham High Road meets Brook St. It then burst into flames which quickly gutted the vehicle, as its fuel tanks exploded.

The trouble erupted near the Broadwater Farm estate where PC Keith Blakelock was hacked to death by rioters in October 1985.

Labour MP David Lammy said: “What happened here raised huge questions and we need answers, but the response to that is not to loot, to rob.

“There are homeless people standing back there. We don’t know if there are fatalities within some of those homes and flats which are now burned out.”

A Metropolitan Police spokesman said a large crowd was on the streets last night but not all the onlookers were involved in the disorder.

The spokesman added: “A number of bottles were thrown at two police cars–one was set alight and the second was pushed into the middle of the High Road. It was subsequently set alight.”

Local resident Maria Robinson told the BBC the situation was “absolutely manic”. She said some rioters were “making bottle bombs” and starting fires.

Another resident, David Akinsanya, 46, said shop windows were smashed. He said: “It’s really bad. I’m feeling unsafe. It looks like it’s going to get very tasty. I saw a guy getting attacked.”

He added: “There was a line of about 15 riot police in front of the police station on the north side and then there were loads of uniformed officers on the south side of the police station.

“They weren’t making any effort to go into the crowd. Every now and again they would rush the crowd and the crowd would run.”

Stuart Radose had to flee his flat above a Carpetright shop last night as a fire ravaged the building.

Describing the scenes, he said: “We live on the top floor. We could see the rioters coming closer. Aldi was on fire and barricades were being made by rioters. It was really scary.”

Mr Radose, who went to stay at his father’s house ten minutes away, added: “We’ve gone back this morning and it’s a complete shell. Everything we had is gone. It’s just mad.”

He went on: “So many people have lost everything. It’s just crazy. It looks like its the the Second World War. It looks like the Blitz where we were living.”

Mr Radose said he his wife had thought the situation was beginning to calm down at about midnight, but he then saw from his balcony that “things were getting worse and worse”.

He said: “There didn’t seem to be a police presence at all. Buildings seemed to be allowed to burn. I guess they couldn’t get there.”

He added: “I think we’ve probably spent our last night Tottenham. We’re just in shock.”

A London Ambulance Service spokeswoman said paramedics had treated a total of 11 people, ten of whom were taken to hospital.

Two of the injured police officers needed attention from ambulance crews, but it is not yet clear whether the others were dealt with by the ambulance service.

The London Fire Brigade said today: “At the moment all the fires are under control. We are still at the scene of some of them to damp them down and make sure everything is out.”

A spokesman for 10 Downing Street said: “The rioting in Tottenham last night was utterly unacceptable.

“There is no justification for the aggression the police and the public faced, or for the damage to property.

“There is now a police investigation into the rioting and we should let that process happen.”

Home Secretary Theresa May also blasted the violence, saying: “I condemn utterly the violence in Tottenham last night. Such disregard for public safety and property will not be tolerated, and the Metropolitan Police have my full support in restoring order.

“I want to pay tribute to the officers who put themselves in harm’s way.”

Mayor of London Boris Johnson said: “I’m appalled at the scenes of violence and destruction in Tottenham.

“The Acting Commissioner has assured me that the police are doing everything they can to resolve this situation.

“The events leading to these disturbances are rightly being investigated by the IPCC.

“Harming people and property will do nothing to facilitate the investigation, it will only make the situation worse.”

Deputy Mayor for policing in London Kit Malthouse this morning said officers had coped well with the riot.

But he admitted no-one predicted the level of violence, arson and looting that was going to take place.

He added: “Nobody thought that the protest would necessarily degenerate into that kind of activity and there’s no reason why they should have done.

“The critical thing is, were we able to mobilise forces fast enough to deal with what did arise?

“We did get a significant number of officers out there to deal with it in good time.”

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is probing the shooting of Mr Duggan. Police say a handgun was found at the scene and a bullet was later found stuck in an officer’s radio.