The riots in London broke out on the night of 6 August 2011 following a street protest over the shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan, who was killed after an exchange of gunfire with the police as they tried to arrest him in Tottenham.
With Tottenham having the highest unemployment rates in London, the riots come at a time of deepening gloom in Britain. And while politicians and police blamed the violence on criminal thugs, residents attributed it to local tensions and anger over rising financial hardship.
More than 330 people were arrested and 35 policemen injured as police vehicles were damaged and shops looted in many parts of the capital. Rioters set police patrol cars, buildings and a double-decker bus on fire over three days of fire.
Residents said they had to flee their homes as mounted police and riot officers on foot charged the crowd to push rioters back.
British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short a family holiday in Italy and returned to England, where he met with the Home Secretary Teresa May and Metropolitan Police Acting Commissioner Tim Godwin before chairing a meeting of Cobra, the government emergency committee meeting.
London's Deputy Mayor Kit Malthouse blamed the violence on a relatively small number of criminals motivated by greed rather than worries about the conduct of the police or wider social problems caused by the sluggish economic recovery.
On Monday night (8 August 2011) the looting spread to Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham and Bristol. An extra 1,700 police officers were deployed in London.
Around 50 youths damaged shops in Oxford Street, one of the main shopping districts in central London. Buildings were still smouldering, the roads were strewn with bricks and burglar alarms continued to ring out. In Brixton, south London, several shops were looted and police kept the area cordoned off Monday morning.
Police and community leaders said local people had been horrified by what happened and appealed for calm.
The incident is reminiscent of Britain’s most notorious race riots which occurred in 1985, when police officer Keith Blakelock was hacked to death on the deprived Broadwater Farm housing estate during widespread disturbances.
Updated Date: Aug 09, 2011 11:59:41 IST