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Ealing Broadway Riots 
13th-Aug-2011 08:22 am
Christmas buttefly 01

For the benefit of those of you who don't live in the UK, here is what happened in a quiet, leafy corner of West London, last Monday evening...

This video starts in slow motion and then proceeds with music from the Chemical Brothers, which makes it a whole lot more dramatic, I reckon...and the cheeky chappie smiling to camera half way through may be, I think, a friend of the cameraman, and not necessarily involved in the looting himself...but you never know, I could be wrong about that !! The film footage is pretty shocking...


The whole of Britain is still reeling from the disgraceful scenes of out-of-control unruly gangs of teenagers, many of them on the young side of sixteen, rampaging round our major town-centres, committing crimes of violence, arson and looting - and far from being any kind of political protest or anti-police feeling, or the fact that they feel disaffected by a society that just gives them a life on the benefit system, or anything else that may be worth demonstrating against - whatever excuses you may have heard, forget them all !!

This was just plain unadulterated greed...most of the kids committing these crimes were high on the excitement of being able to run amok, seemingly without any consequences - because it was happening everywhere at once, the Police seemed powerless to contain it all, and most kids joined it simply because everyone else was getting free stuff from looted shops and frankly, they wanted in...and most of them considered this to be no more than a big fun game of 'How Much Can You Get Away With' !!

On Tuesday morning I arrived at Ealing Broadway tube station to go to work, having had to abandon my usual bus which couldn't go any further on its route, due to the car still burning in its path - I got on a different bus which took me to the tube station via the Ealing Broadway route  - we passed many smashed shop windows on the way, and lots of broken glass and rubbish everywhere.
When I arrived the road was cordoned off by Police tape, with a narrow path free for access to the tube station, and the entire length of the road was strewn with debris from the night before - it looked like a very wild party had taken place, which in a strange sense it had...

The night before : cars on fire in Ealing...

When I arrived at Sloane Square, in Chelsea, I was dreading what I would see - fortunately Peter Jones didn't come under attack, but poor old Hugo Boss, opposite the tube station, did...

It may interest you to learn that two men have been arrested for this particular crime and they were caught as a direct result of one of our security guards taking it upon himself to check through CCTV footage from Monday evening, from canopy cameras, which look up and down the street 24 hours a day, just in case they caught some usable images, which they did !!

Elsewhere in London, this was typical of what was going on, pretty much everywhere :-

In Hackney, as everywhere else, an awful lot of the rioters went for the really high end stuff - wide-screen TVs, iPods, iPads, iPhones, (Apple was very popular !!) laptops and headphones, designer clothes, jewellery, watches, etc, etc - and this scene was repeated everywhere all over London - they knew exactly what they wanted and they just smashed their way in and took it, and it was a mind-boggling sight, caught on the BBC News 24 cameras in most of our major London town-centres !!

Mobile phone shops were among the favourite targets ...

This little boy struggles home on his bike with a basket full of goodies from the local Tesco Metro...as you can see, broad daylight !!

This is Debenhams in Clapham Junction, after the rioters had been looting for a good hour and a half before the poor beleaguered police and fire engines showed up - they were too busy dealing with rioting in other places nearby, but we all watched on TV, as looters went in and out of Debenhams through the front entrance, which had been smashed to smithereens, just helping themselves to stock - I wouldn't be surprised if they used the fitting rooms to try stuff on first...

'He accepted that I had to cancel the papers...'

This is small business owner, Shiva Kandiah, who was left with only 25p to his name after his corner shop was totally ransacked and then set on fire - he lost goods and property worth £10,000 and he is uninsured...his cause has been picked up by the national papers and there is a fund in place to help him get back on his feet - his plight has come to represent every small business affected, and he has touched the hearts of everyone - here is what he said :

"All I have left is 25p. That's it. All the money was in the till and I had just spent £6,500 on cigarettes and wine and that has all gone. I had no contents insurance so will never see that money, but I have realised that I can start again because most people are so kind and supportive. The people of Hackney have been coming to the store and saying they will help clean it up and rebuild it. They were always good to me and very chatty, but today I feel like they are my family.
Today, I got up at 4.30am and got ready to go to the shop and for the first time in years I could have gone back to sleep as the shop is no more, but I still went to the store and met the newspaper delivery man and chatted to him. He accepted that I had to cancel the papers.
I did not think I would ever feel like re-opening the shop, but I have to do it for the good people of Hackney. They are my friends and that means people of every colour and religion and that is the great thing about an area like Hackney. It will take some time as I don't have the money to order new stock, but I will re-open. I promise my friends that.I must not let these youngsters who did this get away with beating me. I hope they will see me as a person who overcame their terrible actions and learn from it themselves as they cannot be very happy with their own lives to do that."


Croydon town centre really suffered, and this is the saddest picture of all, because this big old furniture shop in Croydon meant something to me,...

This is the front of Reeves Furniture shop, at Reeves Corner in Croydon - this furniture business belongs to my ex-boyfriend's family, on his mother's side - Maurice Reeves, the man who has been interviewed by numerous reporters over the last week, and is the father of the current owners of this business, is her brother, and thus I know it pretty well !! It had been their family business for over 140 years and was a well-respected part of the local community - but apparently, as it happened, not all of it, it seems...

From the other end of the building, after arsonists set it on fire...

These riots went on for five days, evening after evening spreading from town to town, and by Wednesday evening, the Manchester police had intelligence information from the Blackberry messenger service that their town centre was going to be targeted next and they were prepared...

As you can imagine, there have been endless discussions about what the police could have done better, what tactics they could have used, and whether they should use water cannon, and whether it would actually be practical in the difficult circumstances -well, no, as it turns out, as the mob were turning up  at one street, looting as many shops as they could get into and then melting away down side streets as soon as the police showed up...water cannon trucks would be heavy and unwieldy vehicles to manoeuvre and wouldn't be able to respond quickly enough !!

The Blackberry messenger service has been pointed up as the main communication method used by the ring-leaders, as it is a private circuit, and the texts are untraceable to a large extent - so there have been numerous discussions about that too...


Since last Wednesday, the papers have been chock full of the amazing stories about the locals, in various different communities, all pulling together in true British Blitz spirit, to clean up their own neighbourhoods - they have banded together with hundreds of brooms and got themselves organised...
Many looted shops were tiny local businesses with little or no capital, and certainly no insurance in lots of cases, and there have been hundreds of collections and offers of help, both financial and legal and all free of charge, for these people, many suppliers offering to re-stock their looted shops for free...

In Peckham High street, someone wrote on a boarded up shop-front, the words 'Why we love Peckham' and invited people to scribble on multi-coloured post-it notes to add to the wall...

As you can see, this random gesture has been taken up by the locals with gusto - everyone is pretty disgusted with these kids, and as it transpires, many of the perpetrators weren't the disaffected youth you may expect - there have been almost a thousand people arrested so far, and many of them have respectable jobs - youth workers, school teaching-assistants, models, university students, etc, etc...
Parents have turned their own children in to the police, when they've arrived home with a wide-screen TV they couldn't possibly afford...one mother saw her own daughter on the TV news, looting from one of the shops, and she marched her down to the station the next day !!

I have been very heartened this week by all the stories that have emerged from all the local communities who have fought back and have decided to take responsibility into their own hands and say 'Enough is enough !!'

Why should your local community, your local town centre with all the shops you use on a daily basis, be targeted in this way - it just doesn't make sense, but then, very little about this kind of rioting for the fun of it makes sense - that's why people call it mindless, because it is...unbelievably, there were two girls involved in the looting in Croydon, who agreed to be interviewed on the street at the time, by the BBC !! With their faces to the camera, in full view, they said that they had fun and it was the best night of their lives. 'Just a game, ennit !!' said one, as she chewed her gum to camera...

I mean, really - how stupid do you have to be ?

Needless to say, both of them are appearing in Croydon Magistrates Court this week, alongside hundreds of others...in fact, the courts are sitting in session 24 hours a day since Thursday, just to process these nasty little oiks through the court system...

I have no doubt that there are loads of reasons why this blew up last weekend - it all started with the shooting of a young man in Tottenham, who turns out to be the nephew of a famous gangland leader in the area, and who had a police record as long as your arm, and he was armed with a gun the time...his family staged a demonstration that got out of hand when they didn't get the answers they wanted from the Police Complaints Commission, which may explain the Tottenham riot, but certainly doesn't explain why this went from town to town like a viral disease, and neither does it explain why ordinary citizens suddenly thought it was somehow OK to loot and steal just because there was a large mob doing it unhindered by police. It just goes to show that even the best of people can be caught up in something and get carried away...

I have zero sympathy for any of these rioters and the large part of the general Public agrees with my view on this - this whole shenanigans blew up out of control and had nothing to do with any demonstration about being unemployed, poor, or feeling like a disaffected member of society...and everything to do with getting stuff for free, coupled with a general adrenalin rush, like playing an exciting computer game - talking of which, 'Grand Theft Auto' and other games have also been cited as contributing factors...

We're slowly getting back to normal, most of us here in London, but the poor small business owners, who have had their shops ransacked and in some cases burnt to the ground, are going to have a long, hard slow road to recovery...

13th-Aug-2011 12:12 pm (UTC)
Dear wendylady1 ! What a terrible picktures! I like London so much... I hope that you are OK ?
14th-Aug-2011 07:22 am (UTC)
Oh yes I was at home when all this was kicking off, watching it on BBC News24 - a rolling news channel which gave us the information as it happened.
London will recover, eventually, but many of the small businesses won't, I fear...
14th-Aug-2011 08:38 am (UTC)
Dear Wendylady! I am very compassionating to you. I hope this terrible problem will be solved during a few nearest days.
13th-Aug-2011 12:40 pm (UTC)
Thanks for uploading this Wendy, it's better than hearing it from some disaffected news outlet, if you know what I mean. I'm so sorry you Brits are going through this. The behaviour was disgusting and I'm glad to see people 'fighting back' now.
14th-Aug-2011 07:22 am (UTC)
Our local communities are most definitely fighting back, and many, many people are being turned in by their own parents...and our Press is also urging people to give any information, film footage and photographs so that these little oiks can be identified and turned in.

It'll be interesting to see what will come out of all this, for good or bad...
13th-Aug-2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
Since last Wednesday, the papers have been chock full of the amazing stories about the locals, in various different communities, all pulling together in true British Blitz spirit, to clean up their own neighbourhoods

I can't imagine the shock and disbelief coursing through your beloved country this week. But I'm glad to know there is hopeful news to soften this tragedy.

There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him...
14th-Aug-2011 06:56 am (UTC)
I'm not sure I would call this a tragedy - that's too good a word for this disgusting behaviour - it kind of makes it sound like it was no-one's fault - I see it as more of a deliberate crime perpetrated by hundreds of opportunist youngsters who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time...

The numbers of people being processed through the courts has now topped the thousand mark - at the last count, it was around 1270 !!
13th-Aug-2011 01:27 pm (UTC)
I feel so sorry for the shop owners who have lost everything...I hope that these kids and their parents feel the full brunt of the justice system. And not just fines, but they should all be doing lengthy community service terms to clean this up and help get the communities affected back on their feet.
14th-Aug-2011 07:00 am (UTC)
Oh I do hope so - many of them were getting off with fines and suspended sentences when they started the long, long run of court appearances - however, there was such a general feeling of outrage everywhere, now the courts are coming in with custodial sentences, and lengthy community service orders, which I think is a punishment to fit the crime perfectly...
13th-Aug-2011 01:57 pm (UTC) - Hi, Wendy
I'm happy to see you are OK without any damage there, and totally agree with your view on this happening, specially about the 'Grand Theft Auto' and other exciting computer games.
14th-Aug-2011 07:04 am (UTC) - Re: Hi, Wendy
Hi Keeewi,
These computer games have been cited as a possible contributing factor in the general misbehaviour of these horrible little tykes...who knows, but you do have to question it, don't you ?!!

Sloane Square and the King's Road got off lightly, but then we don't have any yobs living there...they couldn't possibly afford it !!
13th-Aug-2011 03:26 pm (UTC)
London - all of England - is one of my favorite places on Earth, and this breaks my heart. It reminds me of the South Central riots here in California years ago, and the more recent Oakland riots. In both of those situations, the police had beaten or shot men in unclear and unjustified circumstances. While I can understand how a community can be angry at that, and want to protest, the looting and burning is inexcusable and pointless. In many circumstances the lives and livelihoods tangentially destroyed are of the perpetrators' own neighbors.

I thought of you as I heard the news this week, and I am glad to hear you are safe. I knew Sloane Square would probably be a target. Glad to hear your shop got through in one piece.
14th-Aug-2011 07:10 am (UTC)
I have to say that although this started out as a somewhat self-righteous mob calling for information about a shooting incident, from the Independent Police Complaints Commission, in Tottenham - it very quickly escalated out of control, spreading from town-centre to town-centre, and most of the people taking part didn't have any interest in the original cause at all...they just took advantage of the anarchy in the situation and stole what they could before the riot police arrived !!

Most of them appeared to view it as a bloody good laugh, and a chance to get some designer gear that they couldn't otherwise afford...
13th-Aug-2011 04:34 pm (UTC)
It's just heartbreaking to see so many businesses destroyed by mindless violence. I'm glad to read about the local people who are pulling together to help each other and their communities try to recover from this horrible rioting and looting.
14th-Aug-2011 07:12 am (UTC)
I think this is what Brits do in any horrible circumstances like this...it must be in our genes or something !! When London was getting hammered in the Blitz, it was exactly the same...
13th-Aug-2011 04:38 pm (UTC)
I have zero sympathy for them, too.

We had riots here in LA back in 1992 where gangs went around and fire bombed and looted businesses. Many of those neighborhoods have lost any businesses from wanting to be there, so they hurt themselves as well as others.

The ability to rouse a group of rioters via social networking is a new method to be employed by trouble makers. I wouldn't doubt this will be a way for governments to get more into monitoring and censoring the internet. Very sad.
14th-Aug-2011 07:21 am (UTC)
Yes - and this is what most people just can't understand - why loot shops in your own neighbourhood, when there are much richer shops, with much higher end designer goods, up in the West End, which was noticeably untouched !! It just doesn't make sense at all - but then pretty much nothing about this kind of rioting makes sense anyway...

The thing about the Blackberry messenger-service was that you can't trace any of the calls apparently, and so this is why it was the preferred method used - it was only when a spy infiltrated the system and got himself into the network of texts being sent around to incite the rioting in the next area, did the Police get the info that they needed to be prepared...sad but true !!
13th-Aug-2011 04:45 pm (UTC)
Many looted shops were tiny local businesses with little or no capital, and certainly no insurance in lots of cases, and there have been hundreds of collections and offers of help, both financial and legal and all free of charge, for these people, many suppliers offering to re-stock their looted shops for free...

I am so pleased to see and read your post, Wendy, done up in full, thoughtful and thought-provoking Wendy style. Bravo. Yes, I thought of the little businesses, too. I assume big stores have the insurance to cover their losses and pay for repairs, but not the little struggling ones. How inspiring, and good, that people have come forward to help the small owners get through. For if they go down, it has a ripple effect, both on local economies and local spirit.

Some of these people were wicked opportunists, orc-youth, but some of these teenagers sound absolutely clueless. They need a wake-up call. I am hoping they are getting one, though some are so thick maybe nothing can shine light in their dim brains.
14th-Aug-2011 07:21 am (UTC)
Most of them appear to be worthless scum anyway - you'd have to be pretty stupid to agree to be interviewed by the BBC in the middle of your crime !!
What hope they did have has just been thrown away, now that they have got themselves a Police record...idiots !!
14th-Aug-2011 05:17 pm (UTC)
"Idiots", indeed! It makes one angry, but also sad. Not as sad for the perpetrators, I should clarify, but for the damage done to the social fabric (not to mention the ruin of that lovely old building Reeves was in).
13th-Aug-2011 11:22 pm (UTC)
I used to walk past Reeves Corner in Croydon every day when I lived there. It's very strange and very sad when you see this happening somewhere you know really well.
14th-Aug-2011 07:27 am (UTC)
Oh, it certainly is...Reeves was an old business with a ramshackle shop, which obviously had no sprinkler system, which I thought was a condition of many insurance policies for bigger shop premises these days. Even though there would be a lot of water damage, at least they would have a building at the end of it !!

It's sad to see it burned down, but if they get a new shop premises out of it, it will be better than before...
15th-Aug-2011 08:16 pm (UTC)
Dear Wendy, I forwarded a link to your post to my sister, as I was sure she'd really like reading the piece. She loves England and even lived there for a year as a young woman, back when the Beatles were coming to notice in the United States. She said, "This was really good. I LOVE the Brit response, pulling together, chiding the miscreants, helping the victims." (She told me she tried to post a comment but it seemed she had to join LJ, which she didn't have time to do.)
16th-Aug-2011 04:51 am (UTC)
I'm glad she found it heart-warming - and the general response from the public really has been one of pulling together in a crisis - the corner-shop owner who had only 25p left to his name, is about to open his little shop again, having had it re-stocked to the tune of around £15,000 just by donations, and everywhere has been cleaned up by armies of volunteers armed with brooms and bin-bags...and there are currently over 1500 people, both youngsters and adults, waiting to be sentenced, mostly to community service orders, but for some, a prison sentence...

Your sister needs to go back to the comment page and try the little drop-down menu where it says 'log in ?' - that's an option it is offering you, and another option is to comment anonymously, but she'll have to say who she is, otherwise I won't know !!
16th-Aug-2011 12:36 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Wendy, for the instructions about logging in or going anonymous. I thought it was possible to post a comment anonymously, because I've done it when I've forgotten to log in. But she is not active on any journals or blogs and may have been deterred for that reason, sheer not being used to the procedure.

I'm going to copy and paste your reply and email it on to her. :)
17th-Aug-2011 10:26 am (UTC)
It was horrifying watching this unfold ... and unfold...and unfold. I'm with you on the lack of sympathy. There may be many reasons why this was sparked - but there are no excuses for this kind of criminal, stupid behaviour.

One image really stood out for me: an elderly gentleman, in his 80s, surveying the ruin of his barbershop. His livelihood all gone in moments, and for what? Why him? What had he done to deserve that? The journalist's disgusted comment was 'I hope they're proud of themselves'.

Thanks for writing this post - it's a very clear account.
17th-Aug-2011 06:28 pm (UTC)
It really was four evenings of total madness and mayhem - and it got up to Wednesday before the Police seemed to get their act together, or rather, were given the orders to do the proper kind of riot control - prior to that they were using tactics for demonstration-control, but these oiks weren't demonstrating, they were rioting, looting and burning...

The 89-year old barber of which you speak, has had his shop re-opened with the help of three interns who really wanted to help him out - the three interns, Björn Conradi, Sophie Browness and Omid Fard were touched by Aaron’s story and were looking for a way to help out. They launched the 'Keep Aaron Cutting' website and spread the word about Aaron’s story.

Within a few days £35,000 has been raised, more than enough to sort things out and repair the barbershop. The blog will remain open to record the progress of repairs, and they will work with the local council to distribute the rest of the funds to help other businesses and people in the area recover. Here he is meeting his football hero Peter Crouch, and getting his photo signed - and giving him a quick haircut in the process !!

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