Two police cars and a bus were set alight in north London on Saturday after a protest, which followed the killing of a 29-year-old man who was gunned down by police earlier this week, turned nasty.
Members of the community in Tottenham, north London, gathered outside Tottenham police station calling for answers into the killing of Mark Duggan on Thursday night (Aug 4).
The father of five received two fatal bullet wounds in a pre-planned operation to arrest him.
The sting had been organised in partnership with Trident, the Metropolitan Police’s special unit for investigating gun crime within the black community.
“It was like fire in Babylon,” one protestor said.
“People wanted answers from the police and they weren’t saying anything, which got some people fired up.
“It’s a shame that a peaceful protest had to come to this.” they said.
There are no reports of any casualties, but it is thought that some arrests were made.
A post-mortem on Mr Duggan’s body will be conducted in due course, and investigators are due to meet with his distraught relatives.
The Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPPC) is now investigating the shooting.
IPCC Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne said: “Fatal shootings by the police are extremely rare and understandably raise significant community concerns.
“I fully recognise how distressing and disturbing this must be for the family and the local community.
“Obviously our investigation is at a very early stage, but I will publish further information and any findings as soon as possible.”
Eight officers were taken to hospital, one with head injuries, as rioters smashed windows and burn buildings including banks, shops and a supermarket they also torched three police cars in the main road near the local police station.
Duggan had been in a taxi when it was stopped by armed officers as part of a pre-planned operation. Duggan’s death is being investigated by the independent police watchdog.
Although there have been riots in other European countries linked to austerity measures to tackle large national debts, London police and local community leaders said anger at Duggan’s shooting was the cause of the riot.
Tottenham has a large number of ethnic minorities and includes areas with the highest unemployment rates in London. It also has a history of racial tension with local young people resenting police behaviour including the use of stop and search powers.
Classford Stirling, a youth worker from Broadwater Farm, said there had been growing anger recently over stop and search practices by police. “It wasn’t just black kids. It was the youth in general who are frustrated at the way the police are treating them,” he said.
“Everybody’s now thinking of the way Mr Duggan was shot and they want answers. It’s very difficult to turn round and say to them this is the wrong way because they believe this is the only way that they’re going to get attention.”
Television pictures showed a blazing bus surrounded by rioters and hooded youths pelting an abandoned police car with rocks and missiles.
Media reported some locals had to flee their homes to escape the violence.
While the bulk of the disturbance had been brought under control early today, pockets of trouble were still erupting nearby.
Buildings were smouldering with plumes of smoke billowing across the skyline.
“The rioting in Tottenham last night was utterly unacceptable,” a spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said.
“There is no justification for the aggression the police and the public faced, or for the damage to property.” Police commander Stephen Watson said the scenes were “very distressing” for Londoners and perpetrators would be brought to justice.
“Our intention … is to bring things to as swift a conclusion as we can. Our absolute aim is to restore normality.”