Tottenham in north London is described as a “war” zone after overnight riots triggered by the shooting of a local man by police. One rioter tells Channel 4 News “this has been coming” for some time.
Two police cars, a bus and buildings were set on fire as missile-hurling rioters clashed with police in protest at the shooting of a local man two days ago. Twenty-nine-year-old Mark Duggan died on Thursday after he was shot as he travelled in a minicab.
The troubled followed a march by more than 100 people from the Broadwater Farm estate to Tottenham police station in an organised demonstration which spilled over into violent unrest. Eight officers were injured. Police remain on the streets this morning.
On the north side of Tottenham High Road one rioter, who gave his name as “Jamal”, told Channel 4 News: “These are our ends, we’re here to tell the police they can’t abuse us, harass us. We won’t put up with it, this is just the beginning, this is war, and this is what you get – fire.”
“Jamal” was one of a group of young men smashing up bricks a few metres away from a line of some 150 riot squad officers. The police line contained 11 mounted officers, and around ten officers with dogs. Rioters threw bricks and bottles at the police line, but the majority of the crowd, of around 400 people, were watching the clashes rather than taking part.
The pockets of active men – around 10 groups – wore bandanas as they roamed the frontline with baseball bats and sticks.
One man who threw bricks at the officers told Channel 4 News he “laughed” when he was asked why he was doing it: “Don’t ask me why I’m doing this, ask them, this has been coming for a long time.”
More from Channel 4 News: MP calls for calm after north London street shooting
Mounted police officers rushed the violent protesters several times during the course of Saturday evening, causing people to spring back up the high street. Shops in nearby estates have been looted and at least one set on fire. One bystander said ambulances and fire engines were being attacked.
There have been no official reports of injuries or arrests so far, but Channel 4 News saw one man running from the scene with blood pouring down the back of his head.
One bystander said that he was “shocked but not surprised” at the unrest. “Look these are youths, there’ve been rising tensions… people have no jobs, they’re angry so I’m not surprised it has come to this,” 45-year-old Farhan Ali said.
“I’ve been living here for a while, I remember the last time back in the 1980s, this isn’t as bad as that was. So yes I’m surprised but not shocked,” he continued.
Another onlooker who gave his name as “Bigz”, stood with a group of young men. He said: “I came down to check it out, I don’t really agree with what’s going on in terms of attacking police, but this is cause and effect, is this the best way to solve our problems I don’t know?”
On Friday Tottenham MP David Lammy expressed his fears that violence could erupt in his constituency following Mr Duggan’s shooting.
He said: “There is now a mood of anxiety in the local community but everyone must remain calm.”
And a local man told Channel 4 News that he would not be surprised if unrest broke out. John Blake, who said he grew up with Mr Duggan on Broadwater Farm, said the death had created tension on the estate, the scene of riots in 1985 that led to the death of PC Keith Henry Blakelock.
“There’s hostility here, there might even be an uprising here, you don’t know, Mark held Broadwater Farm together,” Mr Blake said, 24 hours before the riot.
We already have one grieving family in our community and further violence will not heal that pain. David Lammy MP
Mr Lammy has issued a new statement urging protesters to halt the violence.
He said: “The scenes currently taking place in our community are not representative of the vast majority of people in Tottenham. 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.”
Police watchdog the Independent Police Complaint Commission (IPCC) is investigating Thursday’s shooting.