The violence in England shows no sign of slowing down, as unrest spread from London and its suburbs to the cities of Birmingham, Liverpool, Bristol, and Manchester Monday night. Citing the seriousness of the situation, Prime Minister David Cameron, who had been vacationing in Italy, boarded a 3 a.m. flight for London, where he has immediate plans to meet with his national emergency committee.
Despite putting 1,700 extra officers on the ground, the police continued to have trouble containing the crowds, members of which have been setting fires, looting, and, according to some reports, “hurling missiles.” Though the conflict began as a response to the shooting death of 29-year-old Londoner Mark Duggan, the disorder has taken on a life of its own, with rioters — most of whom are young people from poorer neighborhoods — seizing on the opportunity to express long-simmering frustration with law enforcement and a conservative, cost-cutting government. “This is the uprising of the working class. We’re redistributing the wealth,” self-described anarchist Bryn Phillips told the AP.
Thirty-seven-year-old Tottenham resident Marcia Simmons had a different take: “It’s nothing to do with the man who was shot, is it? … A lot of youths heard there was a protest and joined in. Others used it as an opportunity to kit themselves out, didn’t they, with shoes and T-shirts and everything.”
British leadership is under intense pressure to prove it can get London, the site of the 2012 Olympics, back under control. In a statement vowing to restore order, Home Secretary Theresa May said, “There is no excuse for violence, no excuse for looting, no excuse for thuggery, and those who are responsible must know that they will be brought to justice … I think this is about sheer criminality.”
As of now, 330 people have been arrested, while 26 police officers have been reported injured.
Rioting Widens in London on 3rd Night of Unrest [NYT]
Britain burns: Riots spread through UK cities [AP]
London riots: Violence erupts for third day [BBC]
London riots escalate as police battle for control [Guardian UK]
Previously: London Riots Blamed on Economic Malaise, London Hit by Riots