British riots spread on third night of violence

LONDON, (Reuters) – Rioting and looting spread across  and beyond London yesterday as hooded youths set fire to cars  and buildings, smashed shop windows and hurled bottles and  stones at police in a third night of violence in Britain’s worst  unrest in decades.

Police officers in riot gear block a road near a burning car on a street in Hackney, east London yesterday. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his holiday to fly  home to tackle the violence, which appeared to be led by mobs of  young people who coordinated their attacks through mobile  phones, and spread to the Midlands city of Birmingham, the  northwestern city of Liverpool and Bristol late yesterday.

Many of the looters came from areas of high unemployment  that are also suffering from cuts in social services and said  they felt alienated from society. Police and politicians said  they were simply criminals.

“It’s been building up for years. All it needed was a  spark,” said E. Nan, a young man in a baseball cap surrounded by  other youths in Hackney in east London. “We ain’t got no jobs,  no money … We heard that other people were getting things for  free, so why not us?”

A police van passes the remains of a double decker bus set alight during riots in Tottenham, north London, August 7, 2011. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

The violence erupted late on Saturday in London’s northern  Tottenham district when a peaceful protest over the police  shooting of a suspect two days earlier was followed by outbreaks  of looting and arson.

By yesterday, the violence had spread to parts of the south of  the city, including Clapham Junction, one of London’s busiest  railway junctions, Woolwich in the capital’s southeast, Ealing  in west London and the southern suburb of Croydon.

Rioting spreading beyond the capital, and police said they  arrested about 100 people in Birmingham after looters smashed  shops and stole goods. Police reported looting and damage in  Liverpool and “copy-cat violence” in Bristol in the southwest.

In Hackney, a multi-ethnic area in east London close to the  site of next year’s Olympic Games, hooded youths set fire to  rubbish bins and pushed them down a street towards police, while  hurling bottles and bricks.

Many laughed as they ran back when police charged them.

In a street thick with smoke, looters smashed their way into  a local shop, stealing whisky and beer. One man grabbed a packet  of cereal, another ran off laughing with four bottles of whisky.
“The kids don’t have any respect for the police or for  property. It’s sad for the people who live round here,” said one  middle-aged local resident, who declined to give his name.

In the poor southeast London district of Woolwich, dozens of  locals of all ages and colours looted shops and set at least two  buildings on fire, leaving the streets strewn with broken glass  and clothes, a Reuters reporter said.

Mobile phone, sports goods and clothing boutiques were the  looters’ favoured targets, followed by jewellers and pawnshops,  he said. Several young men strolled by, balancing flat-screen  televisions and computer consoles on their heads. The thinly  stretched police were unable to prevent the looting.

In Peckham, a poor area of south London, flames leapt into  the air from a torched building and rubble was strewn across the  street.

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