London on fire: police shooting ignites riot (PHOTOS)

Two days of angry clashes in north London have seen dozens of police officers injured and over a hundred arrests. It began as a peaceful protest demanding justice over the death of a 29-year-old man who was shot by police.

Mark Duggan, a father-of-four, died last Thursday. A vigil had gathered in Tottenham to commemorate him on Saturday evening.

However the march, which was initially peaceful, turned violent. Demonstrators began attacking police and setting fire to cars and buildings. Several shops were looted by the youths, some of whom were reportedly as young as seven years old.

A double decker bus burns as riot police try to contain a large group of people on a main road in Tottenham, north London on August 6, 2011  (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)
A double decker bus burns as riot police try to contain a large group of people on a main road in Tottenham, north London on August 6, 2011 (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)

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The Saturday riot, which involved between 200 and 300 people, spilled out into other London areas on Sunday night. Police prevented unrest in the city centre, but some suburban areas, where immigrant communities live, saw more acts of vandalism and looting.


A shop burns as riot police try to contain a large group of people on a main road in Tottenham, north London on August 6 2011 (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)
A shop burns as riot police try to contain a large group of people on a main road in Tottenham, north London on August 6 2011 (AFP Photo / Leon Neal)

­The gangs mostly targeted shops containing goods they could easily carry away, so computer and electronics stores suffered most. Some of the looters used cars to make off with their booty.

Some of the rampaging youths used Twitter to co-ordinate their efforts and dodge the forces of the law. 

Firemen work at Tottenham High Road, north London on August 7, 2011, the day after riots (AFP Photo / Andrew Cowie)
Firemen work at Tottenham High Road, north London on August 7, 2011, the day after riots (AFP Photo / Andrew Cowie)

­Eventually, the mobs were dispersed by riot police. Some 100 protestors were arrested, while six police officers suffered injuries. On Saturday, 55 people were arrested and more than two dozen police officers hurt.

Entire neighborhoods of London have been declared crime scenes and cordoned off by the police. Scotland Yard says it is appalled by the intensity of violence its officers faced overnight and promised to hold the culprits accountable.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) investigation into the death of Mark Duggan, which triggered the violence in the first place, is under way.


A Burnt out police van is pictured on Tottenham High Road, north London on August 7, 2011, the day after riots (AFP Photo / Andrew Cowie)
A Burnt out police van is pictured on Tottenham High Road, north London on August 7, 2011, the day after riots (AFP Photo / Andrew Cowie)

­Police said they acted on a tip-off about a man illegally carrying a weapon. They maintained they wanted to search Duggan’s car on the Ferry Lane bridge, next to Tottenham Hale station, when he drew a gun and open fire, wounding one of the officers. Duggan, an alleged drug dealer, was fatally shot by return fire, police said.

Duggan family condemned the riots, saying the looters disgraced their deceased relative’s name by making his death a pretext for crime and violence.

The fact that violence in Tottenham sparked so easily and reached such a scale indicates the shortcomings in police relations with ethnic minorities in the city, as well as the government’s failure to integrate those communities into British society, RT’s correspondent Laura Emmett explains.