Cars were burned and local businesses attacked in Hackney last night, in the third night of rioting in London. Local residents could only watch as their vehicles were smashed and torched, and in some cases homes were also damaged. Local businesses were also attacked and looted.
The local community will inevitably feel bitter and angry at their treatment by ‘the mob’, and the remarkable lack of support from the police. The police operation in Hackney seemed highly focused on protecting corporate interests in Mare Street, and throughout the night police used batons and shields to deliberately force rioters back into residential areas. The burning of privately owned cars was completely ignored, although plenty of resources were available to protect the police station, when it looked as though that too would be a target.
Only the hardest of individuals could fail to have sympathy for those who have lost homes and had to watch their businesses and vehicles being attacked. But despite the difficulties faced by local communities, it is undeniable that the tactics employed by rioters over the last three days have brought us to an unprecedented position. The government is in crisis talks and the police have lost control of the streets. Whatever your views on property damage, these riots have had a powerful impact, far beyond any other ‘protest’ on social inequality and injustice.
Even given the Met’s emphasis on protecting corporate property, a great deal of it has been hit. In Enfield last night a major Sony factory was in flames, and buildings in Croydon were also set alight. Also, for the first time, the riots spread across the country, to Brimingham, Bristol, Manchester and Liverpool. Acting Met Commissioner Godwin has said there was ‘no place for the army’ and has instead deployed 13,000 police in the next 24 hours, cancelling the England v Netherlands football match to keep cops on the street. Whether that will be enough to quell the rioters remains to be seen.