Tottenham Alight August 2011
As the smoke drifts away and the nation draws its breath, the questions about the English Revolts of 2011 are already being framed in the traditional way.
A definition of madness is performing the same action again and again and expecting a different outcome; this is why this cycle of revolt has come around again and again, in ever-decreasing circles, in ever-increasing violence and chaos.
When this society works, it is a melting pot; but when the pressure is turned up it becomes a black hole, and this is why it is important to identify the causes of this revolt; as every tree has a seed, and if this environment remains the same, this poison tree will grow stronger and will consume the earth it’s planted in, the earth we all live on . . .
This article is a news article. We will not be passing judgement on any party ; we are merely trying to assemble the relevant facts which might indicate why the cities of London descended into chaos over five days in August, 2011.
The first fact is this;
On Wednesday August 3rd 2011 the police descended on the Pembury Estate in Hackney in a massive dawn raid. In an article called Police go to The Wire in dawn raids to target London gang, the London Evening Standard reports on a massive ‘anti-gang’ raid ;
More than 300 officers swooped on the Pembury Boys gang – whose members are allegedly linked to a series of shootings, rapes, assaults and major drug dealing.
A total of 32 addresses were raided at dawn across east London in a hunt for 26 known gang members and their associates. By midday 23, including two women, had been arrested.
Searches recovered a large quantity of class A drugs, including crack cocaine and heroin, an imitation firearm and more than £8,000 in cash. Officers also recovered 40 mobile phones and more than 60 Sim cards.
Detectives likened the operation to the fictional TV series The Wire, set in the US city of Baltimore, because of its length, the fact it targeted the senior and middle-ranking echelons of the gang and its use of covert tactics.
Commander Peter Spindler, the head of covert operations at Scotland Yard, said police had thrown the “full might of covert policing” against the gang including the use of “human intelligence, technical surveillance and covert surveillance”. Sources said the arrests came after an 18-month operation, the longest covert inquiry conducted by the Met.
Most of the arrests took place on the Pembury estate in Hackney. The Pembury Boys are reputed to be one of London’s most violent street gangs.
Since last Wednesday, this ‘massive operation’ – to quote ‘the longest covert inquiry conducted by the Met’ and probably one of it’s largest mass raids ever, has not been mentioned in the press.
However, the Pembury Estate was central to the riots, and there the central focus was not looting, but a battle directly against the police. The reports on August 9th told of a battle lasting hours, in which the police repeatedly attempted to ‘take control’ of the estate, but were driven back again and again by the ‘insurgents’ on the street;
For three hours mayhem ruled in Hackney’s Pembury Estate, the centre of the violence in east London. The police were there, but there was no doubt who set the law in the estate, comprised of local authority mansion-blocks of flats.
Masked youths – both men and women – helped carry debris, bins, sticks and motorbikes, laying them across the roads to form a flaming boundary to the estate.
The crowd in Hackney – numbering at least 300 – appeared larger than any from previous nights of rioting.
Fact 2; From the Guardian on Tuesday 10th August;
Mark Duggan, whose shooting by police sparked London‘s riots, did not fire a shot at police officers before they killed him, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said on Tuesday.
Releasing the initial findings of ballistics tests, the police watchdog said a CO19 firearms officer fired two bullets, and that a bullet that lodged in a police radio was “consistent with being fired from a police gun”.
One theory, not confirmed by the IPCC, is that the bullet became lodged in the radio from a ricochet or after passing through Duggan.
Duggan, 29, was killed last Thursday in Tottenham, north London, after armed officers stopped the minicab in which he was travelling.but it had no evidence that the weapon had been fired. It said tests were continuing.
The IPCC said Duggan was carrying a loaded gun,
but of course, they had originally told the press on Friday August 5th;
A father of three died instantly after an apparent exchange of fire when police attempted to arrest him in north London, it emerged on Friday.
A police marksman escaped with his life when a bullet lodged in his radio during the confrontation that ended in the death of Mark Duggan, 29.
To continue with the revised version, which is now slipping from most people’s memories;
Officers from the Met’s Operation Trident and Special Crime Directorate 11, accompanied by officers from CO19, the Met’s specialist firearms command, stopped the silver Toyota Estima minicab in Ferry Lane, close to Tottenham Hale tube station, to arrest Duggan. He was killed by a single gunshot wound to the chest, and received a second gunshot wound to his right bicep. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 6.41pm.
The IPCC’s statement said the bullet lodged in the police radio was a “jacketed round”. This is a police-issue bullet and is “consistent with having been fired from a [police] Heckler and Koch MP5″, it said.
The non-police firearm found at the scene was a converted BBM Bruni self-loading pistol. The gun was found to have a “bulleted cartridge” in the magazine, which is being subjected to further forensic tests.The officer whose radio was hit was taken to Homerton hospital where he was examined and discharged later that night. The minicab driver was not injured but was badly shaken by what he saw, the IPCC said. His account, as well as those of the officers, is being examined along with the forensic evidence.
So in one week, in one small area of London, the police carried out mass arrests and then shot a well-known local man dead who had not – it now appears – drawn a gun on them.
And they were ‘taken aback’ by the violence ?
Broadwater Farm - 1985 -Tottenham Riots
The biggest ‘surprise’ about the riots, which spread like wildfire out from the Pembury Estate to the rest of London, and then across the country was that after those two events recorded above, that the police seemed ‘totally unprepared’ for what followed. From The Guardian August 5th . . .
After a peaceful vigil outside the local police station, where the family waited for five hours without any senior officer being sent to see them despite being promised that this would happen – dusk fell, and the street started to fill up with youths.
What happened over the next four hours is subject to debate, but what is clear is that tensions gradually escalated, as police made only limited attempts to talk to the demonstrators. Some who were present described seeing a younger, more aggressive crowd arrive around dusk, some carrying weapons. “These people were prepared,” said Bill Dow, a bystander. “They had fireworks and petrol cans.”
Protest organisers denied this, and said police failed to engage with them. Eventually a chief inspector came out and spoke to Duggan’s relatives but, organisers said, he conceded a higher-ranking officer should talk to them. Stafford Scott, a community organiser, said police were “absolutely” culpable for not responding to their requests for dialogue.
“I told the chief inspector personally that we wanted to leave before nightfall,” Scott said. “If he kept us hanging around after nightfall, it was going to be on his head. We couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t get out of control.”
Scott said the chief inspector promised a higher ranking official would speak to the crowd. When no one came, organisers said some younger men turned their anger to two police cars, which were set on fire.
There were two notable comments by Cameron in the Houses of Parliament today.
- One was that this was ‘gang directed’ violence – a subject that has not been touched upon previously.
- The second was concerning the cuts to the police budget, along with changes to the pay structures and conditions of work – which numerous reviews have pointed out are excessively ‘easy’ in a ‘time of austerity’.
There are numerous questions arising out of this situation, and as in the Strategy of Tension in Italy in the 1970′s
, the media, politicians and police are in a race to suggest more and more draconian solutions and exploit the climate of fear that reigned across the cities and suburbs of Britain for four days in August.
But questions such as these will have to be addressed;
- Was this a predictable riot allowed to get out of hand, which then spread faster than anyone could predict, and has coincidentally happened just before swingeing cuts are enacted on the police – notably the Met, who have already suffered the humiliating resignations of two senior officers [the Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner] under clouds of corruption – followed today by the resignation of their press officer.
- Will any serious questions now be asked about Britain’s drug laws, which are merely an extension of the USA’s Prohibition – which as we all know, made the gangsters the richest men in 1920′s America, and corrupted the whole Establishment. Of course, Prohibition [of alcohol] was abandoned – and promptly replaced by the Drug Laws to keep the Fed’s in ‘gainful employment’ – as well as many other tangential advantages for any totalitarian state.
Since New Labour came in 1997, they introduced new Stop and Search laws – with an estimated 600,000 ‘stops’ PER YEAR stopped since 2001 (as part of the “War on Terror”). That’s around 6 million stops – concentrated in fairly limited urban areas – not ONE of which, as Tory MP David Davis pointed out today, has resulted in ONE arrest for terrorism. And according to Human Rights groups – surprise, surprise – the overwhelming majority are;
1st. Black and 2nd, Asian. This is something that rarely inflicts on white communities in the suburbs, but is a constant source of anger and humiliation amongst all the youth in poor inner city communities -who already feel marginalised.
How will this all be used as an excuse for further extensions of State power and surveillance ? Sadly, by the time that most people realise they were terrorised and tricked into aquiescing to a total, intrusive police state it’s too late to turn the clock back without the sort of Revolutions last seen in Eastern Europe . . .
This article is not a commentary on the social or ethical causes of this riot, but merely attempting – in some way like a forensic team at a crime scene – to rewind back before the traumatic wave of chaos and find some pattern in the madness.
This investigation will continue . . .