May 3rd 2013
The BlackBerry Riots
In the summer of 2011, the city of London, England was disheveled. With what started as a simple police brutality protest soon turned the city upside down with riots clustering in almost every borough. Parliament abruptly returned from their summer holidays to quickly address the chaos dismantling their city’s wellbeing. Just under 2,000 riot related arrests were made by the Metropolitan police and just under 4,000 throughout the entire country by the end of September. 73% of those arrests were charged with burglary and public order offences. Although the riots resulted in advanced criminal tracking and identification, the rioters used social media resources to commit organized burglary, arson, and other various crimes to cause enormous damage to the city.
The Tottenham borough of London, England holds the highest unemployment rate of the city and rivals for the top spot in the entire country. Riots central to Tottenham are not a rare occurrence. High rates of minority controlled gang activity and gun violence have been reported through the past decades. On August 4th, 2011, the 29 year old male, Mark Duggan, was shot and killed by police officers. The lack of CCTV coverage of the area where Duggan was shot proved to be a point of confusion by witnesses in court. A definitive account of the exact series of events that occurred that night was never confirmed. Multiple eyewitnesses reported different actions of the police and Duggan, but all of the accounts pointed to Duggan’s possession of a handgun and his unaggressive actions towards authority with it. Tottenham is a largely ethnically diverse city, with 45% being of an ethnic minority. Mark Duggan was African American and Tottenham had been battling racial aggression between the police and the public since the summer of 1985 when the Broadwater Farm riots occurred. The 1985 riots were largely police brutality and race based, much like the riots of 2011. After the actions of the Tottenham police and Duggan were publicized, the public in the immediate surrounding area recognized it as race based police brutality. Friends, family, and local residents gathered near Mark Duggan’s residence for a vigil in his honor, when police arrived, the peaceful gathering turned into a riot. Two police cars were set on fire by members of the public that night. Duggan’s case went viral and spread through social media platforms to neighboring boroughs and then throughout the entire city. After the attacks spread into the central part of London, the riots went from being largely in response to Duggan’s shooting to mindless looting sprees and acts of arson. The majority of the attacks moved from being focused on the police to focused on burglary and destruction. Unless they intervened in the looting, it was reported that the police were not specifically targeted by the looters at first. The average demographic of the looters was a young male from an underclass family. The race of the looters varied immensely, and specific ethnically own shops were not targeted specifically either, which was the police’s initial anticipation. The damage of the riots was immense. Over 100 cars were set on fire and 4 double decker buses were destroyed by arsonists. The London Fire Brigade in return had 8 fire truck windows shattered by rioters. A minimum 100 million pounds worth of damage was caused to the city of London. Department stores were closed for days and an estimated 30,000 business hours were estimated to be wasted by safety protocols and procedures. Most damages to public property were covered by the Riot Damages Act of 1886 and came directly from government funds and not in additional taxes to the public. Hooded teenagers were roaming the streets in packs using debris and brute force to break into storefronts. Broken bottles were thrown at the non-aggressive civilians that dared to leave their residences at night during the...