Skip to content

An actual first-hand account

August 9, 2011

london riots – quick report from hackney

One of a few Commune members who has been observing the events in Hackney gives a brief report.  For updates, follow our twitter.  More reports and analysis to follow.

Yesterday in Hackney there was an air of anticipation and waiting, some kind of word had gone round that “Today’s Hackney”. People were hanging around on corners and shopkeepers were standing on the pavement outside their shops. There was some running backwards and forwards, then the flashpoint came when the police stopped and searched two black men on the Narrow Way. A big crowd gathered and surrounded the police, and people were shouting that police harrassment was the cause of the riots in Tottenham. Reinforcements quickly came with riot gear and started chasing people around and trying to block people in.

The crowd ended up on Mare Street and a pattern soon developed where the police had a strong line to the north of the street, slowly advancing, and also blocking some side streets, and the crowd were gathered and moving slowly south. Whenever the police advanced people panicked and ran but in general the police were not trying to make arrests or charge seriously. Possibly their main priority was keeping people away from the shops in the Narrow Way.

The businesses that were damaged on Mare Street were fairly targetted: businesses seen as parasites like the bookmakers, the Cashconverters pawn shop and so on; a bank; and places with valuables such as a sports shop and a jewellers’. The petrol station was also looted for drinks and people handed out bottles of water to strangers. The only cafe looted was one which is a big chain and also has no atmosphere and really crap tea so I had no problem with it. Quite ridiculously one of the few arrests early in the day was a kid who had looted a packet of crisps from there. A man with a good grasp of targetted looting was shouting to the crowd “if it ain’t gold, don’t be bold!” The atmosphere during the day was pretty friendly and open, the crowd was very multiracial and of different ages and there was lot of passive support. The line between spectators and participants wasn’t clear. There was only one attempted mugging which was broken up quickly by the crowd.

Later on in the night people were gathered around Clarence Road, next to the Pembury Estate. Possibly the police were trying to keep them there away from the shops and main roads or maybe people felt comfortable there. There were quite a few burning cars and a line of riot cops that every now and then someone threw a bottle at. The atmosphere there was pretty different, heavier and nastier. There were some robberies of people in the crowd and I didn’t feel as safe as I did earlier. The convenience store on Clarence Road was looted for drinks which was upsetting and today I can hear lots of people objecting to: “He’s been here twenty years”, “we all shopped there” and so on.

Today walking around that is the only small shop attacked that I have seen apart from one optician, the rest are electrical goods shops or big brand stores. Contrary to what I’ve heard I didn’t see any houses burned but there were a lot of burned out cars. One thing that I keep hearing people say is “What’s the point of cleaning it all up when it’s all going to happen again tonight?”

Re-blogged from:

11 Comments leave one →
  1. SDRay permalink
    August 9, 2011 7:23 pm

    Sorry are electrical goods shops incapable of being small shops?

  2. flashbank permalink*
    August 10, 2011 11:33 am

    From ‘London riots: ‘A generation who don’t respect their parents or police’, by Esther Addley

    […] No one in Hackney was calling for the army. On Clarence Road, scene of some of the most dramatic and frightening rioting of the night, many said they felt the police had been alarming enough. All along the street, neighbours gathered in threes or fives, some talking discreetly among themselves, some debating noisily the cause of the disturbances. A few teenagers on low BMX bikes wheeled slowly along the street, looking at strangers with suspicion. No one was talking about anything else.

    “The police were hanging at the bottom of the road, hundreds of them, waiting for trouble,” said one man in his early 40s, who had stood on his doorstep until 2am to protect his front windows. Like most people on the street he would not give his name.

    “Their priority was to protect Mare Street … the banks, the post offices. That’s what their priortity is. Not us. Taxpayers are supposed to serve and protect the community. It’s a joke.”

    But the young rioters’ grievances with the police, he and his friends agreed, were much more deep-seated. “When you have police officers jumping out of vans, calling 18-year-olds bitches and niggers; I’m a youth worker, I see it all over.

    “That’s what’s happening. They are thinking, who the fuck are you? And so it starts,” he added.

    “You have a generation of kids now that don’t respect their parents or the police,” chipped in his friend. “When we were youngsters we were made to have respect for the olders. Now if an older was to slap a youth that kid is going to pick up a hammer.

    “I was one of these kids but it’s bloody hard for them. There’s nothing to do at all. University fees have gone up, education costs money. And there’s no jobs. This is them sending out a message.”

    The same depressing picture – a mixture of alienation, anger at the police, boredom and mischief – was reiterated by locals across the Pembury estate. “They just want to be heard,” said a young black woman. “This is the only way some people have to communicate.”

    Were cuts in services a factor? “Course they are. They cut our youth project by 75%. We used to work with gangs, run a workshop that brought police and young people together. Gone.

    “That Cameron doesn’t know what he’s talking about. He’s lucky he can get a holiday. These kids don’t get a holiday.”

  3. February 5, 2012 1:52 pm

    Hello. My name is Jose. I am doing a collage for a music cd and i was wondering if i can use some images from your web.They are great. i wait your answer thank you very much for your time

    • flashbank permalink*
      February 5, 2012 2:55 pm

      Feel free to use whatever you want. Some of the images will have been pulled of the web by us initially, though. Please send us the collage when you are done.

      • February 5, 2012 5:30 pm

        thank you very much…when i will finished i send you…


  1. Critical Legal Thinking › Tottenham: Neoliberal Riots and the Possibility of Politics
  2. Irish Left Review · Tottenham and Beyond: neoliberal riots and the possibility of politics
  3. More on that UfSO #riotcleanup or #riotwhitewash spike « trinketization
  4. Tottenham and Beyond: neoliberal riots and the possibility of politics | n33ch
  5. Tottenham: Neoliberal Riots and the Possibility of Politics « Greek Left Review
  6. Tottenham: Neoliberal Riots and the Possibility of Politics | Critical Legal Thinking

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: