UPDATE: Now that the violence has mostly abated, British authorities are turning their attention to the nation's courts.
More than 1,900 people have been arrested in connection with the violent riots that consumed London and England's other major cities for much of this week, CNN reports. Courts in London, Birmingham and Manchester worked around the clock for the second night Thursday to begin processing those arrested. Hundreds of extra police, meanwhile, remain on patrol in a bid to prevent the violence from reigniting as the weekend nears.
Police in London announced Friday that they have charged nearly 600 people for the violence, arson, looting and general disorder that ravaged the nation's capital, the Associated Press reports. London's mayor said that he and the rest of the city want to see "significant sentences" handed out to the guilty.
Meanwhile, the death toll from violence reached five Thursday, when a 68-year-old man found on a London street after clashing with rioters died of his injuries. A 22-year-old man was arrested Friday on suspicion of murder, the AP notes.
UPDATE Thursday at 9:45 a.m.: Prime Minister David Cameron vowed on Thursday to continue the police crackdown on the rioters who terrorized Britain for much of the past week, promising that they will be hunted down and punished in the coming days.
"The fightback has well and truly begun," he told an emergency session of Parliament the day after the violent unrest eased across the country for the first time since the rioting, looting and arson began this past Saturday.
"As to the lawless minority, the criminals who've taken what they can get, I say this: We will track you down, we will find you, we will charge you, we will punish you. You will pay for what you have done," the prime minister said, according to Reuters.
Cameron also said that he would keep the 16,000 police officers who have flooded the streets of London in place through at least the weekend. Among the other measures he mentioned: consulting with an American law enforcement veteran on ways to counter criminal gangs and possibly bringing in military troops to help quell the unrest, the New York Times reports.
UPDATE Wednesday at 11:25 p.m.: The violent unrest that has ravaged Britain since this past weekend eased Wednesday night, at least temporarily, with London and other major cities experiencing only minor skirmishes, the Guardian reports.
Still, officials have plenty to worry about moving forward, even if Wednesday marked the end of the mass disorder. For starters, Britain's court system must now process the roughly 1,200 people who were arrested in the past five days. But the nation also will be left to grapple with the larger questions surrounding how the unrest was able to spread so widely.
As the New York Times reports:
One surprise was the presence of young men and women with regular jobs among the riot suspects lined up in police wagons outside courthouses in London and other cities. That raised questions as to why they had been caught up in the kind of mayhem that has traditionally drawn on an underclass of alienated young people, with no jobs and few prospects.
UPDATE at 7:40 p.m.: Early reports out of Britain suggest that police may have finally gained the upper hand in their effort to end the four days of violent unrest that has swept through much of the nation.
As of midnight local time, there had been no major reports of serious rioting, looting or arson in London or any of the other major English cities that have seen increasing violence in recent days, Sky News reports. (We, of course, caution that it is still early.)
The Guardian, likewise, reports that there has been a smattering of minor incidents, but for the most part things are relatively calm in Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham, among other cities.
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister David Cameron made it clear that police would pull out all the stops Wednesday night to bring the riots under control, suggesting that he was ready to authorize the use of water cannons if need be.
UPDATE Wednesday at 9:49 a.m.: Prime Minister David Cameron on Wednesday promised that police would continue to wage a "fightback" against the rioters behind the looting and arson that has spread throughout England over the past four days.
“There are pockets of our society that are not just broken, but are frankly sick,” Cameron said Wednesday, the day after police appeared to make progress in containing the violence within London at the expense of other major cities, which saw a number of outbursts overnight.
Cameron said that he is ready to authorize the use of water cannons to aid police, who have already been given the government's blessing to use rubber bullets, if need be. “We needed a fightback, and a fightback is under way,” Cameron said. “Whatever resources the police need they will get. Whatever tactics the police feel they need to employ, they will have legal backing to do so.”
While most of the action occurred outside of London overnight Tuesday, there were a number of outbursts of violence within the capital, including several minor attacks in places like the upscale Knightsbridge shopping district, the New York Times reports.
But the situation appeared most dire in other major cities like Manchester and Birmingham, where three men were killed when a car drove at them while they were attempting to protect their homes and businesses from looters.
UPDATE Tuesday at 10:02 p.m. The police's massive show of force in London appears to have mostly prevented a repeat of the violence and looting that ravaged the city over the past several days, but the unrest nonetheless continued in a number of other English cities overnight Tuesday.
By most accounts, the violence was the worst in Manchester, where "hundreds of youths went on the rampage, leading to running battles with riot police," according to Sky News. Making matters worse for the city was the fact that the violence began only hours after the city's anti-riot unit was sent to London to help regain control of the capital, notes the New York Times.
"These are pure and simple criminals running wild tonight," Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan of the Greater Manchester police said, according the Guardian. "They have nothing to protest against. There has been no spark. This has been senseless on a scale I have never witnessed before in my career."
UPDATE Tuesday at 6:50 p.m.: Police were bracing Tuesday evening for the fourth night of violence in England, with the British government promising to crack down on the mobs of rioters who have set fires, looted store fronts and battled with police since the unrest began this past weekend.
Early reports suggest that the increased police presence has not ended the outbreak of violence, although the scene on the ground in London appears to be much improved compared to the previous three nights where police were unable to control the youthful mobs that terrorized the city.
While still early, the 10,000 extra police officers who have flooded London have resulted in a "relative calm," the Guardian reports. Senior officers have been given permission to authorize the use rubber bullets, although there have not yet been any reports of their deployment.
"People should be in no doubt that we will do everything necessary to restore order to Britain's streets and make them safe for the law abiding," Prime Minister David Cameron said earlier Tuesday.
Outside of London, however, the violence appears to be continuing at full speed. Disturbances have already reported in Manchester, Birmingham and other cities throughout the country, the BBC reports. The most serious incident (so far at least) occurred in Nottingham, where several dozen rioters firebombed a police station shortly after 10 p.m. local time. Fortunately, the attack appears to have caused only minor damages.
UPDATE Tuesday at 9:52 a.m.: The rioting and looting that began in London on Saturday has now spread beyond the city's boundaries, with outbreaks of civil unrest and violence being reported in a handful of other English cities including Birmingham and Liverpool.
The violence, however, is still the fiercest within the British capital, where it continued late Monday night and early Tuesday morning with still more skirmishes between youthful mobs and local police.
Prime Minister David Cameron announced Tuesday that he would flood the city's streets with an extra 10,000 police officers (bringing the total number to 16,000) in an attempt to get control of an increasingly dire situation that locals says is the worst unrest in recent memory.
More than 400 people have been arrested since the rioting began on Saturday. Three people are being questioned on suspicion of attempted murder after a police officer was injured by a car in Wembley while trying to stop looters, the BBC reports. Police are also investigating the murder of a 26-year-old man, who was shot and killed in a car in Croydon.
The New York Times has more on how the gangs are using technology to stay ahead of police:
Despite a build-up in the number of riot police officers, many of them rushed to London from areas around the country, gangs of hooded young people appeared to be outmaneuvering the police for the third successive night. Communicating via BlackBerry instant-message technology that the police have struggled to monitor, as well as by social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, they repeatedly signaled fresh target areas to those caught up in the mayhem.
Despite the increasing violence, British authorities have stopped short of imposing more draconian measures, the Times notes. There is no curfew yet in place, and police have not used rubber bullets or water cannons to break up the crowds. Theresa May, the home secretary, told Sky News: “The way we police in Britain is not through use of water cannon. The way we police in Britain is through consent of communities.”
Here's one of the more intense clips currently on YouTube (NOTE: adult language can be heard in the background):
UPDATE Monday at 4:04 p.m.: The unrest in London continued Monday, for the third consecutive day.
The riots and looting continued to ripple out from Tottenham, where an anti-police demonstration turned violent Saturday, to other parts of the capital as authorities were left guessing to the exact motivation behind the growing violence.
"Cars were set on fire in Lewisham and a bus and shop were set ablaze in Peckham," the BBC reports. "In Hackney, police have sealed off part of Mare Street after youths smashed police car windows."
While the string of skirmishs between rioters and police began over the weekend, the now widespread looting and other violence appears to have taken a life of its own, with no concrete explanation of what is motivating the young crowds responsible for much of the destruction.
The New York Times explains some of the possibilities:
The latest rioting may have been amplified by the use of social media, and many looked for causes in the painful austerity cuts in Britain’s national budget that have shriveled programs for unemployed urban youth. But police officials and some neighborhood activists themselves said many of the rioters and looters appeared to be thrill seekers and thugs, possibly encouraged by the initial slowness of the police to respond.
Further complicating the response effort, the Times notes, is the fact that most British leaders, including Prime Minister David Cameron, are currently out of the country on vacation. [UPDATE at 4:22 p.m.: Cameron is now heading back to London, the BBC reports.]
“There is no excuse for violence, there is no excuse for looting, there is no excuse for thuggery,” said Home Secretary Theresa May, who cut short her own holiday to deal with the escalating violence.
UPDATE MONDAY at 9:51 a.m.: More than 170 people were arrested in London this past weekend in connection with two successive nights of rioting and looting that swept through the capital, British police said Monday.
Roughly 35 police officers were injured during the unrest, which "recalled earlier spasms of violence sparked by deep social problems," the New York Times reports.
The riots began late Saturday after a small anti-police demonstration in north London erupted into bouts of looting and violence. Then on Sunday, across town, more skirmishes broke out between groups of young people and riot police in what authorities called “copycat violence.”
Police said that the second day of unrest, which has been described as less serious but more widespread that the first, was the result of an apparent effort from the rioters to organize.
“This has changed from a localized issue to organized criminality,” Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Kavanagh told Sky News. Separately, Kavanagh told BBC Radio that “social media and other methods have been used to organize these levels of greed and criminality.”
ORIGINAL POST Sunday at 9:45 a.m.: Chaos gripped a north London neighborhood late Saturday and early Sunday morning after a peaceful demonstration protesting the Thursday shooting of a local man by police turned into a violent riot.
A total of 26 police officers were injured, and two remained in the hospital Sunday morning. Three civilians were also injured, and two of them remained in the hospital Sunday, reports the Guardian. Forty-two people were arrested after cars and buildings were set on fire and area shops were looted.
It all began with a peaceful demonstration in front of Tottenham Police Station demanding “justice” for 29-year-old Mark Duggan. It’s unclear exactly what sparked the violence, notes the Washington Post. Some say police hit a female protester, but police insist the chaos began when demonstrators used Molotov cocktails to set two police cars on fire. The Metropolitan Police admitted Sunday that it “had not anticipated” the violence, saying a peaceful vigil was “hijacked by mindless thugs.”
“A community that was already hurting has had its heart ripped out,” said David Lammy, a Tottenham lawmaker. Some area residents were left homeless as their homes in what the Associated Press describes as “one of England’s most deprived areas” burned, and others rampaged shops near a subway station. “Every single handset was stolen from a mobile phone shop,” notes a report published in the Independent. The BBC writes of reports that some showed up with their cars and filled their trunks with stolen items. The New York Times’ Ravi Somaiya captured the mood through Twitter updates from the scene: “Have never seen anything like #woodgreen,” he wrote. “Complete anarchy, no authority in sight.” He later added: “4hrs of completely lawless looting in the middle of London just seems incredible.” The looting spilled over into nearby Wood Green and continued “until at least 5:30 a.m.,” reports the Guardian.