London riots: Quiet after the storm

Many looted shops in Tottenham are still closed.

As the train approaches Tottenham Hale tube station, the number of people on the train increases. The sun is shining on Tottenham High Road, where small shops sell cheap plastic boxes and colorful dresses, while pregnant mothers take their children out for a walk in their trolleys. 

Glimpses of destitution can be seen in old men drinking by the roadside, but there is no rubble on the streets.

The only indicators of the violence two weeks ago are some burnt-out buildings scattered around the main street, which is once again filled with its eclectic mix of Caribbean reggae restaurants, orthodox Jewish families and council housing estates for low income families.

“Usually this is a busy place, but the atmosphere is subdued here. There is something in the air,” construction worker Peter Murphy told Metro. 

Total costs of the riots have been estimated up to $164 million. Most of the shops in the shopping centre are reopening in a week.

Inside the looted O2 mobile phone store, store manager Yas Jawaid said, “The kids did this for fun. What do they know of politics; they have no education,” he says.

Jamaican builder Chester Namba is clearing out one of the destroyed houses, but is still constantly stopped and searched by the police.

“Even the other day when I went to this construction site wearing my work vest they stopped me.”
Local clergyman Segun Johnson believes, “The working class doesn’t feel they are being listened to. Riots took place here in ’85 and ’99 and it will, sadly, happen again.”

60 seconds with…

Clasford Stirling, community developer at Broadwater Community Center, Tottenham.

Why did the riots happen?

Young people are frustrated all around the country. The stop-and-searching of youths for knives and other weapons is build­ing up tension. We have to think about where we went wrong, and learn to look at it from all angles.

Describe a typical day of young person in Tottenham.

There is nothing for young people here; even the sports center is too expensive. During the day they are idle, sleep­ing or hanging around. The cuts have mutilated us. The streets can give them respect, girls, jewelry, drugs …  How can I compete with that? … [U.K. Prime Minister] David Cameron said that they think the world owes them something. We owe them a good place to grow up.  metro


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