William Gibson passed around live accounts of the riot on Twitter as it was happening. He wasn't there, but he acted as relay and broadcaster. Twitter is really amazing for this. Without meaning to it's become the best and fastest way to get breaking news. Even if occasionally the breaking news is a lie. (This isn't a lie, but for example after Breivik started murdering people in Oslo in the name of the tea party people on twitter were claiming it was Al Qaeda.)
The riots sounded pretty bad. And like there was some really serious looting going on.
Shops and Cars Burn in Antipolice Riot in London - NYTimes.com
The riots began as a peaceful protest against the death of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old man and father of four, who was killed Thursday in Tottenham by officers from the Trident unit of the Metropolitan Police, which investigates gun crime, according to the Independent Police Complaints Commission, an external government body which regulates the police. News reports suggested that around 300 people had gathered outside the local police station by early Saturday evening.
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By 3 a.m., it appeared that parts of the riot zone had spiraled out of police control. An enormous fire raged in a blocklong building, with no sign of police or fire department intervention, even while residents raced to drive their cars away as the building’s windows exploded and glass rained down on them. Giant fires raged in alleys, unabated.
As the sun rose over north London Sunday morning, several buildings in the Tottenham area were still on fire. The blackened wrecks of a double-decker bus and several cars smoldered, and the streets were littered with smashed glass and stolen goods.
In nearby Wood Green, looters still browsed – one man could be seen examining vitamin supplements at a health food store – and the sidewalk was littered with discarded items.
The riot escalated into a pitched battle between lines of riot police officers, some on horses, and hundreds of mostly young black men, in small gangs of four or five, many with hooded sweatshirts pulled over their heads and bandannas over their faces. The young men arrived in clumps, on foot, by bicycle or on mopeds. Tottenham is an area of mostly poor minorities; a significant portion of the population is black. “How many black people have to die around here?” asked one of the youths, referring to Mr. Duggan. He gave his name as Pablo. “I hate the police,” he said.
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