Feb 12

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The Riot Experience

Carpet right on fire


2.09am: I was on the computer at home when my neighbour, Leona, texted me:  ‘Come Outside. Everyone’s here because of the riots.’
From the high landing of our flats, we could see the chaos erupting below, hear the shouts of the rioters and the breaking of glass.
‘Haven’t you watched the news? There’s a riot in Tottenham,’ my friend said. ‘It started from the police station on High Road. Some police came down Lordship Lane and stood in the middle of the road. Then a police van drove down Scotland Green to meet them and rioters started throwing lots of random objects at it.  The police left the van and ran towards Carpet Right.”

Police van set alight first  

We watched from the stairs as the police van was kicked and pushed and started shaking. The rioters tried to damage it but failed. They decided to burn it, which also failed. So then they set a recycling bin on fire and used that to set the wheel of the van alight. Cheers went up as it began to burn.
We sat on the stairs and watched everything unfold.
More rioters came down the High Road bringing the disorder with them. Others arrived down Lordship Lane. A few even took shortcuts through the smaller roads that were lined with houses. The target was Carpet Right.

Carpets all over the street and being carried off. Residents from the flats were in tears, and one man was barefoot as he’d left home in such a hurry

Before anything happened, the residents in the flats above were asked to evacuate. Then bottles were thrown at the shop windows, which were also kicked in. The carpets were thrown outside alongside the broken glass. Passers-by decided to stock up. We watched a few women drag carpets down the road to their homes.
The rioters then threw petrol bombs at the remaining carpets to fuel the flames.
As the bottom floor was burning, many of us tried to call the police again and again, and got the same reply. “There is no one we can send to help you.”
We felt abandoned and helpless as a monumental building in our neighbourhood burnt down.
We could see the different emotions of the members of our community. The rioters were triumphant, that they had done something that would make people listen to them. But many watching individuals, most of whom lived in the area, showed signs of remorse.
The people that lived above Carpet Right were in tears as they watched their possessions burn. Our neighbour offered a man a pair of trainers as he was roaming the streets barefoot because he didn’t grab much when he left his home.

Fire brigade too late to save Carpet Right

It wasn’t until the building was covered in flames, that the fire brigade finally came.
They connected the fire hose to a drain pipe and tried to extinguish the flames, but they were too unruly. The heat was so overwhelming we could feel the warmth even from our safe distance and the fireman had to retreat, and leave their hoses propped on tyres.
The police arrived and barricaded the road, and people finally started to return to their homes.
At 5:34am I went in myself, but still continued to watch from my bedroom window.
As I recall the memories of that very early morning, I remember being in a state of shock that this could happen in Tottenham. I didn’t even know about the riots until Leona had mentioned it to me. We were both angry about the burning, and that this all gave Tottenham a worse reputation then it had before.
On the other hand, we felt a sense of pride that what happened in Tottenham might make an impact on society.


What are your views?

Can anything positive for Tottenham come out of the riots of August 2011?

Carpet right on fire

Carpet right on fire







Permanent link to this article: http://dandelionproject.org/pub/the-riot-experience/

1 ping

  1. Tottenham – is it heading in a new direction? » Dandelion Project

    [...] and gang involvement that happened before. These issues are somewhat to blame for  theriots that happened last [...]

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