But others – including Britain’s coalition government — denounced the riots as an extraordinary spree of opportunistic criminality following the Tottenham riots late Saturday night. Unlike the protests last December that included vandalism by anarchists of central London businesses, those participating in riots over the past 48 hours showed no signs of trying to make a political statement.
It left parts of the city gripped by fear, with residents and shopkeepers barring their doors or evacuating besieged neighborhoods. In Hackney, a neighborhood not far from the new Olympic park that has become a showcase of a city trying to turn the games into an opportunity for urban redevelopment, riots erupted in the late afternoon. A line of police with plastic shields cordoned off a commercial artery that had effectively been taken over by masked looters who broke shop windows and seemed to steal indiscriminately.
“The crimes are being committed and the police are just standing by,” said Andrew Faris, director of Rhythms of Life International, a homeless shelter near the center of the Hackney riots. “People are scared. There are angry young people doing whatever they want. How can this be happening next door to the Olympic site?”
SMH. This doesn’t look like it’s anywhere near ready to subside. Click through for more photos of the unrest and damage caused so far.