Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Forty BYU Students In London During The Riots, All Reportedly Safe; Riots Spread To Numerous Other British Cities

KSL Channel 5 reports that 40 students from Brigham Young University have been in London during the riots which have racked that city since August 6th. They are participating in a semester abroad program, and so far, none of them have got caught up in the disturbances. But some have had close calls.

For the past six weeks, the group has been staying at Palace Court near Queens Way -- just a few streets from some of the rioting. Madison Purcer could hear sirens and glass breaking just blocks away, and could see smoke outside. Anopther student, Rachel Bult, witnessed the destruction firsthand on a shopping trip early on Tuesday August 10th. She notes that when she was walking down Queens Way, a lot of the stores had to get big boards to put on their windows because they are all shattered. KSL news video embedded below:

Video Courtesy of

To get the full picture of what's been going on, you need to read the British media sites. The latest Daily Mail story provides numerous pictures. The arrest scorecard so far: 750 people in London, 109 people in the West Midlands, 110 in Manchester and Salford, 44 in and around Liverpool, and 19 in Bristol. Note that the situation is still quite fluid and no two media outlets may have put up the same numbers. The Telegraph is live-blogging the story HERE if you want more frequent updates.

Disorder and looting rocked parts of Manchester particularly, but there was also trouble in Wolverhampton, West Bromwich, Nottingham, Leicester and Liverpool - although police appeared to be containing the unrest. There was also a large blaze at a derelict art college in Gloucester, with several smaller fires, while police also dealt with small groups who attacked them. In Birmingham, mobs rampaged through the city center but unlike Saturday night, when shops were looted, the gangs mainly wreaked destruction, setting fire to cars and attempting to provoke police. The Telegraph reports that Thames Valley Police made 15 arrests linked to trouble overnight, including five people who were held in Milton Keynes for alleged criminal damage and public order offences. A further four people were arrested in Reading, Berkshire, for alleged burglary of a shop and another four were detained in Banbury, Oxfordshire, for suspected criminal damage. A police spokesman added that one person was arrested for alleged criminal damage in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, and another for suspected criminal damage in Slough, Berkshire. One bright spot: The situation in London is now under control as 16,000 police officers flood the streets.

Because the police were badly outmanned at the start, groups of private citizens have banded together in London to protect their neighborhoods and properties. However, three of them met an unhappy end; after emerging from a mosque in Birmingham, they were knocked down by a hit-and-run driver. All three subsequently died in hospital. In Ealing, a white man who remonstrated with black looters was set upon by them and beaten into insensibility; he's not expected to survive. Prime Minister David Cameron says police will get everything they need to put down the insurgency, including rubber bullets and water cannon.

The whole mess was triggered by the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old father of four who was gunned down in Tottenham on Thursday August 4th under disputed circumstances. Police said Duggan was shot dead when officers from Operation Trident _ the unit that investigates gun crime in the black community _ stopped a cab he was riding in. A protest demanding justice on Saturday devolved into a riot, which spread to neighboring parts of London on Sunday and by Monday had spread across the capital.

What's the typical rioter like? Max Hastings of the Daily Mail characterizes them as essentially wild beasts "bereft of the discipline that might make them employable; of the conscience that distinguishes between right and wrong. They respond only to instinctive animal impulses — to eat and drink, have sex, seize or destroy the accessible property of others. Their behaviour on the streets resembled that of the polar bear which attacked a Norwegian tourist camp last week. They were doing what came naturally and, unlike the bear, no one even shot them for it". Many of the thugs are as young as nine years old; while most of them are black, all races are represented.

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