Youth Riot in London
Politics As Usual | Simon Black | More from this author
For the second night in a row the Tottenham neighbourhood of north London has been engulfed by riots. According to reports from the BBC and the Guardian, the unrest was sparked by police actions at a vigil commemorating the death of a local man who died in police custody sometime last week. The family of Mark Duggan have appealed for calm as they grieve their loss and demand answers from the police. The riots look to have spread to other London neighbourhoods as youth take to the streets hurling bottles and bricks at the police and randomly looting local shops.
Duggan, 29, was a resident of the Broadwater Farm public housing project whose residents erupted in protests 25 years ago upon the death of a local woman at the hands of London police. In a case of history repeating itself, riots followed the protests leading to the death of one police officer.
Riots have greeted instances of police brutality in the UK since the early 1980s, the most notorious being the Brixton and Toxteth riots.
Coincidentally, the Tottenham riots come on the third anniversary of Freddy Villanueva's death, the Montreal teen gunned down by police in 2008. Youth took to the streets in Villanueva’s Montreal Nord neighbourhood soon after his shooting and have annually held a demonstration in his honour.
Check this link to a Toronto Star article I wrote in the weeks following these events. It briefly traces the modern history of riots in response to police brutality and asks whether Toronto will burn next.