It’s going to be a while before serious journalists and analysts manage to work a narrative linking these events together; at this point it’s a case of actually clarifying what did/didn’t happen last night, and how this all began.
The Guardian seems to have this best covered, having had a journalist on the ground throughout the evening — here’s his take on how it started: http://t.co/fI9qUmM; and how it subsequently spread:
What began as a gathering of around 200 protesters demanding answers over the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot dead by police on Thursday, culminated 12 hours later in a full-scale riot that saw brazen looting spread across north-London suburbs…
There were stories of Duggan having been shot after being handcuffed; others said he had sent a message to friends 15 minutes before he was killed, saying he had been cornered but was safe. There were chants of “we want answers” but those present said the protest was good-natured. The demonstration, which organisers expected to last no more than an hour, was initially fronted by women, who surrounded Wilson, who had three children with 29-year-old Duggan. What happened over the next four hours is subject to debate, but what is clear is that tensions gradually escalated, as police made only limited attempts to talk to the demonstrators. Some who were present described seeing a younger, more aggressive crowd arrive around dusk, some carrying weapons. “These people were prepared,” said Bill Dow, a bystander. “They had fireworks and petrol cans.”
And how it subsequently spread the second night: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug/08/london-riots-spread-second-night?CMP=twt_gu
The best place to carry on getting on-going information throughout the day:
What else is emerging from subsequent reports is that the spark was not only the death of Duggan, but a disproportionate response by police to a 16 year old girl who demanded answers and broke from the crowd; apparently this is when the original Tottenham riots turned violent.
Doubts over the initial Duggan shooting and an IPCC official denying it was an ‘assassination with gunshots to the face’: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug/07/police-attack-london-burns?CMP=twt_gu
Timelines and videos:
The BBC has finally began covering the issues: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14436499
Brixton stores looted: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14439898
Police clashes in Enfield: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14438669
The right refutes there is a link between the riots and Tory cuts: http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/tobyyoung/100099866/blaming-these-riots-on-the-cuts-risks-inflaming-an-already-volatile-situation/
A more nuanced response to the issue:
The Tories may not be to blame for the Tottenham riots, but they will be if they fail to deal with the aftermath.
Piece in the Telegraph linking UK Uncut to the riots:
If you’re interested in the party political side of this (aka: is Cameron not flying straight back a presentational blunder? etc):
Nick Clegg on the riots and if it’s a dereliction of duty for him and others to be away during this time: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-14443082?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
Why Boris (London mayor) won’t be returning: http://snipelondon.com/scoop/why-boris-johnson-should-stay-on-his-sun-lounger
The effect of Boris’s reassuring phone call was somewhat muted by his inability to get Mark Duggan’s name right, but his message was clear. The police were doing a “very, very good job” and he was staying put.
I’ll update further once better analysis has appeared; I’ve seen a few tumblr posts saying ‘good on the UK for standing up to the police’ but I think there’s a few things that need to be remembered — the events of last night seem to just be criminal behaviour, unrelated to the original peaceful Tottenham protests that escalated, and there’s nothing particularly noble about depressing the local economy further, or ruining innocent people’s livelihoods. By all means, there appears to be a real policing issue here which will (hopefully) be revealed by the IPCC investigation, but there shouldn’t be some glorification of last night’s looting into a ‘social movement’.