Saturday, August 6, 2011

London counts cost of rampage

The red dot is Tottenham, and it is surrounded by Greater London.

Just where is Tottenham in London?
Tottenham is an area of the London Borough of Haringey, England, located 6.6 miles (10.6 km) north-northeast of Charing Cross in downtown Lodon.

There has been a settlement at Tottenham for over a thousand years. It grew up along the old Roman road, Ermine Street (some of which is part of the present A10 road), and between High Cross and Tottenham Hale, the present Monument Way.

When the Domesday Book was compiled in 1086, about 70 families lived within the area of the manor, mostly labourers working for the Lord of the Manor. A humorous poem entitled the Tournament of Tottenham, written around 1400, describes a mock-battle between peasants vying for the reeve's daughter.

In 1894, Tottenham was made an urban district and on 27 September 1934 it became a municipal borough. As from 1 April 1965, the municipal borough formed part of the London Borough of Haringey.

The River Lea (or Lee) was the eastern boundary of the Municipal Boroughs of Tottenham and Walthamstow. It is the ancient boundary between Middlesex and Essex and also formed the western boundary of the Viking controlled Danelaw. Today it is the boundary between the London Boroughs of Haringey and Waltham Forest. A major tributary of the Lea, the River Moselle, also crosses the borough from west to east, and often caused serious flooding until it was mostly covered in the 19th century.

From the Tudor period onwards, Tottenham became a popular recreation and leisure destination for wealthy Londoners. Henry VIII is known to have visited Bruce Castle and also hunted in Tottenham Wood. A rural Tottenham also featured in Izaak Walton's book The Compleat Angler, published in 1653. The area became noted for its large Quaker population[3] and its schools (including Rowland Hill's at Bruce Castle.) Tottenham remained a semi-rural and upper middle class area until the 1870s.

Modern era
In late 1870, the Great Eastern Railway introduced special workman's trains and fares on its newly opened Enfield and Walthamstow branch lines. Tottenham's low-lying fields and market gardens were then rapidly transformed into cheap housing for the lower middle and working classes, who were able to commute cheaply to inner London. The workman's fare policy stimulated the relatively early development of the area into a London suburb.

During the Second World War Tottenham also became a target of the German air offensive against Britain. Bombs fell within the borough (Elmar Road) during the first air raid on London on 24 August 1940. The borough also received V1 (four incidents) and V2 hits, the last of which occurred on 15 March 1945.

Wartime shortages led to the creation of Tottenham Pudding, a mixture of household waste food which was converted into feeding stuffs for pigs and poultry. The "pudding" was named by Queen Mary on a visit to Tottenham Refuse Works. Production continued into the post-war period, its demise coinciding with the merging of the borough into the new London Borough of Haringey.

The Mecca Dance Hall was demolished in 2004 to make way for low cost housing.

Tottenham is a multicultural hotspot with many different ethnic groups inhabiting the area. It contains one of the largest and most significant populations of African-Caribbean people. These were among the earliest immigrant groups to settle in the area, starting the UK's Windrush era soon after West African communities - notably the many Ghanaians - begun to migrate into the area.

Between 1980 and the present day there has been a slow immigration of Colombians, Albanian, Kurdish, Turkish-Cypriot, Turkish, Irish, and Portuguese populations. South Tottenham is reported to be the most ethnically-diverse area in Europe, with up to 300 languages being spoken by its residents.

Tottenham has the highest unemployment rate in London and the 8th highest in the United Kingdom. It therefore has some of the highest poverty rates within the country. There have also been major tensions between the African-Caribbean community and the police since (and before) the 1985 Broadwater Farm riot.

Although Tottenham is well known for its diversity and culture, it has also been one of the main hotspots for gangs and gun crime in the United Kingdom during the past three decades. This followed the rise of gangs and drug wars throughout the area, notably those involving the Tottenham Mandem gang and various gangs from Hackney and all of the areas surrounding Tottenham, and the emergence of an organised crime ring known as the Turkish Mafia was said to have controlled more than 90% of the UK's heroin market.

From the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia): London counts cost of rampage
Police have battled to restore order as rioters went on a rampage in north London, torching vehicles and buildings amid widespread looting in response to the fatal shooting by police of a local man.

Eight police officers were injured in the violence and taken to hospital. At least one has a head injury.

The mayhem, which broke out in Tottenham just before sunset on Saturday, followed a protest over the death of a 29-year-old man during an apparent exchange of gunfire with police.

Advertisement: Story continues below The demonstration had been a peaceful rally outside the police station on Tottenham High Road before two police cars were attacked with petrol bombs and set ablaze.

A public double-decker bus was then torched as the violence rapidly spread, with gangs of hooded youths descending on the area.

The situation raged out of control as hundreds ran amok, setting shops and other vehicles on fire.

There was concern that the unrest was being fuelled by rapid posts on social media inciting others to join in.

Central London has seen student and trade union protests turn ugly in the past 12 months but this outbreak of rioting was the worst seen in years in the suburbs.

Under a hail of missiles and petrol bombs, riot officers and mounted police battled to regain control of the streets and escort fire crews safely through to tackle the series of blazes.

Rioters kicked in windows as shops were looted, with people pushing away shopping trolleys full of stolen goods.

"It's really bad," local resident David Akinsanya told BBC television. "There seems to be a lot of anger in Tottenham tonight."

Shortly before dawn on Sunday, police said the situation had calmed on the High Road but officers were still responding to pockets of trouble flaring up elsewhere in the area.

Police were unable to give a count of the buildings and vehicles torched.

No arrests were reported as police said restoring public safety was their first priority.

"These are very distressing scenes for Londoners," police commander Stephen Watson said.

"It's important we emphasise that the safety of the public is of paramount importance to us ... Our absolute aim is to restore normality."

Tottenham is an ethnically diverse urban area best known for its English Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur.

The unrest followed a peaceful march in protest against the death on Thursday of minicab passenger Mark Duggan, a father-of-four. He died at the scene.

An officer may have had a lucky escape in the incident - a police radio was found to have a bullet stuck in it.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which investigates all police shootings - regular British police officers do not carry guns - said that specialist firearms officers stopped a minicab on Thursday to carry out a pre-planned arrest.

They were accompanied by officers from Trident, the unit focused on tackling gun crime in the black community.

"Shots were fired and a 29-year-old man, who was a passenger in the cab, died at the scene," the IPCC said.

It is believed that a firearms officer fired two shots. A non-police-issue handgun was also recovered at the scene.

"An officer's radio which appears to have a bullet lodged in it has also been recovered," the IPCC said.

The march began at Broadwater Farm, a 1960s public housing estate in Tottenham that is notorious across Britain.

In 1985, Police Constable Keith Blakelock was hacked to death on the estate during some of the worst urban rioting in Britain in the past 30 years.

The Labour MP for Tottenham, David Lammy, appealed for calm.

"Those who remember the destructive conflicts of the past will be determined not to go back to them," Mr Lammy said on Sunday.

"We already have one grieving family in our community and further violence will not heal that pain. True justice can only follow a thorough investigation of the facts."

Police commander Watson said they did not have warnings about the kind of disorder witnessed in Tottenham.

"We are aware of raised tensions in the community, which are understandable," he said, but there was "no indication" that the protest "would deteriorate in this way".

A spokesman for London Mayor Boris Johnson said: "Violence and destruction of property will do nothing to facilitate this (IPCC) investigation and we urge those involved to respect the rule of law."

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