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Hackney Central in turmoil tonight as masked rioters burn cars and smash shops

PUBLISHED: 23:51 08 August 2011 | UPDATED: 21:17 11 August 2011

A red sports car set on fire by anarchists in Ellingfort Road. Photo credit Emma Bartholomew

A red sports car set on fire by anarchists in Ellingfort Road. Photo credit Emma Bartholomew

Archant

Shops were smashed and cars set on fire as youths with masked faces clashed with police in Hackney this evening - while hundreds of onlookers waited to see how the situation would unfold.

Shops were smashed and cars set on fire as youths with masked faces clashed with police in Hackney Monday evening - while hundreds of onlookers waited to see how the situation would unfold.

Police tried calming the tense standoff by blocking off areas of Hackney Central, dispersing trouble makers armed with bricks and bottles swarmed in back streets at the top and bottom of the Narroway.

Mike Winn ventured out of his Mare Street home to meet his wife at Hackney Central Station. It had been shut, but he was reluctant to return home in case it became a target.

He witnessed a group of 20 policemen arresting a man who had been throwing bricks.

“Within minutes about 30 or 40 of them were throwing bricks at the police,” he said.

“They came out of nowhere - I thought that’s why the police don’t go steaming in, it just entices it,” he said.

Many businesses had decided to shut up shop early and closed their shutters - but those without shutters were targets for mindless vandalism, including sandwich shop Appetite next to the Town Hall.

Masked youths began setting up a barricade in Ellingfort Road and damaging property in the street, after setting a red sports car ablaze there just after 5.30pm, and rumours began circulating that cyclists were being mugged on London Fields.

Meanwhile a few hundred metres up the road at the top of the Narrow Way near the Pembury Estate, cars were being burned in Clarence Road and a photographer taking pictures of thugs looting an offlicense had a bottle broken on his head.

Many of the hundreds of onlookers were taking photos – perhaps not surprising in Hackney, a heartland of journalism – and most of them condemned the violence.

Daniel Archer said the situation was unfolding because of what happened on Saturday in Tottenham, where looters faced no reprisal from police.

“Bad news travels fast, everyone was saying, “I went to Curry’s,” and everyone jumped on the bandwagon,” he said.

“If you tell everyone they can steal stuff everyone is going to come out, they aren’t uprising for anything, they are just stealing stuff.”

Tony Cunningham came all the way from East Ham to see the action which he thought would be “better” than in his home turf.

“I think the police should get more heavy handed and take care of it, this has got nothing to do with that man being shot, it’s just people wanting to loot stuff plain and simple.

“But you can see the police are outnumbered and you’ve got to feel sorry for them,” he added.

Turkish-born Sahen Satis and his friend Atakan Nercan however believed the action had a deeper meaning.

“I want social justice, and even distribution of resources, I think this is about inequality,” said Satis.

“What I mean when I show my face here and I run around these streets is this anger isn’t futile and there’s a point in it,” added Nercan.

“We are here to show it’s not about looting and it goes far beyond that.”

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