Hackney riot notes


The Hackney One Carnival was due to commence at midday with a parade from Ridley Road Market to Clissold Park. We met some friends en route and saw stewards but no sign of the parade. One of the stewards told us he’d just been informed that the whole thing had been cancelled by the police.

The Hackney Gazette later reported that the police feared “that certain elements were planning on attending the Hackney Carnival intent on a repeat of last night’s violence”. Certainly there seems to have been some noise on facebook about it, but it’s impossible to say whether this was just testosterone fuelled bravado or not.

We went to the park anyway and had our picnic. The tents, stages and stalls for the carnival had clearly all been set up, but were now being dismantled. We sat by the new skateboard park and watched as four or five policemen stopped and searched every male teenager in the vicinity. No arrests were made while we were there, so presumably they found nothing of interest. It started raining, so we headed to the pub.

That night there was some disorder in Dalston, with the Argos being looted. This was generally eclipsed in the media by coverage of events in Enfield.


Photo by Dave Sfx

Rumours started circulating from around midday that trouble was brewing. Shops closed up all over the borough on police advice and council staff were sent home.

There were reports of young people from the Pembury Estate gathering around Hackney Central, The Narrow Way etc. The Pembury is notorious and was the site of huge dawn raids earlier this month, which I can only assume some people are still pissed off about.

Seems like nothing much happened until about 4pm when a stop and search of two black men aggravated the situation and then damage was done to a police car under the railway bridge at the top of Mare Street:

After this there was some damage to shops, minor looting, stuff chucked at the police etc. This was all clearly visible to me via the helicopter footage live BBC news feed which I watched at work whilst trying to figure out my route home. I took the long way round via Finsbury Park and saw this on the bus shelter:


There’s a lot of coverage of what happened next over at The Guardian. More looting, a few vehicles on fire, people pushed by police away from the top of Mare Street back to the Pembury Estate or down south towards Cambridge Heath.

Photo of burning car on Pembury Estate by Dave Sfx

As night fell, this woman provided a bit of a reality check and became an overnight internet sensation:

But her words fell on deaf ears…

Photo of interior of a looted shop on the Pembury Estate, by Dave Sfx

Then more fires, more looting, more violence. See The Guardian live blog again.

Twitter went mental, suggesting there were gangs and rioters on virtually every inch of the borough. Someone said the off licence at the end of my road was being looted, then said 20 people had rushed it and left without paying, then said the whole thing had been a misunderstanding and in fact they had been tweeting things their friend had been telling them, wrongly.

People love talking these things up. Earlier this year I was outside Hackney Town Hall at a protest against the budget being set. It was a reasonably peaceful protest with a lot of standing around, but some passersby took great pleasure in tweeting that they had “ended up in the middle of a riot in Hackney”. Then it looked silly, but this week these exaggerations became distinctly unhelpful.

The net is littered with people saying there are riots happening all over the UK where there aren’t, saying that shops are closing down on police advice when in fact they are closing because of internet rumours. There is a further rumour that the Tottenham rioters on Saturday were circulating the rumour that Mark Duggan had been executed by the police. I’m not sure what this means.

I’d be pretty surprised if anyone managed to give my local offy a going over. They are great guys in there, but hard as nails also. A few years back some crackhead tried it on with a replica handgun, but it seems they recognised it as being a fake and leapt over the counter for a full and frank discussion before the police turned up. The Turkish community in Dalston were out in force on Monday to defend their shops, apparently telling the police that everything was under control and no assistance was needed:

There seemed to be scattered outbursts of disorder in places like Clapton and other parts of Hackney, but nothing too major. Elsewhere things seemed to be much worse, with shops and flats being burned out in Peckham and footage of a huge fire in Croydon looping endlessly on the TV.

In Clapham, the fancy dress/party supplies shop right next to Dub Vendor went up in flames:

Fortunately their lovely staff are all OK and the shop itself doesn’t seem to have fared too badly either.

Some other accounts from Hackney on Monday:

The Quietus

The Commune


If you see others with a focus on Hackney, please leave a link in the comments box below.


More rumours, more boarded up shops, but not much happening. I saw sporadic and unverified reports last night of things being set on fire in Tottenham again. Indeed, a friend who is a fireman reckoned last night was one of the worst times he’s ever seen – lots of relatively small fires to put out, all over the place.

In the evening we dropped off some clothes and other bits at Tottenham Green Leisure Centre, the collection point for donations to people who have been burned out of their homes and lost everything. The guys manning the operation asked where we heard about them and when I replied “on twitter” they remarked that everyone was saying that – and that obviously it wasn’t all about organising riots…

I’ve tried to stick to the basics of what happened and when, there are already far too many people commenting on why it all happened and what should be done about it.