There is a kind of communal madness going on in London at the moment. This is the third night of incidents but the situation is escalating. Outbreaks of rioting, looting and violence are occurring all over the city.
I arrived home from work at about 10.30 and was flipping between the BBC and Sky news channels and talking to a friend on the phone about the situation, when I heard shouting in the street. When I looked out I saw a group of youths attacking the pub across the road which had closed earlier than usual, presumably as a precaution. They were smashing the windows and kicking the doors in. They eventually broke through and a couple of them entered the premises.
Several neighbours were at their windows who were clearly calling the police and there were staff still on the premises. Although I didn’t see them leave, I don’t think the gang hung around for very long.
This was a relatively minor incident in the overall scheme of things, but it could have been much worse. I suspect that they grabbed a few bottles and moved on without following the trend in other areas of setting fire to the building. I have no idea where they went but I doubt that this was the first, or the last, attack that they made this evening.
It is now shortly after 1.00am and news reports are coming in all the time of similar rioting happening all over town. This is unlike anything we have ever experienced before. Riots are not unknown, but in the past they have been restricted to a relatively small area. This something quite new and very disturbing.
There are reports of police inaction but to be fair there is probably very little they can do. There are so many incidents that there is no way that they can contain all of this craziness.
None of this bears any relationship to the incident that sparked the whole thing. Looting and burning is not protesting. Looting and burning is vandalism and theft. People are losing their homes and livelihoods and before very long someone is going to lose their life.
I love London, and I am proud to be a Londoner. I really couldn’t bear to live anywhere else, but at this moment I feel shamed by what is happening. It’s impossible to see how far this will go and, for most of us, there is little we can do but sit back and watch.