Expatriates living in the United Kingdom have told of the horror of the past few days as rioters have spread throughout London suburbs and cities in the north of the country looting from business premises and setting cars, shops and public buildings alight.
In what is being described by the UK media as the worse rioting in the history of the country, police officers attempting to fight the rioters have been bombarded with bottles, petrol bombs and missiles.
Meanwhile, expatriates have told of the fear they face as they attempt to go about their daily lives in London. Ian Grant-Rowan, 31, an expatriate from Melbourne lives in Clapham, an area in South London that was the latest to be hit by rioters last night. He told the Herald Sun that he was going to be staying at home to try and avoid the riots:
“I tried to walk outside but I was confronted by four or five guys in masks and hoods,” he said.
New Zealander Danielle Weiss told TVNZ of the horrific moment when the rioters reached her neighborhood: “All of a sudden I just heard the yelling outside the building and saw that it had completely kicked off on the street…I was really scared,” she said.
“It was just like leave now while it is daylight and there are police outside the front door…the whole situation was really intimidating.
“It’s shocking, it is not something I would have imagined seeing in central London.”
Tamarisk Sutherland, an expatriate originally from Wellington who currently lives in Ealing described the situation to tvnz.co.nz as “freaky.”
“It’s all happening down the road from my place. The florist is on fire and the riot police are lined up across Springbridge Road.
“The riots have moved into the shopping centre in Ealing and all the shops and restaurants by the station have been smashed up too.
“There are now cars being smashed up on Madeley Road in Ealing. That is seriously a minute’s walk from my place. I’m scared.”
At present more than 450 people have been arrested. Scotland Yard has described the levels of violence as “disturbing”.
Australian expatriate Sally Claxton also told of the environment in Clapham: “I live in Clapham Junction about 200 meters from where it has just been looted and is on fire probably as we speak. We’ve had police helicopters buzzing around for the last five hours, with spotlights on all the streets. I think it’s obviously a pretty big domino effect from up in Tottenham, but this is so far removed from the original cause of that actual peaceful protest that snowballed”, she said.
“Now it’s just reckless youths running on adrenalin and grabbing what they can. It’s very materialistic looting – my local supermarket is on fire but I don’t really feel in danger. It’s more just extremely inconvenient and completely pointless. I think that’s the hardest part to wrap your head around, the total disrespect for other people’s property.”
The majority of the violence began last Saturday in Tottenham when people congregated to protest police action that led to the shooting of a 29-year old local man named Mark Duggan. His death reignited racial tension in London and events have spiraled from there, although many news agencies have reported that the mainstay of the looting and violence that has occurred since do not seem to be related to a desire for justice.
How Expatriates Can Stay Safe Amid The Chaos
- Avoid all areas where violence is occurring. If you live in an impacted area stay indoors and stay away from the windows and doors.
- Do not be tempted to confront any of the rioters or looters. Whatever personal opinions you have on the events that are unfolding should be kept to yourself because you do not want to invite any trouble.
- Listen to the radio and watch the news to find out where the riots are occurring. If you were planning on traveling to, from, or through any of the impacted areas, change your plans.
- In the unfortunate event that you do come across any rioters or looters and they request money or your belongings do hand them straight over. You can replace these things and your own safety should be your top concern.
The Impacted Areas
A number of areas in London and cities in the United Kingdom have faced social unrest during the last few nights and it is therefore advisable to avoid them if you can for the next few days.
A real-time map that shows the locations of the riots as they occur can be found here: Riot Locations
Have you witnessed any of the riots in London? Leave a comment and share your views and experiences with our expat community.