As London and other major U.K. cities hit with rioting are cleaning up, demolishing unsafe, unsalvageable buildings, people are being picked up daily by police.
"They need to tread very careful-if this carries on with the heavy policing it could backfire, because this is how it all started," said a Londoner who didn't want his name published. "You've got a 17-year-old girl being held in custody for taking a soda. There's two guys who went on Facebook and said, ‘Let's start a riot,' when they were drunk, and they got four years. All these mad sentences, they're knocking them out in their martial law courts."
For days, looters and rioters attacked businesses and vehicles across towns and cities in Britain, leaving scores of people homeless, businesses destroyed and causing an estimated £100 million in damages.
But last week, they began to face the consequences of their actions, as hundreds were located, arrested, charged and hauled before the courts. More than 1,500 people were arrested-over 900 in London alone.
Across the country so far, 2,275 people have been arrested and 1,000 have been charged. At Westminster Magistrates' Court in central London, the defendants came from all races, social classes, ages, educational and professional backgrounds. And they all had a tale to tell.
Many thought they would not be caught. Others thought of the rioting as an impromptu street party, a chance to get free goods or "stick it" to the police and the authorities.
But as many of the defendants stood before stern-faced District Judge Elizabeth Roscoe, the consequences of their actions became a stark reality.
Only a few didn't care. Most were shaking where they stood, gulping deep breaths, shedding tears and biting nails as they nervously waited to hear their fate.
Among them was accounting student Saffron Armstrong from Mitcham in Southeast London. The 22-year-old, who also works for Marks & Spencer, sat shamefaced in the dock as he faced charges of burglary.
He was caught in a PC World store in Colliers Wood in South London. His lawyer told the court Saffron's explanation, that he was not a looter but an "inquisitive freelance journalist" covering the riots.
There were sniggers from the public gallery.
Saffron later pleaded guilty to the burglary charge and was told by Roscoe that he faced a prison sentence. His lawyer said his intentions had "not been for the best."
Also appearing before the court was 23-year-old electrician and father of one Earl Rodney, from Clapham Junction in South London. Shedding tears throughout his court appearance, he confessed to receiving six pairs of stolen trainers from JD Sports.
He was denied bail. As he was being taken back into custody, he shouted to the judge: "I didn't do anything, Miss."
Roscoe responded, "The evidence suggests otherwise."
London joins a number cities around the world that have see mass violent unrest in the streets in recent months; Spain, Greece, Chile, Egypt, parts of
North Africa and Israel. The economically devastating social effects of the flailing global economy are being felt worldwide.
The unrest was sparked by the circumstances surrounding the killing of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old Tottenham resident, by police on Aug. 4. It was reported that a heavily armed special police unit tailed Duggan, who was in a cab.
According to the London Evening Standard, which quoted a witness, they forced Duggan and another man to the ground at gunpoint. "About three or four police officers had both men pinned on the ground at gunpoint," said the witness.
"They were really big guns-and then I heard four long shots. The police shot him [Duggan] on the floor."
One shot to his chest killed Duggan, a father of four.
A published report said Semone Wilson, Duggan's girlfriend, said, "I spoke to him at about 5 p.m. and he asked me if I'd cook dinner. He said he spotted a police car following him. By 6:15, he had been gunned down. I kept phoning and phoning to find out where he was. He wasn't answering. I rushed down to where it happened. They let me through the police lines but they wouldn't let me see his body."
Met police first claimed that they were in a gunfight with Duggan, but that story was blown out of the water when it was revealed that bullets found at the scene belonged to the police themselves. The IPCC (Independent Police Complaints Commission) revealed that there had been no shootout between Duggan and police officers. In actual fact the ballistics test further revealed that a bullet found lodged in the police radio, previously cited as proof of the fight, was police-issued.
The police have yet to adequately explain Duggan's death. Adding fuel to the fire was the news that cops vamped on a 16-year-old girl who was apparently trying to ask them a question during a peaceful protest.
The people resisted and the burning and destruction of London ensued, to be followed by major cities across the U.K. like Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool.
Five deaths have been reported, including the case of several men who deliberately drove into three Asian men on the street in Birmingham, killing all of them.
What began as a peaceful protest in Tottenham developed into collective anger and violence that spread through neighborhoods across London such as Hackney, Croydon and Camden.
Microblogging sites such as Twitter and Facebook, together with the Blackberry Messenger service, facilitated the looters' and rioters' dissemination of information about where and when the rioting and looting would occur. They also assisted copycat looting and rioting in other cities, emphasizing national frustrations and discontent whilst demonstrating the Metropolitan Police's lack of preparation for such widespread violence.
Initially, there were 6,000 police officers on the streets in London to confront the violence. The police responded to the escalating situation by flooding the trouble spots with 16,000 cops, voraciously arresting those they deemed to be looters or rioters.
Around the nation, cops have been using CCTV cameras mounted in the streets and stores and information from the vehemently denounced social networks to make many of their arrests.
However, the rioting and looting that prevailed uncovered the deep-rooted frustration and resentment felt throughout England by youth of all races, primarily the Black youth who bear the brunt of institutionalized racism in every aspect of their life.
Another individual remanded in custody was John Alexandra, 22, from Croydon in Surrey, who, the court heard, was caught "conducting his own market," selling stolen items from the back of his BMW.
The court heard he had received a large quantity of stolen clothing from JD Sports. He was told he could receive two years for actions, and his case was referred to the High Court.
The Voice witnessed a host of other defendants, most of them under the age of
24, coming forward, with very few being released on bail. Most were remanded until a later date to appear before the High Court. Magistrates said that, because of the extremity of the defendants' actions, they had insufficient power to deal with their cases.
Talented sportswoman Chelsea Ives, 18, was arrested after her mother spotted her on television and called the police.
Ives denied two counts of burglary, violent disorder and attacking a police car.
However, the BBC had filmed Ives, who had been chosen as an Olympic ambassador, as she threw bricks at a £60,000 police car during the violence in Enfield. She was also seen breaking into the mobile phone shops Fones 4 U and Vodafone and stealing equipment.
"She was first to pick up masonry and hurl it at the window," said Becky Owens for the prosecution. The court heard that Ives said after the alleged rampage that she had had "the best day ever."
Some critics chose the opportunity to question the feasibility of financial cuts projected for the Metropolitan Police over the next 4 years. Prime Minister David Cameron and London Mayor Boris Johnson reluctantly had to cut their holidays short to return to England and address the situation, calling emergency parliamentary sessions to decide what action should be taken to stop the violence from continuing. They issued a zero-tolerance policy, considering the use of water cannons and plastic bullets if the violence continued.
Invited by Cameron to London to advise on law enforcement's response in the aftermath of the civil unrest, former NYPD and LA police chief Bill Bratton said he can't arrest his way out of this; there must be a major social component to the response that looks at the underlying issues of the discontent.
Now being talked about ad nauseum is why, exactly, the people are so frustrated and hold so much resentment. Many of the rioters had no idea why they should be rioting, upon interview retorting, "Free Mandela!" This statement displays the complete ignorance and disconnect of much of England's youth. Some observers have stated that what Parliament needs to address is the removal of power from parents by the Children's Act of 1989, which prevents parents from disciplining their children without the threat of police and Social Services intervention.