Riot breaks out in North London

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by a Newsnet reporter

A peaceful demonstration outside a police station in Tottenham in North London turned into a riot last night.  Two police cars and a bus were set ablaze and a number of buildings were attacked.  At least one building was reportedly set on fire and police officers were attacked with petrol bombs.

Around 200 to 300 demonstrators had gathered outside the police station in Tottenham High Road to demand answers to questions local people have about the shooting of Mark Duggan by police officers in the area on Thursday.   Initially the gathering was peaceful, but according to police it turned violent when protestors attacked two police cars.

A spokesman for the Metropolitan police said: “A number of bottles were thrown at these two cars – one was set alight and the second was pushed into the middle of the High Road.  It was subsequently set alight.

“The officers were not in the vehicles and were unhurt.”

A local resident told the BBC: “It’s an absolute war zone. I walked up there.

“I saw about five youths, all faces covered up.  They set a wheelie bin on fire and threw it into the riot police.

“The whole of the police station is surrounded by … about 100 police officers in riot gear and they threw a wheelie bin into it and then started throwing bricks, street signs, anything they could get their hands on, straight at them.”

Reports say that a number of shops have been looted, including a music shop and an electrical and hi-fi store.  

Police re-established control over most of the area by late on Saturday, allowing the fire services access to the blazes.  

The shooting of Mr Duggan is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.  Unusually, officials from the IPCC were on the crime scene in the aftermath of the shooting, sparking suspicions amongst local residents.  

The area is characterised by a high level of gun and knife crime.  Gang culture is a serious local problem, which is compounded by a lack of trust in the police amongst a significant section of the community.

A police officer was also injured in the incident, according to the IPCC it is believed that the officer was shot first before police opened fire, but this has not been established for certain.  Neither is it clear whether any shots were fired by Mr Duggan, or by some as yet unidentified third party.

The injured officer was taken to hospital but was later discharged.  Police retrieved a handgun from the scene and a bullet was later found lodged in an officer’s radio.  

The riot comes as public confidence in the Metropolitan police has been severely shaken by the resignations of the two top officers in the force in the wake of the News of the World phone hacking scandal.

Local MP David Lammy has appealed for calm, saying that members of the community were anxious over what had happened.

The riot took place close to Broadwater Farm, which was the scene of rioting in 1985 which resulted in the death of PC Keith Blakelock.