Sunday, August 07, 2011

North London Looting

I was going to write a lovely blogpost about figuring out what book you would hate to not have in stock if you owned a bookshop, but sadly things have turned rather ugly and horrible here in North London. Tottenham has taken the brunt of the rioting and looting and setting fire to anything that it is possible to set fire to, however at about 2am this morning things started happening in Wood Green.
People turned up, having realised that all the police were trying to control the stuff going on in Tottenham, and started smashing Wood Green to pieces.
Burnt out car on Wood Green High Road
The Body Shop. Where looters can stock up on their Jojoba.

These are two photos I took this morning as I came to work. They are both less than 200 yards from the bookshop.

We are not at all happy about this. The people who did this are not representative of how Wood Green (and Tottenham) feel. The people who did this, for example, to HMV...

are fucking idiots. They have used a controversial and tragic incident and turned it into an excuse to steal things and smash things and ruin things. They have no interest in anything other than what they can gain from this situation and I am furious.
I had a text message at 5.30am from one of our most wonderful and precious customers. She lives above a shop on the High Road (where these photos were taken). She texted me to tell me about how horrible things were and to give me a warning in case I didn't know. Now here's the thing. She is pregnant, and was due to give birth yesterday. The High Road has been cordoned off. All the police and ambulances are in Tottenham. Not a good situation when the looting and rioting in Wood Green has been going on for 2-3 hours without any police intervention (they are all still in Tottenham) and the likelihood of a taxi to take you to a hospital is zero.
This is just one example of the short sighted, ignorant, self indulgent and greedy nature of the actions in Wood Green and Tottenham. There are many many more.
Here are a couple more photos.
This is an independent clothes store, ransacked and destroyed. Insurance will not cover the damage caused.
The Carphone Warehouse

Many more shops got trashed on the High Road. Specsavers, Boots, H & M, Holland & Barratt, The O2 shop, and more.
Sometimes, when there is a protest about something and violence occurs in the back of your head you think 'I do not agree with this at all, but actually I can understand why they are angry'. This piss poor excuse for violence and mayhem has caused nothing but anger in Wood Green. Everyone I have spoken too is ashamed and angry that this has happened.
This is not representative of Wood Green. This little place in North London is a diamond and we will not let this terrible night of violence ruin things.

I don't have any solutions but I know that there are so many passionate and community minded people in N22. And we need to make sure that we remain proud and supportive of the area.
On Friday I was at a nursery just up the road, where my daughter goes. They were having a 'carnival' and there was music and dancing and lots of food and drink, and it was a wonderful atmosphere, where you realised what a wonderful community there was. This is how is still see Wood Green and i'm sure that in the next few days Wood Green will show how resilient it is to this dreadful series of events.


77 comments:

Zoë Yeah? said...

It's absolutely disgusting. Me and my friend live above a shop on the high road and it's pretty scary knowing the shops below us are being trashed, and after the firebombing in Tottenham, we're really freaked out.
Thankfully the shop we live above has escaped the attacks of other high road shops, but tonight were just waiting to see if the riots come back around this side.
Looting has nothing to do with the so called 'anger at the police', and the state of Wood Green this morning devastated us.
The sad thing is, Wood Green and Tottenham have a lot more independent shops than most high roads, and the people who are being affected are the locals who own, work in and live above the shops. As a Liverpudlian, the only thing we ever learnt from rioting was 'the stupidest thing we ever did, was trash our own city'.

Anonymous said...

Bravo! Excellent post. These people are scum, pure and simple scum!

Jan Jones said...

Looters only out for themselves. My heart goes out to Wood Green.

(((((hugs)))))

Gary said...

I'm an Englishman living thousands of miles from the UK and I'm following the riots through Twitter and mainstream news. I can't believe what is going on in London, nor do I understand it. Talk about fouling your own nest. I hope you guys make it through without damage to the bookshop, and thanks for the post. Take care of yourselves.

Marysuzette on twitter said...

So pleased you remain proud of your area and determined to keep the community spirit going. Good luck in putting these events behind you.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Well done!

I lived in Bounds Green for six months, and whilst on the whole I didn't like Wood Green (I always felt it had an air of menace about it) I can understand that people who live there long term like it, and regardless of how anyone feels about the area, people have a right to feel safe in their neighbourhood.

I feel very sorry for your pregnant customer. I hope she makes it safely to hospital when she needs to.

vanessaking said...

Fantastic post, wonderful to read about the pride you have for your local area. I'm so sad this has happened, I hope you and yours stay safe and well.

Anonymous said...

Well said.. desperately sad state of affairs

@daddysuv said...

Nothing left to say. You said it all. Good work

Voltaire said...

Thanks for letting the real story go out to people rather than the supposed "News" we should learn the "truth" from... so happy you, yours and the shop are OK, of course, but sad the whole thing reflects so badly on the area

JJ Cocker said...

Awful for the London boroughs affected by these riots. I have no doubt the violence and crime has been caused by people who have no interest in the earlier demonstration, and more than likely incited by people not even living in the areas. Terrible!

Mandy said...

For a horrible moment when I saw the blog, I thought your shop had been looted. I think I would have cried! As it happens, it's a totally depressing state of affairs for all the businesses and people that have been affected and I totally agree with all you say. We do have a fabulous community in N22. These looters are vandals and opportunists and if caught I think community service cleaning up the mess they've caused would be a good punishment for starters!

Anonymous said...

The selfish actions of a mindless few illustrate what many liberals are loathe to admit; namely that the tyranny of the mob can only and should only be kept in check by targeted force. Water canons, truncheons and plenty of clarat old chaps, then see whose rioting. Bullys only understand force, not reason, Police take off the kid gloves.

digressica said...

Excellent post. I hope your store comes through unscathed. I daresay it will - surely none of these thugs can READ?

Anonymous said...

I'm in Tottenham where I've lived since 1992. I love the area & I'm distraught by what's been happening. There's so many people making good stuff happen for our community.

There've been some comments such as "what do you expect in Tottenham". I can't understand the people I've seen on the news videos laughing and joking as they take photos. Tomorrow and for many months after, our community will be waking up to boarded up shops and the smell of destruction.

It's just so sad.

Anonymous said...

Should this violence be declared a riot - all damages are to be paid for by the constabulary (apparently)

Old Holborn said...

We are simply reaping what we sowed. Get used to it.

http://bastardoldholborn.blogspot.com/2011/08/reap-harvest.html

Joe said...

I used to love your shop until I moved 3000 miles round the world. I lived in Turnpike Lane till 2 weeks ago and the reports from my old flatmates are scary. How horrible that legitimate anger and questions about a killed get distorted by these violent criminals...

Anonymous said...

People who don’t understands the historical issue related to the riot can’t understyand why this will happen after all these years basically the police , the local council never really address the underline issues which are single mother , kid who care very little for the law and a deep rooter mistrust of police going back 36 years – i grew up in Haringey at the age of 14 in 1976 i was punched by a policeman while he doing he so called job when asked what that was for he said because i can, his colleague just laughed back to the weekend, kid on the street at weekend where angry about number of thing which still not been address – what can’t understand is why we can spend billion on Iraq and then cut budget to Haringey – the current government has very bad record in this area which need to change or they will end up 1 term party

Old Holborn said...

You are suggesting people stole widescreen TVs because of cuts to funding for ping pong tables?

People looted because no one stopped them. Simple as that

Alex said...

Just walked down to Brixton from where I live in Clapham, looked real messy. Brixton Rd and tube station completely closed off, lots of shops smashed and looted. According to people down there the police were very very slow in responding.

Kerri said...

I spent a lot of my childhood summers in Wood Green (Mother & Grandparents used to live on Gladstone Ave) and it BREAKS my heart to see this happening.

Greedy, selfish people without a care for an already struggling community. I know those who did the looting are not respective of the area. My thoughts go out to everyone affected in the area.

Anonymous said...

Living in Amsterdam, and considering London Amsterdam's bigger brother, it actually hurt me to see the images of the riots and my first thought was for the people who were affected, such as residents and shopkeepers. Maybe not so much the bigger chains, but they are still places where people work to make a living, and where people shop.

How can anyone justify violence and looting? How can anyone justify looting an H&M (why would anyone anyway...?) Do this idiots even live there?

The worst thing is, this is drawing attention away from where or not their cause for this was genuine. All people will remember is the destruction and the stuff-grabbing.

It's really awful. One-parent upbringing or not, jopb or no job, no one has a fundamental right to f*ck other innocent people's lives up. Not even if your own life is abysmal.

Anonymous said...

My mum was a single parent to me & my brother for a long time and we've never broken the law. Ever. And yet we know a mum & dad who's kids have been in and out of prison for GBH, theft, drugs and more. It's about values you pass on to your kids, NOT if you're a single parent or not.

I read an 'article' basically saying it's all because the police are liars and that the riots are people trying to be heard. The looting part of it was passed off as being o.k because insurance would cover it all and that it's not violent crime! I couldn't believe it! Looting is violent and distructive and causes so much hurt. And not all police are liars. My brother was a special in the police for a while and was well respected by everyone. He did say there were a few idiots in the job but the majority were decent and genuinely wanted to help people.

I hope your community get through all this (it sounds like it will with all the spirit there) and manages to rise above the destruction and negativity. Be strong.

Plato said...

Good luck for the future - the criminal thugs and yobbish teenagers have destroyed their own neighbourhoods.

A night of destructive thrill-seeking has resulted in broken businesses/burnt out homes and despair.

I hope they're despised by their *community*

Fergus said...

I sincerely hope your bookshops stays safe! Rest assured looters will have no interest in it's contents... :P

Damien DeBarra said...

Just very pleased that your store wasn't touched.

Anonymous said...

Oh, Big Green Bookshop - when I saw the photo on the London Unrest google map I thought it was your front window that had been smashed in and almost cried. You have worked so hard and the bookshop is a model of how to connect with your community in the face of globalised capital, so I am so relieved it wasn't you after all (though still obviously feel very bad for whatever store it was).

rajinald said...

Hang on in there Simon. These people are a fucking embarassment to people. So short sighted.
Raj (from the Dunwich ride)

Naaz said...

I was coming home early Sunday morning at about 4.30 am. the night bus stopped at Turnpike Lane so had to walk rest of way home. It took a while to register what was happening. It wasn't remotely threatening, just very surreal. We walked past people with their faces covered - they ignored us, we ignored them. Walking through shopping city yesterday afternoon however was depressing especially seeing the independent shops that had been ransacked (although at least you guys were ok). I think the police have questions to answer regarding Duggan and their own tactics and I support the right of people to protest peacefully BUT the media/politicians etc will just remember the wanton violence and opportunisitc looting. Such a shame.

Anonymous said...

Really sorry to hear of any small businesses that have been affected by this. For my money, I think they should have gone to smash up Kensington. Smashing up your own ends is, alas, pretty stupid in the morning.

But, at the same time, how people can extricate what happened over the weekend from wider social realities and the class/race boundaries that exist in this coutnry is beyond me. Human psychology isn't simple, and what happened on Thursday will have triggered a lot of anger in a lot of people in run-down areas, not necessarily having anything to do with the mark Duggan case itself. How the media has dared to try to assess what has happened while barely mentioning rac eor class is the most criminal thing of all.

Again, while I dont' support what happened, people need to separate this from an acknowledgement that there ARE reasons for people to be very angry, and no way for them to express that anger except through what, on the surface, seems to be mindless violence.

Alex said...

You are suggesting people stole widescreen TVs because of cuts to funding for ping pong tables?

...nope, I can't see any suggestion of the kind. This is called a 'straw man'. Look it up.

Dickon Edwards said...

Congrats on staying open and presenting your own take on such upsetting events.

Today I was saddened to discover that another indie bookshops - Gay's The World in Bloomsbury (established 1979) had its front window smashed and egged at around 12.30am last night. Only shop in area affected. I guess the general lawlessness spirit of the weekend gave bigots their strength. Incredibly, they're open today.

Susie said...

Great post and while i'm not detracting from the hideousness and seriousness if this weekend - I have to ask - was the bookshop looted??

Beth Kemp said...

Lovely post - measured while passionate and avoiding the crazy logic of some of the comments (can't believe anyone would use the rioting to trot out the tired old 'single mother' argument).

Anonymous said...

I hope you selfish idiots are reading this article right now. Does destroying your own city give you a sense of satisfaction?

Ali said...

My sympathies are ALL on the side of the police and the residents of both Tottenham and Wood Green who are not exploiting a bad situation. Their actions practically wipe out any credibility that genuinely concerned citizens of the areas have, as the media of course will only focus on the unrest. The real issues will be ignored.

And I don't suppose the looters are the least bit concerned that many insurance policies don't cover damage or loss from "civil unrest, riot or Acts of God". They can take pride in the fact that like the recession, they've put some more businesses out of commission.

Accidental Londoner said...

Hoping your shop remains safe and sound and that these poor communities can get back to normal as soon as possible. I live just down the road in Holloway and we're only too fortunate that the violence didn't move our way.

Shops are so much more than commercial businesses round here so their destruction represents a hideous effect upon social structures and peoples' lives.

I hope poor Wood Green can recover swiftly, and show those idiots that communities are stronger than a few inconsiderate thugs.

Jacqui said...

Great post, Simon. Totally agree with you about the opportunistic, unthinking thuggery displayed over the weekend. No, wait a minute, the looters DID think about what they were doing (though only in terms of material gain, not the impact on individuals). None of the pound shops seem to have been hit, nor the kids'clothes shops, nor even your bookshop, but the phone shops, Diesel, the Quicksilver arcade all chimed with the wrongdoers.

Anonymous said...

very sad . the police is doing their best but copt cats are taking thingsto an extreme . wish ll the locals and the shopkeepers all the best and pray we will recover from this . many thanks for your thoughtful post

vc

Amanda said...

Very well said. Your bookshop is one of the best examples of a sense of community in Wood Green, and one of the main reasons I enjoy living there. We will not let these thugs destroy our sense of connectedness and creativity. We will not walk our streets in fear.

Anonymous said...

Just pointless destruction to destroy a bookstore - at least with other kinds of retail theft they're stealing things they can use or sell. Damaging bookstores blows that theory out of the water - it's not like they'll be reading books, right? Just want to destroy.

Anonymous said...

Your summary of this as crime being perpetrated by 'fucking idiots' is spot on. I always defend wood green to people who are quick to judge and slander our community. Unfortunately, what the events of the last 48 hours show is that there are fucking idiots everywhere.

CHBowespk said...

"Thugs", "Fucking scum", "Mindless animals".
These are a selection of things I've heard and read about the current situation and this is precisely why this situation exists.
People have said this about certain elements (unfortunately these elements are oft perceived as the entirety) of the youth of Britain for years. It is this lack of any respect from authority figures and the older generation that fuels the flames of what has now turned into a bonfire engulfing London. How can you expect any of these people to respect the police when they regularly get stop and searched under terrorism laws? We as a society have created this 'underclass' of British teenagers and labelled them everything from animals to terrorists. They are taking their chance to fight back at their aggressors after years of being assaulted, unlawfully searched, wrongfully detained, racially profiled and at the same time ignored. Unfortunately small businesses have been caught in the crossfire of what has largely been attacks on high street chains and the police.
This should never have been allowed to happen and we must accept part of the blame.

Sam said...

In the few years I lived in London, I grew to love that city and I'm having trouble looking at these photos. It pains me to see that there are idiots who would do this.
I have friends living in Enfield and Wood Green and they're all safe. I hope you and yours stay safe as well!

mademoiselle délicieuse said...

I think the overwhelming sentiment coming through from London residents is that this whole rioting thing is pointless and with complete lack of cause or notion. Looting for the sake of looting. Rioting for the sake of rioting. It's a terribly sad reflection of human nature *sigh*

Stay safe and we can only wait to see how things pan out.

Anonymous said...

You are all rather "civilised" in your comments!

I think it is time for the army to come in to restore law and order ... marshall law should be established, looters shot and those throwing projectiles shot. A democracy is won by the vote and not by the violence of a government teat sucking minority.

The rule of government, law and order is to be respected and the police rule adhered to as a representative of the government and thus the people.

I am sick of hearing about this kind of crap! I am sick of the excuses. I started up on a large bad estate, wound up in a children's home, pulled my socks up (academically, I have no record), went to a good uni, got a Ph.D. and am now a Prof. at a good US institution. I never once set about the violence currently perpetrated to get to the position I am now in!

It is time for the UK to get tough on violence, welfare and immigration.

Sheila Bounford said...

Simon
Thank you for this moving and courageous post - so clearly communicating your passion for your community and your terrible sadness and outrage at what has been happening. And in doing so you remind us why bookshops that serve communities - like yours does - are so very important.

Randall Northam said...

"They have used a controversial and tragic incident"
Would there have been this nihilism without that incident? I doubt it. Was this an isolated incident? No. I heard Darcus Howe on Newsnight saying that his 15 year old grandson had lost count of the number of times he had been stopped and searched for no reason. These kids have no respect for law and order because law and order has no respect for them. Society, which of course didn't exist in the riots of the 1980s, is a two-way thing. The bankers, politicians, media and police have been caught with their hands in other peoples' pockets. There was bound to be a backlash but it wouldn't have happened without the shameful way in which the family of Mark Duggan was treated by the authorities.

Letsleap said...

Great blog! Our son and girlfriend moved into Bounds Green a few weeks ago and our daughter had to evacuate her workshop in Hackney yesterday afternoon - what a great start to a life in London!
No doubt, the pundits (and social psychologists) will say the causes of this riot are complex, however, the underlying breakdown in society's respect for authority, self-discipline and moral values must be the underlying cause.
Officials saying the perpetrators will probably be processed through the courts and allowed back on the streets, because the prisons are full, need to be creative - maybe hire 'an old ship' and anchor them in the channel for a few months on minimal rations - irrespective of their ages! Sorry, but I have zero sympathy for this outrageous behaviour, or bad parenting.
I understand that significant financial cutbacks, as well as closures to facilities for young people, such as clubs and youth centres may compound the problems in affected areas but it does not, nor cannot, justify mob rule and terrorism.
Local people have been terrorised, so anyone caught should be treated as a terrorist. Well done to those communities who stood up to the 'terrorists'.

Remember:
It takes a whole community to bring up a child. It's too important just to let parents do it alone.

Stay safe, everyone.
Good luck and longevity to your bookshop.

Anonymous said...

As a Turnpike Lane resident I am absolutely disgusted by the abhorrent lack of empathy these thugs have shown to the huge number of lives they have destroyed for material gains. There is absolutely NO excuse for what they did. NOTHING the government and police have ever done is any kind of justification for mindlessly destroying and stealing, not even boho stories about growing up poor, living on benefits and poor parenting. It's up to each person to better their own lives, believe me it can be done, if the person actually wants to. This is not youth rising up for injustice, It's criminals choosing to steal just because the police happens to be busy elsewhere.

I love Wood Green and am proud that it's my neighbourhood, but I am ashamed to be living in the same city as the scum who perpetrated this destruction. I don't care that I'm "labelling" these guilty people. They knew what they were doing from the start. I hope they will all be caught and go to jail. Where can I sign up to volunteer to help build the prisons that should be holding these people?

Criminals like this deserve nothing but the full force of the law. This community will not give in to the stupidity of psychotic, greedy, selfish, mindless, violent, sorry excuses for human beings. I hope that anyone who knows someone who was involved in this is sensible enough to report it. These people will never learn unless they are punished.

Ingrid said...

A great post, really well put. I'm so sorry that Wood Green is going through this, its a place close to my heart and echoing everyone else, this is not representative of the area. I am thinking of all the residents.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps we should give all those prosecuted & found guilty of affray etc a chance to visit Somalia, or Afghanistan . . .
What was it a guy called Powell prophesied all those years ago?
Let's all hope the community spirit so evident in these blogs can be harnessed and used to ensure these scenes of violence and total disregard for humanity do not re-occur, ever, but, if it continues, then we must meet mindless thuggery with an appropriate level of response - the only thing that some of these idiots will understand is a communities strong and perhaps fierce reaction. There's a quote: an eye for an eye, though let's hope it never comes to be necessary.

Anonymous said...

For some hope over the way people can respond to social problems - given this is bookshop generated - read a splendid set of stories called 'Twelve Girls' by Jon Beattiey. Not everyone meets a human problem with such disastrous results, as you'll find out if you manage to get hold of a copy.
Good luck with the clear up

Andie said...

Do you think perhaps some of this could come from people who "don't have" and who in the ordinary run of things will 'never have', basically because they will never earn enough money, seizing the opportunity to grab some of the consumer items advertising constantly hammers at us all? And I think this has happened before in the 70s to early 80s with the Brixton riots?

Jane Tatam said...

You know poverty and deprivation does not go very far with me. In my youth, I couldn't afford to buy booze, let alone get drunk, we had no phone at home, and my pocket money didn't run to using the public phone box very often: mobile phones, blackberries, and ipods would have been the stuff of science fiction. And the reason we weren't very well off: my father was a policeman!

farmlanebooks said...

I'm so sad to hear about the looting. I really hope that you and all the other independent businesses can pick yourselves up and go from strength to strength.

Anonymous said...

Why oh why did they repeal the Riot Act and why don't they use the water cannons? I used to live in N22 and am just grateful I have no family there any more!

Anonymous said...

I suggest that, for the foreseeable future, we buy from the local shops rather than online where we can - try to keep these small independent businesses afloat - Turnpike Lane Girl

Anonymous said...

My heart goes out to all those people affected by the rioting in Wood Green, Tottenham and other areas. The looters and rioters are only fuelling their own greed and sick mentality - they do not care about the people living in the areas where they have reeked such havoc. They are inadequate bullies who need to be caught and made to clear up the mess they have caused - many of them do not even have the courage to show their faces. When caught, part of their punishment should be rebuilding what they have seemingly enjoyed destroying - giving them something to do if they are unemployed!

Helen said...

Just wanted to add that I'm another Wood Greener who totally does not condone this, and agree that it is unrepresentative of the community in my experience.

Coffee Loving Skeptic said...

My, slightly angry, thoughts on this :(
http://coffeelovingskeptic.com/?p=647

Candy Gourlay said...

i was shocked and upset to find out what happened in wood green. thank you for sharing your experience ... it made me think of other forms of social-movement ... flash mobs - which are joyful things - and the arab spring - where people are risking their lives to make a difference. in this case, the movement is toxic - i am particularly ashamed and depressed that young people - children! - are largely responsible for the mayhem.

jairgismo said...

Hi! I'm a mexican student and when I heard about lootings and disturbing in London by my teacher I asked her why?, how this started? and she said "because of the racism", I didn't believed her and when I saw the news, I couldn't believe it.
I don't think the racism is the cause, I really don't know what's the problem with those people but I'm really sad.
here in Mexico we've lived with the violence, the crime, etc. every day but to see London like this, is, I don't know how to say it, baffling, shaking.
well, I really, really hope things went better and I just can give all my support from México, sorry for my english.

fantastic clean said...

Right now I'm glad that I'm not there. As I read it it is hectic, I follow the news, twitter also. I don't understand the point of it all, how did it start.
Best to all who are there, I can't imagine the shiver you get at night.

GB-Arg said...

Where's the downside to a rioter and looter? The liklihood of being caught is low, the goods available are many, and even the punishment if you are caught is not much more than a slap on the wrist.

Civility might be helped if just a few of these amoral scum were simply shot between the eyes, unfortunately bloodying their hoody. The rest might take notice . . .

GB-Arg said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
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