Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Trouble On The Streets

Unless you've been living under a rock, you're probably aware of the riots spreading across England. (And if you have been living under a rock, I'm surprised. I thought all the rocks in this country are currently sitting in shops and cars having just been thrown through the window!) Yesterday afternoon I watched as Nottingham city centre shut its doors early and sent workers home in preparation for the possible violence on its way. As the afternoon became the evening, it was quite easy to see the increased police presence patrolling the city streets, and it wasn't too long before those extra numbers were called into use. 

A police dog and its handler confront a youth near a bus stop.

A police station was fire-bombed on the outskirts of the city centre, and just afterwards police met the first signs of trouble in the centre itself. At first it looked like just one man being a bit rowdy, but when he refused to calm down he started to draw a bit of a crowd, some merely bystanders, others looking like they had more sinister motives. This was just outside the Victoria Shopping Centre, the same shopping centre that was targeted unsuccessfully the night before, and the police weren't taking any chances tonight either. I believe that the sight of the mounted police officers guarding the centre's entrance probably put off the few people nearby who might have tried something, as slowly I noticed the suspicious looking individuals disappearing elsewhere.

Mounted police guarding the shopping centre's glass doors.

The rest of the trouble caused seemed to come from a couple of groups moving around the city quite quickly. Every now and again I would spot a fair sized group of youths with their hoods up and their faces covered, and almost immediately the police would be at the same location. The riot vans allowing a quick deployment to stop anything from getting out of hand, and the mounted officers able to travel down the streets less accessible to the vans.

Mounted officers help control the crowds.

Eventually one of the trouble makers gets caught by police after the group try smashing shop windows and then flee from the riot police bearing down on them. It took the police a good 5 to 10 minutes before they actually got him locked up in the back of the van due to some of the youths returning and interfering. Despite being caught at the scene of the crime, this particular youth kept insisting his innocence, claiming not to have done anything and being a victim of supposed police brutality. 

One of the slower members of the crowd gets arrested.

One of the things that really caught my eye out of the whole night was the arrival of the two young men carrying the banner pictured below. Given everything that's going on at the moment, it can be hard to see how we have any hope, but seeing two guys come out into a dangerous area and stand there defiantly showing their opposition to all the rioting and looting is almost enough to warm your heart. Its a great reminder that these riots aren't being caused completely by a single group of people, and that we shouldn't be blaming this on any such group. Each person out there is a criminal before anything else, pure and simple, and it has nothing to do with their skin colour, or their age.

Banner carried by two young adults.

At the end of the day, Nottingham can count itself lucky that the violence we have seen here the past couple of nights is barely a shadow of the troubles other cities are currently facing. Last night I got to see our police force working their hardest to keep peace and order in our city, and I believe that they performed admirably, just like so many brave men and women are doing up and down the country at this difficult time.

Riot police return to their van after dealing with an incident.

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