London riots: focus on HollowayTagged as: cuts free_spaces repression riot_2011 social_struggles solidarity
Neighbourhoods: holloway islington n1 n7
Report of about 3 hours in Islington - from midnight (beginning of the day), today.
I headed out about midnight. It wasn't clear what was going on - lots of rumours, but who do you trust on twitter? I didn't know anyone in my area, so I figured I had to see whatever was happening (or not) with my own eyes. The most consistent reports were saying Holloway, but others mentioned Angel, too, so I decided to head down there first.
I headed out, and immediately saw a police car, prowling the back streets of Dalston area. However, I couldn't keep up - and he didn't look as if he knew where he was going either. So off to Angel, where, not surprisingly, it was extremely quiet. The only evidence of anything was:
- the police station (car park) was empty
- there were two innocent looking bobbies standing outside sainsburys, opposite the N1 shopping centre.
Was this it? I stopped to file a post, during which the bobbies wandered over and warned me to get out of there: "We have intelligence that that place over there is about to be firebombed in the next few minutes." I cycled around a little while longer looking for the likely candidates, but there were none (other than the cops: are they really that stupid)?
Thus, next stop Holloway. Initially, it didn't seem much was happening. A bunchy of kids outside maccieDs at Nags Head corner of Seven Sisters and Holloway Rds, but nothing really untoward, and no smashed windows. At this point, it pissed it down, so I sheltered under a shop front/awning and posted a few tweets (I'd link to it all, but can't figure out how! Check out https://indy.im/gdm or the relay on my twitter relay: gdm_uk for the full timeline) While I was standing there, cops suddenly chased a bunch of youth down a side street, so I followed after a few moments later. Before I knew it, I was surrounded by about 6 cop cars - a mixture of undercover and panda cars - who all stopped in the middle of the road and chased off on foot after some youngsters. Another passerby, a woman, and I just looked at each other, and both commented how we thought we had been about to get nicked. We wandered up the road, back towards Holloway Road a couple of blocks north of Seven Sisters, to find a bunch of cops sitting on one guy and frogmarching another guy back towards us and the patrol cars. Across Holloway Road, another guy was also getting busted.
I hung on the side road for a few minutes, trying to take some photos with my camera phone. The cops weren't terribly impressed, but I ended up chatting with them, explaining I wasn't obstructing them and that I wasn't causing trouble. They were all full of testosterone and adrenaline (even the women, it seemed) and a few of them were bolshy and tried to argue with me. One guy, an Irishman I think, said he'd had nothing as a kid when I told him that the (current) kids were bored, poor, desperate and had no future. I decided our opinions were too diverse so I might as well move on, but I guess I conversed with them for a good few minutes.
Over the road it was a different story. I took another couple of photos from a few yards away, but the cops were mostly obscuring a guy who was sat on the ground. I'm not sure if he was cuffed or not (I don't think so), as I couldn't really see, so I moved around behind them to try and take another photo. At this point, Officer EK102 came over and tried to patronise me. He told me that he was allowed to confiscate my phone in order to get the pictures for evidence. I told him he wasn't, but I was happy to call my lawyer to check. He threatened to arrest me. I refused to give him the phone. This continued for a minute or two. He then asked me to see the photo and said I could delete it. This I did, as I had no intention of spending a night down the nick, and it was all blurry anyway. But I'm sure his actions were illegal, and I will be investigating making a complaint tomorrow.
Where next? Well, I'm getting tired so going to cut it short. There's lots of detail on https://indy.im/gdm and I'll try to post some more photos tomorrow. There was one point I was about to leave, when behind me came the smashing of glass. Turning around, I saw CarPhone Warehouse on the corner of Nags Head getting smashed in, but almost immediately an undercover car pulled up alongside, cops exited and chased after the gang of people who were gathered there. The hammer remained on the floor, as seen in the photo... well, the photo doesn't seem to be uploading, i will try again tomorrow. For now, I'm afraid I have to sleep.
Solidarity, and good luck!