Over the Weekend
There were separate incidents.
1) There was a peaceful demonstration of about 200 people seeking explanations of the death of Mark Duggan who was shot dead in the only place in Tottenham that doesn't have CCTV cameras (the Ferry Lane Bridge).
At the time media were reporting that he had shot at police but once forensics suggested that the bullet found lodged in a police radio came from a police gun, they stopped saying that. Meanwhile there was an equally (no more, no less) false rumour going round that Mr Duggan was shot several times in the head, execution style.
The execution rumour caused a great deal of anger in the community and this seems have got out of hand and, about 8:30 PM, youths began attempting to attack Tottenham Police Station. Police decided to concentrate all of their resources into protecting Tottenham Police Station.
At this point, with control of the streets having been abdicated to the mob, the youths moved about 200 yards North at first to sack Northumberland Park and Bruce Grove Police Post but later to carry out various acts of violent disorder.
(Police stated on SKY News that they had only fifteen officers available when it kicked off at 8:30. I make no comment except to say that my stepson called from the Tottenham Hotspur ground half way through the match between Spurs and Athletic Bilbao asking my wife and I to take his son home because he was bored with the football. The match ended at 7:00 and at that time we saw literally hundreds of police officers escorting supporters the five hundred yards from the Spurs ground to Seven Sisters station, a route that took them past the point where the violence would kick off within half an hour of the last few stragglers reaching the station)
2) With police having abdicated control of the streets to the mob, outsiders from Hackney, Walthamstow, Wood Green and Edmonton arranged through their smartphones what was essentially not a riot mass burglary of Totteham Hale retail park and Wood Green Shopping City. They did this to take advantage of police being unavailable but that does not mean these events were in any way connected with the violence on Tottenham High Road except inasmuch as they were the actions of opportunists taking advantage of the original violence.
(Events in Walthamstow, Enfield, and Brixton on Sunday copied these mass burglaries. It seems the mob has realised they can get away with this sort of behaviour and don't need a riot to cover them.)
3) I walked through the area at about 7AM on Sunday morning. There were many more people than usual but, with the exception of one burned down building, the damage was not as bad as that caused to de Coolsingel by Feyenoord fans winning the Dutch league in the 1998-99 season (when I was in Rotterdam). Many of the damaged buildings on Saturday night were derelict before Saturday. Most of the East Side of Tottenham High Road, from the old DSS office at Scotland Green as far as Aldi had, with only two exceptions been empty for years and the Pleasure Rooms had recently been demolished by Viridian Homes to make way for a new housing estate.
Off the High Road there was light ash which appeared to be huge lumps of charred polystyrene foam everywhere on the East Side. There was a strong smell of burning in Baronet Road and the Victoria Pub on Scotland Green appeared to have been smashed beyond use. On the West side, even ten yards from the High Road, it was as if nothing had happened.