Hackney rioters and police in hand-to-hand combat

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Hackney rioters and police in hand-to-hand combat” was written by Paul Lewis, for guardian.co.uk on Monday 8th August 2011 20.35 UTC

The Pembury Estate became the epicentre of violence in Hackney, east London, as local youths took control of the area from 6pm, using burning vehicles and debris as barricades.

The disturbance had moved to the estate from nearby Mare Street and London Fields, the scene of earlier looting.

Police were overwhelmed. Forming a line several hundred metres away, they watched as youths ransacked the area.

A van was broken into and driven into a wall. Within minutes, it was on fire. A motorbike was overturned and set ablaze beside another burning car.

There appeared to be more women participating in the riot than on previous nights, with some forming lines to help ferry debris for the flaming barricades. There were no TV cameras in sight, as crews struggled to access the scene of rioting.

Bystanders and a number of journalists were also attacked; a photographer was dragged to the ground and beaten by four youths. People taking pictures were asked if they were “Feds” and some mobile phones were smashed.

Attempts by police to quell the situation around 8.30pm failed.

As lines of dozens of riot police marched into the estate, they were met by a hail of bricks, stones and bottles. At times there was hand-to-hand combat, as youths ripped off tree branches and used sticks to club police, who quickly retreated.

Youths used wheelie bins to ram riot police who, although in large numbers, were not in control. Twice, isolated police officers escaped serious injury. One officer became detached from his unit, tripped, and was attacked by a mob with sticks. He was rescued by colleagues seconds later.

In a more serious incident, a police officer in a solitary parked vehicle was attacked. His car windscreen was entirely smashed as a young man scaled the roof and pounded it with a brick. Surrounded and unable to see out of his window, the officer drove his smashed car through the crowd, and a hail of stones and bottles.

Bystanders cheered. “I’ve been wanting to see us do this to the Feds for years,” said one man, in this thirties.

Around 8.45pm, the crowds dissipated. Hundreds were chased across Hackney Downs park by mounted police.

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