Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Beyond Kennington: A roundup of rioting

A quick roundup for posterity.... This morning, I along with hosts of other Londoners, are rubbing bleary eyes and wondering how to make sense of it all. Kennington was mostly clear of violence, but due to the difficulty of accurately naming places in London, you'd not have believed it from reading Twitter.

A cleanup of Walworth Road is being organised (is underway), although one report suggests there's not as much to do as was previously imagined.  If you're nearer somewhere else and you have some free time, you can take a look at your nearest cleanup from the cleanup map here.

I was first aware of trouble last night when I was driving through the Walworth area at approximately 18:55.  As I pulled out of Manor Place and into Browning Street, I saw hordes of people running north up Walworth Road towards Elephant and then more scared people running up Browning Street.  I turned the car around further up the steet as I was trying to get down Walworth Road, only to see the flimsy orange police barrier knocked to the ground, and a number of police on Walworth Road milling around.  I decided not to stay around and gawk so I have no photos, and I headed back to SE11.

I spent much of last night on Twitter, trying to establish where/if we had any trouble spots.  The problem with Twitter is that completely untrue rumours spread very quickly, so much time was spent reassuring people that there were no real problems in Kennington.  On the whole, that's correct, although there's an area to the east of Kennington tube station slightly south of Walworth Road which some people call Kennington.  I've no idea what it's called, but some trouble over there gave the impression that we were over-run with rioters, when that was not the case.

After I returned home, the first Tweet I saw at 19:13 was:

At 19:32, @meccleshall Tweeted from Tesco on Kennington Lane to say that it was closing early and that shoppers had been asked to pay and leave.  At 19:33, @Nooskibooski noted that they'd seen two masked teenagers loading a TV into a black BMW in Kennington, but I was unable to discover which road. 

At 19:47, we saw a worrying Tweet about youths with ammunition in Kennington, but you'll note they were headed to Walworth Road, so can only assume that this was east of Kennington tube station.  Nobody else corroborated:

At 19:49, somebody Tweeted to say that Argos in Kennington was being looted.  I informed them that there was no Argos in Kennington, but from that we assumed that the Argos in Walworth Road was being raided.  Of course, that and other Tweets just sparked off more tweets about trouble in Kennington which various people disputed.  Kennington Park Road (A3) was said to be running smoothly with no traffic or queues.

At 20:06, we learned that "they" were now in Kennington, but since I couldn't get information on any given road, it was unclear to discern precisely where.  However, some Tweets at 20:07 and 20:10 re. Kennington tube station cleared up any misunderstanding.  I can only presume that trouble briefly escaped into Kennington Park Road because these were the only tweets about any issues escaping from Southwark over the Lambeth border (in Kennington) all night.  I retweeted to say that the tube station was closed:

But at 20:18, @Slicktony3000 (who was very helpful with information last night) reassured everybody that the only people he could see on Kennington Park Road were joggers!  So you can see that it was very difficult to determine whether any trouble was occurring at all (in the meantime, lots of panicky Tweets were all saying that trouble had reached Kennington).

At 20:31, after my request that people specify road names when they claimed problems in Kenington, @acediscovery said it was quiet in Alberta Street (just north of Kennington tube).  But at exactly the same time, @MsWildThyme tweeted to say that 8 riot vans and black armoured vehicles had been seen headed down Penton Place.  Other than that, it was quiet around the Pullens Estate.

I believe that's probably what generated these somewhat bizarre videos of riot vans on Walworth Road.  What on earth were they doing??

Another video was available here with some very scary screaming.  The video looked as though it had been taken from within the riot, with a voice asking the officers to "please calm down".  Unsurprisingly, it has now been removed. 

I kept Tweeting that we were experiencing no issues in Kennington, and that problems were acknowledged in Walworth Road when I caught a Tweet saying a stabbing had been reported on Kennington Park Road.  This turned out to be untrue and unfounded.  At 20:39, @msraddi said that riot police were running down Manor Place.  More messages were received to say that Kennington Cross, Kennington Road and Kennington Lane were fine (as they were all night).

At 21:11, @gilboise tweeted to say that Kennington tube was open, but at 21:13, @igster noted "kids in hoodies" screaming past Kennington tube.  At 21:34, @TheRealJimShady said that he'd driven from Clapham South to Kennington and noted no problems.  Was just breathing a sigh of relief, and wondering if there was time to take a break for dinner when alarming reports of a shooting appeared at 21:41:

Established that an exchange of gunfire was taking place somewhere on the Alberta Estate.  Various Tweets were flying around which generally corroborated problems in the area.  At 22:18, @Deskibel said a friend had heard gunshots on or around Alberta Street.

At 22:26, the Guardian issued more detailed reports about what had happened on Walworth Road.

At 22:54, Cllr Mark Harrison (@SE11) Tweeted that we should strongly support our emergency services at times like this.  I agreed, and re-tweeted. @Uber0ut noted that pedestrians were back on Walworth Road.  From there on in, we started to hear reports that Walworth Road had been entirely trashed.  Tweets came in suggesting that both Stockwell and Camberwell had escaped any trouble bar an attempted-car jack on Coldharbour Lane.  (Although this may nto be true because there appears to be a cleanup taking place in Camberwell this morning).  At 23:27, @JustinPDJ reported large numbers of police headed from Kennington towards Clapham (the rest we know about from the TV).  For the rest of the night, Kennington (which houses large numbers of police buildings and vehicles) was sirens as usual.

At 00:14, BT issued a Tweet only to call 999 in an absolute emergency due to immense pressure on the number.  We learned that a few riot police were guarding the remains of the looted shops in Walworth Road. 

Finally, I received alarming reports at about 01:02 from @SW8guy and @CarolineFW that there was a fire at Southbank club on Wandsworth Road.  There was a lot of smoke, but no flames visible.  The Fire Brigade were able to bring it under control. 


Anonymous said...

Many thanks for the reportage last night - very useful to have someone collating all reports and sorting the wheat from the chaff.

Anonymous said...

The huge police building beside St Aslem Church was/is no doubt a hub for all police activity in South London, no? So I suppose we're bound the hear a bit of everything happening, as the units come and go.

stuart said...

agreed, excellent work last night. if only people would heed the advice to tag things #unverified when it's just a rumour!

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to say thanks for your efforts last night.

I was Deskibels friend, I live on Iliffe Street and definitely heard something that could have been gunshots, but could have been fireworks or any number of things. It was only when we read the other tweets that we assumed it was the shooting reported.

I'm not convinced Kennington station was ever closed, I went to pick my girlfriend up at 20:45 and the area was empty, the guys working there said they hadn't had to close.

Twitter is causing a lot of unease and spreading a lot of misinformation, thanks for your efforts to keep it in perspective last night.

Anonymous said...

Been helping clear up on the Walworth Road today. Not a great deal to do, but where work was done, local shopkeepers were v grateful.

Just been to the new(ish) tesco on Kennington Park Road (next to the Old Red Lion) and was the last person let in, before they closed for the day.

Other than that, all seems calm at the moment (15.50)

Sid Boggle said...

Anon 2: that building by St Anselms on Kennington Lane is now serviced offices - hasn't been a police building for some years. Most police were mustering near the Lambeth Gold Command premises on Lambeth Road/Juxon St. Loads of minibuses and mini-coaches parked up, as well as police vans yesterday afternoon at about 3.40.

Anonymous said...

@ Sid Boggle - if its Edinburgh House being referred to, it is still very much an operation Met building. Just non-frontline.

Anonymous said...

The astro pitch closed early on council instruction, whcih seemed wild at the time considering carper right! fairs fair on reflection tho

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