The shooting of a man in the Tottenham area of London set off a riot yesterday that seemed to come out of nowhere.
The family of the dead man, Mark Duggan, was holding a small, peaceful vigil when hundreds of other protestors showed up and began looting, burning cars, and attacking police.
As questions were asked about the level of policing, Commander Adrian Hanstock said a peaceful vigil by the family of 29-year-old Mark Duggan, who was fatally shot by officers in the area on Thursday, had been "hijacked by mindless thugs" and that the situation had "escalated out of all proportion".
Twenty-six police officers suffered injuries, with eight receiving hospital treatment. Two remained in hospital on Sunday. Three members of the public also required medical attention, with two taken to hospital.
Forty-two people have been arrested for offences including violent disorder, burglary and theft following the torching of buildings, two police cars and a bus, and the ransacking and looting of shops in both Tottenham and nearby Wood Green.
The violence followed a demonstration by members of the community outside Tottenham police station to demand "justice" for the family of Duggan, a father of four, who was shot after police stopped the minicab he was driving in.
The police officer who stopped Duggan was also shot and slightly wounded.
There may have been other factors at work including the lack of job opportunities in the area and the general state of the economy. But the police seemed genuinely surprised at how quickly things got out of control:
Hanstock said the death was "extremely regrettable". He said it was "absolutely tragic that someone has died, but that does not give a criminal minority the right to destroy businesses and people's livelihoods and steal from their local community".
"There was no indication that the protest would deteriorate into the levels of criminal and violent disorder that we saw," he added.
As soon as the situation became apparent, riot police were deployed and support called in from other forces as officers were "subjected to bottles, petrol bombs and other missiles", he said.
The neighborhood is quiet this morning amidst heavy police presence.