British PM Recalls Parliament amid Riots, Vows to Restore Order

Posted August 9th, 2011 at 12:40 pm (UTC-5)
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British Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed to restore order and punish those responsible for the violent riots that have swept London for a third day and spread to other cities.

Mr. Cameron recalled parliament from its summer recess Tuesday and nearly tripled the number of police on the streets to deal with the crisis that has left one person dead and at least 58 injured, most of them police officers. Buildings, cars and bus stops burned and police fought with youths in several London neighborhoods. In Croydon, in south London, an entire block — including an historic family-owned business — was burned down.

The prime minister described the violence as “criminality pure and simple.”

The unrest broke out after police shot a man to death in the economically-depressed Tottenham neighborhood last week. The circumstances around his death are disputed.

Mr. Cameron cut short a vacation in Italy to deal with the unrest — the worst violence the British capital has seen in decades. After viewing the destruction, the prime minister described scene of burned-out, ransacked buildings as “sickening.” He called in reinforcements, saying 16,000 police officers will be on the streets of London Tuesday night.

Police have been authorized to use plastic bullets to quell the unrest.

Britain's Wednesday football match with the Netherlands was canceled, as well as a friendly match in London between Ghana and Nigeria.

Looting and fires have also been reported in Birmingham, Liverpool and Bristol. Police say they have so far arrested some 525 people in London alone, and charged 69 with offenses.

Many London residents say the riots were spurred by anger over the gloomy economic situation in north London, including high unemployment and reduced public services.

Tottenham is home to a large number of ethnic minorities and has a history of racial tensions. In 1985, a police officer was hacked to death there when Afro-Caribbean youths in a deprived housing estate went on a rampage.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called the violence “needless,” “opportunistic” and “completely unacceptable.” Home Secretary Theresa May condemned the rioters as criminals.