LONDON – The gritty north London neighborhood of Tottenham exploded in anger Saturday night after a young man was shot to death by police.
Two patrol cars, a building and a double-decker bus were torched as rioters clashed with officers in front of the Tottenham Police Station, where people had gathered to demand "justice" for the death of a 29-year-old killed in an apparent gunfight.
"It's really bad," said local resident David Akinsanya, 46. "There are two police cars on fire. I'm feeling unsafe."
Sirens could be heard across the city as authorities rushed reinforcements to the scene. In Tottenham shop windows were smashed as residents looted the stores, pushing shopping carts full of stolen goods down the street.
Officers in riot gear and on horseback pushed up against the demonstrators. Akinsaya put the number of demonstrators at between 400 and 500. Police said there were about 300 people gathered.
Miles from the tourist hotspots of central London, Tottenham is one of the most deprived areas in all of England, with nearly half of all children living in poverty, according to campaigners. The area is very diverse and home to one of the capital's biggest black populations.
The area also has a history of racial tension and anti-police feeling.
In 1985 Tottenham was the scene of a deadly riot after a local woman suffered heart failure when her home was raided by the police. The Tottenham riots were among the most violent in the country's history, with one officer stabbed to death as he tried to protect firefighters and nearly 60 others hospitalized.