LONDON – Twenty-six police officers were injured Sunday during riots in the Tottenham area of London, after a demonstration against the death of a local man turned violent and cars and shops were set ablaze.
Eight of the officers were taken to the hospital, with at least one suffering from head injuries, Sky News reported.
Two patrol cars, a building and a double-decker bus were torched as rioters clashed with officers in front of Tottenham Police Station, where people had gathered to demand "justice" for Mark Duggan.
A family friend of Duggan told Sky News that the man's friends and relatives had organized the protest because "something has to be done" and the marchers wanted "justice for the family."
"This guy was not violent. Yes, he was involved in things but he was not an aggressive person. He had never hurt anyone," the woman told Sky News.
Sirens could be heard across the city as authorities rushed reinforcements to the scene. Shop windows were smashed as residents looted stores, pushing shopping carts full of stolen goods down the street.
"It looks like it's the Second World War. It looks like the blitz, where we were living," said Tottenham resident Stuart Radose. "So many people have just lost everything. It's crazy."
Police said around 300 people took part in the earlier demonstration.
Downing Street, Prime Minister David Cameron’s residence, issued a statement condemning the violence as "utterly unacceptable," Sky News reported.
Scotland Yard police commander Stephen Watson on Sunday described the scenes as "distressing," but stressed public safety was "paramount."
He said in a statement that police "are aware of raised tensions ... which are understandable following the tragic death."
"What we experienced earlier on yesterday evening was a peaceful protest outside Tottenham police station -- there was no indication it would deteriorate in this way. For those who involved themselves in this level of violence, there is no excuse."
Miles from the tourist hotspots of central London, Tottenham is one of England's most deprived areas.
In 1985, it was the scene of one of the most violent riots in the country's history after a local woman suffered heart failure when her home was raided by police. One officer was stabbed to death as he tried to protect firefighters and nearly 60 others hospitalized.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.