The “2011 London Riots” have entered their fourth night and law enforcement there is stretched thin. The riots, which were first sparked by the police involved shooting death of 29-year-old Mark Duggan as he was a passenger in a cab in Tottenham in north London, have quickly spread to other cities in the United Kingdom and become a topic of international concern. In what started as a demonstration of solidarity and quickly became a violent mob action, looters have been roaming the streets, setting fires and pelting police officers with bottles and fireworks. In response to the violence, Prime Minister David Cameron returned from his vacation in Italy and recalled Parliament from its summer recess to deal with the crisis, and 16,000 police officers have been deployed into the street. Are these actions enough to stem this tide of anger and violence? And what’s behind the flash mob mentality – something deeper than anger at one citizen’s death at the hands of the policy?
Ravi Somaiya, a freelance journalist reporting for the New York Times from London