Monday, 8 August 2011

Enfield riots: the aftermath

Last night, Enfield was trending on Twitter.

As people across the globe wondered why and struggled to place us on a map, I sat in my living room, just metres away from hundreds of criminals smashing up my home town and attacking the police sent to protect it. I slept to the sound of helicopter rotors and riot van sirens.

This morning I woke to a sinking feeling and an itch to get out there and survey the damage as yet more sirens blared. This is what I saw.
Heavy traffic on Windmill Hill and Chase Side as Church Street remains closed to all vehicles.

At least seven riot vans remain in Enfield town and Church Street is closed to cars and pedestrians. One policeman said: "we can't let you through. There's broken glass and blood all along here."
This is as close as onlookers can get to the now infamous HMV store on Church Street, epicentre of last night's looting.
Most shops and businesses on Church Street are closed today. One onlooker said: "it's eerie. Like a film set."
But some businesses remain open, including local cafe Papadelli and KFC. Many are full of local people discussing the riots in disbelief. Most just want to go about their daily business, but can't.
Local residents congregate around the police lines and there's a palpable sense of shock. "Nothing like this ever happens here", said one long-time Enfield resident. Behind us a gate slammed shut. Everybody jumped.
The Post Office is closed, along with most businesses between Nationwide and Barclays bank on Church Street. Local people gather nearby with envelopes and paperwork. "I can't get to the bank" one elderly lady said to me in exasperation.
The burnt out car on Little Park Gardens is still attracting attention but is a lone testament to the destruction. No other non-police cars appear to have been damaged.
A burnt-out wheelie bin in the marketplace. No other fire damage is evident in town.
The shopping precinct will be closed all day. One angry would-be shopper said: "that's £1.20 in parking wasted then." Information is evidently still limited if people think they can shop here today.
Despite widely reported rumours Nando's was not damaged. One local teen said: "I knew they wouldn't have hit Nandos. Everybody needs Nandos, man."
Enfield is largely closed for business. One four-year-old said: "it's sad today, mummy, isn't it."
The jewellers which bore the brunt of the looting last night and the neighbouring betting shop are a sorry sight today.
Local department store Pearsons has one shattered window, but the displays inside are untouched. A damaged police car remains parked outside. Opposite, and to one local teen's relief: "Macdonald's is alright. They didn't get Macdonalds."
The job for Enfield's police is very different today from yesterday. This officer is being asked if the shops behind him are open. There's a real lack of understanding about the situation from some people.
The Kings Head in Enfield's marketplace is open for business, but was deserted apart from one lone drinker at the bar.
Meanwhile, across the street, people gather in the window seats of pub The George to keep an eye on what's going on in town. Nothing much is, but the sense of community is strong. People are keen to talk to one another today and I have numerous unprovoked conversations.
Trains from Enfield Town station are said to be running to a normal schedule, although earlier this morning no services were running, forcing local commuters to use Enfield Chase station (which is unaffected) instead.
Colman Parade was particularly badly hit last night and some businesses remain closed today. This chemist was particularly badly damaged, as the owner remained inside.
Bar Ten on Silver Street (which is currently closed to all vehicles) is optimistic that tomorrow will be a better day. But with no repairs to broken windows currently underway, will it be any different from today?

The car park on Church Lane was looted for bricks last night and the abandoned weapons now litter the street.
Walls around town were broken down for bricks to use as weapons. One local resident said, with audible lump in throat: "it's all smashed up."
At least seven riot vans remain in Enfield this lunchtime and, at my guess, at least 100 police. Mostly they are giving directions and information to confused residents and visitors. But what will they be doing later? As the day goes on, this is a question running through many minds. Is it over yet?

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