This is the third night of riots and mass looting across London, and it is the most serious break-down of law and order in the capital for a very long time. Even in this age of 24/7 news coverage, accurate information is hard to come by, and inaccurate or unverified pieces of information abound on the internet. There is no global picture of the scale of the damages.
All reports so far suggest that the core of the looters are youths, mainly in their mid- to late teens. These gangs look always one step ahead, because they communicate over their phones and the internet, and are mobile, whereas the police cannot cope with many flash points at the same time. It is as if these gangs are fighting a guerilla war: they smash and loot in autonomous groups, then move on, before the police could group and react.
It is surreal and scary to see places I know being looted and torched. I hadn’t expected something like this to happen in London, in such a scale, and it’s distressing and horrible to follow the news on the television screen. There will be soul-searching in Britain, asking why this explosion of disorder occurred. Why this wanton destruction by these youths? Not only are they looting shops, but they are torching cars and buildings, threatening lives and livelihoods of many. Are they nihilists and anarchists, who are totally alienated from the society?