Thoughts on the London riots

A new post for The Guardian’s comment is free on the London riots:

 

Although I was 200 miles away at the time, I found out my local community was being burned, looted and decimated when I sawTottenham trending on Twitter. I wasn’t the only one. Tottenham resident Charlotte Haynes told me she’d been “following the #Tottenham hash tag” for up-to-date news since violence broke out in the streets.

 

Once again social media reporting overtook the news as residents of Tottenham took to the streets alongside journalists to document the damage. An alternative narrative emerged on Twitter and Facebook as rioting spread, and it proved starkly different to what official representatives were saying on our television screens.

 

One strong rumour that gained ground is that of a 16-year-old girl being beaten by police soon after the peaceful protest ended at Tottenham police station. An eyewitness told BBC News that “a young female had approached the police standing line and she was set upon by police and their batons”. Videos uploaded on YouTube from in and around the area further reinforce this rumour, documenting people caught up in the fray, shouting in disgust. The incident has been dismissed as unsubstantiated and consequently downplayed in media coverage. However, video footage – though unclear – has been uploaded, making such claims credible.

 

This social media explosion isn’t just manifesting itself on the internet, with BlackBerry’s free Messenger service (BBM) appearing to serve as a powerful tool. The Daily Mail pinpointed Twitter as fanning the flames, but its journalists couldn’t be more mistaken.

 

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