UK
09/08/2011 10:02 BST | Updated 09/10/2011 06:12 BST

London Riots Clear Up: The Twitter Mob Come Out After The Mob

Sheva found out his shop was being looted when he saw masked youths ransacking it on Sky News.

He’s owned Clarence Convenience Store in Hackney for 11 years and says he never thought it would happen to him. Sitting in a van outside his ransacked shop, he’s explaining how he doesn’t have any contents insurance and wondering aloud why his shop was targeted.

“All the shops in this street, it’s not happened to there. It’s happened to me only. I have insurance but not for contents. Eleven years out there, I never had anything like this... Only two hours and they just swiped everything.”

Outside his shop, volunteers are assembling with brooms, ready to help with the clear up. 62-year-old Jane from Canary Wharf says: “I came to this particular shop because I saw it on the news. I just thought ‘this poor guy’. They’ve taken everything.”

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[SCROLL DOWN FOR PHOTOS OF THE CLEANUP]

In Hackney’s Mare Street, the only sign of Monday’s riots are the boarded up windows. The broken glass and discarded bottles have been swept away, some by council workers and some by volunteers assembling on Twitter.

23-year-old Elizabeth from Hackney is standing with a crowd on the street corner outside the town hall. She lives about two minutes away, and came down to help with the clean-up before work.

“I think it’s awful. A lot of it is just youths who want free stuff.”

Will has come from Bethnal Green to help out in any way he can. “This shows people that it’s not the right thing to do.”

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He says in his area, Bangladeshi families came together to defend the streets from rioters. The unemployed graduate says he can understand why young people might be angry “They’re out of jobs, youth centres have closed down... [But] I don’t have a job. I’m angry but I wouldn’t riot. It’s just not the right way to go about it.”

Roberta Berke puts it perfectly when she says they’re part of the “Twitter mob”.

The 68-year-old from Primrose Hill is walking around Camden brandishing a broom, checking twitter to find out where next to go to clean up. She says it’s important for Londoners’ to help their city: “All that it needs for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.” Police, standing outside a JD Sports on Camden high road are happy to help her find the next place to clean up.

For many, the actions of the rioters were about greed. The twitter mob helping to clean up their city are about community. Azul, from Crouch End says she lived in Lebanon during the civil war.

“Whenever they bombed a building, the residents came and cleaned it back up. This reminds me of that.”

Back on Clarence Road Elaine, has come down to see the damage. She’s lived in Hackney all her life and she says she’s disgusted, but not surprised.

“The democratic government has been penalising people for too long. And what they made the mistake to do is they turned around and they penalised the people who were working for them. The police. They are penalising the police, the military. And I believe that the police is part of this. They think ‘we ain’t got no money, we ain’t got the manpower.’

“Look what’s happened. I’m disgusted that people are being made homeless. I’m disgusted that it seems like it’s chaos and there’s no head. There doesn’t seem like there’s a head, it’s just a complete riot. I’m not surprised. I’m disgusted by what the government has allowed to happen.”

She says it’s about London, and a failure of parenting: “There are a lot of parents that don’t have control over their teenaged youths. The government took away the power from the parents long ago.

“The parents have given up. They’re too busy worrying about the mortgage, the bills, everything.”

Surveying the damage, Sheva doesn’t look angry. He looks shocked. Another local business destroyed by riots that have raged across the capital city for the past three nights.

Yussef, owner of the nearby Pogo cafe, is also out on the street with a broom, helping with clear up. He stayed in his cafe all night last night to protect it from rioters. “I’m pretty sure they don’t have any public support. These were not locals. They should attack some big company’s not local shops, not local communities.”

Down the road Colin is guarding his hairdressing shop Chaquille, he says he understands the rioters’ frustrations.

“You can’t have a generation jobless, with no prosperity. They must have their frustrations. When I grew up there were youth centres. There’s nothing for them now.”

And Harris Zafar, the manager of O2 on Mare Street, where riots broke out during the daytime on Monday, says the outbursts of violence are not a surprise.

“There’s no justification for what they did, but for people to say they didn’t forsee this is ridiculous. Reaction only comes after an action. Things have been bad for a long time. I don’t remember voting for two parties to govern me.”

Pictures from the clean up

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Photo gallery See Gallery