A guide to British riots: 1980-2011

Wed, Aug 10, 2011, 01:00

A guide to major rioting in Britain over the past 30 years:

April 1980 - Bristol

The Black and White Café, which had a reputation as a centre for drugs, was raided by police, triggering riots in the St Paul's area of Bristol. Tension with police had been growing in the area, with many black youths feeling discriminated against. The cafe was demolished in 2005.

April 1981 - Brixton, south London

Brixton had long seen high tension between the police and the black community. The stabbing and subsequent death of a black man was blamed on police brutality and sparked the riot. Damages were estimated at up to £7.5 million (€8.4 million) and 365 police and civilians were injured.

Brixton saw more rioting in 1985, when a black woman was accidentally shot during a police raid, in 1995 when a young black man died in police custody, and most recently in 2001, after a man was shot by police who mistakenly believed he was carrying a gun.

July 1981 - Toxteth, Liverpool

Rioting was triggered by the arrest of Leroy Alphonse Cooper (20), whose supporters said he was subsequently mistreated in custody. Nine days of violence followed.

October 1985 - Broadwater Farm, Tottenham, London

The Broadwater estate in Tottenham erupted into violence between youths and the police when a woman suffered heart failure after a police raid on her home. Shots were fired injuring several, and PC Keith Blakelock died when he was stabbed by rioters whilst protecting a firefighter putting out a blaze.

March 1990 - Poll tax riots, London

When Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government introduced the poll tax - a levy on property imposed regardless of wealth - 100,000 people turned out for a protest in central London that quickly turned violent.

1999 - Anti-capitalist protest, London

Demonstrators clashed with riot police, burned cars and stormed a major financial exchange during an anti-capitalist protest in June that caused damage costing £2 million.

May-July 2001 - London May Day riot and violence in northern England

Some 5,000 anti-capitalist activists brought the commercial heart of London to a standstill amid scenes of violence and vandalism. Police said they had arrested 92 people after good-natured demonstrations turned ugly. Shops in Oxford Street and Tottenham Court Road were smashed, and a hardcore of protesters clashed with riot police.

The riots in Oldham and Burnley were the result of tensions between the white majority and the growing ethnic minority communities. Fighting broke out between far-right groups, including the National Front, and Asian businessmen, as well as the Anti Nazi League. Over 300 people were injured and more than 350 arrested.

April 2009 - Anti G20 protests, London

Violent confrontations between anti-capitalist demonstrators, environmental campaigners and riot police broke out in London during two days of protests in April as the leaders of the G20 nations gathered for an economic summit.

November 2010 - Student riots, London

The newly elected Conservative-Liberal coalition government unveiled a wave of higher education spending cuts and a raising of the cap on tuition fees. A planned peaceful demonstration saw students from across Britain descending on London. The protest turned violent when a small group attacked Conservative Party headquarters, smashing the windows, damaging the interior and throwing a fire-extinguisher off the roof.

March 2011 - TUC march, London

Masked youths battled riot police and attacked banks and luxury stores in central London on March 26th, overshadowing a protest by more than a quarter of a million Britons against government spending cuts. More than 200 people were arrested after anarchist groups splintered from the main union-led protest march and fought running battles with police.

August 2011 - London, Manchester and other major cities

Rioting has broken out around major cities in England including Manchester and Liverpool in the northwest and Birmingham in central England. Gangs have ransacked stores causing millions of pounds of damage. Hundreds have been arrested, and four people have been killed.

The riots broke out on August 6th in north London's Tottenham district, when a protest over the police shooting of a suspect two days earlier led to violence.