London Stores Close Early Fearing More Rioting
LONDON (WWJ/AP) – Hundreds of stores, offices, pubs and restaurants in London had closed early Tuesday amid fears of fresh rioting.
Normally busy streets were eerily quiet and the smell of plywood filled the air as business owners rushed to secure their shops before nightfall.
In east London’s Bethnal Green district, convenience store owner Adnan Butt, 28, said the situation was still tense.
“People are all at home – they’re scared,” he said.
Britain will not allow a culture of fear to take over the streets, Prime Minister David Cameron insisted Wednesday, saying police have drawn up contingency plans to use water cannons if necessary.
“We will do whatever is necessary to restore law and order onto our streets,” Cameron said in a somber televised statement. “Nothing is off the table.”
Cameron has already recalled Parliament from its summer recess for an emergency debate on the riots Thursday.
WWJ General Manager Pete Kowalski was also on vacation this week. He found himself about twenty minutes away from where some of the London riots were taking place.
While he didn’t feel like he’s in any immediate danger, Kowalski said the sounds of police sirens at night have become commonplace since the riots began.
“From our hotel, we can hear the sirens and we drove through last night a fair amount of police cars and vans, probably hundreds of them that were going by out to the riot scene,” said Kowalski.
Kowalski said it’s been a bit unnerving, especially when he drove through the riot area during the day.
“There were a fair amount of buildings that were boarded up,” he said. “There’s a fair amount of destruction in the streets and there was a lot of police.”
Kowalski said so far, the riots and looting have not reached popular tourist spots such as Big Ben or Buckingham Palace.
In the northern city of Liverpool, about 200 youths hurled missiles at police and firefighters in a second night of unrest, and 44 arrests were reported.
There also were minor clashes in the central and western England locations of Leicester, Wolverhampton, West Bromwich, Bristol, and Gloucester.
(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)