Fighting back with brooms: London citizens clean up after the riots

 After , London residents armed with gloves, brooms and plastic bags are literally picking up the pieces.


Photo of cleanup effort posted to Twitpic by @jwerdigier


After a third night of violent riots, London residents armed with brooms and plastic bags are literally picking up the pieces.


Concerned citizens have taken to the streets to clear up the debris after the devastating riots. Early Tuesday morning, Twitter was abuzz with calls to clean up the city after the worst night of riots yet. Twitterers used the hashtags #riotcleanup and #riotwomble, the latter getting lots of laughs, “Wombles” being characters from a British childrens television show in the 1970s who cleaned up the rubbish in the London neighbourhood of Wimbledon.


Some citizens are also putting their special skills to good use: a group of handymen in London have offered to help out any homeowners or businesses that suffered damage in the riots free of charge. Other tradesmen are also volunteering their help through a Facebook page.


A website has also been set up to list the locations of cleanups, encouraging everyone to join in.


There are real concerns that there may be many more clean ups ahead. Police say a 26-year-old man has died after being shot in a car during Monday’s riots; many fear this could fuel a fourth night of violence.


Tuesday morning, local leaders in Hackney called on citizens to help clean up neighboring communities hit by the riots. Video posted to TwitVid by Clean Up London


An army of helpers get ready to clean up Clapham in south London. Photo posted toTwitpic by @Debenhams.



Volunteers get to work in Clapham. Photo posted toTwitpic by @HeardinLondon.

“This morning, I thought ‘this isn’t my city.’ Seeing people cleaning up the streets really helped me regain my faith”

Ruwayda Mustafah is a blogger and law student who lives in Wandsworth, south London.


Here in London, average people didn’t know what to do. We felt helpless. You can’t go out and confront the youth who are rioting, because you could get hurt. So this cleanup is a way of saying, we are against rioting, and we love our city. It’s a way to move forward.


Last night was terrifying. I spent hours at my window, watching the shopping centre across the road. I had to call the police twice to stop youths trying to break into stores. The riots have been just devastating to businesses in this area, especially small businesses, which have much more to lose.


This morning, when I saw images of the night’s destruction, I thought, “this isn’t my city.” But later, seeing people cleaning up the streets really helped me regain my faith. I went down to Clapham Junction, just ten minutes from my house. It was full of broken glass from store windows that had been smashed in. Many people had come out armed with gloves, bin bans, even snacks. And above all, good spirits. Dozens of us worked alongside the city cleanup crews, so the area was cleaned up really quickly.


The rioters have made their point. And we’ve taken that point. Something is wrong in our community. But enough is enough - it’s going too far. They’re mostly targeting areas where poor people live, and now these people have to deal with huge setbacks in their communities.”


A broom-wielding army. Photo posted to Twitpic by @benjaminfgray.


Underground riders carrying their brooms on their way to a cleanup. Photo posted to Twitpic by @tashanacom.