Strong Online Efforts to “Clean Up” London Riots

On August 4 Mark Duggan was shot and killed by London’s Metropolitan Police “after they stopped the minicab he was in to carry out an arrest as part of a pre-planned operation.”  While the exact events of that evening are still vague, many quickly called this episode the latest example of police brutality.  Immediately following the shooting, community members gathered at the Tottenham police station demanding answers.  However, the peaceful protests turned into riots, which have since spread across the country.  In four days alone, over one hundred people have been arrested and dozens of small businesses destroyed.

Many analysts have blamed social media for the riots.  However, there is very little attention to how UK residents are using social media to take back the streets.  In the last few hours, activists have already started up the website – Riot Clean Up – where weary community members can learn about ways to help out their neighborhoods.  Users are requested to bring household cleaning tools like brooms and gloves to selected clean up locations.  People on Twitter can follow and post at #riotcleanup and @riotcleanup for updates on efforts around London.  There is also a Facebook group with over 10,000 followers so far and a wiki page organizing volunteers at 11 clean sites.

Riot Clean Up said it best: “This is not about the riots. This is about the clean up – Londoners who care, coming together to engender a sense of community.”

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