9:06am Tuesday 7th August 2012
By Jamie Henderson
The shooting of Mark Duggan on August 4, 2011, by police in Tottenham set in motion a wave of violence, looting and arson which broke in Wandsworth four days later.
What followed shocked a city and a nation as parts of the capital, including Wandsworth, were laid waste during four days of unprecedented civil unrest which caused hundreds of millions of pounds in damage.
Within days of the Duggan shooting, civil unrest had spread to south London with the first acts of vandalism reported in Tooting on Sunday, August 7.
The following day police had noted a spike in suspicious activity on social media sites and on the Blackberry messenger service which suggested Putney, Tooting and Clapham Junction could all come under attack as early as 5pm that day.
By 7pm, large groups had begun to gather in Battersea's Winstanley Estate and armed with bottles, bricks and sticks orchestrated attacks on police officers and police vehicles.
Within an hour the group, now using masks and balaclavas, had made their way to Clapham Junction where they were joined by similar sized gangs from the nearby Peabody Estate.
That was when the news cameras, which until that point had been focused on north London, began to appear in Battersea as wave after wave of masked rioters smashed windows, looted stock, set fire to buildings and cars, terrifying business owners, residents and children.
One of the principle targets was the Party Superstore, on St John's Hill, which was first fleeced of virtually all of its stock and then set ablaze.
As one of the areas most famous stores burned the groups turned their attention to JD Sports, Debenhams, Ladbrokes, Ocean Hair Salon and Pizza Express with vehicles being called in to carry away their loot.
In total 109 shops and businesses were attacked, with 25 were seriously damaged, although miraculously the London Ambulance Service reported that no one was badly hurt.
However, one of the most vivid memories of many people who witnessed the carnage was the lack of police presence. Wandsworth police, whose numbers were depleted after being deployed elsewhere, withdrew from Lavender Hill just after 9pm leaving the community feeling abandoned.
The ransacking carried on into the night as fire crews, finally now with police protection, battled the blaze at the party shop and elsewhere. By the following morning, Lavender Hill and St John's Hill resembled a warzone.
But Twitter provided a unique forum for people to communicate and within hours hundreds of people, determined not to let the rioters win, had arrived in St John's Hill.
By 11am 500 people, armed with brooms, had responded to the Twitter hashtag "#riotscleanup" and had descended on Clapham Junction.
Within days more than 85,000 Twitter users were following the #riotcleanup hashtag.
Prior to the riots, Wandsworth was officially the safest inner London borough and had been since 2004.
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