Shop owners and armed locals fight back


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Shop owners across London vowed last night to do whatever it takes to protect their businesses as anger over the police's inability to stop widespread looting pushes them towards setting up their own neighbourhood vigilante groups.

Inspired by reports of the Turkish and Bangladeshi communities chasing would-be looters out of their neighbourhoods in east London, many shopkeepers yesterday said they too would come out and defend their livelihoods if rioting erupts across the capital for a fourth night.

"We're planning to get together and defend our streets," said one 32-year-old shopkeeper from Hackney, who asked not to be named. "I don't want to take the law into my own hands but if I have to, I will."

Pictures beamed around the world throughout Monday night's rioting more often than not showed police and locals conceding the streets to baying mobs who trashed shops and set fire to cars or buildings with near impunity. Yet there were instances where locals physically resisted the looters. In Dalston, a corner of north-east London with a large Turkish community, men hit the streets armed with baseball bats and sticks, fighting running battles with masked youths. In Whitechapel, youths chased away rioters, and in one restaurant in Notting Hill, kitchen staff armed themselves with knives to protect diners from rampaging muggers.

Shop owners in Dalston said they felt compelled to arm themselves because it was clear there weren't enough police to protect the area. Many of the businesses on Kingsland Road, the main thoroughfare bisecting the inner city suburb, do not have shutters protecting their windows and are vulnerable to vandals.