8/8 One Year On: TERRY COLEMAN, a retired resident from Thornton Heath, tells of his memories of a night of “pure evil”
I was conscious that there was trouble in Tottenham and other London boroughs. I was watching developments on News24.
I was struck by the slow response of the police to blatant disorder on the streets. There did not seem to be any leadership and the youngsters were running rings round the cops. “Frightening,” I thought.
Later, things started to look bad in Croydon and I realised that my younger brother who lives in Tamworth Road had gone out visiting. I rang and he said that he was OK and that people were going to run him home. By this time, things were getting serious and my brother was not allowed access to his flat.
He made his way on foot via the back streets to my place in Bensham Lane. There was no point in me getting the car out as the roads were blocked and I would not have found him. He was a bit shaken and told me it was “a war zone” on the streets. A gas canister had exploded just as he turned into my road.
We tried to get more information from the BBC and Sky online news services. They had been caught by surprise and were not a lot of help. We slept fitfully as my brother was concerned about his home. About 7am the next day we set off to check his flat. Luckily it was undamaged and I left him in reasonable spirits.
I tried to go round Reeves Corner to get back on to Mitcham Road and ran into the full horror of the night, including a burnt out bus and shops. I had to make a detour via Church Street and saw groups of teenagers posing outside damaged and looted shops while their mates were taking photos. There was not a copper in sight.
I got back to Sumner Road and then saw the devastation at Broad Green. An old established Croydon motorbike shop, run by a friend of mine, was just one of the many shops that had been burnt out that terrible night. The flats above the shops were destroyed and the residents lost everything they had. They were lucky to get out alive.
I was born at the beginning of the Second World War and can remember the bombed out houses and devastation that Hitler bought upon us. To have seen the ruin and devastation of my home town again made me feel ill.
I believe that the Croydon riot on 8/8 was an act of pure evil, which when combined with a lack of police and civic leadership was allowed to get totally out of control.
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