On the morning of 10 August 2011 – when the sirens had switched off, the flames had fizzled out, and the roars had been silenced – hundreds of Mancunians quietly got to work on repairing their shattered city.
Families, students and businesspeople arrived en masse to strap on gloves, grasp brooms and pick up paintbrushes, working together to shovel broken glass out of streets and reattach the frames to shop doorways.
The day before, Manchester and Salford had been swept up in the violence consuming England following the death of Mark Duggan – a 29-year-old who had been shot dead by police earlier in the summer of 2011.
A protest in Tottenham Hale had led to clashes with law enforcement, and the next few days saw trouble spread from the capital into other cities across the country.
The first pockets of local violence erupted in Salford Shopping Centre on the afternoon of August 9. Supermarket Lidl was the first target, before looters proceeded to break into a Bargain Booze and The Money Shop.
Police were pelted with missiles and journalists covering the story were even caught up in the melee; a BBC radio car battered with bricks before being set alight.
Within hours, Manchester city centre’s shops were also under attack – with officers overwhelmed by “unprecedented levels of violence and criminality”.
Mobs broke into Manchester’s Arndale Centre and groups stormed shops like Footasylum, Bang & Olufsen and Swarovski in St Ann’s Square.
Miss Selfridge on Market Street was also engulfed in flames as the outnumbered police desperately battled the masked-up mobs rampaging through the city streets.
The Guardian said it turned into “a tale of two riots” – with Greater Manchester Police’s then-chief constable Peter Fahy suggesting the respective culprits in Salford and Manchester had responded in different ways.
“Certainly most of [the rioting] in Manchester was about getting goods, breaking into places and stealing things,” Fahy told The Guardian.
“Salford I think was slightly different. It was more about attacking us and the fire services.”
The trouble in Greater Manchester dissipated the next day – but the region remained severely shaken.
More than 370 people were arrested, 60 officers were injured, and the total police cost was reportedly more than £3 million.
After the rioting ended elsewhere in England on August 11, it was revealed that more than 200 people had been injured and over 3,000 arrested nationwide. Five people were also killed during the six days of violence.
But according to local Councillor Pat Karney, Greater Manchester’s role in the riots was not reflective of what the region was about. He says it was those next few days – where adults and children were seen flocking to fix the damage – that showed the real GM.
“The true Mancunian spirit has been shown in Manchester today,” the councillor stated, as locals swept away debris and stuffed rubbish into sacks.
“The community has come out to say enough is enough, and that they will not stand by and let thugs try to destroy our city.
“This was pure criminal behaviour from a minority of people who were intent on looting and rioting and these criminals are not fit to be called Mancunians.”
Featured image: Richard Hopkins / Flickr