"It was only a minor skirmish, but a potentially bad sign for community relations. Police, who have flooded the streets, were quickly on the scene when about 70 men started chasing local youths.I don't believe that this is just a spontaneous response to looters. When the BNP membership list was leaked, it emerged that there were a number of members scattered around the lower middle class areas, and I wouldn't be surprised if they, along with local EDL supporters, were among those out tonight. The emergence of racist vigilantism is not unique to Enfield. It's also emerged that racist Millwall fans are supposedly 'protecting' Eltham tonight. Apparently, the EDL have been marching through the area. [Update: local residents and Millwall fans both assure me that this is untrue, and that it's just locals protecting themselves. Which, if true, is a relief - but one is still uneasy about vigilantes in football gear posing as defenders of the community.] This is why we urgently need a political response to these riots that organises communities around the issue of justice for victims of police violence. The IPCC have said tonight that Mark Duggan did not shoot at police officers. This, to me, suggests that his death was an execution, and that the bullet in the police radio may have been post-mortem framing. Either way, the police certainly lied about the circumstances of Mark Duggan's death, and this is a major cause of the anger in black communities, as it should be everywhere. There urgently needs to be an intervention on this by anti-racists and the Left.
I wouldn't mention their ethnicity, but it seemed to be relevant. The men were white - in their 30s and 40s - and shouting that they wanted to get the "blacks" and "pakis". Lots of them seemed drunk. One man being held back by police shouted: "They're rats, they mugged my Auntie the other night."
Jay Bradley, 30, a witness, told me: "What happened here? What I just saw - everyone from this area aren't gonna have any looting. What I saw was a couple of ethnic lads, if you can call them that, black lads, and they chased them away.
A lot of it is alcohol - I don't think the kids were doing anything. They were just on bikes and in masks.
But no-one around here is going to stand for any looting. What are we supposed to do. The Co-op is closed and we're running out of food."
Update: Given that there are lots of unsupported rumours flying about, I think it's important to add a couple of important qualifications to this post. A lot of the rumours going about are originating from the far right themselves - part of their propaganda about being men of action, etc. And some of them could result in people getting hurt. Naturally, I have no wish to contribute to either, so I'm just being cautious. First of all, I have heard conflicting things about the far right being involved in Enfield, but as yet no proof of this has emerged. It may well be just local racists. Guardian journalist Paul Lewis is being careful to say he only witnessed a brief skirmish (though, from the footage I've seen, it was a really nasty, scary event). Second, loads of people have been tweeting me to say it's not the EDL in Eltham. (There is some footage of what appear to be EDL being kettled there, but not the 400-strong mob that the casuals were bragging about). I'm still not okay with vigilantism, but there are degrees of danger. I'm not arguing for complacency. There are some real fascist efforts at stirring. Most of it has been kettled by the cops so far, however. So, I would bear these points in mind when you're scanning social media for updates.
Thanks to NewsHound and others for the heads-up