Entertainment Businesses Hit as London Rioting Hits Third Night
LONDON – Sony’s only depot for CDs and DVDs in the U.K. was razed to the ground, several movie theaters closed their doors early Monday night and Wednesday night’s England v Holland soccer international was postponed as the British capital’s businesses and entertainment providers began counting the cost of a third night of rioting, looting and civil unrest.
As British citizens awoke to blanket coverage of the worst civil unrest to hit the U.K. capital in years -- bombarded by images of burning buildings, shop looting and marauding hooded gangs from late afternoon Monday through early Tuesday morning – fears of more to come began to build.
Gangs of youths set fire to the Sony warehouse, “only after they had carried off as much as they could,” according to reports in Enfield, North London.
A Sony spokeswoman told Sky News the burnt out three-storey 20,000 square meter site would almost certainly impact on delivery of CDs and DVDs to retailers and consumers alike.
The fire was still burning Tuesday lunchtime so the full extent of the damage was still being assessed.
Boutique movie theater operator Picturehouse Cinemas, which operates six cinemas in the British capital including ones in the riot-affected Clapham and Brixton districts of the capital, closed doors early Monday at selected theaters “on advice of the Metropolitan Police,” a spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter.
Picturehouse issued a statement early Tuesday night saying it was keeping the four theaters closed.
"Please be advised that having taken advice from the police, The Ritzy, Clapham Picturehouse, Greenwich Picturehouse and Stratford Picturehouse will remain closed for the rest of Tuesday 9 August," the circuit said in a statement.
On the other side of London, in Islington North London, the local Vue Cinema was evacuated “as a precaution” after a small gang of marauders ran amok for a short time.
A worker from Vue told the local press that the police told the duty manager that there could be a potential raid on the premises, advising them to evacuate the premise.
Vue carried the following statement on its website under the banner Vue Customer Update: Localised Civil Unrest. “We are currently open for business as usual and will notify of any changes as advice is received from the Police and local authorities –Thank You.”
And the Football Association said it had been forced to postpone the midweek international football showcase between England and the Netherlands at Wembley Stadium, just a few miles from Enfield.
Policing levels required at such an event – the stadium’s capacity is 80,000 plus – means the Metropolitan Police opted to deploy resources in other areas should the rioting, looting and unrest continue this week.
Prime Minister David Cameron flew back early from his summer vacation in Italy to meet with police chiefs and fellow MPs and said he would recall Parliament this Thursday to make a statement and discuss further action.
The government's emergency committee Cobra met Tuesday after rioting spread across London, with violence flaring in other major cities.
"We will do everything necessary to restore order to Britain's streets and make them safe for the law-abiding," Cameron said from an emergency press conference Tuesday outside No. 10 Downing Street.
More than 16,000 officers will be on London streets on Wednesday, Cameron pledged.
All Metropolitan Police leave has been cancelled and reinforcements from other forces and community support officers have been brought in ahead of Wednesday night.
Cameron slammed the "sickening scenes of people looting, vandalizing, thieving, robbing," which the Met Police said had resulted in 525 arrests and more than 100 people being charged.
The recall of Parliament will allow MPs to "stand together in condemnation of these crimes and to stand together in determination to rebuild these communities," Cameron said.
Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham and Bristol are among the other cities where violence broke out.