msnbc.com news services
updated 10/28/2011 11:11:27 AM ET 2011-10-28T15:11:27

A U.K. court has jailed a 22-year-old Facebook user who urged youths to "put Manchester on the map" by rioting during the summer’s unrest in cities across Britain, a newspaper reported.

The judge in the case of Philip Scott Burgess ruled that the organizers of the riots shared guilt with the participants, London’s Telegraph newspaper reported Friday.

Burgess was jailed for three years after pleading guilty to publishing written material to stir up racial hatred and encouraging or assisting the commission of a riot, the paper said.

As civil disturbances engulfed Birmingham, Liverpool and London in August, Burgess exhorted others to "start riot'n" and "put Manchester on the map," the newspaper reported.

Within hours, looting began in a popular shopping area in Salford, Greater Manchester, the Telegraph said. Shortly afterward, the rioting spread to the center of Manchester.

Burgess also posted racist messages about the ethnicity of the rioters, the newspaper said.

'Public pledge'
"At the time of the disorder, we made a public pledge to our communities that we would pursue not just those involved in looting, violence or arson, but those who used social networking sites to stir up trouble and encourage others to get involved,” the Telegraph quoted Assistant Chief Constable Ian Hopkins as saying.

"The disorder brought shameful scenes to our cities and those who used social networking sites to organize what happened are just as responsible as those who physically took part,” Hopkins said, according to the newspaper.

The four days of rioting, triggered by a fatal police shooting Aug. 4 in north London’s Tottenham neighborhood, were the worst civil disturbances to hit Britain since the 1980s. Five people were killed and scores of stores were looted and buildings burned in several cities. More than 2,500 shops and businesses were targeted by the looters and vandals, with more than 230 homes being hit by burglars or vandals.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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