Nightly News | August 09, 2011
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: Now we turn overseas to London , one of the great vacation cities in the world, where tonight parts of that city, some neighborhoods look like war zones or armed camps or both. There are thousands of young people out in the streets, but tonight there are thousands more police officers as well. And we're looking at a possible fourth night of violence, riots and fires, like the situation there last night. NBC 's Michelle Kosinski remains in London for us tonight. Michelle , good evening.
MICHELLE KOSINSKI reporting: Hi , Brian . Police are everywhere you look in London tonight because we have seen days of seemingly opportunistic and contagious violence and theft by gangs of people as young as 11. And an embarrassing but admitted fact, police have been no match for them. Only tonight this show of force seems to be calming things down, at least here. Yes, there are new flash points in Britain tonight, but nothing like London . Over three nights of raw violence out of control. The destruction, open attacks on police, almost celebratory looting of family businesses. The day after is heartbreaking.
Unidentified Woman #1: I don't know why people do this.
KOSINSKI: Certain images linger: this young man throws rocks at officers, an older citizen tries to talk him down and is answered with violence; the looters intent on breaking in; the victims escaping burning buildings, some having to jump.
Prime Minister GORDON BROWN: These are sickening scenes. This is criminality, pure and simple, and it has to be confronted and defeated.
KOSINSKI: The prime minister cut short his vacation to deal with the rioting that spread to more than a dozen neighborhoods in London and beyond, and tonight put 16,000 police on the streets, that force vs. angry teenagers tearing up the capital.
Unidentified Man: The police have too much power and they're using that power.
KOSINSKI: But many dispute there is any real reason behind it.
Unidentified Woman #2: They're just lazy and just going around robbing shops to make easy money, that's all it is.
Mr. BORIS JOHNSON (London Mayor): Clearly, you know, though people will point to kind of deep sociological economic background causation, I have to say I don't find that a satisfactory explanation.
KOSINSKI: Is it embarrassing?
Mr. JOHNSON: I'm -- you know, I'll be honest, I feel -- I feel furious.
KOSINSKI: Today citizens took their own action, volunteering. Some cheered as police rolled in, three days late; but many willing to understand they were unprepared in the face of something no one expected or had seen before, or fully comprehends. So now Scotland Yard is launching an operation to try to find as many of these perpetrators as possible in what will be the biggest investigation in its history, bigger even than that into the 2005 London terrorist bombings, Brian .
WILLIAMS: All right, Michelle Kosinski , part of our team in London