Two young women are accused of looting during the riots that have taken over several British cities this week. How they came to the attention of the courts provides a glimpse into the unrest — and how far the fractured country has to go to heal itself.
Their cases also reveal that despite the prominent place of young hoodie-wearing men in the streets, and in the media, the causes of the feverish rioting and looting are hard to pin down — as a post by Eyder earlier today relayed.
One of the people arrested for rioting this week was a woman who had been turned in by her mother, who recognized her daughter on television. Adrienne Ives says that she and her husband were watching a BBC report on the rioting Sunday night when they spotted Chelsea, 18, in the midst of a crowd, throwing bricks at a police car.
Adrienne Ives spoke with the Evening Standard:
Mrs. Ives said the decision to call the police about her daughter was "gut wrenching" but added: "I had to do what was right. Roger [her husband] and I were watching the news and it was absolutely sickening. And then we saw our daughter among the crowds."
The younger Ives is also accused of showing particular ire to cellphone stores — prosecutors say she hurled the first brick at a Vodafone store, and she's also accused of attacking a Phones4U shop.
In Westminster magistrates' court Thursday, Chelsea Ives pleaded not guilty to two counts of burglary, violent disorder and attacking a police car. The court heard evidence that Ives had earlier "boasted she had 'the best day ever,'" the Standard reports. Her lawyer described his client as a "talented sportswoman," according to the newspaper.
The claim of athletic achievement is likely related to the fact that Ives is an Olympics ambassador, a group meant to promote athletics in England, and to get young people involved with the London Summer Games in 2012.
Another unusual case revolves around Natasha Reid, 24, "who handed herself in to police because she was 'unable to sleep'" after taking part in looting goods from a Comet appliance store, according to The Daily Mail.
Reid pleaded guilty to stealing a TV that was worth between $430 and $490. A college graduate who said she plans to go into social work, Reid reportedly wept and held her head in her hands as she explained what happened.
She had been walking to a McDonald's in north London, she said, "when she passed a Comet store that had been broken into," according to the Mirror. So she grabbed a television.
"District judge Elizabeth Roscoe told her that her remorse would 'very much go in your favour' but warned that she could still face prison because of the 'serious nature' of the case," the Mail says.
The riots and looting now seem to have tapered off, and cleanup efforts are under way. But the frenzy of violence, arson and looting that took place in Britain has resulted in more than 1,500 arrests — including, as the Guardian reports, an 11-year-old girl (who has since pleaded guilty).
More arrests are likely in the coming days, as police sift through crime scenes, as well as surveillance and media footage. In areas affected by riots, many courthouses are running on schedules extended to nearly 24 hours a day, trying to process hundreds of arrested people.