The Lookout

Ballerina, Olympic ambassador arrested in London sweep

Liz Goodwin
The Lookout

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Riot police in London on Monday (AP)

More than 1,700 people have been arrested in England after nearly a week of rioting that started Saturday, and courthouses have had to stay open overnight to deal with the flood of defendants, the AP reports.

Prime Minister David Cameron has vowed "swift justice" for those who participated in the riots, which were sparked by the police shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan. Cameron has even proposed setting limits on the use of Twitter, Facebook, and BlackBerry's direct messaging service, which was reportedly used to organize the rioting. Some people have already been charged with inciting violence on social media, according to the AP.

Cameron's former adviser Danny Kruger wrote in the Financial Times that the riots are the "intifada of the underclass." But among those arrested are a straight-A Exeter University student whose family wealth makes it unlikely she would loot out of necessity, and a 24-year-old college graduate and aspiring social worker whose mother said, "She didn't want a TV. She doesn't even know why she took it," according to The Daily Mail.
Daniel Knowles at The Telegraph argues that, "Many of these criminals are no different from [liberal politician] Nick Clegg, who at the age of 16 narrowly escaped a conviction in Germany for setting fire to a professor's cactus collection for a 'drunken lark.' Or, for that matter, from the Bullingdon Club, of which David Cameron and [London Mayor] Boris Johnson were members, which goes around smashing up restaurants.

There is something deeply hypocritical about middle-aged politicians condemning teenagers as though these sorts of crimes have never happened before."

But London Mayor Boris Johnson said Londoners want to see  "significant sentences" for anyone involved in looting or violence.

Here's a breakdown of some of the news-making arresting over the past few days:

The Olympic ambassador

Eighteen-year-old Chelsea Ives, a volunteer ambassador for next year's Olympic Games, was turned in by her own mother who spotted her on TV footage of the riots. "How can you sit there and see that and say 'that's OK'? We were watching people lose their homes and businesses," Ives' mother told The Telegraph. "As parents we had to say; 'She can't get away with that.'" Ives, who previously met with London's mayor as part of her ambassador duties, now faces charges of throwing a brick at a cop car and burglary. She pleaded not guilty.

The youngest suspect?

An 11-year-old girl was reportedly given a 9-month "referral order" after witnesses said she hurled rocks at two store windows during the riots, according to the Daily Mail. The girl lives in a foster home, and the Daily Mail says she refused to apologize to the judge who sentenced her.

The ballerina-turned-looter

A 17-year-old ballerina turned herself in after images of her looting were published in a newspaper and broadcast on TV, according to the Telegraph. The footage showed her taking two televisions from an electronics store.

The straight-A student

Laura Johnson, the 19-year-old daughter of well-to-do parents and a straight-A student at Exeter University, is accused of stealing electronic goods worth thousands of dollars in London. She pleaded not guilty but has a curfew of 7 p.m. and must wear an electronic tag before her court date, according to the Telegraph. Her parents run a marketing firm.

The social worker

University graduate and aspiring social worker Natasha Reid turned herself in when she became overcome by guilt over stealing a TV from a electronics store while on her way to McDonalds during the looting. According to the AP, a judge told 24-year-old Reid she would probably face jail time.

The violin thief

A 19-year-old aspiring musician grabbed a violin from a looted music store before being nabbed by the cops. According to the Daily Mail, he was sentenced to four months in jail.

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