Stories of courage from England's riots

12th August 2011, Comments 0 comments

From a grandmother with a walking stick who berated hundreds of looters, to a pensioner killed trying to put out fires started by gangs, stories of courage have emerged from England's riots.

Here are some of the most remarkable:

- Grandmother Pauline Pearce became an unlikely mouthpiece for riot-hit communities when she was filmed confronting hundreds of rioters as they rampaged through her neighbourhood in Hackney, east London, on Monday.

Leaning on a walking stick, the 45-year-old ventured out of her home to launch a verbal tirade at the looters, prompting a brief moment of silence from rioters and police and a spontaneous burst of applause from onlookers.

Her outburst was filmed by a passer-by using a mobile phone, uploaded to the Internet and had soon been watched by thousands of people. Pearce, from the Afro-Caribbean community, has since been dubbed the "Heroine of Hackney."

"Get real black people, get real," she shouted at the looters. "I am ashamed to be a Hackney person because we are not all gathering together and fighting for a cause, we are running down (sporting goods store) Foot Locker and stealing shoes."

- Richard Mannington Bowes, 68, was set upon by rioters in the west London suburb of Ealing, where hooded youths went on the rampage Monday, after he ventured out to stamp out fires and berate gangs for looting.

He was left in a coma and died in hospital on Thursday. Police arrested a 22-year-old man on suspicion of his murder on Friday.

- Footage of Malaysian student Asyraf Haziq Rosli, 20, being helped to his feet during unrest in Barking, east London, by a group of men who then empty his rucksack has become one of the defining images of the unrest.

The video of the attack, in which Asyraf's jaw was broken, has been viewed millions of times on the Internet.

There has been an outpouring of sympathy for him, particularly after he defiantly insisted that he was "determined to stay" in Britain.

- London police officer Gordon Murphy and five colleagues, armed with just two shields, fended off a 50-strong mob who were trying to loot a retail park in Catford, southeast London.

"We decided, as they ran at us, to rush back at them, with only six officers running back at 40," he told the BBC.

"The mad thing is, they all ran back so we didn't even have to make contact."

© 2011 AFP

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