Fire. Riots. Looting. Police lockdown. Twenty-four hours in Manchester city centre – a timeline.
3.00 pm: Police have arrived at Piccadilly Gardens. Greater Manchester Police still maintaining that there is no evidence of riots tonight and this is simply precautionary. The convoy includes two police dogs vans, three police vans and two Tactical Aid Units.
5:00 pm: Youths in hoods with masked faces seen around Deansgate and Spring Gardens.
5:30 pm: A mob simultaneously hit Exchange Square, the surrounding area and the Manchester Arndale Centre. Windows shattered and some shops successfully broken into and rampaged including a huge attack on Foot Asylum.
5:45 pm: All yobs appear top have been chased off by Tactical Aid Units who remain on standby in the Exchange Square area and Arndale security have managed to chase out the mob and shut down swiftly with the help of police.
6:00 pm: Crowds gather in Piccadilly Gardens where the presence of riot police is increasing as are the sea of grey tracksuits and bikes.
6:45 pm: MM reporters phone in with sightings of hundreds of looters hitting Deansgate.
6:50 pm: Children as young as 10 and 11 are becoming a common sight among the swarms of yobs and seem equally aggressive as their older counterparts.
7:00 pm: Consistent stampedes up and down Market Street as bystanders refuse to move and get caught up in the tension.
Trams pile up in Market Street as the Metrolink vehicles are surrounded by an influx of yobs, protesters and onlookers at the popular city centre stop. Service is then suspended.
7:10 pm: Police pin down an anonymous man in Debenhams’ doorway attracting a lot of attention from protestors and rebel rousers
7:30 pm: The majority of rioters disperse into different directions many heading towards the Northern Quarter hitting stores like Tesco on the way but thankfully few signs of independent stores being hit so far.
7:40 pm: Brawls break out once more in Market Street and after a number of smashes a youth around 15 years of age deliberately and calmly sets alight an exposed window of Miss Selfridge.
7:50 pm: Police lockdown Market Street and await for fire services to arrive. Some onlookers and rioters remain while others scarper to other parts of town. Crowds are given final warnings that force will be used before police charge towards them wielding extended batons sending crowds of yobs towards St Peters Square and the Northern Quarter.
8:00 pm: Sun is starting to set, more and more bystanders are retreating home or inside by whatever means possible and MM reporters return to base as tensions grow worse and only thugs and police remain in a furious cat and mouse hunt on the city centre’s smoke-filled streets.
8:30 pm: Troops of hooded men and teens ascend up towards Piccadilly Station as the gardens are blockaded with riot police. MM reporters are trapped in the office and watch nervously ducked under the windows to avoid attracting attention to the glass-walled building.
9:30 pm: Looting continues, reports of an attack on Afflecks Palace flood in while one brave reporter ventures outside again nearly getting caught up with looters in the shops lining the Piccadilly Gardens bus station either side of City Tower.
10:00 pm: Rioters continue in separate groups around the city, businesses, banks, hotels and bus stops are smashed up and shops have been looted from Deansgate up to the top of the Northern Quarter. Nothing is safe.
11:00 pm: Rioters seem satisfied with their gains and appear to be leaving disparaged by a persistent GMP police force who have surprisingly announced just a mere 15 arrests at this point.
Midnight: GMP announces 100+ arrests and MM reporters finally head home as the office is no longer surrounded by roaming hooligans.
The day after the night before
11:00 am: MM reporters return to office and stroll around city to assess damage. Surprised by the lack of destruction left on the streets, only smashed windows and woodchip boards display the violence of last night.
Manchester City Council are praised for their fast response with almost all glass and litter cleaned up before 9am. Volunteers finish up the small amount left over and congregate finally in Piccadilly Gardens.
12:00 pm: Manchester Arndale Centre looks business as usual unlike the scene after 5 pm yesterday.
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