Mark Stephens

Ed. note This is a special report on the London riots by Alex Aldridge, our U.K. correspondent. He previously covered the royal wedding for Above the Law.

When the London riots began on Saturday, few were overly troubled. The violence was, after all, in Tottenham, a poor neighbourhood up on the north edge of town which most middle-class people avoid.

But when it spread over the last couple of days to partially gentrified areas like Brixton and Hackney, we began to take notice. These places are our Lower East Sides and Williamsburgs, populated by young professionals who spend their weeks in Biglaw and other similar jobs, and weekends flouncing around in hipster uniform.

As you’d expect, the relationship between the young professionals and the Brixton/Hackney natives has never been great. But amid the current craziness — which has partly been generated by Britain’s awful record on social mobility — there’s been genuine fear that years of pent up anger could turn into blood-letting.

So it must have been with mixed feelings that Freshfields lawyers greeted the firm’s edict yesterday to leave work (and the relative safety of London’s financial district) early and go back to their riot-enveloped homes….

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