THE Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, said on Wednesday that riots in Manchester and Salford on Tuesday night were acts of “thuggery, vandalism, and theft”. Greater Manchester Police said that its officers had faced “unprecedented violence”.
Speaking on Wednesday morning, Bishop McCulloch, who had been in Manchester city centre since 7 a.m., said: “Here in the Manchester area we have young people out fighting in Afghanistan, putting their lives on the line for our freedom, and here we have these kids in a society that has put self-interest above everything else.”
He said that one of the lessons that had been learnt after previous episodes of violence in Manchester — including the IRA bomb in 1996 — was that “it is crucial for local morale that by the time people come in the next morning the city is looking as normal as can be.” He said that it was “heartening” to see hundreds of young people who had come to the city centre with brushes and pans, having been alerted on Twitter, the social-networking site. “It shows the majority of young people are law abiding.”
A special prayer meeting will be held tomorrow afternoon, between 2.30 - 4 pm, at St Ann's Church in the city centre. "It is a time to pray now as we seek the peace and prosperity of our city for all people," the organisers, Network EA Manchester, said in a statement.
There was also unrest in Birmingham on Monday and Tuesday evenings. Three people died on Tuesday night after being hit by a car.
The Secretary for Minority Ethnic Christian Affairs at Churches Together in England, Bishop Joe Aldred, who is based in Birmingham, told Premier Radio on Wednesday that the riots involved “a mix of people. There are anarchists, there are disaffected young people, of all colours and ethnicities, and there are other people who are extremely opportunistic.”
The Revd Arun Arora, a Pioneer Minister in Wolverhampton, said that a group from his church had caught the train to Birmingham after morning prayer on Tuesday, armed with bin liners. “Christians are part of the response and standing up,” he said.
The Bishop of Liverpool, the Rt Revd James Jones, who is recuperating after surgery, said that the city was “very much in my prayers”, after violence broke out in the Toxteth area on Monday night.
The Area Dean of Toxteth and Wavertree, Canon Mark Stanford, said: “Community relations in this area are good, which makes it especially sad that this has happened. It is a real shame that a few people have tried to disrupt the strong sense of community cohesion in this area for the sake of looting.”
Toxteth churches were open on Tuesday, and churches elsewhere in Liverpool held prayer-meetings.