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Rioting now an all-class affair

From an organic chef and an opera house steward to a university student, a surprising picture emerged on Wednesday of some of the alleged troublemakers behind Britain’s worst riots for decades.

world Updated: Aug 11, 2011 01:57 IST

From an organic chef and an opera house steward to a university student, a surprising picture emerged on Wednesday of some of the alleged troublemakers behind Britain’s worst riots for decades.

While many involved seemed to fit a picture of youngsters from broken families marginalised by society, the first court appearances of some of the more than 1,000 people arrested suggested a broader cross-section took part.

In London alone, 770 people have been arrested and at least 105 have been charged. Reports said at least 40 appeared in court on Tuesday as authorities seek to fast-track suspects to clear the backlog.

Fitzroy Thomas, a 43-year-old organic chef along with his brother, Ronald, 47, was accused of smashing up a branch of the Nando's chicken restaurant chain in Clapham, south London, the Times daily reported.http://www.hindustantimes.com/Images/HTEditImages/Images/11_08_11-metro11.jpg

The duo pleaded not guilty in a London magistrates court and were remanded in custody, the paper said.

Nan Asante, 19, who recently joined as a steward at an outdoor opera venue in the upmarket London district of Holland Park, reportedly pleaded not guilty to looting a supermarket in the capital.

Another alleged rioter was a 20-year-old student at Essex University near London, Banye Kanon, according to reports, which said other suspects included a youth worker and a forklift truck driver.

The apparent involvement of such people in the riots will only deepen the debate over who and what was behind the outbreak of violence.

According to the Guardian newspaper, "There is no simple answer to the question: who are the rioters?"

While many were young men from poor areas, the rioters came from different racial groups, women also joined in and the ages of those involved ranged from their teens to their forties, said the paper.

Many commentators saw an element of opportunism -- as police lost control of the streets to hooded gangs, others helped themselves from shops after their windows were smashed.

But gangs of hooded youths from deprived areas were undoubtedly some of the main participants in the trouble, leading some to conclude that society's failure to integrate poor communities was a long-term cause of the riots