British Riots: Have the London 2012 Olympic Equestrian Venues at Greenwich Park Been in Danger?

Shopkeepers in the Greenwich district of London boarded up their shops on Tuesday as fears of rioting spread through England. (Matt Haynes photo/The Jurga Report)

I interviewed photographer/record producer/blogger/magazine publisher/board game impresario Matt Haynes today. He’s one of a cadre of blogging friends I’ve made who live in the Greenwich district of London. I’ve been so happy to find that Greenwich has a hyperactive hyper-local web scene; the bloggers all have great insights both to the community and to Greenwich Park, and are tuned in to the Olympics and what next year’s event will mean to their neighborhood.

Without exception, they all love the place and the Park. And still have an open mind about the Olympics.

The police closed the shopping district and, according to news sources, locked down Greenwich Park when rumors flew that a group of youths were gathering in the park. One web site showed the police lined up in front of the gates to the park.

Some thoughts from Matt Haynes regarding the potential impact of this week’s riots on Greenwich Park and the Olympics in general:

“Just for the record, my photos of people boarding up shops are all from the main square around Greenwich Market, which is literally a one minute walk from the park entrance.

“This time next year it will all be forgotten – you’re more likely to have problems with local residents’ groups, who think the horses (and spectators) are going to damage the park.

“Though if Americans *are* moving to Greenwich, can I plead with them to come out and use the local cafes and pubs and not just hide in their hotels – and not just to stay in Greenwich, either!

“It looks bad when you see pictures of people smashing windows, and obviously the shopkeepers were taking no chances, but you can’t really blame them for that. It only takes half an hour to nail some boards over your windows, and might save you a few thousand pounds. But we’ve had no trouble here, and most parts of London haven’t.

“Greenwich is odd, because the center (with the park and museums) is a UNESCO world-heritage site, while other parts of the borough (the parts the Olympic committee don’t mention), just a mile away, are some of the poorest parts of London.

“But there’s never any trouble — we don’t have ghettoes or segregation, everyone just mixes up together.

“It (the rioting) was just a couple of nights – the last two nights have been fine. And, as I say, we’ve never really done ghettoes and no-go areas in London. Even while all this has been going on, people have been walking about quite happily.”

To learn more:

Watch a Chinese television news report declaring the city unsafe for the Olympics

Read more of Matt Haynes’ insights into Greenwich on his Beware the Trees blog




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