Rioting broke out today in the predominantly black area of Brixton in South London, where the first disturbances of Britain's spring and summer of street violence occurred in April.
The new outbreak in Brixton followed a night of scattered skirmishes between heavily reinforced police and gangs of youths throughout London and in the northwestern city of Manchester,
Deputy Rpime Minister William Whitelaw tonight signed a government ban on marches and demonstrations throughout metropolitan London for the next month.
Rioting and looting spread Friday night, turning much of London into a battleground, The Associated Press reported. Scotland Yard reported 350 arrests and more than 43 officers injured in London.
[Rioting erupted for the first time in the northern industrial cities of Brimingham, Ellesmere Port, Hull, Newcastle and Preston.]
Earlier today, Whitelaw toured Manchester and nearby Liverpool, where the current week of rioting -- centered in racially mixed areas of high unemployment -- began, and warned that water cannons could be added to the police arsenals if the rioting does not abate.
Whitelaw, who as home secretary is the Cabinet minister responsible for law enforcement in Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's government, said he will meet with the nation's police chiefs soon to discuss what further riot equipment their forces needed.
Whitelaw also said he could not rule out the use of Army troops if the riots cannot be controlled by police, but said he hoped the need would not arise.
He confirmed that the Thatcher Cabinet is studying a riot act making it a crime for anyone to be in the vicinity of a disturbance after a police warning is issued.
In the rioting in Brixton, police wearing visored helmets and carrying larger riot shields battled hundreds of mostly black youths throwing bricks and bottles, looting stores and burning hijacked vehicles.
The trouble flared on and off into the night after the afternoon arrest of a black record-store owner. The businessman, Lloyd Coxsone, had intervened when police were arresting another man in the same street where the rioting began in April. Coxsone was released and helped police calm the situation for a few hours by appealing to the crowds through a bullhorn.
But police later came under renewed, more intense attack by growing mobs of youths amid a swarm of spectators attracted to the area by radio and television reports of trouble. Many stores that had not been destroyed 13 weeks ago were broken into and looted.
Some photograhpers television crews were attacked by rioters and had their cameras smashed. Several hundred people attending a political meeting in the town hall in the center of Brixton to discuss the riots rushed to windows to watch looting of stores in the streets below.
Saturation policing of more than half a dozen areas of London where trouble was rumored helped police confine violence last night to smaller confine violence last night to smaller hit-and-run attacks and looting by both black and white youths in gangs of up to several hundred.
Police said they have been warned of trouble in other parts of city over the weekend, and have canceled leaves in order to have 2,000 officers available for street duty. Merchants responding to rumors sweeping the city have boarded up their windows along shopping streets in neighborhoods throughout London, including the fashionable King's Road in Chelsea.
Large numbers of police sweeping through Manchester in vans newly protected by wire mesh, resembling the missile screens on security vehicles in British-ruled Northern Ireland, dispersed large crowds of youths in the industrial city with relatively little looting. As in the Catholic Irish nationalist ghettos of West Belfast, the youths busied themselves primarily by pelting the police vehicles with rocks and bricks.
Prime Minister Thatcher had been scheduled to go to Liverpool today, but canceled her plans after being informed that an all-day city council meeting debating the riots there would leave little time for her to see officials. Some Liverpool politicians also warned that her presence could further inflame tempers.
But Thatcher did detour from an opening of a new office development in West London to meet four Asian community leaders from nearby Southall to discuss the disturbance there last Friday. It began with an invasion of the area by busloads of white youths from East London.
The community leaders said they told Thatcher of their concern about frequent attacks on Asians in many parts of London by neo-Nazi toughs. Afterward, Thatcher told reporters, "I was asked that when I condemned all extreme organizations, would I condemn fascist organizations, because it is they who cause a lot of the trouble. I happily comply with that request."