TWO priests confronted violent men and youths to save an injured woman from a hail of rocks at the height of the Hackney riot.
Father Rob Wickham, rector of St-John-at-Hackney, and the Rt Rev Adrian Newman, Bishop of Stepney, went out on the streets after the trouble started when a teenager was arrested in the grounds of the church.
The rector takes up the story.
“We were out on the streets since 4 o’clock when riots first began in Hackney and we were following and praying through the area of riots that took place.
“Later in the evening we went to an area called Clarence Road near where I live. The looting was just beginning… there was a woman in her seventies who’d collapsed in the street and she’d broken her hip and the riot police had formed a little guard around her.
“People continued to throw rocks at the police even though there was a very injured woman just behind.”
Police then asked the clerics if they could ask the rioters to stop throwing rocks and other heavy objects because there was a danger of the woman’s being further hurt.
“We walked up the street,” the Rev Mr Wickham told Radio 4, “and went to any group of people we saw and said: ‘Look, it’s time to calm down a bit and let the ambulance take this woman away.’ Which they duly did.
“Once the ambulance had disappeared to take the lady to Homerton hospital, the police then disappeared and then it was back to the looting. It just carried on.”
Father Wickham told told Radio 4 that he was reminded of the saying “I am my brother’s keeper” and “to what extent do we break down the social barriers that exist in our cities?” and of the need to seek “the welfare of the city”, to tend to the interests of everybody.
David Altheer 130811