Birmingham riot
Police officers in riot gear guard detain a man after shops were looted in Birmingham, central England, August 8, 2011. Reuters

Riots and looting in the United Kingdom have spread to Birmingham, about 120 miles north-west of the city of London. On Monday night, shop windows in the center of the city were smashed and the new Bullring shopping complex was attacked.

In what police and the British media are calling a "copycat riot," gangs of masked youth set fire to buildings and cars in the northern city. Police have closed the Birmingham New Street railway station, the city's main train station. Additionally, the English national cricket team was confined to their hotel when violence broke out around them.

The team is scheduled to play India in Birmingham on Wednesday, and is staying at a hotel in the center of the city.

"Just seen the rioters in Birmingham fleeing down the main street followed by a load of police in the full get up. What's going on?" tweeted English bowler Tim Bresnan.

"Police vans all around Birmingham where we are right now," Brensan's teammate Stuart Broad added.

The riots have also continued into the night in many parts of London. After starting in Tottenham late Saturday and early Sunday morning, the anarchy spread to Hackney, Peckham and Lewisham Monday afternoon and reached the neighborhoods of Ealing, Camden and Croydon by nightfall.

More than 300 police officers from other cities have come to the aid of London's metropolitan police. Anticipating further violence, police built barricades in Shepard's Bush and closed streets in Harlesden.

Additionally, stores closed in advance of potential looting in Stratford, Clapton and Islington.

Rioters seem to be targeting retails stores in particular. This fact has led many commentators in Great Britain to blame economic tension and massive unemployment among the poor -- especially poor youths -- for the events. So far, the only area of central London that was attacked was Oxford Circus, tellingly one of the most famous shopping areas in the city.

Moreover, high streets have been the focal point for riots in all of the neighborhoods in question. So far, officials have estimated that the damage in Tottenham alone has reached about 227,000 pounds (roughly $370,000).

A total of 215 people have been arrested so far and 27 charged. Police reported at least 26 officers injured.

The riots were spurred when police shot and killed Mark Duggan, a suspected drug dealer, in Tottenham. The residents of the London neighborhood staged a peaceful demonstration on Saturday, but the rally was soon spoiled when police and marchers clashed on the high street.

But the rioting is likely about more than just the death of Duggan, and the outflow of violence is also an outflow of frustration. England, like many European countries, is in the midst of serious fiscal inadequacies, and poor neighborhoods such as Tottenham and Hackney suffer most. Unemployment is rampant in such areas, especially among youth and minorities in North London.

"Tottenham is a deprived area. Unemployment is very, very high... they are frustrated," recently laid-off Uzodinma Wigwe told Reuters.

"We know we have been victimised by this government, we know we are being neglected by the government," said another middle-aged man who declined to give his name. "How can you make one million youths unemployed and expect us to sit down?"

Metro police, as well as a private agency, are investigating the riots and the shooting.