“Break out the batons”: London’s Oxford Street TikTok trend explained as dangerous challenge leaves netizens distressed

Chaos broke out on London’s Oxford Street on Wednesday, August 9, 2023, leading to nine arrests by the Met Police. It all began when a TikTok video urged people to show up at the shopping heartland of Central London and cause mass disruption. The TikTok post appeared to promote organized shoplifting from a store on the street. It mentioned a specific date, time, and dress code as well.

The post said:

“Don’t come if you can’t run.”

The post also urged people to come free of any weapons. London’s Mayor Sadiq Khan called the TikTok post “nonsense” and told people not to assemble on Oxford Street.

However, his words fell on deaf ears as flocks of youths turned up at the location on Wednesday and attempted to cause chaos. Several shops on the street, including a pharmacy and an optical store briefly closed their shutters after 3 pm on Wednesday as people started gathering.

Multiple videos of the police trying to fend off the youth and putting them in handcuffs have been posted on social media. One X (formerly Twitter) user Henry Chinaski commented on a post by Wall Street Silver and asked to break out of the batons. It’s unclear if the user encouraged the youth or sarcastically scoffed at them.

@WallStreetSilv That’s right. Break out the batons.

Mass disruption call on Oxford Street leaves netizens distressed

People online were both furious and distressed after watching videos of the disorder enfolding on Oxford Street on Wednesday. Some compared the situation with a similar mass disruption that occurred in Chicago, Illinois earlier this year. A few people blamed Mayor Sadiq Khan for being unable to retain peace and order in the city.

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@WallStreetSilv Why has everyone gone mad?

@WallStreetSilv They wanna be Chicago

@WallStreetSilv The TikTok mob crowd needs to be deported

@ArchRose90 This is what happens when children cannot be disciplined correctly at home,school or by the courts..!

Oxford Street right now. This is London under Sadiq Khan and Labour. A complete disaster. A total disgrace of a Mayor pic.twitter.com/oOs7Xzde65
This is the youth of London 🇬🇧

A trend on TikTok convinced them all to go to Oxford Street and rob a store.

Insanity. pic.twitter.com/jw6ZjL13f8

Heightened police presence around Oxford Street has been implemented

Met Police issued dispersal orders for 34 people, which means that the officers had the power to ban them from the street. The dispersal order is to remain in effect until Friday. In a statement, the Met said that they are continuing a “highly visible presence” in the Oxford Street Area.

“We will deal robustly with anyone coming to the West End intent on committing crime,” they added.

They arrested one person on suspicion of possible theft. Another was arrested on suspicion of assaulting an on-duty police officer while a third was arrested for public offence. Four other people were taken into custody on suspicion of violating the dispersal order.

Young people meet up on Oxford street to commit criminal acts in broad daylight. This is how little they fear the law in our capital city.

It’s a pity Sadiq Khan hasn’t found a way to charge £12.50 to stop lawlessness in London.

pic.twitter.com/xVHV2gWkTq

The police arrested two more people in Essex for conspiring to commit robbery in compliance with the TikTok post. A convenience store owner in Soho fought off around 12 people who had allegedly burst into his shop with the intent to steal. A gift shop and a McDonald’s restaurant were briefly attacked due to several fights breaking out among the crowd.

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Earlier on Wednesday, a large police presence was seen on Oxford Street with officers mounted on every corner and police vans parking on the side streets and the road. Security guards stood cautious at the entrances of the popular stores and initiated a thorough checking of visitors.

Young people who showed up from the social media posts gathered in groups and mixed with regular shoppers. Inside the Oxford Circus Tube Station, young men were being checked at the ticket barriers.

Two young men were handcuffed adjacent to a fast food restaurant and were led away by the Met Police as bystanders watched. Earlier on Wednesday, traffic around Oxford Street was temporarily stopped before West End security personnel and police officers tried to disperse the crowd.

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