A defiant grandmother stood like a beacon of hope amid the wreckage of Wolverhampton city centre. Courageous Louise Johnson refused to move from outside her hairdressing salon as scores of rioters rampaged down Queen Street looting stores. The 52-year-old mother-of-four who has five grandchildren, faced the baying mob with arms outstretched as they threatened to destroy her business. As police in riot gear watched motionless from either end of the street she screamed: “You are not having my shop.”
A defiant grandmother stood like a beacon of hope amid the wreckage of Wolverhampton city centre.
Courageous Louise Johnson refused to move from outside her hairdressing salon as scores of rioters rampaged down Queen Street looting stores.
As police in riot gear watched motionless from either end of the street she screamed: “You are not having my shop.”
Amazingly, they did what they were told and left Louise’s Hair Salon untouched while wrecking other stores on either side of it.
Miss Johnson, who has run the salon for almost two years, admitted afterwards: “It was like being in a war zone but I had no intention of letting them wreck everything I had worked so hard to build up.
“I spoke to them in language they understood. They are animals and I addressed them like animals.
“I just put my arms out wide with my hands held in the air and said words to the effect of ‘you are not having my shop.’
“I have worked too hard to let it be wrecked by people like that. My legs ache because I spend so long on my feet each day cutting hair.
“Some of that mob were kids. They looked no more than 12. The oldest was probably aged 20. Some of the girls were more vicious than the boys.
Miss Johnson, who lives in Field Street, Heath Town, said: “I saw girls with hammers in their handbags. They just took the hammers out, cool as you like, and used them to smash the windows of shops that were then looted.
“Meanwhile the police were just standing at the end of the road doing nothing. I could hardly believe my eyes. If I had done nothing then my shop would have been ransacked like the others.
“I was not moving. I was prepared to die with the salon and I think the rioters realised that. They must have seen it in my eyes. I meant every word of what I said.
“They came down Queen Street like something you would see in Zulu. There seemed to be hundreds of them. They had gone mad. They had iron bars.
“No way in hell I am having these kids destroy my business. They could have killed me but I did not care because I wanted to protect what was mine.
“I was not frightened at the time but the stress hit me when I got home last night. I broke down and had a good cry.”
Miss Johnson, who brought up her four children as a single mother and was back at work as usual today, said: “I have lived in Heath Town for the last 36 years and it was not easy but I managed. I brought them up with little but with manners. I believe that if you do not have manners and respect for others, you are finished.
“There is no excuse for the way that mob behaved last night. They were not making a political point it was just crime for crime’s sake. They were looting and vandalising for kicks.
“They were hyped up. It was just a bit of excitement for them but they were destroying the livelihoods of decent people in the process.
“They were shocked by the language I used when telling them off. I said that I was using those words because they were the only ones they would understand.
“If they come back again I will stand outside the shop. I am not leaving. If I had not stood outside yesterday they would have destroyed it.”Subscribe to our Newsletter