What would a London-style riot in Tallinn look like?
A routine Munitsipaalpolitsei stop at the Tõnimägi tram stop ignites latent urban tension when police fine Priit Puunägu, a well-known rullnokk, for jänest sõitsmise eest. Priit attempts to flee the tram but is tackled by an officer and forced to accept a ticket. The other tram riders begin shouting at the police for harassing Priit.
September 8th, 17:15
A group of Priit’s friends and family begin a non-violent protest outside of the Munitsipaalpolitsei headquarters near Old Town. They claim that rullnokks have been specifically and systematically targeted by the Tallinn police for years. An ETV camera crew arrives at the protest and interviews Martin Linnuaja, Priit Puunägu’s best friend:
“Do you realize that someone driving a 20-year-old BMW at 180kph is five times more likely to be pulled over by the police than someone in any other car, driving at a much slower speed? Do you realize that a 22-year-old man with a shaved head is eight times more likely to be arrested for committing a crime than someone who hasn’t committed a crime? Did you know that last year, over 200 young men who list their profession as ehitaja were denied loans? Rullnokks have been pushed to the fringes of Estonian society for too long, and we’re not going to take it anymore!”
ETV captures footage of Martin turning to the crowd and screaming, “Tallinn: Mis sul viga on?” The mob responds with a deafening cheer; the ETV crew packs up its gear and leaves, fearing that the restive throng of rullnokks may become unruly.
September 8th, 22:38
Having begun to assemble at around 20:00, a massive group of rullnokks in Vabadjuse Väljak erupts into chant, repeating Martin Linnuaja’s words over and over again: Tallinn, mis sul viga on? Hungry, a small subset of the mob moves to a nearby hamburger stand and loots it. One of the looters screams, “Tasuta purks igale mehele!”
September 9th, 2:02
A group of rullnokks milling outside of Club Hollywood storms the entrance to the club and loots the bar. Terrified, a stag party from Liverpool flees the club; one of the stag partiers informs the British embassy of the incident, and, in turn, the embassy arranges evacuation of all British citizens in Estonia. A RyanAir jet is chartered, and 300 men are given one-way tickets to London Luton, leaving the next day.
Tallinn’s police chief issues an order to all units on patrol: Estonia’s tourism industry must not be compromised. Disperse every crowd of rullnokks using any means necessary.
September 9th, 16:22
Tallinn’s rullnokks begin to wake up. Martin Linnuaja organizes a second night of rioting and hamburger looting through the social networking website Rate.ee. He sends a message to a small group of rullnokks, instructing them to pass the message on to every rullnokk they know: the mob will meet in Vabaduse Väljak again at 20:00 and move on to loot every hamburger stand in town.
September 9th, 18:12
Taavi Merekiisu, the head of the Tallinn police department’s cyber crimes unit, intercepts the message on Rate.ee using sophisticated data forensics reverse-cryptology techniques (it was accidentally sent to him). Taavi informs Tallinn’s police chief of the plan, who suggests shutting down Rate.ee to prevent the mob from organizing further. Taavi disapproves of the police chief’s strategy, thinking it may further provoke the rabid rullnokks: he suggests that the police assemble an undercover unit to infiltrate the mob and arrest its leader. The police chief agrees and instructs Taavi, who is also the head of the Tallinn police department’s undercover unit, to bring together a team and attend the rally.
September 9th, 19:48
Taavi and his undercover team start driving to Vabaduse Väljak in a rented white van. To fit in with the rullnokks, they have all shaved their heads and are wearing tight jeans adorned with strategic holes. At 20:08, Martin Linnuaja addresses the mob: he tells them that they’ll begin the night by looting the nearby hamburger stand again. Although the manager of the nearby hamburger stand was well aware that his shop would be looted, he concluded that the number of hamburgers he would sell to rullnokks in the hour leading up to the looting would more than pay for what would be looted.
Taavi’s team identifies Martin Linnuaja as the leader of the mob but decides against arresting him during the riot for fear of upsetting the mob. Instead, having skipped dinner to attend the rally, the undercover unit follows the mob to the hamburger stand and enjoys a free burger each before going home.
September 10th, 8:12
A crack team of police sharpshooters, led by Taavi Merekiisu, who is also head of the Tallinn police department’s special weapons and tactics team, surrounds Martin Linnuaja’s apartment complex in Kristiine. They break the door down with a battering ram and, prepared to meet resistance from a heavily armed, militarized organized crime cell, are relieved to find only Martin Linnuaja – drunk, naked, and covered in hamburger wrappers – passed out on his couch.
The police spend 20 minutes trying to wake Martin up, allow him to shower to alleviate his hangover, wait for him to drink an entire pot of coffee, and then whisk him away to the police station to be booked and questioned. Once at the police station, they wait for half an hour until the first officer arrives at 9:00 and unlocks the door.
September 10th, 16:08
With the ringleader of the civil unrest in police custody, the rioting has completely stopped and journalists and pundits dissect the series of events. Two talkshow pundits pose the question, What caused these riots?, to their viewers, who call into the show and posit their hypotheses: prolonged police brutality against rullnokks, government spending cuts that disproportionately affected rullnokks, a two-tiered, polarized Estonian society consisting of only rullnokks and those with high school diplomas, the inherent laziness of rullnokks, chronic and widespread unemployment within the rullnokk community, and a number of other theories are submitted.
One of the pundits suggests asking Martin Linnuaja himself what the root cause of the riots was, so they call the Tallinn police station. Taavi Merekiisu, who also acts as the Tallinn police department’s switchboard operator, answers the phone and then hands it to Martin. The pundit asks Martin why he incited the riots that led to the looting of a hamburger stand. Martin responds that he was hungry.