It apparently started with a pirate radio broadcast claiming a 14-year-old Jamaican girl had been raped in the back room of a shop in Perry Barr.
On Saturday it resulted in violence on the streets of Birmingham which left a man dead and 35 people in hospital.
Demonstrations had been held throughout the week outside the shop where the alleged incident took place and had been tense but not violent.
All that changed on Saturday afternoon after two public meetings, the second at the New Testament Church of God on Lozells Road, attended by two senior police officers and MP Khalid Mahmood.
Police confirmed last night that officers had been deployed to prevent people trying to storm the meeting.
A stabbing a short while later, which led to the death of a 23-year-old black man in Carlisle Road, appears to have led to a night of violence.
A string of "sporadic but serious" incidents ensued, which West Midlands Police admitted left their resources "stretched".
In all, 80 separate incidents were reported in both Lozells and Handsworth.
A man was stabbed at the Farcroft Hotel in Rookery Road, and 20 minutes later reports came in of a man being shot and another man being stabbed at the Uplands pub in Oxhill Road.
Shortly after 10pm, police were told one of their own officers had been shot in the thigh by a ball-bearing gun.
Yesterday, a press conference at Birmingham Council House was organised for black and Asian community representatives to issue a joint statement of condemnation.
This followed an earlier meeting of about 70 people, including local representatives and politicians, which participants later admitted had seen emotions running high.
Anthony Gordon, from the Partnership Against Crime, forcefully and to the loud applause of community groups and councillors asked the gathered journalists not to report unsubstantiated rumours or risk fanning the flames of a potential race war.
Earlier, another community representative, Justice Williams, had refused to condemn the role played by pirate radio stations in the eventual riots, describing them as a " communication tool" for the community.
She added: "We have just lost a sense of togetherness. It is very sad how a few people can hijack that.
"There's a few young people running around, and they are not representative of the community itself."
The joint statement, read by Ms Williams and Salma Yaqoob said: "Last night a precious life was lost in tragic circumstances.
"Others have been badly injured and a police officer has been shot and injured whilst carrying out his duties.
"We join with police in calling for calm at this tense time. We acknowledge community tensions, but escalating violence is not the answer."
Earlier, Khalid Mahmood, MP for Perry Barr, said: "I think the majority of the community is still very close together. I think the small number of people who were involved were predominantly from outside."