London Riots 2011: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly
Good Evening guys. There is only one subject of any interest to most people right now if your living in London, and that has been the the events taking place on the streets for the last three days. Never in my lifetime I have seen anarchy in my home city like I have witnessed these last few days.
Whilst reading reports in the newspapers, hearing first hand accounts looking at the shocking images and unfortunately witnessing parts of the madness first hand, I felt a range of different emotions. Anger towards the police, sadness for the victims of crimes, and anger/disappointment at the behaviour of a lot of people vandalising and looting.
Its very easy in cases like this to make an instant judgement of the people committing some of the crazy crimes we have seen but as a BWNG I believe everything must be broken down and analysed properly. I’m from one of these areas; my family and my friends are also and these individuals I see are not alien to me or most of you reading, believe it or not they are normal people. This is not something we can just brush under the carpet, something is wrong and something is happening for people to act this way. In various areas all over London (coincidentally all the poorest boroughs) the streets are packed with people, not a few but masses. These are children, parents, student,s gang members and any type of person you can think of. So why are they rioting and looting?
“A riot is the language of the unheard” - Martin Luther King Jr
I saw this quote on twitter posted by Nicole Black and its simplicity and relevance could not be put any better. I’m a firm believer in cause and effect; people will say that what is going on is not behaviour that fits with what people are trying to achieve but somehow my heart and my head are in conflict over this matter. Regardless of what we think about what’s going on now, we can not escape the underlying issues here. I hear things like “these people need to behave” “why are they embarrassing themselves?” and this makes me wonder 1) what state do people think London is in? and 2) are we realistic about where we live right now? People are poorer, funding for services for the youth are being cut dramatically leaving them on the street and people are being made redundant panicking over financial stability; if you’re shocked I think we must live in a different London.
For something to erupt though we needed an event and that was the shooting of a man in Tottenham on Thursday which provided the emotional catalyst for the events to come. We have two types of people it seems clear now:
1. those who make the rules
2. those who attempt to abide by them
We have reached a point where in the case of the police we have a group who some feel are unaccountable for their actions and when the public present their concerns they feel they are not heard. “They are above the law” I hear many people say and do not abide by the same rules ordinary citizens do.
On Thursday Mark Duggan was shot and killed by our tax-funded London Metropolitan police service, this service which is paid for by the people, to serve the people and ultimately only in existence because of the people seems to have failed us once again. We were informed via the media that he was shot and killed after firing shots at a police officer with a bullet lodged in one of the police officers radios as a result. Last night however Guardian and Sky News informed us the bullet lodged in the radio may have actually been a police issue; something his family had taken into account beforehand. With this in the public domain it is fair to say that the people have a right to question how this service is being run and what they are being told. When did murder become a part of fighting crime? and why do police get away with changing stories that if those officers were a group of normal citizens they would be expecting jail time in excess of 100 years between them?
I can’t jump on my high horse and turn this into a moral crusade about what the public should and should not do because if I’m honest I don’t know and don’t pretend to. All I do is we live in a time where people feel they have no voice and are making a statement which rings louder than anything anybody could have put in speeches via some form of conference, which we have been doing since forever but falls on death ears.
This situation is not unique to the United Kingdom so we so called privileged people should wake up and realise that we are not special and immune from the ills of society. In Greece masses of people have been rioting, in Syria there have been recent riots also which have turned extremely violent and if I attempt to list every place in the world where there has been a riot in the last month I will have no space on this page for an article. People will say these are far more extreme cases which they probably are right in stating but part of the problem is still the same. The fact that we can be humbled and realise we are much further from a peaceful society than we have thought is a good thing because now we know more than ever work is needed.
Chaos is not exclusive to clips of other country’s problems on CNN, its in our backyard too. We now can see the reality of things we were missing and starting asking some questions. Why do we have a foreign policy which gets involved in everybody else’s business fight wars that have nothing to do with us whilst they are ignore their own backyard to such an extent that people are rioting and your police force is weaker than Arsenal’s defence? I know some people will say whatever happened to peaceful protesting, well despite the looters I think most people did exactly what they felt was right. I grew up in a deprived area where police abuse of power was normal towards ethnic minorities and I must admit we accepted it. Nobody saw the police as beneficial to them and they were rarely called to help with our problems because where we lived they only ever served to escalate them. So if you are not happy, confront them and let it be known and if I’m honest I’m happy that people will not accept people from their communities being mistreated anymore because you are from an undesirable postcode. If your whispers which turned to shouts and screams were not heard I suggest you try something else and be heard.
“It is better to be violent if violence is in your hearts than to put on the cloak of non violence to cover impotence” – Gandhi
The number of people that die in police custody per year in this country is ridiculous and the fact police officers are never charged does not send the right message. The public need credible stories not nonsense you feed to us like we are idiots. What happened to Mark Duggan? Smiley Culture? On a ground level most people will tell you the Tottenham riot started as a peaceful protest when violence towards a teenage girl was what sparked chaos. My job is not to speculate what did and didn’t happen however it would be very naive of people to believe that these riots are unexpected or the result of an isolated event. As said earlier this is not a riot in aid of one shooting, however this must incident must not be forgotten as unfortunately it has been massively overshadowed.
Also after three days of this, where is David Cameron, Nick Clegg or Boris Johnson?
Some people need to take a good honest look at themselves. Why people are burning down structures and businesses beneficial to you are beyond belief. This should not have been seen as an excuse to steal carpet, weave and rob trainers from JD sports. People were sending out broadcasts asking for people to meet up and come and get free stuff and smash things and calling it “fight the power”. This is nothing more than crazy behaviour especially where in some cases you are not looting franchises you are looting small family run businesses these people should be ashamed of themselves. Also the fact that people seem to be obsessed with JD Sports and stores which have plasma Television and MacBook pros makes me feel sad but hey this is the pitfalls of excessive materialism in our society. This started of focused on a sad event for a young man and his family and has turned into mass vandalism and burglary. London needs to examine itself deeply.
Let us remember those who should not be forgot and give our condolences to those who lost homes, businesses, their faith in people and the family of the deceased. R.I.P Mark Duggan, Smiley Culture, Kingsley Burrell Brown and all those whom I have forgot to mention.
What are your thoughts?