Panic On The Streets of Everywhere: UK Riots OPEN THREAD

If you are an Autostraddler living in the UK, or outside the UK and haven’t somehow been lying under a rock these past few days, then you are well aware that there has been a rash of rioting throughout the country beginning with violence Saturday night following a protest in Tottenham, North London reportedly over the death of Mark Duggan, who was killed by police. Following the riots in Tottenham, London has erupted with violence and unrest all over the city, resulting in the death of a 26-year-old man from Croydon and rioting has spread to other major cities over the past several days, including Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, Leeds, Bristol, Nottingham, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton. Buildings are being looted and set on fire with ruthless, unfathomable force by large groups of actual human beings.

UPDATE: Very sad to update that three men were also killed in Birmingham early Wednesday morning. Haroon Jahan, Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir were run over by a car while helping a group guard a petrol station and shops from looters. Jahan’s father, Tariq, had this to say to The Guardian: ”I lost my son. Blacks, Asians, whites – we all live in the same community. Why do we have to kill one another? Why are we doing this? Step forward if you want to lose your sons. Otherwise, calm down and go home – please.”

Mother Jones has a really good explainer up for those who are looking for more information about what’s happening and why

There is obviously a whole lot to talk about here and many, many feelings that need to be discussed and made sense of. There’s the nagging question of why — of why things escalated so quickly and to so many places and why are the people involved smashing their neighbors instead of the state and to what degree are the riots outside of Tottenham the work of some opportunistic jerks as opposed to frustrated young people with legitimate grievances — which, of course, are not mutually exclusive and certainly there are both, in any case. Why, when the government’s economic policies are part of what’s fueling the unease, are rioters creating a massively expensive situation for taxpayers and legislators that will only further deplete anyone’s ability to adequately put the pieces back together and get people back on their feet – the guardian points out that “though some of the looters have tried to justify their actions by portraying their victims as rich, many of those hardest hit are family businesses that will struggle to rebuild after being devastated by the rioters.”

There’s the question of where do we go from here, how do we begin to address the underlying systemic issues in a constructive manner? There’s the issue of the ugly racism, classism, ageism and anti-immigrant sentiment that has been popping up, especially through social media. There is the issue of the lack of leadership — Prime Minister David Cameron’s waiting until day three to return from his holiday in Italy and Theresa May’s address leaving, well, much to be desired. And, of course, there are those among us who will need to vent, to be angry, to be disillusioned, to be afraid, to share stories, to reach out to others. There are those of us who are horrified by the senselessness and unabashed violence, disgusted by the videos and pictures they see on TV.

That’s why we’ve got this open thread. Any feelings you have, or things you want to discuss, let’s get it going in the comment thread below. 

And at times like this, when the worst elements of humanity are out in full force, be they the thugs attacking their own neighbors and communities or the thick, inept individuals in power who create the conditions which breed unrest of this nature, there are the members of the Sikh community in Southall coming together to protect the neighborhood and houses of worship, not to mention Muslims, Hindus and people of all faiths watching out for one another. There were the Turks and Kurds in Dalston who protected local businesses and worked to drive looters away from the area. And there are the blessed tea-partiers (the good kind) calling for calm in true British fashion and, perhaps most reassuring of all, the so-called “Riot Wombles,” assembling through Facebook and Twitter and showing up en masse with bin bags and brooms to clean up their cities. I know here in Liverpool Tuesday morning, more than 100 people showed up, mostly young people who got involved through social media efforts, on Smithdown Road and in the city centre to clean and managed to get the job done in a matter of hours.  The kids — most of them, anyway — are, still, indeed all right.

And then there is this woman, from Hackney, calling for rationality in the midst of chaos and being absolutely amazing:

 

It will take a while for the smoke to clear, but in the meantime, there are some signs of hope. Stay safe, everyone. 

Broom brigade in Clapham. The solidarity and humanity I’ve seen today — with the cleanup in Liverpool too — in the wake of the worst bits of humanity (whether it be opportunistic violence &amp; dickheadedness of the rioters or the thickness &amp; ineptitude of those in power who create the conditions which lead to rioting) is inspiring and reassuring. Love in public, to paraphrase Dr. Cornel West.<br />
(image source)

(Source: @Lawcol888)

 

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20something, Midwesterner, writer, travel junkie and occasional game show contestant.

Lindsay has written 26 articles for us.

117 Comments

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    I have been following this…some people make me sick. I have friends over there and not only are they put in danger because of people acting like animals, but there are other innocent people suffering because their businesses and homes have been looted or burned down. All for what?

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    I heard from someone today that because the damage caused to businesses is because of a riot that it’s not covered by insurance….surely that cant be true is it? And it pisses me right off when anyone says, oh but it’s because of unemployment and lack of opportunity that they’re doing this…no, it’s because they’re f*cking scumbags! Many of us in this world have a lack of opportunity but that doesnt mean we go and physically wreck the places where we’re from, and wreck the livelihoods of people in our areas. This is pure terrifying anarchy and there is no excuse for it, people are acting like they’re feral, they need to be rounded up and be made to pay for the damage they’ve caused. I hear talk of them shipping over rubber bullets and water cannons from Northern Ireland, and I hope they do, it’s the least these wastes of space deserve!

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      I really disagree. I do not condone anything the rioters did and still stand by the idea of peaceful protest. But this kind of shit has been brewing for a while Britain, and as people are saying, it is a class riot of sorts. People keep saying ‘They keep smashing up *their own community*’. Well, clearly they feel a deep disconnection and disenfranchisement from that community and that means something.

      Rioting is very political and very disturbing and also very complex. But it is too easy to say “shoot the scumbags”. Let’s remember some riots of the past from people who were so fed up and disenfranchised– and how history views those movements now.

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        THIS. Do I think they’ve gone too far? Yes. But from what I heard they tried to start a peaceful protest at the police department following the death of Mark Duggan, and were completely ignored, by the media and everyone. Now they’re getting attention, which is clearly what they wanted, but they’ve also garnered some copycats, and so this has all become rather counterproductive to what they wanted. Still… can I understand being so angry at my government/the systems of oppression under which some of us live, that I want to do something fucking crazy? Hell yeah.

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          And by “do something fucking crazy,” I actually mean yell into a pillow and/or write a really angry blog post. But I totally relate to the sentiment.

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          As some one who has spent a lot of time protesting I can say that I am not sure that I buy that protesters escalated to violence to get attention. Its far far more likely that violence was sparked by law enforcement who aren’t properly trained in crowd control and protesters who aren’t well versed in nonviolent responses to authority.

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          I mean… they were being ignored and now they’re certainly not being ignored, is all I mean… I think they wanted attention to be drawn to the race and class issues they were suffering under, or at least they wanted people to be aware that they were becoming pretty disenfranchised with it and intolerant. I certainly don’t mean it in an, “Oh, they’re just attention whores” sort of way. I don’t think that at all.

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          I think you give most of the mass too much credit. From what I take from this, a lot of people are using the protests as a way to cause shit and loot. Mob mentalities are frightening and difficult to suppress, especially when some justification (whether it be right or wrong) can be used.

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          THIS.

          Let’s not be naive or idealistic, the 9, 10 and 11 year olds I saw yesterday were not there because of disenfranchisement. They can slap whatever excuse on it they want but they’re commiting criminal acts and there is no justifying it.

          Shopping yesterday at 2pm in the afternoon is now one of the most haunting experiences of my life. I just wanted a picture frame!

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          Yeah, really. Echoing what Hayley says below, there’s also the obviously employed, not exactly impoverished youth, 31-year-old EDUCATOR Alexis Bailey.

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        Thank you for saying this much more graciously than I could have.

        It’s really easy to say “You should not do that!” Because it’s hard for a lot of people to understand the desperation, anger and disenfranchisement that propels riots. They’re also ignoring the simple fact of crowd psychology.

        Is it terrible that this is going on? Absolutely. Rioting isn’t like the end goal, it isn’t a viable protest plan. But it’s a reaction that shouldn’t be ignored or dismissed because we abhor violence.

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        And even if they do feel a disconnection with their community….how is this an excuse for creating scenes like this-> http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2011/0810/1224302183182.html I dont want to shoot the rioters, I want them to be arrested, immediately, before they end up killing someone, the woman in that photo is lucky to be alive, how long till something else happens and an innocent bystander dies. You look at this video and tell me these people are doing this as a form of protest-> http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2011/aug/09/rioters-steal-injured-boy-s-backpack-video Disenfranchised or not, no human being should resort to acting like this, there is NO excuse for it. As is clear from that video, some of these rioters are opportunistic criminals who are using this situation to commit crimes and make a quick pound and that is shameful.

        And im quite aware of what it’s like to live in a country where people are incredibly fed up of the situation, im from Ireland, and we went from being one of the richest countries in Europe to one of the poorest in a few years, and now there are no opportunities anymore, not for me, nor for most other people, now our only options are to go on benefits or to emigrate, dont you think we’re incredibly pissed off about that, of course we are….but as angry as we may be, resorting to destroying property and peoples livelihoods and attacking police is never an option to be considered. I know people are angry, im angry, ive never been more angry, but putting people’s lives in danger is not acceptable, and that is what is happening here.

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          Some of the rioters are opportunistic criminals, but not all are. It’s good that you’re aware of what it means to be disenfranchised but obviously you don’t feel as though you’ve been pushed to a point where your options are to die or to lash out violently.

          This isn’t just about economy. This is about systematic and systemic racism and classism. This is about being essentially worthless to your entire society and being treated as such for your entire life. This isn’t just about not being able to get a job… It’s about not being able to live.

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          As an unemployed person I am also a burden as such, worthless to society if you will. And, as a gay woman in this country im also considered a 2nd class citizen, and this is enshrined in law, and my peers and I are regularly subjected to blatant homophobia and bigotry as a result of the fact that we were born gay. The fact that im 2nd class makes me more angry than I can even express, as it should, but yet I do not resort to violence to try and remedy the situation. Instead, my peers and I created a group which advocates for equality and elimination of homophobic bullying and all forms of homophobia and oppression against gay people. Despite our extreme levels of anger at the injustice of being an oppressed minority, in order to get our point across we organise this-> http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=215922995104184 instead of resorting to violence. If we, as an oppressed and incredibly poor minority, (well a lot of us are incredibly poor these days) can get our point across like this, why cant these people.

          I mean, maybe these people are subjected to racism and classism, but who’s to say that that is worse than homophobia, they are all equally as damaging, all of these make whoever has to suffer as a result of them angry, but it’s how we react to this is what counts. The people in this situation may be oppressed, but my god, it is not so bad that it requires them to lash out or to die, that’s ridiculous!!

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          Right, so let’s say that during your March you end up barricaded somehow by the police. There are hundreds of people crowded into one spot, maybe thousands, no one is entirely sure what happened, no one knows what’s going on. Then there’s a shove, people are knocked over. Did it come from behind the barricade? Did it come from the police? Some one screams. Now people are confused, scared and being pushed around. They push back. You push back because some one just elbowed you because they were pushed and now you’re just trying to keep your ground and there are people yelling all around you and there are voices over the megaphones threatening arrest and you get hit by something…

          Can you swear that with all of the anger that you have at being treated so poorly that you will absolutely keep your head and not at all react violently? Can you swear that everyone else that is marching will keep passive in case violence happens?

          Protests are scary. Oh sure it’s all fun and games when we’re beating drums and marching on parade floats and glitter bombing and singing. But it isn’t always fun and games and any time there are a group of people together who are angry and who are disenfranchised and who are passionate about their cause there is a very very fine line between protest and riot.

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          I can understand the passionate response being one that wasn’t expected…but can we really say that days later, it’s still an act of passion?

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          Yes I can swear that we will not react violently because this is the 3rd year we’re running this, and we get around 5,000 angry people at these protests, and somehow we manage to not wreck the place and attack the police.

          And you must remember that over zealous police tactics did not start this off, this started because at the time the violence kicked off there wasnt enough police around, that was the problem, the problem was started by a few opportunistic criminals who wanted to create a bit of mayhem, and they overshadowed the people with legitimate concerns and grievances completely. Yes some of these people have hard lives, but christ almighty, from the way they’re reacting you’d swear they had to live under the regime of Colonel Gadaffi or Saddam, a lot of people dislike Cameron, and the British government, but it’s not bad and oppressive enough to deserve a violent response of this magnitude!! The only cause these looters are passionate about is getting free stuff and trying their best to get back at and hurt the police. And look im all for protest, ive been doing it for years, but when the protest endangers the lives and the livelihoods of others it is not something I could ever agree with.

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          Some of what you’re saying amounts to victim blaming – and I think that we should look at the underlying problems of what caused these riots without calling for immediate arrests of everyone there. Sure, some people were opportunistic looters, but others had legitimate, desperate concerns.

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          I’m sorry but I have to disagree… If some minority group are genuinly protesting at either the shooting of that young man or the cuts happening in th welfare system… I have not seen the placcards, candle light vigils, heads of protest groups or any sort of representation on television or other media of this group of people. For those of you with sympathic views that there is a social reason for this mindless violence & theft. tell me where the legitmate protesters are?? Where are they??

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          You’re limiting protest to one single form. Sure it’s a commonly seen methods, but that doesn’t mean every protest needs to conform to that model.

          People protest with what they have. They wealthy have money, they buy the changes they want it their community. The middle class have lots of people, they band together and create a voice. What do those at the bottom of the pile use when they have no money and no voice?

          I’m not saying the answer is to riot. I’m saying everyone looks at the world differently, and maybe if the peaceful protesters from saturday felt they had a voice this whole chain of events from peaceful protest to violent riots wouldn’t have happened.

          The world is built on hierarchy, the capitalist model favoured by the west wouldn’t work without it. Those at the top impose a world order that prevents much change to the structure below, then wash their hands of responsibility of any consequences. The rioters are responsible for their actions, but they’re not responsible for living in a world where they (those in that moment on saturday night when it all started) see the consequences of their actions being no worse than what they’re already dealt.

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          I think you misunderstand me– I hate violence, I hate what has been happening, and many stories have sickened me, too. Totally. But what I am saying is that there are systemic reasons for this behaviour… and when the rioters are simply dismissed as dirt, scum, non-citizens… we dismiss the idea that this came from SOMEWHERE, and it could keep happening unless the issues are addressed.

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          Yes indeed, im sure there are reasons, and I wonder if some of these problems can even be rectified properly. I dont envy the people who have to really figure out how to decrease unemployment, create more opportunity and get people interested in and caring about their communities once again. If they achieve that then maybe people would think twice before acting like this again, we can hope.

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      it’s the racism and classism that shocks and scares me, more than anything the rioters are doing. calling someone a scumbag, an animal, or feral is another form of violence, and in some ways it’s a lot more damaging than a wrecked car or even a trashed business. what’s more, many of these people have been called that their whole lives, before they ever committed any crimes, by the very communities that are now claiming to be theirs. a society can’t violate somebody’s integrity like that over and over again, while waving its fancy clothes and technology in their faces, and not expect them to lash out.

      poverty is about way more than not being able to find a job. i’m unemployed right now, and i don’t have much money, but i’m not trapped in poverty. i’m lucky enough to have a support network, a good education, and the hope that i will find a job soon enough. i honestly can’t imagine where i’d be without any of those things to keep me going.

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        I was trying to not comment because I don’t want to get too worked up over this. But I agree so much with what you say.

        I’m a pacifist and disagree with any and all forms of violence. Especially what’s going on here, I hope people are held accountable for their actions individually. But as a group… even trying to imagine how disenfranchised with society a group of people would have to be to resort to this is an impossible situation for me. It’s not being a little upset, or just throwing a tantrum.. its systematic oppression that runs so deep in the community that there are people who have got to the point that causing this much damage isn’t going to make anything worse. It isn’t something you can measure how long its been brewing in weeks or years, instead decades and generations.

        How much have we failed as a society to let anyone get to this point?

        There is so much talk in the media, and especially on social media on how this ‘scum’ need to be dealt with, but it’s by the people whose lives are better from this stratified society. The politicians, or those who’ve had the opportunities to get an education and have been provided by society the opportunities to cope with times of strife. You push people down to the point that they see no light coming from the small opening above them and leave them there for long enough anything seems like a valid option. Even if those people lucky enough to be on the other side agree or not.

        Any solutions that the politicians and police come up with is only going to put a band aid on the problem unless there is something done on a mass scale to empower and engage with the community to break the cycle of poverty. From the rhetoric i’ve seen so far, all they want is a band aid to hide the problem, and silence the voices of dissent.

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          Invariably it’s the person who still has something to lose that can’t understand being in a place where you actually have nothing to lose. A lot of the demonization of the rioters comes, essentially, from a place of unexamined privilege.

          I think that everyone wants to believe that there are nonviolent ways to effect large social change but I don’t know if that’s necessarily the truth. It’s not like race riots are rare, and totally unheard of. Ugh, I dunno. I have a lot of feelings about this whole issue (as evidenced by my spamming this thread) but man… feelings, potentially unpopular and argument starting feelings.

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          “feelings, potentially unpopular and argument starting feelings” I understand this. Hence my reluctance to say anything at all.

          And while I agree that it might not be possible to effect all change peacefully, I deeply wish it was. I’m going to carry on holding onto that as tightly as I can, for as long as I can.

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      As someone whose friends and family live in London, many of whom work in the emergency services, I really hope they don’t bring over the water canons and rubber bullets. Considering the way our police respond to peaceful protest I think that would set an incredibly dangerous precedent. I also really really hate the way people against it are saying “oh we’ve never used them on the mainland before and we don’t want to now” like its OK to do stuff in Ireland that you wouldn’t dream of doing to your mainland citizens.

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        The ethics of those sort of tactics asside, water cannons would have been useless against small and highly mobile groups of people in mostly residential areas. These aren’t huge blocks of people moving against the police in one set location.

        The talk of rubber bullets and water cannon has propaganda value for the politicians seeking to address people who want to play toy soldiers against the folk devil of the scary urban youth…
        And you can guarentee that half of them live in the Cotswolds anyway.

        Morally, tactically and psychologically it would have been a terrible idea, not least because it just heightens the sense of drama and the kind of desperate glamour attached to action of rioting. This isn’t urban warfare. It’s a smashed in Poundland and a burning dustbin.

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    Yeah it makes no sense. Cops kill one person quite possibly in bad form. Response: WE’LL KILL AND SMASH EVERYTHING IN THE NAME OF HOW UNJUST THIS IS.

    :_(

    Just like VANCOUVER LOSES A HOCKEY CUP –> DESTROY EVERYTHING! MAKE THE NICE PEOPLE CLEAN IT UP.

    Even sadder is how much money all of these kind of riots/behaviors are costing the entire cash strapped world (well the % of those not rich).

    I’m glad most of us gays don’t start destroying things when gay issues are held back. The best progress is progress with progressive thinking and action (aka non-violent.)

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        See Diane’s and Riese’s comments below.

        Also the Stonewall Rioter’s didn’t proceed to rob each other and burn down the entire West Village. I understand the importance of Stonewall and that it was violent. This nor the Vancouver riots are Stonewall.

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          Is it terrible that people are doing bad things? Absolutely. But it isn’t as cut and dry as you’ve made it seem in your first comment.

          Also I would hesitate to compare a race riot, which is pretty much what’s happening in England to a game riot because your team lost. One is a reaction to systematic and systemic racism and classism and being put into a place where you have really nothing left to lose and the other is an inability to properly parse disappointment, anger and grief mixed with copious amounts of alcohol and mob mentality. They are very different and it’s almost irresponsible to compare the two.

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          While the Stonewall riots were definitely not on this scale, they actually were horribly violent, and did involve burning and intimidation on a large scale. We forget that it wasn’t a peaceful glitter-filled event. I’m a pacifist to the end, but many times violence does bring about a desired end — such as in Stonewall.

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    During the LA riots there was a lot of violence aimed at family businesses which all came out of legit race related anger.

    I think a certain amount of anger coupled with a lack of outlet within your own government can just take you there. Obviously these people are not in a place where considering the benefits of nonviolence is an option. To be absolutely fair, they’ve been put upon by unaddressed systemic violence for years.

    It’s really easy to criticize people for being violent without taking into account the kind of oppression that has made them just snap.

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    My girlfriend’s over there. Even though she checks in which tells me she’s alive & well, I still worry being there’s increased police activity in town and she’s got work in the morning…

    Stay safe everyone, You’re in my heart.

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    Mob mentality is a scary thing. Hearing this news has made me think about how awful this would be — WAS if you think about the civil rights riots — in Washington, D.C., it puts in to perspective how awful it is for every day people to go through this. My thoughts are with everyone who is being safe & sane. I hope they get things under control soon.

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    also the word ‘violent’ gets thrown around a lot when you’re accusing people of smashing some things that aren’t necessarily alive. they’re things.

    if police don’t want riots they shouldn’t kill people and not expect folks to get angry. sean bell, oscar grant, amadou diallo, queers rioted even after matthew shephard was killed (not by police; and a lot of these things have to do with police mismanaging situations/making already disenfranchised people even more pissed like that one person said).

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        Yes, this. And although I agree with you, bani, especially on the second part, I take a bit of issue with ‘they’re things.’

        Yes, they’re things, and destruction of property is not as grave of a crime as doing harm to a sentient being, but in some cases, the destruction of property is doing damage to their livelihoods and people who can’t afford insurance are getting their homes and cars wrecked or their small, local businesses are being destroyed. Smashing up a Tesco or a high street chain shop is one thing, but for some people, the destruction of ‘things’ will actually bring some serious harm, especially if they’re struggling economically as well.

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    I was born in London, England and raised there til I was nine. It is images like the last one in this article that make me feel so proud to be from England. I felt the same way after the July attacks on the Underground…when people just went back to work the next day.

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      The best thing about being out and about yesterday was seeing how calm everyone was and how normal the day was. People were at pubs, picnicking, and generally enjoying the nice day well into the early evening. Things were positively serene even if a few shops were broken into, stores were closing early, and the streets were crawling with police.

      Actually I witnessed numerous people go out of their way to be kind to the police. It was all very heartwarming.

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    I think the consensus is that the riots originally started out as a stand against unnecessary police brutality and quickly descended into madness.

    I agree that protesting can lead to change ala Egypt, Stonewall, etc.

    This to me seems more like people (I don’t feel comfortable saying youths) falling into the allure of the mob mentality and really creating mayhem by destroying and looting (ala Vancouver).

    That being said, I pray for a peaceful resolution to the rioting.

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    Thanks for this open thread, I’ll be following the comments. I don’t feel like I know enough to comment intelligently on the riots or their cause(s), I just hope that the Autostraddlers are staying safe.

    And I love the pictures of the communities gathering together to clean up their communities.

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    Thanks for reporting this story autostraddle. it seems really out of control over there and hard to understand. I feel like in other news reporting venues the riot story has been overshadowed by economic doom.

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    I lived roughly one block away from the violence in Brixton and I know many people who have been affected by the violence in other places. I honestly wish i was in London right now…I miss my friends and I wish I could confirm that they are okay….

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    I live about 20 minutes away from London, and for once I’m glad I don’t live in the city itself. So many friends there who I’m scared for, but they’ve been checking in on Twitter and saying they’re okay.

    I don’t understand the smash-everything-to-make-it-better mentality. Lots of kids don’t have anything to do/are pissed off the conservative government and they don’t go out looting and setting places on fire. Things have been a lot better in London tonight thanks to an increased police force (i.e. people can’t get away with it any more) but are now worse elsewhere, it seems.

    Mainly I’m just frustrated that a lot of news places blame the youth, and try and tar everyone with the same brush. Kids my age and younger than me are causing a lot of this havoc, and it makes me ashamed – both of being a young person, and of being British.

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      Woah, there, friend. Never be afraid of being British or who you are. You aren’t causing the violence, mate. There are a lot of disgruntled people who are acting you. England is a wonderful country and you are wonderful people. These are kids who are acting out because they are poorly brought up—nothing else…

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    did anyone see that video of the guy who was injured and the people who looked like they were gonna help him up but instead they stole stuff from his backpack and pockets and walked away, that was maybe one of the most upsetting things i’ve ever seen in my entire life. what is this.

    also this is a thing that made me generally sad

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    I just don’t know. I’m loathe to fully condemn the actions of people who face systematic injustice in a way that i haven’t experienced. But I also dislike violence as a choice of action in any situation.

    A lot of people seem to be latching on to the image of youths raiding electronics stores. Who are the looters – POC or white, disenfranchised or middle-class? What are they doing with the stuff they get, selling it or keeping it? Maybe they’re taking this stuff as a symbol of a greater want and need. Maybe they just want a fancy tv.

    I’ve seen a lot of calls from adults, even within the communities affected, to end the “senseless violence.” But I’m 23 and I know I’ve had and continue to have a senseless desire for action, a raging need to be heard, and few outlets. And I hardly face oppression. Maybe this is just what happens. Maybe once this is all done they shouldn’t be condemned as “senseless” kids, but offered new, healthier outlets.

    Obviously I hope it all ends soon and the violence stops, but I also hope that this isn’t completely written off. There must be some underlying message that should still be recognized.

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      I think part of the problem is that in general once things go back to normal the underlying causes are still there. That’s why… when you think of moments of great social change… Things didn’t go back to normal.

      People continued to occupy and obstruct even after the anger had faded because they had reached a point where they had no other choice. Typically though what happens is the streets are cleaned up, the people go home and go back to work and things go back to normal and the cause, the steam that had been building and building until it exploded is never really examined because it’s left to dissipate.

      I dislike violence as a course of action but I feel like the threat of violence is sometimes one of the only ways to actually be heard as opposed to being brushed off. But I also feel like that’s dangerous ground to tread on.

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      I know, it’s very hard to get your head around. Also, I’m worried what this is going to do for PROTESTING.
      I’ve been on a lot of protests, especially after the conservatives came into power, and the media coverage was ridiculous. It was just showing EVERYONE as violent thugs and just out to start fires and cause troubles, when all i wiitnessed was a united group of people peacefully trying to be heard. Guaranteed these rioters, the ones setting fire to homes, cars, stealing and destroying small businesses will have a massive impact on that.

      People cannot be afraid to be heard by their country, but we need to have a country LEFT to be heard by.

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    This comment has no relevance to the article. I just wanted to say that I got a little happy when I saw that the title of this article is a reference to The Smiths song “Panic on the Streets of London” because I get happy whenever I see Smith fans.

    At least I hope it was a reference to the song…

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    I tried to find information about what was going on from my local media sources and there was fuck all talk about anything relevant, mostly they just had pictures of destruction and no information, or comments about how one New Zealander had to leave her London flat because she was scared. This Autostraddle article had more information in it then what I could glean from the combined efforts of the NZ media.
    Now I am feeling the sad feelings.

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    My house has been broken into, everythings gone. I left the city a couple of nights ago. Today im travelling across the country through manchester, birmingham and london to go and find my girlfriend so we can wait it out together.

    The latest murder from riots has just been confirmed in Birmingham. I already have a friend in intensive care. Most of this rioting is senseless violence and greed. Our police are doing the best they can when in some places theyre outnumbered 20 to 1. The boys on the news who are lining up in front of local and family businesses to protect them and their communities, they’re our reason to be proud to be British. They’re true Brits.

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      This is why I can’t get down with riot-apologists. This exactly.

      When you elect to rob someone of their home or livelihood or belongings (to say nothing of their dignity or well-being or mental health), through looting or torching – I’m sure everyone reading is aware that innocent folks’ homes have been burned to the ground, in addition to business – you are absolutely taking a piece of what makes them whole and healthy and able to function in this world and robbing them of that. There is no way to pardon or explain that into being the right thing to do.

      I’m real sorry to hear about your home, go get your girl and be safe and best of luck to you both.

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    I was supposed to be in London this week on vacation after visiting family in Greece but I had to cancel last minute a few weeks back because I got sick. Now I think that may have been a good thing. As far as the rioting though, I do think a lot of it is opportunistic but I have no sympathy for the Brits, or the British media rather, when they were so quick to point to the relatively peaceful demonstrations in Athens. I mean I don’t understand any of the motives behind all this violence.

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      You probably would have been okay – it’s pretty much limited to the outer areas of London, in the North & South. And last night London was (largely) alright – I think the main worry now is the cities outside of London.

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    I can’t say much as I’m in the U.S., however my heart goes out to our sisters and brothers in Britain. You guys are in our thoughts/prayers/whatever-the-fuck-you-want-to-call-it over here in the States.

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    My sympathies go out to people affected by the riots. I appreciate that this article doesn’t simply dismiss this as opportunism; I think it goes way beyond that. I think that dismissing these rioters as ‘scum’ risks ignoring some of the systematic problems that have led to them feeling so discontent and disconnected from their community that they turn to rioting. I’ve heard a few people saying that trouble has been brewing for a while.

    Also, while the Mother Jones article you linked to is very good, I’d question the assertion that Mark Duggan got caught in the cross fire, simply because I haven’t heard this anywhere before. I think it hasn’t really been confirmed yet?

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      Yeah, that’s pretty much the sentiment we had. I was really infuriated by how many times I read ‘scum’ or ‘animals’ with reference to the rioters on Facebook and Twitter (and that a few invoked Enoch Powell…yikes). They may be people doing some destructive and in some cases horrible things, but they’re still people.

      Talib Kweli put it best on Twitter Monday night: ‘I dont defend rioting. Its foolish. But I am also not foolish enough to believe societal conditions dont drive misguided violence.’

      And as for Mother Jones, agreed, I don’t know if ‘crossfire’ is the right word because there’s evidence from the independent ballistics tests that Duggan didn’t actually fire at the police.

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    Haven’t read all the comments yet, I’m gonna go back to it as soon as I’m done with my post.

    There was a really good piece about this over at Feministe: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2011/08/09/protesting-rioting-looting/ Commentators keep saying ‘they’ as if protesters/rioters/looters were a homogeneous block. They’re not.

    There are people in there that have legitimate concerns and express them legitimately.
    There are people in there that have legitimate concerns and express them in a terrible way. Their concerns are still legitimate.
    There are people in there that are trying to take advantage of the situation.

    Besides, there’s a huge difference between destroying your local grocery shop owner’s life and looting from a multinational corporation.

    I’m not British, I’m French. We had those in 2005, just like Greece had those in 2008. First and foremost, people shouldn’t forget about how all of these got started: police brutality. Police brutality is never adressed, much less punished. And it usually targets youth, the poor and ethnic minorities (which often happen to be the same people).

    Ethnic minorities get incarcerated at an incredible rate (mostly to bring unemployment down, ironically). What do they have to hope for? We (Europeans) live in a system which maintains them in the lower class with no opportunity to ever get out of it. Sure, they might get a job. They’ll still be the working poor.

    Upper classes have been waging a war on the poor for decades, now they’re all going ‘Y U MAD BRO?’. And soon enough, everyone will bring flowers, stuff will get cleaned up, the government will probably pretend to help out a few shop owners and everything will go back to the way it was.

    And the poor, ethnic minorities and youth will continue to get screwed. Because it doesn’t matter how well they do at school or who they vote for. It’s a systemic problem.

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    I’m a Londoner, and it is scary here. I agree that it started out of genuine anger and sadness, but on Monday night when the rioting was at its worst, I can say pretty damn confidently that it was people who were looking for a bit of fun – an opportunity to look tough, give the police some trouble, get some free stuff. There were kids driving get-away cars around to pick up the stuff they’d scored – that can’t be interpreted as them making a point, and I have tried to see it that way.
    Thing is, I’m the same age as these twats. A lot of the issues, I understand, but the ones who have just joined in to cause havoc, that pisses me off. They’re giving teenagers a worse reputation than we already have, in a media which rarely describes us as anything but yobs, and while they’re at it they’re ruining people’s homes and livelihoods. People are scared. Sirens going off continuously, helicopters overhead, hearing what sounds like explosions, being scared to be out after dark – it doesn’t feel like my London. It doesn’t feel like anyone’s London.
    BUT in the spirit of Autostraddle – nice and cool things that have been happening around the riots:
    I was a Riot Womble yesterday and everyone was so lovely. We had to wait around for ages for forensics to finish up so that we could get in and clean, and local companies came out and gave us food and water, coffee, tea, etc. Somebody even printed off stickers for us to wear, bless ‘em.
    Operation Cup Of Tea started on Twitter last night – instead of going out and smashing things up, people stay in and drink a cuppa. It’s aiming to get it trending every night at around 8 until the riots stop, you send in a picture of you with your beverage.
    A young lady on Twitter said she’d been walked home by a group of eight youths ‘because you’re a girl, innit’.
    There’s a lovely photo circulating on the interwebs somewhere, don’t know if you ladies have already posted it, but a couple in Camden took tea out to the police on their road, some of whom had been on duty for over 30 hours – the shot is of them using a riot shield as a tray.
    Also http://photoshoplooter.tumblr.com/ is amazing. Sometimes when things are horrible and scary you have to turn to internet humour to get you through.

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    Hmm, I think the riots can definitely be seen as indicative of some larger problems in society, such as a quite legitimate urban discontent. But for the most part I think its just showing a very ugly side to British society (and I say this as a Brit, not in the country at the moment). I’ve just read reports of copy-cat riots in my hometown last night, which consisted of some local thugs smashing in shop windows and setting a disused building on fire.. seems pretty mindless to me.
    The video below is two girls basically saying “riots yay,” and I think their attitude probably represents the mindset of most people involved at this stage..

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-14458424

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    London is burning, and it’s breaking my heart :(

    I’m so embarassed and ashamed to be a Londoner right now. They are clearly the minority, but this is being broadcast across the World and is therefore representative of our nation!

    The true London spirit was still alive, in brooms, bin bags and cups of tea yesterday morning. It felt fantastic to reclaim our streets as a community. Especially when we were only united in anarchy & fear the night before!

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    Its terrible and sad on all sides. All sides. But some of the things that people I know have been saying about it and those rioting on facebook -”feral, animals…deserve the chair” etc etc has profoundly shocked me. You only have to look at what has been happening in London and the UK for the last year to see how bad the class divide has become, and how much poorer and voiceless the poor have become, this didn’t come from nowhere. Add in the usual racial tensions with the police and the shooting as a catalyst and you get riots. You can’t have bankers getting millions of pounds in bonuses and the govt saying ‘oh thats a bit bad of them’ but not doing anything whilst simultaneously closing down the majority of youth services and support in the city and not expect a reaction.
    Its obviously awful, but I don’t think anyone should be surprised, its been simmering for a while now and just needed a spark. Cameron should be ashamed.

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    i know this is awful and i dont know exactly how much longer it will continue on or to what scale again for the 5th night.. but man im excited to be leaving london on monday and i hope this ends soon! its just stupid and the scariest thing is the not knowing where the next riots will take place and how many cops will be able to be there and when… sooooo i hope this ends soon and everyone is okay. because people here have boarded up businesses waiting for riots to start up night after night… its wierd because im from nfld and riots never ever happen there sooooooo in short its strange and scary.. i hope it ends soon.

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    “Listen, these kids aren’t rioting because some guy got shot by a cop. They’re rioting because they’ve had enough and this is the tipping point.

    They’ve had enough of a crappy, lying government; a crappy economy; crappy phone-hacking; crappy MPs expenses; crappy employment prospects; crappy police with their bribe-taking, Tomlinson-killing lack of respect for ordinary, decent people; crappy footballers; crappy disregard for the NHS and the education system; crappy knife crime; crappy reality TV; crappy petrol costs; crappy rent prices; crappy public transport; crappy binge drinking; and crappy weather.

    Their actions are not justifiable, not remotely, but they are entirely understandable. This is apex causality.”

    that’s a comment from the guardian yesterday which i think just sums up everything perfectly; these kids are really fucking angry, and maybe you and i wouldn’t express it the same way they have, that doesn’t matter: this is how it’s happened, and this is what we have to deal with. david cameron and his pals have done some really shitty and stupid things since being in power, kept to all of the conservative stereotypes, and thus far really obviously widened the gap between the wealthy and the not-so-wealthy, amongst millions of other offensive things, and, to paraphrase another article in the guardian, “if you really weren’t expecting a riot, you really weren’t paying attention”. in bristol a couple of months ago there were some riots in stokes croft about a new tesco opening that was really heavily protested before opening/some squatters being evicted – depending on who you ask – and it pretty much amounts to the same thing (even though personally i think these rioters were just some hippy squatty cunts and just not shopping there would have been more effective) : people just their voices heard, and when the fat cats at the top won’t listen – or do the very opposite to the things that you’re asking for – you shout louder/blow things up – depending on who you ask

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    Alot of people seem to be under the impression that this was over the police shooting of Mark Duggan or over race, when in reality, it wasnt even a protest, it was just random looting, followed by copy cat looters in other large cities where they felt there was enough people to just become one of the crowd

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    Manchester:

    My other half works in Manchester, and has been sent home from work early today (just in case), BUT says that the city centre is being cleaned up pretty well already. The shops already have people in measuring windows/doors to replace glass.
    The city centre is quite empty in comparison to a normal weekday, but those places that are open are just business as usual.

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      Good God. Listen to them!

      “Let’s just examine that. You’re saying it’s not alright, so why are you doing it?”
      “It’s just ’cause everyone else is doing it, really, isn’t it?”

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      It’s one of those things… I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at it.

      There is clearly some underlying agenda, there has to be a reason for this, but these braindead cretins don’t have the first clue what it is.

      On the plus side, all was quiet on the Western front last night. It appears that looters don’t like rain. (In case it damages the 50inch plasma they’re trying to half inch, presumably.)

      Hooray for the British Police! (And the rain)

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    Is there any more information on Duggan and his involvement with the police? I keep reading conflicting “rumours” that either he was an innocent bystander or he was a drug-dealing criminal that was specifically targeted for arrest and subsequently killed after firing on police. That is a huge “this or that” situation.

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    All I am really hoping for out of this is maybe people will build tighter community relations after. Not just in community but intra as well. The government has been saying it expects charities to step in and cover the 75% cut in youth and community services to those areas, well maybe we can start doing some of it now we’ve had the damned problems thrust in our faces.

    I don’t live in London anymore but my parents and grandparents and small cousins and a lot of my friends still do and I am glued to my facebook page and unable to write my godamn thesis watching them. Its awful a lot because a lot of my old school friends have gone off to be investment bankers and lawyers of the arch conservative variety and are screaming with privilege and coming out with such gems as “its the masses fault they can’t work the system better” and “deport them all” (where the hell would they go, they’re fucking native Brits most of them). And then there are my friends in the police and ambulance crews who are doing things like volunteering to work in the danger zones because they hate feeling useless and calmly discussing which stab vest to wear. A mate of mine got stopped and thrown off his bike by a gang of kids on his way home in front of a burning building in a supposedly clear area. One of the riots took place on the street my old senior school is on. And also its weird because I see friends who haven’t spoken to each other in years, not for any reason just because they have nothing to say, discussing safe routes home.

    It worries me that this came on the heels of the report your acarchists request by the police. It really worries me that they are talking about introducing new, sterner measures into the police force.

    I can’t stop listening to bloody New Model Army and I think my girlfriend is going to kill me over this.

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    THIS. WHOLE. ARTICLE.
    Seriously, thank you so much for these words. I mean, I lost my skanky love shack to these riots and have to move back to Bath to be with famalam, but others I know aren’t so lucky and it breaks my heart, because I know people on both sides. I know people who live in squats and feel wronged and angry and like the press doesn’t tell the truth and they are so desperate to be heard, but on the otherhand WISE UP MAN there’s kids looking through their windows in an area they are already learning to fear and watching their OWN PEOPLE burn their city to the ground!! England always surprises me though, so much hope in it’s most lovely form :D (tea and cleaning)

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    Thank you for this. BBC News has always been a reliable source in the past, but their coverage of the riots has been so vague and filled with holes that I actually believed for a moment that the zombie apocalypse had arrived and they just weren’t saying so. All in all, I’m happy I at least have all the details now and can cancel the order for the flamethrower from Amazon (because you can never know, you know?).

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    For centuries, across the globe, those with the physical, and therefore economic, might have profited from those with none. For centuries immovable class structures have been kept intact by racist, classist dehumanisation.

    So what’s changed? The ability to access information through online communities and see how other working class communities are coping. The means to connect and share thoughts on the pressures of this catastrophic global economy has sparked a worldwide change. From Tunisia to Egypt, from Tripoli to London, we are all connected.

    Audre Lorde once said something along the lines of “We’ve been taught that silence would save us, but it won’t … Your silence will not protect you”. I am Black, I am African, and I am woman. The only thing between me and the people on these streets is the thin veneer of class, and if I, and anyone else who recognises the weight of systemic oppression does not speak, our silence will not protect us.

    We are all connected and this is just the beginning of a new world order.

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    I live in Peckham. So in a truly surreal situation involving a dying cat and a friend of a friend I found myself walking through the lull in hostilities.

    And it was bad.

    You have to bear in mind that a lot of the damage happened in broad daylight. At about 5.00pm I went the shops to buy a light bulb and stuff for dinner and you could feel the atmosphere changing already.

    It went quiet, but in a sickly way. Like when a radio broadcast is interrupted. I suppose I mean, it was silence in the wrong place. It was also strangely festive. Which sounds flippant, but makes sense if you think of the riot as a suspension of the normal day to day order. Strangers talking to each other in the street, passing on the news. This is definitely in contravention of the normal rules of English social engagement. The only other time strangers talk to each other London is if a train is delayed…

    This was before the buses stopped running. I didn’t see it, but a double decker was set alight quite early in the evening.

    You’d see young men with their faces covered moving in shoals, quite jaunty – more like they were in fancy dress than carrying any sincere menace.

    We all knew what was going to happen, but it still seemed fundamentally quite improbable.

    So I didn’t see the worst of it until the morning after. But in the early evening a friend and I went on this bizarre rescue mission (and I’ll admit I was also curious about what was happening), going via the residential streets until the point where we had to cross Rye Lane.

    The police were holding a line at either end of Rye Lane and around the police station, but what was most striking was emptiness of the streets. And the police in their riot gear like beetles, but so few of them.

    And kids with a shopping trolley were standing on the threshold of this smashed in Iceland. Like they couldn’t quite believe what they were doing. Then one of them shouted ‘get me some Lambrini!’ And I suppose it broke the tension. It was broad daylight.

    Whatever people say about criminality in Peckham, this was in fact as total a suspension of the invisible rules that govern usual life. Like if gravity had been paused. And these kids were both totally intoxicated and timid with the pioneer feeling of being the temporary and sole residents of a Brave New World.

    And there’s nothing animal about it. The stupidest comment about this, in a veritable parade of stupidity over the last day or so was (unsurprisingly) in the Daily Mail where the columnist compared the rioters to that polar bear that ate the boy from Eton last week. An analogy where the fear that this might be some form of class war bursts out of the subtext like a curtain-twitching Hulk…

    It’s not animal; it’s when you realise – perhaps not consciously, but in the gut – that the whole social order is maintained only by consent, however grudgingly given.

    And withdrawing that consent might carry consequences, but these occur on time delay. And aren’t inevitable.

    That’s why the atmosphere was so electric and why I was so desperate to get home and lock myself in my flat. Even being out in it made me feel oddly complicit.

    (When we saw more kids later they were carrying looted groceries away in branded Iceland carrier bags. ‘Well’, my neighbour said when I told him, ‘that’s very middle class of you to expect them to have gone looting with Bags For Life…’)

    So we were walking and my friend (who is genderqueer) and their friend (a trans guy) were holding hands as we walked home. And I wanted to tell them not to be so foolish. And I didn’t, because even in the middle of all this the worry that saying something would upset them stopped me. Which are pretty spineless lengths to go to on my part for concern to maintain politeness, when you remember that we were walking through a riot.

    We thought we heard gunshots. The gunshots turned out to be fireworks that someone had hurled at the police.

    Peckham, though I love it, is probably not the safest place for queers. And Peckham during a total suspension of the civil order is definitely not the safest place to walk hand in hand, when 200m away kids are fighting police with fire bombs in the debris of smashed-out shop fronts and burning buildings.

    It’s not that I expected we were in imminent danger. But the danger came from the fact that anything could happen and that people had realised this.

    And every now and then on the quiet residential streets we’d see older men carrying away high value goods, while kids (boys and girls of school age) seem to have stuck brazenly/ naively to the main road and robbed sweets, alcohol and rubbish.

    By night fall it kicked off again and I could hear the sirens from my flat. I couldn’t sleep. I spent half the night compulsively following the news on Twitter.

    The next morning I went to the riot clean up. The amateur clean up was therapy as much as anything when of course the council was already there and we just pitched in like guests at a dinner party insisting on helping with the washing up. Which isn’t to denigrate its value, because obviously it’s a gesture rather than a practical thing.

    Saddest of all was a dressmakers’ shop- mother and daughter- had been looted. Teenage girls had been trying the dresses on before carrying them away. You can see briefly in one of the videos of the riots girls running down the road, these ballgowns bundled in their arms and trailing behind them.

    But the crassness of one of the riot clean-up team when she asked the weeping shopkeeper to take a photo of us made me almost as angry as the sight of devastation.

    I do believe that the obsession with rolling coverage of the riots betrays a vicarious intoxication with chaos. And though it would be totally facile to claim this makes anyone as bad rioters, I do think it draws our motivations closer.

    Of course socio-economic explanations are useful and have their place. But a lot of the speculation as to the causes even from people I broadly agree with on the left have been infuriating and insulting, to both the agency of those involved in the rioting and the complexity of issues of disenfranchisement, poverty and sheer toxic boredom.

    So no the rioting is not political in the way that the Greek riots have been or even the race riots of the ‘80s. And yes of course the real reasons are systematic. But never underestimate the cruelty and recklessness of teenagers. Or the sight of a woman crying in the ruins of her life’s work.

    Because it was horrible. On a hundred levels.

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    While i get its hard not being able to gain employment, and being discriminated against and disenfranchised, it absolutely does not condone such reckless destruction. While i don’t currently live in the UK, I can say that in South Africa where i live, we don’t have safe and reliable public transport, we dont have easily accessible affordable health care, we don’t get free primary or tertiary education even at government schools,and any available “benefits” are barely enough to support one person let alone a family.
    Even if you are on “benefits” you still have a better life than most people here. I just think these people should take a moment to think before engaging in this hysteria

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      I’m not South African, but I did live there for a few years. The phrasing of “these people” and labelling their concerns as “reckless destruction” speaks to an upper-class mentality that elides the the growing gap in earnings between the rich and the poor.

      What’s sad is that the lack of critical engagement with the other’s lived experience is one of the triggers for civil uprisings.

      Julius Malema’s support seems to be growing in your country because if this very classism, which in the South African contest is entrenched in the very separatist ideas that underpinned apartheid.

      So maybe all of us, me included, could do more by stepping out of our privileged lives (whatever those privileges might be) for a second. Maybe that might be more useful to the greater cause than being dismissive.

      I’d also caution against comparing the government spending alone, because at the heart of the issue is a group of people realising that they have no upward mobility in their own country. I’ve lived and worked in both London and Johannesburg as a foreigner, who is Black and African and a woman, and I can say, without a doubt working class South Africans (who are predominantly Black) know that they have a chance at upward mobility. They feel that they can dream of a better live and then achieve it. Working class Britons don’t.

      At the end of the day we all want to be able to dream of a better life for our children, we want to live with dignity,and we want to feel that the people who have been tasked with looking after our rights take that privilege seriously.

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    This is not uncommon. In history the first strides that things were getting better started with violence. Violence is never the way but when you are oppressed your “roads” are few so it becomes the only way. Of course there will be senseless looters who take advantage of this. But I do not think you can entirely blame the people who started this. I am sure they did not want it to get this far but now people are listening. It’s easy to point the blame at the group of people but what about the government who overlooked them. Maybe they could have prevented it or maybe they couldn’t have the point is a fraction of the people thought they were going unheard and they responded with violence. To end with I would like to post one of my favorite qoutes:

    “In Texas they lynch Negroes. My teammates and I saw a man strung up by his neck and set on fire. We drove through a lynch mob, pressed our faces against the floorboard. I looked at my teammates. I saw the fear in their eyes and, worse, the shame. What was this Negro’s crime that he should be hung without trial in a dark forest filled with fog. Was he a thief? Was he a killer? Or just a Negro? Was he a sharecropper? A preacher? Were his children waiting up for him? And who are we to just lie there and do nothing. No matter what he did, the mob was the criminal. But the law did nothing. Just left us wondering, “Why?” My opponent says nothing that erodes the rule of law can be moral. But there is no rule of law in the Jim Crow south. Not when Negroes are denied housing. Turned away from schools, hospitals. And not when we are lynched. St Augustine said, “An unjust law in no law at all.’ Which means I have a right, even a duty to resist. With violence or civil disobedience. You should pray I choose the latter.”

    I really hope everything gets settled and a change is made before people more people suffer.

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      Amen to that. These riots are similar to the LA Riots when the cops who beat Rodney King were acquitted. Eventually people are going to get fed up with putting up with a bunch of crap. I put the blame on the cops for starting this mess with all of their racial profiling, etc, etc, etc, etc. I think the killing just lit the flame to a bomb that was ready to explode anyways.

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    What really annoys me about these riots is that it is now day 6 of them and nothing has been brought in to stop it besides police officers. If this was Northern Ireland, the army, water canons and rubber bullets would have been brought in on day one. England don’t have any water canons on their own soil. In my eyes its double standards. If they used the same tatics as they use here, it would have been under control days ago.

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    London Riots

    I have been reading a lot about the supposed sense behind the senseless riots in London and throughout the UK: people are disenfranchised, you see; they’re outsiders without a sense of community and therefore feel disconnected from all the destruction they’re causing. The burning, the looting, and the killing are just gigantic cries for help from people who have not been given a voice thanks to discrimination and a lack of social programs.

    I am a firm believer in social programs, and I think the spending cuts are horrendous; but in order for any social program to truly help someone, it must first and foremost realise that with or without said social program, the person is still…um…a person! Disenfranchisement, which by the way, in the UK, comes with free health care and a more-than-adequate job-seeker’s-allowance, does not erase one’s moral judgement; and to suggest otherwise is dehumanising. We should respect the rioters enough to realise they are sentient Human Beings, and therefore responsible for their own actions.

    What is happening is not a protest. Protests have messages such as “Hey, I’m starving! Give me bread!” or “Hey, fuck off dictator! I want democracy!” or “Hey! Stop polluting! I live here!” The only message I’m hearing from these riots is “GIMME GIMME I WANT FREE STUFF I DON’T REALLY NEED AND IF YOU TRY TO STOP ME I WILL RUN YOU OVER WITH A CAR AND YOU WILL DIE! NOW WHERE’S MY LCD TV???”

    Does this sound like a desperate cry for help? No, let’s give London’s supposed disenfranchised a bit more credit. Despite social spending cuts, I believe if there’s something the rioters want to say, they are intelligent and able enough to get a message across without resorting to violence and looting.

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    There is a difference between protesters and looters. What started as a peaceful protest was hijacked by opportunists who then used it as an excuse to run riot. Just take a look at the ages of some of those caught on camera looting shops, and causing damage – loads of teenagers (and adults too) – but would it have spread so quickly if it hadn’t been the summer holidays? I’ve just seen an interview with the lad (with the backpack)who was attacked and he just said he felt sorry for them, and some of them were primary school age –

    Yes I agree that there is an underlying problem with soceity when kids are out on the streets literally running riot. Those committing acts of criminality know what they are doing is wrong though, but they feel above the law and that’s part of the problem. They need to be held accountable for their actions. If they are too young to be prosecuted, then it should be their families or guardians that pay.

    A woman was cycling home in London & was confronted by a gang of kids who through stones at her, she went to call the police and they just laughed at her saying they won’t do anything. Others who they managed to interview the other night said they were doing it to get back at the police, others said they were joining in simply for free stuff and others had no idea! – These are not protesters.

    It soon escalated because others saw it as an excuse to grab a load of free stuff, thinking they could get away with it. Some even posted pictures of themselves online proudly showing off their haul!

    It’s not just broken glass and buildings that have been destroyed, peoples livelihoods, and now lives, have been destroyed and we the taxpayer, the ones that are law abiding are going to have to pay for it, as well as clean up the streets.

    Those caught should pay back if they have the means. They should be made to do community service regardless and give something back to the community they enjoyed damaging.

    They need to be made aware that All actions have conseqences. Whilst I don’t always agree with politicians or the law, there has to be some form of regulation, that needs to be respected, otherwise what’s to stop the whole world from collapsing into chaos?

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    I’ll probably just echo a lot of the voices on here – but here’s my view anyway

    From the cities that I know (I live between Liverpool and Manchester, both of which had trouble this week), a substantial amount of the people looting were already known to police for other crimes. These are not innocent people.

    I would certainly agree that there is a disconnect between policing (of whom the majority, it must be said, are white – there is definitely an issue of recruiting from minorities) and the people who are being policed. To me it echoes Belfast of the 70′s, where a primarily protestant police force was policing catholic areas – it leads to an us and them culture, which is so unstable.

    BUT whilst there is genuine need for fixing the issues of inequality, a LOT of these looters were just in it for the money, the loot, the ‘swag’. In Manchester, the average Mancunian was disgusted by the behaviour of these little white kids with their Adidas clothes and shoes, expensive bikes – all the while claiming that their ‘suffering’ was causing them to loot.

    There is a way to protest, and it is not destroying your local businesses, thus shutting down services in your already impoverished area, and making other businesses unwilling to invest. Protest is not stealing, protest is not terrorising people in your neighbourhood. That is opportunism – taking advantage of what was a genuinely terrible situation (of a young man shot by police, be it justified or unjustified) – and exploiting it for their own profit.

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