I predict a riot!
I have wanted to write about last weeks riots for about, umm a week. I took a step back due to every man and his dog having something to say on the topic and I thought I’d wait until the dust settled a little to include my two pennies worth of analysis.
Thursday 4th August 2011 saw the shooting of a man Mark Duggan in Tottenham, North London. Reports suggest that there was a gun found on the seen. Initial reports stated that a gun was fired which supposedly belonged to Duggan, subsequently this view was revised by an IPCC report who stated that the gun found at the scene wasn’t fired. Reports state that Duggan’s death led to a distinct lack of care from the police as they failed to keep the family of Mark Duggan informed of the progress of the investigation. A peaceful protest was started by some members of the Tottenham community who wanted answers from the police, they went to Tottenham police station to demand some answers and were ignored for up to three hours. Now reports are a bit shady as to what happened next, apparently some the peaceful protesters got annoyed and started attacking the police. Another explanation was that the police were heavy handed with a 16 year old girl. This was the trigger to the riots. After this unrest and looting spread to the Wood Green, Brixton, Clapham, and Ealing areas of London and before long it spread to other cities in the UK such as Leeds, Birmingham and Nottingham.
Riots on this scale have not been seen in the UK ever, the Brixton riots of 1985 were triggered by the police shooting of a woman, Cherry Groce suspected of harbouring her son who was wanted by the police. The Broadwater Farm estate riots happened a week later in Tottenham after two deaths of women after searches were taken place in their houses. This then led to a death of a police officer, PC Keith Blakelock. Therefore, riots in these places had been triggered by deaths and injuries in some way precipitated by police actions.
The widespread looting and police attacking which occurred in Tottenham on Saturday 6th August 2011 evening people point to a few reasons, some point to the animosity between local ethnic minority groups and the police. Since 1998 according to Inquest, 333 deaths have occurred in police custody, and no convictions have been made against police officers. The most high profile case was that of Smiley Culture, early on this year. Another explanation could be the high rate of stop and search that ethnic minorities have faced.
The looting incidents I would say are a separate incident to the peaceful protest and some might say the reactionary riots in Tottenham on 4th August. Many media reports have labelled the perpetrators as feral youths (Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London) and an article by the Telegraph labelled the looters as an underclass. Contrastingly a guardian article paints a different view of the looters, young and old from both genders and a variety of races. Some suggest it had something to do with disaffection, high levels of unemployment, greed, the gang problem or the ‘me-first’ society. In my opinion it was a combination of all of these reasons and explanations, but to paint the people who were looting all as feral, lower class black people is grossly inaccurate.
History has shown that once in every generation or so, these things just happen, you can have a marxist view of it where the underclass are rising up against the ruling classes but that will not solve the problem in this capitalist, individualistic society. So about a week after the baffling events of what has been labelled “The August Riots”, what is the solution? I am not going to suggest a cure for all social ills of the UK society, far from it, to be honest what do I know? I am just a girl from slough, however, here are my suggestions as to different ways that issues mentioned above can be dealt with.
- Tackle unemplyment and lack of aspiration in some inner city areas this may take the form of community projects, volunteering. Trying to increase activity amongst society.
- I am not anti police, they have an incredibly hard job to do but increase understanding of what they do amongst UKs minorities and marginalised populations, and also hold them accountable for the deaths that have occurred under their watch.
- some people have pointed to the education system which should be more rounded and specialised to try and tailor to all, not just those with an academic inclanation.
- Get people to take and understand that every action has a consequence.
Here are some of the solutions that I have thought of they are not exhaustive, after all I am living in a relatively untouched part of Berkshire…