So, it’s riots’r’us in the Uk . The series of events seem to be this :
1: A black man who was armed is shot in a taxi by police. Reports claim there was a shoot out. One officer has a lucky escape from being killed by the armed suspect, saved by a radio, into which a bullet lodged.
2: A peaceful protest occurred as members of the dead man’s family say all the information isn’t available to them as to the circumstances of his death.
3: Disillusioned youths attach themselves to this protest and stones are thrown at the police. Via twitter a story circulates that police knock a 16 year old girl down and assault her, and a video is posted on youtube purporting to be of the incident.
4: Reports come in saying the bullet, allegedly fired by the dead suspect, is actually a police issue bullet. More riots the next night.
5: The gun the man had, again according to reports but not confirmed, is actually a replica, incapable of firing and is concealed in a sock (IE not drawn).
6: More riots, spreading to different cities. Tuesday morning arrives with the story that, the bullet lodged in the radio, is most likely a police issue, and that it had probably passed clean through the dead guy as the police came at him from both sides. Gun is now reported as a blank firing one converted to fire live rounds…. no mention as to if it was loaded though.
All in all, none of this holds any positives. On the one hand you have the rioters, which, for myself, I would imagine 50% of these people initially somehow believed they had a genuine grudge, (especially as it was another none white guy killed by police, and the recent court case alleging that a black person is 9 times more likely to be stopped by police than a white person), and 50% opportunists, hijacking the point being made and detracting from it so much that now, the “cause” has been lost within the violence. This has then been seized upon as an OK for people across England to repeat the rioting, purely for the hell of it. And then, on the other hand, you have the police and the media, one of which appears to have gone out and shot and killed a man who was neither actually armed, nor waving about a perceived weapon (if it was in his sock when it was found, it seems unlikely he put it there after having brandished it), and the other, claiming that this man had shot at a police.
We all know about the sensationalist rubbish the papers come out with as headlines. The Norway killer was “Al Qaeda” according to the Sun initially, Osama hid behind his wife, etc etc. All bollocks! Surely it’s about time that something was done to make sure that, what is published, and therefore absorbed into the national psyche, is at least vetted for something in the way of truth. But, the issue with the police is something which needs to be addressed too. This makes scary reading, “Deaths in police custody since 1998: 333; officers convicted: none “. Remeber Jean Charles de Menezes? His body was described as “unrecognisable” due to the amount of shots he received to the head. How many officers convicted of anything? Oh, that would be none! Accountability is something that needs to be applied to the police as well as people who go round smashing windows / looting.
I cannot excuse what’s gone on, but I suppose I can understand the frustration of the initial people involved. What has happened from then I would speculate is a warped sense of camaraderie. “You have been wronged by the police and the system”, can be easily migrated down through the people to the unemployed/low paid who also feel they too are being maltreated in a world where austerity is biting, money is short, and the people perceived to be “on your side”, be it police, or politicians (the two words have the same etymological root), are actually being seen to be taking, rather than giving, to the community. And, as the dominoes start to fall, so does the rational way of addressing these issues because, it appears, they afford no actual solutions. A desperate person has nothing to lose, and when you can see no way out from a situation, desperation is a natural byproduct. The area of London where all this started has a 50+ people to 1 job listed ratio. These people, easily dismissed as “dole scum” by many, simply have no way to advance themselves out of situations they probably had no say in when they found themselves there. And so, when opportunity arises, they take it. That doesn’t make it right, but it goes some way to explain the actions of a group of the public which, had circumstances dealt us a different deck, we too would be part of.
And so you get to the reactions of the public to all this. There is outrage, there is despair, and there is condemnation. Condemn.. nation, damn you etymology! Sorry, I digress. You have people shouting, “Send them all to Afghanistan / Iraq / wherever our boys are fighting”, not bothering to think about the fact that, in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Libya, all “our boys” are basically doing is trashing and looting these sovereign countries for oil with their illegal presence. The only difference is… it’s paid for by the government. I can’t help but think that, all the money poured into the missiles that kill kids in Afghanistan etc, would be better spent helping create jobs at home, clearing national debt, and changing the environment that makes this kind of backlash all too likely to happen again tomorrow, both in London, and in cities around the UK.
It’s 66 years ago today since about 140,000 people directly/indirectly were wiped out from just one bomb in Japan. Surely there is no better example of how we need to, as a people, sort ourselves out. What we do to ourselves, what we do to each other, defines who and what we are. Accountability starts at the top, and the rewards of that should be felt at the bottom… and it needs to start soon before it’s too late. Rioting isn’t the answer to the UK, and the world’s problems, but, I’m just not certain active discrimination and dissolving agencies, (such as the police and the government, of responsibility for the knock on effect of their actions), is either.
What we’re seeing on the streets are symptoms of a sickness within the society, that has remained dormant for a while, festering quietly perhaps, but remaining harmless to the whole. Until now. I can’t help but think that, to fully cure/be rid of this, this time, not only the symptom needs to be treated, but the diet society feeds upon needs to be changed so that society its self adjusts. Redistribution of wealth. More jobs. Less foreign wars. More understanding. However, while the general public, (being mostly white and working), are happy to believe this is a “dole scum” issue, and that these people should be sent off to fight our good and just wars in other countries, I suspect nothing really will change. There will be a clamp down, a calm down, and placation of the situation, and it will go back to as it was, for a while. But as unemployment rises, personal debts increase, education becomes increasingly un-affordable, this situation will occur again. Unless society changes.