My take on the riots

Apart from a Twitter conversation, I haven’t commented on the recent riots, so here is a brief summary of my thoughts in these difficult times.

First, there is no doubt that relations between the police and some communities, including the black community in Tottenham (but also in other parts of London, and in other cities), are still not good. So, when the shooting took place last week, and when the PR surrounding this was handled badly (as it appears to have been done), it brought the already simmering resentment in the local community to the boil, and it finally boiled over on Saturday night when a peaceful demonstration outside a police station in Tottenham got out of hand. We still don’t know what really happened in the shooting (it’s being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission), but there is no doubt that it was the catalyst for all the trouble that followed.

But in trying to explain the riots that have occurred since Saturday night, and all the damage that has been caused, and the looting that has happened, we have to move away from the events in Tottenham. I think there are two factors involved here:

(i) The disenfranchisement/disengagement from politics that seems to be affecting many young (and some not so young) people, which leads them to feel that they can do nothing to change their lives.

(ii) Widespread unemployment, leading to economic and social deprivation.

A few commentators have mentioned a third factor, which is a lack of respect for authority, but I am not able to comment on this with any authority.

Put together, these form an explosive mix, and means that we are ‘growing’ a section of society who feel economically and socially deprived, and who don’t believe there is anything they can do to improve their lot. It doesn’t take much to make them take action in the only way they believe can have an affect, which is what we have seen happen in the past few days.

Having said this, I can’t condone the looting that has taken place. No amount of economic and social deprivation can provide an excuse for this. It is quite simply law breaking, and must be handled as such.

But I do fear for the future, unless we can do something to address points (i) and (ii) above. Otherwise this will continue to be a ticking timb bomb, which might explode again anytime in the future. But how we do something about this is a challenge for everyone who believes that engagement in politics and communities can and will change peoples’ lives.



One thought on “My take on the riots”

  1. Alas, a lot of the younger peoples who are taking part in the rioting have themselves expressed their motives as nothing more than “We are showing them we can do whatever we want to”, the ‘them’ is often used to describe either the police, politicians or the rich in general.
    Most, unfortunately, will be joining in for the sake of joining in at this point, as they know the police can do naught about it, especially when the potential deterrent that was the army was confirmed as a non-participant.

    I agree with you that the distance a lot of youths feel towards politics is likely one of the major issues that has sparked this violence. However does this anger actually help in any way to confront that distance, or does it just further prove that this new society we have doesn’t deserve what the government funds? (yes I feel there isn’t as much as their possibly should be, but that debate is for a different time)

    Two of the people I volunteer with today were saying how it is the lack of family morals, and self respect in the younger generations of today that are leading to this violence. Cameron himself says that the lack of responsibility is something he feels is a contributing factor. I hate to use this term but ‘the previous generations’ seem to use that as a common go to for today’s youth, that just because it wasn’t done before, that that is the only reason why it would today.
    I don’t believe that is as important as it is made out to be, and I feel it is too common a scape-goat.

    It is hard to make out what I feel about the riots, as I dislike that state the country is in, and I suppose there is a resentment to the government (even though I know the conservatives aren’t the only people to have put the country into this mess) but I also know the violence won’t achieve anything but a bad name. Lets also not forget the police, who are out there day and night unable to properly defend themselves against people who have no such reservations. Those people are more a victim here than an angry youth.

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