London Fallout: The Post Riots World

Interactive Map Riot

Most of the activity in London and other areas of England has stopped, so the information gathering has begun.

The image above is from the Guardian: “Data journalist Matt Stiles has taken our data on deprivation – and the riot incidents over the last few days and mashed the two up together. The darker reds represent poorer places, the blues are the richer areas. What do you think? Is there a correlation between the two?”

Casey Rain, of the Birmingham Riots 2011 Tumblr, has not received any major updates since August 10th. He notes:

Sky News, BBC News and other media have been painfully slow on updates, and many of you have accused them of even being biased. Of course, they are far more liable, but in this day and age they simply must evolve or people will turn elsewhere, which the 1million+ page views this blog got yesterday would indicate. As for me, I have no agenda other than to keep the people informed and safe as quickly as possible. I’m not getting paid to do this, and so I am truly humbled at some of the messages I’ve received saying I’ve put the mainstream media to shame. A few of you have even called me a hero, but I’m not. I’m just someone that believes in the power of the internet and social media as a force for good. That’s all. And the truth is that I couldn’t have done it without the thousands of you helping, submitting information, pictures and more. We should all be proud of ourselves as a community – but the real work begins now. Not just to clean up our battered streets, but to all do as much as we can to ensure these kind of events don’t happen again. No matter what your job or background there are ways we can all help. I firmly believe that.

The imminent threat of major violence may or may not be over. So we all need to stay vigilant, stay safe, and above all have compassion for each other. The unity that this has brought between us in response to these sickening acts of violence, might well be the silver lining to this incredibly dark cloud. Thank you all.

We’d heard reports of this off and on, but Reader Keisha tipped us an article from the NYT that explains the police are forcibly evicting families from public housing who had a member participate in the riots:

[David Cameron] has described the rioting as “criminality, pure and simple,” with no excuse in social deprivation, and laid out a controversial plan to make much broader use of existing powers to expel not only the rioters but also their families from the free or rent-subsidized accommodations that provide millions with cradle-to-grave homes.

“For too long we’ve taken too soft an attitude towards people that loot and pillage their own community,” Mr. Cameron told a BBC interviewer. “If you do that, you should lose your right to the sort of housing that you’ve had at subsidized rates.” He added that evictions “might help break up some of the criminal networks on some housing estates if some of these people are thrown out of their houses.”

Asked whether that would render them homeless, he replied, “They should have thought of that before they started burgling.”

Outside of evictions, a community service based clean up program has also been proposed:

The community payback schemes, which see offenders carry out a period of service for their victims, will mean looters will do community service in riot-hit neighbourhoods.

They will wear orange suits to make them visible, and money is being provided to enable victims who want to do so to confront the people who torched their homes or looted their businesses last week.

[Nick Clegg, deputy prime minister], speaking at a press conference in Whitehall, took a markedly different tone to the hardline stance adopted by David Cameron on Monday, stressing the need to break repeat offending in inner city areas rather than seeking to make judgments on the causes of the problems.

The deputy PM said he wanted to end the “dismal cycle of repeat crime” by a hard core of criminals, pointing out that the majority of adults so far charged with riot-related offences already had a criminal record.

The government’s work programme to help people out of long-term unemployment will be extended to all ex-offenders, starting in two pilot areas. From March 2012, all ex-offenders in those areas will be met by an employment adviser from a private company which will be paid using a payment by results system when a person has secured a job for a set period.

“We need to ensure that the treadmill, this dismal cycle of repeat crime, is stopped,” Clegg said. “We have thousands upon thousands of victims who are needlessly hurt because we have failed as a country to stop the cycle of repeat crime.

A curfew for both adults and teens is being debated:

In a speech in London, [Home Secretary Teresa May] said the power to declare a general curfew was needed because existing dispersal powers only allowed the police to declare a “no go” area with advance notification.

“In the fast-moving situation we have seen in the last week, we need to make sure the police have all the powers that are necessary,” she added.

Asked about the curfew powers, May said: “It’s something that we’re going to look at to address whether, and to what extent, we may need to change the law.

“There are two issues – one is the availability of curfew powers in relation to individuals who are under the age of 16, and the other is whether … at the moment the curfew powers are specific in terms of individuals and attached to individuals, and it’s whether more general powers are needed.

The riot crackdown also extends to people who were not directly involved in the activity, but accepted purloined goods:

Ursula Nevin, who slept through the riots, took the shorts from a £629 haul of clothing and accessories stolen from the Vans store in the city centre by her housemate Gemma Corbett.

Nevin was arrested for handling stolen goods after police raided the flat in Stretford. She was jailed for five months after pleading guilty at Manchester magistrates’ court.

Following her conviction, Greater Manchester Police posted this message on their official Twitter account: “Mum-of-two, not involved in disorder, jailed for FIVE months for accepting shorts looted from shop. There are no excuses!”

More police shadiness in the Mark Duggan case came to light:

Responding to inquiries from the Guardian, the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said in a statement: “It seems possible that we may have verbally led journalists to believe that shots were exchanged”.

Duggan, 29, was armed with a loaded handgun when he was shot dead by police after the minicab he was in was stopped during a planned operation to arrest him.

Investigators have established that two shots were fired by one CO19 firearms officer who was supporting Trident officers during the operation.

A postmortem concluded that Duggan was killed by a single gun shot to the chest. He also received a second gunshot wound to his right arm in the shooting at around 6.15pm in Tottenham Hale on 4 August.

Let’s pause to remember the deceased, who died protecting their neighborhoods:

Abdullah Khan, the uncle of brothers Shazad Ali and Abdul Musavir, who were struck by a car along with Haroon Jahan while guarding shops from looters in Birmingham, has told a press conference that the family wants justice. Police also appealed for further witnesses.

Tariq Jahan, the father of Haroon Jahan, made an impassioned plea for an end to the violence and racial unity. He also made a request – to honor his son’s memory by NOT participating in more rioting.

And let us spare some thoughts for the injured. As Angry Asian Man pointed out last week, in an environment of chaos, everyone is fair game.

Race wise, two very interesting incidents popped off. In the first, historian David Starkey decided to go on BBC and say what he really felt:

“But it wasn’t inter-community violence. This is where he was absolutely wrong.” Gesturing towards one of the other guests, Owen Jones, who wrote Chavs: the Demonisation of the Working Classes, Starkey said: “What has happened is that a substantial section of the chavs that you wrote about have become black.”

An outcry on Twitter began with the Labour MP Jeremy Corbyn asking the BBC: “Why was racist analysis of Starkey unchallenged? What exactly are you trying to prove?” A spokesman for Newsnight said: “I think that [presenter] Emily Maitlis very robustly challenged David Starkey.

“The two guests [Jones and the writer and education adviser Dreda Say Mitchell] that we had also quite clearly took issue with his comments.”

Jones told the Guardian he believed Starkey’s comments were “a career-ending moment”. He said: “He tapped into racial prejudice at a time of national crisis. At other times, those comments would be inflammatory but they are downright dangerous in the current climate.

And interestingly, England imported Bill Bratton, a US-based “Supercop” who – in what sounded like a pot-meet-kettle moment, but was actually pretty good advice – informed the Brits that they needed to handle racial tensions before they could move forward:

The former New York and Los Angeles police chief, who will meet David Cameron next month to share his expertise in tackling gang violence and street crime, said crime-fighting solutions that have worked in the US, such as making police forces more ethnically diverse, could get results in the UK.

Bratton said British police needed to focus on calming racial tensions by working more with community leaders and civil rights groups, noting that communities could not “arrest their way out” of gang crime.

Employing more police officers from ethnic minority communities was another potential long-term solution to stopping future disorder, he said.

And, to end, a very interesting perspective from Russell Brand:

Early in [Big Brother] there was an incident of excitement and high tension. The testosteronal, alpha figures of the house – a Scot called Jason and a Londoner called Victor – incited by the teasing conditions and a camp lad called Marco (wow, it’s all coming back) kicked off in the house, smashed some crockery and a few doors. Police were called, tapes were edited and the carnival rolled on. When I was warned to be discreet on-air about the extent of the violence, I quoted a British first-world-war general who, reflecting on the inability of his returning troops to adapt to civilian life, said: “You cannot rouse the animal in man then expect it to be put aside at a moment’s notice.”

“Yeah, that’s exactly the kind of thing we want you to say the opposite of,” said the channel’s representative.

This week’s riots are sad and frightening and, if I have by virtue of my temporary displacement forgone the right to speak about the behaviour of my countrymen, then this is gonna be irksome. I mean even David Cameron came back from his holiday. Eventually. The Tuscan truffles lost their succulence when the breaking glass became too loud to ignore. Then dopey ol’ Boris came cycling back into the London clutter with his spun gold hair and his spun shit logic as it became apparent that the holiday was over.

In fact, it isn’t my absence from the territory of London that bothers me; it’s my absence from the economic class that is being affected that itches in my gut because, as I looked at the online incident maps, the boroughs that were suffering all, for me, had some resonance. I’ve lived in Dalston, Hackney, Elephant, Camden and Bethnal Green. I grew up round Dagenham and Romford and, whilst I could never claim to be from the demographic most obviously affected, I feel guilty that I’m not there now.

I feel proud to be English, proud to be a Londoner (all right, an Essex boy), never more so than since being in exile, and I naturally began to wonder what would make young people destroy their communities. [...]

[A] state of deprivation though is, of course, the condition that many of those rioting endure as their unbending reality. No education, a weakened family unit, no money and no way of getting any. JD Sports is probably easier to desecrate if you can’t afford what’s in there and the few poorly paid jobs there are taken. Amidst the bleakness of this social landscape, squinting all the while in the glare of a culture that radiates ultraviolet consumerism and infrared celebrity. That daily, hourly, incessantly enforces the egregious, deceitful message that you are what you wear, what you drive, what you watch and what you watch it on, in livid, neon pixels. The only light in their lives comes from these luminous corporate messages. No wonder they have their fucking hoods up.

I remember Cameron saying “hug a hoodie” but I haven’t seen him doing it. Why would he? Hoodies don’t vote, they’ve realised it’s pointless, that whoever gets elected will just be a different shade of the “we don’t give a toss about you” party.

Politicians don’t represent the interests of people who don’t vote. They barely care about the people who do vote. They look after the corporations who get them elected. Cameron only spoke out against News International when it became evident to us, US, the people, not to him (like Rose West, “He must’ve known”) that the newspapers Murdoch controlled were happy to desecrate the dead in the pursuit of another exploitative, distracting story.

Why am I surprised that these young people behave destructively, “mindlessly”, motivated only by self-interest? How should we describe the actions of the city bankers who brought our economy to its knees in 2010? Altruistic? Mindful? Kind? But then again, they do wear suits, so they deserve to be bailed out, perhaps that’s why not one of them has been imprisoned. And they got away with a lot more than a few fucking pairs of trainers.

These young people have no sense of community because they haven’t been given one. They have no stake in society because Cameron’s mentor Margaret Thatcher told us there’s no such thing.

If we don’t want our young people to tear apart our communities then don’t let people in power tear apart the values that hold our communities together.

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  • Anonymous

    “There are no excuses!” is right, but I don’t think it applies to who they think it applies to.

    It is particularly sad when Alan Moore begins to appear presentient. 

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for your very valid and insightful post on the nature of riots in London.  Internationally, the middle and upper classes have ignored the needs of ghettos as they have devolved into developing nations.  We must take accountability for our neglect in order to move forward.