Tag Archives: London Riots

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.”

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Tottenham 1985-2011: Through the Fire

by Guest Contributor Nichole Black, originally published at On Race and Resistance

London Riots

On Saturday evening 6th of August I was gathered with friends in Peckham, South London celebrating the opportunities and doors open to us. One friend travelling to China for a year, my scholarship for a masters degree, another friend rising in influence in the community. All of us young Black people having grown up in the inner city on Estates and council properties. Graduates with narratives that disturb the monolithic perspective of Black youth identity. But not disconnected from our own context and committed to our community it was with grief, sympathy and solidarity that we turned toward Tottenham, by then, ablaze with anger and burning out brick and mortar. This morning – through the soot and smoke filter – the socio-economic barriers remained.

Numerous stories have emerged but there is no verified account of what turned a peaceful protest into a riot that would endanger lives and ruin local businesses and services. Earlier that afternoon members of the community in Tottenham gathered to demand answers from the metropolitan police, who on Thursday 4th August stopped 29 year old Mark Duggan in a Mini Cab and engaged in a shoot out that resulted in his death. Duggan, father of four, had allegedly been in possession of firearms. This is another of at least three accounts of Black men’s deaths during police operations this year alone. It has only been five months since over a thousand people gathered to protest the suspicious death of Smiley Culture whilst the police were at his home.

Last night’s riots in Tottenham come exactly twenty-five years after the infamous Broadwater Farm riots in the same part of London. Not vastly dissimilar from recent events, Cynthia Jarret died whilst the police conducted a search of her home. Just the week before that Dorothy Groce was shot by police instigating the 1985 Brixton Uprisings. When community members gathered at the police station tensions rose and the peaceful protest in Tottenham erupted into riot. The violence escalated and policeman Keith Blakelock was killed. (The intricacies of this case are harrowing and worth reading).

If we are shocked at what is going on in Tottenham we have failed to trace history & the relationship between authorities & poor & BME. – @HanaRiaz

A quarter of a century on we are asking if police-community relations in Tottenham are any better. That is only for the residents of that area to say but it is evident that they are still not good enough when police accounts are understandably met with such distrust. As we face-off with the returned ugliness of the 80s British conservatism and increasing hostility, conditions are being set for a ‘police army state’. Continue reading

Voices: The London Riots

London Riots

We can dispense with some mistakes, though. It is wrong to say that the riots are apolitical. The trouble began on Saturday night when protesters gathered at Tottenham police station to demand that the police explain the circumstances in which a local man, Mark Duggan, had been shot dead by the police. The death of a Londoner, another black Londoner, at the hands of the police has a gruesome significance. The police are employed to keep the peace and the police shot someone dead. This is a deeply political matter. Besides, it is conventional to say how much policing in London has changed since the Brixton riots of the early eighties – but not many people mouthing the conventional wisdom have much firsthand experience of being young and poor in Britain’s inner cities.

More broadly, any breakdown of civil order is inescapably political. Quite large numbers of mostly young people have decided that, on balance, they want to take to the streets and attack the forces of law and order, damage property or steal goods. Their motives may differ – they are bound to differ. But their actions can only be understood adequately in political terms. While the recklessness of adrenaline has something to do with what is happening, the willingness to act is something to be explained. We should perhaps ask them what they were thinking before reaching for phrases like “mindless violence”. We might actually learn something.

— Dan Hind, writing for Al-Jazeera

I’m digressing, personalising, because I am angry and despairing. Right and left are meaningless in terms of what has happened over the last few nights. If you genuinely think that this wouldn’t have happened if the coalition had been Labour/Lib Dem you need to get off the internet and get out more. That 13 – 20% have no respect or concern for or interest in any government, and probably can’t even distinguish between the range of worthies in suits who have ruled us during their lifetimes. I’ve even seen someone blame Thatcher for what happened last night, as if Cameron had achieved the kind of reversal of history that was beyond Pohl Pot. Politics does not concern the 13 to 20%; criminality is their norm, just as it was their parents’ norm.

They are not part of the society the people reading this belong to. Rioting last night gave them a sense of power and control, over the police, and over their neighbours. It’s a huge oversimplification to say these are simply poor areas. Patterns of housing – particularly the rental market – in London are way more complex than that and Hackney, Clapham, Brixton etc have been increasingly gentrified over the last thirty years. The communities are much more mixed than many commentators will acknowledge. What these riots – which aren’t demonstrations, but parties got out of hand, with fires and prizes – is the degree of alienation from their own communities, their inability to acknowledge that they are part of any community. They also don’t see themselves as angry or even oppressed, because they cannot look beyond the circumstances they are in and the peer pressures around them. And it is about bad parenting, to the extent that when the 13 to 20% become parents they have no aspirations or responsibilities for their children to inherit. That won’t change if you treat merely them as victims, and enhance their sense of entitlement to trainers and TVs, nor if you treat them merely as criminals and process them through a judicial system that encourages recidivism.

— Rosamicula on LiveJournal

Just let me be clear about this (It’s a good phrase, Mr and Mrs Cameron, and one I looted from every sentence your son utters, just as he looted it from Tony Blair), I am not justifying or minimising in any way what has been done by the looters over the last few nights. What I am doing, however, is expressing shock and dismay that your son and his friends feel themselves in any way to be guardians of morality in this country.

Can they really, as 650 people who have shown themselves to be venal pygmies, moral dwarves at every opportunity over the last 20 years, bleat at others about ‘criminality’. Those who decided that when they broke the rules (the rules they themselves set) they, on the whole wouldn’t face the consequences of their actions?

Are they really surprised that this country’s culture is swamped in greed, in the acquisition of material things, in a lust for consumer goods of the most base kind? Really?

Let’s have a think back: cash-for-questions; Bernie Ecclestone; cash-for-access; Mandelson’s mortgage; the Hinduja passports; Blunkett’s alleged insider trading (and, by the way, when someone has had to resign in disgrace twice can we stop having them on television as a commentator, please?); the meetings on the yachts of oligarchs; the drafting of the Digital Economy Act with Lucian Grange; Byers’, Hewitt’s & Hoon’s desperation to prostitute themselves and their positions; the fact that Andrew Lansley (in charge of NHS reforms) has a wife who gives lobbying advice to the very companies hoping to benefit from the NHS reforms. And that list didn’t even take me very long to think of.

Our politicians are for sale and they do not care who knows it.

Oh yes, and then there’s the expenses thing. Widescale abuse of the very systems they designed, almost all of them grasping what they could while they remained MPs, to build their nest egg for the future at the public’s expense. They even now whine on Twitter about having their expenses claims for getting back to Parliament while much of the country is on fire subject to any examination. True public servants.

— Nathaniel Tapely, “An Open Letter to David Cameron’s Parents


(Via Baratunde and Jason)

Quoted: Casey Rain on Understanding the Roots of Violence

Riots BBC Shot

It’s easy to dismiss the rioters as “scum with nothing better to do” but there are much deeper problems here. As a young, male, ethnic minority in the inner city myself, chances are, I probably know some of these people. I can relate to the feelings of helplessness. I’ve been fortunate enough to be successful as a musician myself and been able to create my own positive future, but these kids rioting don’t see themselves having a future at all. They have been failed by society as a whole, they’ve been failed by the government cutting arts funding and closing youth centres, unemployment is rife to the point where even the ones desperately trying to seek work simply can’t find it, and the boiling point to all this (Mark Duggan events) is a situation that is VERY REAL. I myself have been stopped and searched many times by police for no given reason. They raided my apartment at 6.30 in the morning once while my wife and I were asleep claiming they’d had reports of a disturbance. I’ve been questioned for gang activity that I had no part of, because of how I look and where I come from. It’s simple racial profiling, and whilst that is NOT an excuse for the behaviours of rioters, the sad fact is that it happens.

We live in pretty desperate times as a whole, and the inner city youth are at the bottom of the barrel. So whilst this behaviour IS disgusting, try and have some compassion and relate to fellow human beings who literally feel hopeless and don’t see a way out. When you think about, the right emotion to feel in some of the cases is just sadness and pity – kids robbing a flat screen TV when they see an opportunity to… because they know they’ll never be able to afford it. Is a kid robbing some trainers that different to a corrupt politician fiddling the expenses accounts, or corrupt policemen and journalists taking bribes (as we’ve seen in the phone-hacking scandals?). So what kind of example are those people setting?

Remember, most of these kids looting ARE just opportunists. It’s only the really violent ones smashing the windows, the rest just go in after them and take what they can. I have faith in humanity and I don’t think that most of these kids are bad people. I really don’t. They are the lost ones, neglected and marginalized, in many cases without the basic education to understand that there are better ways to go about life.

— Casey Rain, musician and blogger behind Birmingham Riots 2011 Tumblr, in a personal post titled “A Few Words

(Image Credit: BBC)

An American in Birmingham: My Perspective on the London Riots

by Guest Contributor Kadian Pow


I don’t live in London, so I will not pretend to write the story of what Londoners are feeling. I live in the nation’s second city, Birmingham—a less than two hour drive northwest of London. This is my perspective on London, Birmingham and other parts of the country.

On Thursday, Tottenham (borough of London) resident Mark Duggan was shot and killed by police. He was being investigated by police for some time. Though armed, reports claimed Duggan had surrendered his gun before shots were fired. On Saturday, his family—tired of waiting for answers about the circumstances of his death—marched to a local police station to speak to senior officers. On the way there, other people joined them. Police were slow to respond to the family’s request for information. The crowd became restless and a young girl was reportedly pushed back by police. It was speculation and rumour around this confrontation that sparked the initial rioting in Tottenham. The looting and arson that followed on ensuing nights had nothing to do with getting justice for Mark. His family is outraged at the behaviour and violence that has spread across London and the country.

We’ve been glued to the TV since Sunday morning when we woke up to news of the rioting in Tottenham on Saturday night. We were gobsmacked at the devastation, questioning why this was happening. On Sunday night when we learned that the violence had spread to other areas of London, I had a sinking feeling that the trouble would reach beyond the capital, and we would see it in Birmingham. In fact, I said as much in an email on Monday morning to my best friend in DC.

On Monday evening, we went to a free cinema preview on the edge of Birmingham city centre. In an unusual move, we decided to take the car and go to the nearby Tesco grocery store afterwards. The supermarket’s parking lot was unusually empty. It was 8:30 PM. As we approached the entrance another shopper arriving at his car told us the shop had closed early due to “trouble in town”. I pressed him about the exact location of the trouble, but he did not know. We decided to go to the Tesco Express at the end of our street in the Jewellery Quarter (a desirable residential area near the heart of the city). My sense of unease continued. I stayed outside in the small parking lot of the store to keep watch while my partner went inside to shop. I noticed a youth in dark clothing with his hood up, surreptitiously talking on his phone. I looked to my right and in the distance spotted about 10 other youths in similar dress approaching. I loudly admonished G to “Get the fuck out NOW!” I could feel myself welling up with anger because they dared to bring their violence and bravado to my neighbourhood. I think I had residual anger from having had all three of our bikes nicked by young kids just two weeks before. G did not heed my words, so I had to yell like a mad woman for her to get out. As I turned my back, the youth were just feet away from me. I saw one quickly take off his balaclava (ski mask) and dump it behind the bin near the entrance of the store. To my left two police vans had just arrived. I begged the youths not to bring trouble to my ‘hood then jumped in the car to quickly get away. Later that night from my side window, I could see police in riot gear parading up and down my street. Ours is the only residential building on a street otherwise littered with jewellery shops. It’s important to note that these youth were not rioters. The term “riot” usually implies political purpose. These youth had gathered with the intention to cause damage and steal.

BBM messages like these have been sent out to organize people:

“Everyone from all sides of London meet up at the heart of London (central) OXFORD CIRCUS!!, Bare SHOPS are gonna get smashed up so come get some (free stuff!!!) fuck the feds we will send them back with OUR riot! >:O Dead the ends and colour war for now so if you see a brother… SALUT! if you see a fed… SHOOT!”

Interestingly, the message above is also temporarily advocating squashing gang turf wars and racial tensions (“dead the ends and colour wars”) in the name of free stuff. These give you some indication of the motivations of those who organized the violent gangs. Their intentions: rain havoc through any violence possible and get free shit while doing so. This was supposedly their way of showing authorities that they could do whatever they want. And they did. Four nights on, they’re still at it. I must stress that any justification the rioters in Tottenham may have felt they had to rail against authority on Saturday night, cannot be claimed by offenders who spread this to other parts of the country. How shameful that social media has been used for this purpose. Recently, we’ve seen how mediums like Twitter were used to mobilize the people of Egypt (and other countries) in their quest for democracy. Continue reading