I feel the need to vent about what’s being going on, to say what I think a lot of people are saying, but everything that has been going on has been so upsetting that I’m not quite sure I want to. And actually I’ve taken so long to compose this , to think about what I’m writing (to the point where I’m unsure if I even want to post it) that I feel like it’s toned down a little (read that as less of me swearing at the sheer idiocy of it all, because it is, and I’m so very angry about it all).
Right where to start? I guess, just in case anyone doesn’t know a quick summary on what has happened:
Thursday afternoon/evening a man got shot in Tottenham by the Police, there are countless rumours flying around about how he died and just what exactly happened. The IPCC were I believe investigating, they always investigate after a police shooting, however I have heard that they may have been slow at contacting the family and offering support. A lot of this is only what I’ve read in the papers, only the family and those directly involved can really know what happened here, although i the IPCC is starting to release details about the shooting.
Roll on Saturday there is a PEACEFUL protest of approx 120 people to Tottenham’s Police Station demanding justice and answers to the shooting. Then at about 8-8.30pm, who knows what happened, something triggered and this turned into a full scale riot. Which went on for hours. Shops were smashed up and looted and at least 3 police cars and a bus got fire-bomed (if you look at the burnt out wreckage you can’t even tell it used to be a bus!) and properties. This is the horrific thing, a 1930’s listed building which had a carpet store at the bottom and about 20 flats was completed gutted. (They had to knock it down last night because it was that unsafe.) That’s 20 homes GONE, people’s jobs GONE. Because some idiot thought it would be ‘fun’ to through petrol bombs around.
And how I wish I could leave it there, to say that was all that happened, that it was a protest gone horribly wrong, that the police managed to get things under control, but it isn’t.
While the police were getting things under control in Tottenham, thieves and vandals were hitting Wood Green. Breaking into, stealing and smashing up several stores along the high street (inc one burned out car). (Body Shop, Carphone Warehouse, HMV, H&M, other phone shops etc.) This was not, and I can never consider it to be a part of the initial protest. Wood Green is not that close to Tottenham high road for a riot to travel that far, these people intentionally went there to loot and destroy because the police were busy elsewhere. There are YouTube vidoes showing people queuing to get into a store to loot it at almost 6am, so it’s light outside!
Perhaps, as has been speculated on the news, this was a trigger, a sign that these gangs might be able to get away with it. (They won’t, police are using the same social media that the thugs/criminals are using to help catch them http://www.flickr.com/photos/metropolitanpolice/sets/72157627267892973/)
Whatever the case, Sunday evening things started kicking off in Enfield and Brixton.
Monday? I think last night was the worst, I did feel like I wanted to cry at times. It started kicking off in Hackney at about 4pm. By the time I got home from work well… it begins to become the stuff of nightmares. Places in Croydon were ablaze (an utter inferno, the pictures are horrific, again this is people’s home’s and businesses being burned down), and as I followed twitter more and more places were starting to show signs of trouble, and starting to get out of London to Birmingham. Waking up this morning to the news that even more cities outside of London had been affected, Bristol, Liverpool.
There may be more trouble tonight, police leave has been cancelled and they are on 12 hour shifts. My work made the decision to shut early so that people could get home, and in case trouble started in our area. Walking to the tube many of the electronics shops already had their shutters down, and there was a visible police presence.
I guess we’ll see how things pan out as the evening progresses.
So that’s what’s happened.
Watching the pictures last night was very upsetting, particularly the fires. As I said these are people’s homes burning down, people who have done nothing have lost everything. It’s amazing that no one (so far) has lost a life in the fires (at the time of writing this is the case). Only 1 person has died from being shot, and it is uncertain if that is to do with the looting. There are quite a few people who have been injured though, mostly police I think (just saw a stat saying 111 police and 5 police dogs, hopefully those are mostly minor injuries). What amazes me is that even fire and ambulance crews have been attacked, these people are there to help us, and they’ve been attacked?! All of it is absolutely disgusting, horrifying and very upsetting.
Walking into an area where the mobs have been is just weird, there’s a very strange feeling to seeing no traffic going down the main road and shops all smashed up.
A comment on the news really through me this morning, it said there hadn’t been such awful fires in London since the Blitz, and while these weren’t on the same scale they were blazing infernos. Yes that’s right the Blitz, when enemy war plans dropped bombs on us. This time it’s our own people.
I feel like we’ve already entered the Dystopian Future, I mean that’s when all this kind of crap is going to happen right? Except normally you’re in a totalitarian state or in a state run by corporations, and while I know things are bad here, it’s not quite at those extremes, we can speak out against the government and laugh at them and we get some say in who rules the country, except apparently it is bad enough.
I don’t think there’s 1 specific reason, many of the pictures that have been seen show that a lot of the looters are young people (not all some adults have also been arrested). But it does raise a lot of questions. There have been a lot of governmental cuts recently, a lot of job losses, and places closing making it even harder to get a job. A lot of the area’s that were hit initially are were poor areas to start with, some with high crime rates. Is some of this steeming from the fact that young people don’t have much of a future to look forward to? C has mentioned to me that we seem to have strange culture where we vilify our youth, he does have a bit of a point. See a gang of teens, doesn’t matter about gender or race and we can get very intimidated, worried about what they want. (I suspect most of the time they don’t really care, just minding their own business but still.) Still is it likely that some of these factors all add up to the reason why some people are doing this? (I say some, because I’m pretty sure a fair bit is criminal elements taking advantage of the situation, but then a lot of these young people could have fallen in with this due to above reasons). Who knows. I do know that questions are going to be asked for a long time after this.
If it is due to these facts, this separation of the adult population from the young, then how do we even deal with it? Can we deal with it? People have been saying for a long time that there’s nothing for young people to do, citing it as one of the many reasons why there are so many gangs. We’re in a recession do we even have the finances to change things? Although I guess the first question to even ask is what would we do? How would we approach this? What changes could we even make? Again who knows, questions I can’t even answer, and I think I’m beginning to waffle so I’m going to end this post.
I just want to finish by saying this:
I know a lot of people have been complaining about the police, or in some cases the sheer lack of it. But they have been vastly outnumbered in some places and they have to assess the situation as they go, and yes they have clearly not been at their best at times, but at the same time I would like to Thank them for what they have done. They’re in an almost no-win situation. They trod quietly during the original peaceful protest, because people often complain that they are too heavy handed, and now people say they should have had more of a presence so I want to take this opportunity to thank them for everything they’ve done/trying to do.
I would also like to thank the fire-brigade for dong their best to tackle those fires, they’ve had a lot more calls to deal with, and some of the fires have been so bad they’ve add to leave them a little before they could tackle. (Added in the fact that one of the fire’s in Croydon they couldn’t even approach for a while because there weren’t enough police to guarantee their safety.) So thank you.
And finally the lovely spirit that has come about in an attempt to clean up after the riots (#riotcleanup on twitter), from people who are angry about what has been happening. Nice to see all the photo’s of people with brooms cleaning up!
We’ll get through this I’m sure.
Edit to add: Following live text update as I write this and it seems that things are starting to kick off in Manchester. I really wish this shit would stop!!! 😦