All Articles Tagged "london riots"
(The Root) — On BBC’s Newsnight, noted historian David Starkey rips into black culture as the cause of why whites were a part of the recent London riots, saying, “The whites have become black.” In the exchange, which features Starkey, author and scholar Dreda Say Mitchell and Chavsauthor Owen Jones, Starkey equates black culture with gangsterism. He takes aim at Jamaican immigrants for “intruding” on English culture and blames hip-hop for promoting rioting. Mitchell challenges Starkey on homogenizing black culture and on blaming hip-hop culture, much of which promotes materialism, which is a distinctly upper-class pursuit. Owens chides Starkey for demonizing black and working-class youths by essentializing black culture. Owens also points out that 50 percent of black teens are unemployed, which might spur uprisings.
The riots create a complex situation in the UK, and in London in particular. What started as anger over an unjust shooting has quickly blown up into a multi-armed creature of anger and civil unrest. There no longer seems to be a specific focus for anger, there just seems to be anger.
I focus on London in particular, simply because it’s the city I know best, and the one that has the most ethnically and economically diverse population in the whole of Europe. This place has been a centre of global migration for 2000 years – it was a centre of globalization centuries before the term was invented. Hundreds of ethnic communities thrive, with over 300 different languages being spoken there. Like any city it certainly has its problems with cultural and racial tensions, and while there are significant social justice issues for Blacks, Indians, Pakistanis and other minorities in London, when compared to a city like Paris, the problem is virtually non existent.
What’s especially interesting is the fact that things have blown up on such a large scale at this time. The reason behind nationwide rioting is more complex than the shooting of an innocent man; after all, Jean Charles de Menezes, a Brazilian electrician mistaken for an Islamic suicide bomber, was shot in the head seven times in a tube train by the Metropolitan Police in 2005. Admittedly, this was a time when London was still coping with the multiple Tube and Bus bombings of recent terror attacks, but it is acknowledged that the police surveillance and intelligence system had comprehensively failed and while there was outrage and distress at such an injustice, there was no rioting.
That’s because in 2005, the UK was still riding the crest of the global economic boom, and Britain itself was outperforming the world economically – it was, in many respects, the centre of global growth. What was mistakenly regarded as Chancellor Gordon Brown’s ‘economic miracle’ was little more than momentum from global economic performance. So, when things started caving in, Britain caved in more than most. Britain’s economic growth never really recovered, Brown’s reputation, now as Prime Minister, shared a similar fate, and Britain’s mood quickly dimmed.
But something is going on here. The mood in Britain is very different to the one I first encountered in 2001. Back then, there was an infectious optimism – a still new government that was making sweeping social changes. In addition, extremely low unemployment and rising property prices that gave ordinary Britons the sense that they could participate in an economy – a dream that Margaret Thatcher had claimed credit for two decades earlier, but had never ultimately delivered.
In 2008, this mood quickly evaporated. With the national unemployment rate mired for years at just under 8% and no significant direction of economic recovery in sight, there is a deep, underlying suspicion and resentment of the financial system, and a sense that some sort of ethically reprehensible financial crime has occurred. This isn’t helped by the British government still being the major shareholder of a number of financial institutions nor by the fact that university fees, as small as they may be, are on the increase.
In this most capitalist of cities, the sense that fiscal and ethical accountability has been avoided, no matter how misunderstood this may be, still runs deep. The last time a major street riot occurred in London was during the G20 summit in 2009. I was in the middle of this as an observer and while it was violent, it was contained within ‘The City’ – the ancient, medieval square mile that houses the nation’s banking industry. It also lasted for little more than a day.
Ultimately, I believe that while the initial anger and hunger for justice was prompted by an unjust shooting in Tottenham, the unfettered spread of civil unrest is a sign of something more – Britain is an angry, frustrated nation and nobody seems to be delivering explanations or solutions. Where long-term economic uncertainty occurs, and this uncertainty affects employment, consumer prices and housing markets with no solution in sight, this sort of rioting is the result. Even despite the recent events, Britain is simply not a fun place to be at the moment.
Dr. Jackson Mahr is a British-Australian sociology expert who specializes in European social issues and globalization. He is the author of the upcoming book, INFORMOCRACY – Power, Politics and The Rise of Little Brother.
I recall an incident that happened to me last year while going to a club on South Street, a touristy area of Philadelphia known for its clubs and bars and quirky shops. As I exited my vehicle, which I had parked a few blocks from the nightclub, a swarm of 50 or so people came out of nowhere and descended upon the area like a flock of birds. My first instinct was to haul-A$$ along with them because naturally, when you see a bunch of people running, it’s best not to wait around to see what they are running from. But as I was putting my key in the door, I noticed that these running people were in fact, children mostly between the ages of 11 to 17, who ran from corner to corner, kicking mailboxes, turning over trashcans and laughing and giggling down the street. Later it was reported on the news that the roving band of kids were “flash mobbing” and that they had attacked a number of shops and broken a woman’s leg.
Again that was last summer yet what should have been a random occurrence has become an almost frequent act here in the city of Brotherly Love. And today, I sit in the comforts of my home watching videos of the streets of London, and European cities beyond, being trashed and burned by wayward youth, I also listen as newscasters, pundits, blogger and everyday citizens are trying to make sense of the mayhem. Those here in the States are wondering if this sort of rebellion could possibly happen here. Well, I got news for you: it already is happening. But folks have not been paying attention.
Bands of youth, known as flash mobs are a growing problem in large and small cities around the country. The phrase typically refers to a large crowd of individuals — usually teens — that use social networks to coordinate riots, assaults and robberies. Last month, About 100 Pittsburgh teenagers swarmed a number of retail shops including a McDonald’s and a Target, throwing chairs and wreaking havoc after leaving a community church picnic.
In Chicago, teenage posses have been organizing since February and targeting tourist hot spots in and around that City. And just last week, hundreds of teens in Milwaukee attacked people as they left a state fair, punching and kicking people and shaking and pounding on their vehicles. At least 31 people were arrested – many for disorderly conduct – in connection with the incidents and at least 11 people, seven of them police officers, were injured,
It’s easy to see the connection between the flashmobs happening across the country and London’s riots. Just like in London, politicians, police chiefs and the media have reacted to the chaos by labeling these kids as wayward thugs, animals and mindless criminals run amok. British prime Minister David Cameron has referred to the rioting as “pure criminality.”
The response from the powers that has been to push the need for harsher police interventions. No one can’t seem to connect the dots and realize that the massive poverty, unemployment and social deprivation that now exists in so many low-income communities, both here in the States as well as in the UK, wouldn’t eventually just be confined to just those communities.
There is no debating that the unstable global economy, which has led to some rather crippling economic austerity measures, has had a particular devastating trickle down effect on the poor and communities of color around the world. Stateside, cities and states are closing libraries, recreation centers and other program geared to mostly impoverished children. Likewise Black teens unemployment hovers around 40.7 percent, which is about double their white counterpart. Deep budget cuts to education has left many school districts eliminating classes and closing doors. And let us not forget the deep cuts to entitlements at a time when a record-breaking 40 million people are relaying on some form of public assistance to get them through this tough time. So why then are we surprised when the most vulnerable population – i.e. the children – react to the very circumstances in which we expect them accept so readily?
It’s has been no secret that when the poverty and unemployment goes up, so does crime. But politicians have pretty much ignored this reality and taken to the tactic of shaming parents and the children alike with phrases like, “you have damaged your own race.” I don’t think that we should let parents off the hook but I also believe the greater community at large shares inmuch of the burden for whatever “damage” to the race these teenage rebellions are promoting. Whether it be neglect or just being overburdened, what happens when there is no parental leadership in the home? Who then becomes responsible for the children? Do we expect the children to just raise themselves, wait until there is a full-fledge rebellion like on the streets of London or do we all as a community of adults, extended parents, mentors and leaders carry a bit of the load of providing the guidance, love and stability these children are so desperately crying out for?
Charing Ball is the author of the blog People, Places & Things.
The city of London had received a great boost in popularity this year due to the intense media attention and international interest in the royal wedding of Will and Kate, but this week, the world is being reminded that there is another dimension to the pristine and cosmopolitan image of the region. Last Thursday, 29-year-old Mark Duggan was shot and killed by police. Officers assert that he was armed and dangerous, but many are suspicious about what really happened that night. Days later, those suspicions, racial tension and economics have led to one of the worst riots and outbreaks of violence that London has experienced in over 25 years.
(New York Times) — Prime Minister David Cameron pledged on Tuesday to flood the streets of London with 10,000 extra police officers and said Parliament would be recalled in emergency session after rioting and looting spread across and beyond London for a third night in what the police called the worst unrest in memory. Mr. Cameron spoke after cutting short a vacation in Tuscany to return home as violence convulsed at least eight new districts in the metropolitan area and broke out for the first time in Britain’s second-largest city, Birmingham, and elsewhere. Coming after a cascade of crises, the measures announced by Mr. Cameron seemed to represent a bid to restore some appearance official authority after nights of chaos and near-anarchy with rioters taunting or out-maneuvring the police, raiding stores and torching buildings in the face of little evident restraint. The violence has left many Londoners stunned at the spectacle of hooded and masked marauders rampaging with seeming impunity despite hundreds of arrests that have filled police cells to overflowing. In a cautious response on the streets, some citizens took to cleaning up the debris on Tuesday, cheering police patrol vehicles passing by.