Dark Days Indeed – London Race Riots

It was only last night that I finally heard about the Riots in London. It was the weekend so I was off doing my own thing. I was completely caught off guard because we watch Channel 4 News and the Today show religiously and yet there was NO mention of the London Riots. That speaks volumes about the role of mass media and just what is considered newsworthy. If asked, I am sure the ubiquitous they would say that the declining stock market and ongoing debt debate pushed this out of the limelight but I think that’s a bunch of BS. People matter more. Under it all, I think the powers that be consider the uprising of the disenfranchised right across the pond to be incredibly alarming and would like nothing better than to downplay it for fear of inciting a similar response here at home. Considering the ongoing foolishness coming out of DC they are right to be afraid.

It was only when I got on Twitter that I actually saw the multitude of comments and immediately began following commentary by UK residents and went to YouTube and @RT_com (Russia Today News Source) which was tweeting continuous live updates.

What I saw was horrifying and sobering. The video coverage shows how bad it has gotten in a very short period of time in a way words could never convey.

For the intelligent few, the reason to riot encompasses Mark Duggan and many other social injustices.

And in spite of my horror, I am a firm believer in the right and effectiveness of public dissent.

For the faceless masses of the disenfranchised there is little choice but to strike with a bludgeon at the heart of those in control, they will not listen otherwise. People will disagree with this and say that it is an uncivilized response and I agree wholeheartedly that hurting innocent people and tearing down your community is not the way forward. However, rallies don’t do much because as one person so succinctly stated on Twitter, “500,000 people marched against the gov’t cuts in the UK (of all races I might add) but they went through anyway.”

It really is a no brainer to see that once the wealthy and powerful are in control their consideration for the less fortunate is negligible. Who willingly gives up power? Right.

I believe in MLK and Malcolm X’s philosophy and have great admiration for both of them. If peace will not work then “By any means necessary” becomes your only choice.

It is very easy for people of non-color to point the finger at minorities and say they should only use legal channels to invoke change. It’s easy because they are not the ones who live a life marred by the effects of racism, institutional and societal. They don’t live under a constant cloud of suspicion. They probably also don’t notice that while rates on unemployment continue to climb the highest rate is among minorities directly affecting their quality of life. Nor, do they have to live with the fear that their brothers, fathers or other male family members will at some point be arrested and possibly terrorized and beaten by the people we pay taxes to protect us. I live with that feeling everyday and am a law abiding citizen for whatever weight that carries which is none.

All the people who sit quietly by while social injustices continue unchallenged are, in my opinion, just as guilty as the abusers. What reason do they have to stir themselves to participate in what is at its base a public outcry? They have a moral obligation.

This is not the first time we have heard of a black, unarmed man being shot while under suspicion. Need I mention Amadou Diallo?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amadou_Diallo_shooting

As quoted from Wikipedia on Amadou Diallo, “The event spurred subsequent social psychology research. Eberhard and colleagues (2004) conducted experiments with police officers which revealed that they were quicker to decide to shoot an unarmed black target than an unarmed white target, and were quicker to decide to shoot an armed black target than an armed white target.” Absolutely and that is not exclusive to NY, LA, UK or Africa…

It’s such a common occurrence, this pattern of abuse and harassment, that most minorities harbor a deep fear and hatred of police officers. We are convinced by their actions, not anomalous but commonplace, that they devalue us as human beings and the natural response to that is RAGE.

Apparently, the rioters are mostly young people and that is also understandable. Young people do not have the advantage of maturity in order to channel their anger productively. In a society which glorifies violence in movies and video games and the like, coupled with the recent example of Egypt would you really expect them to take any other course of action? What they really need is a leader to unify and direct their efforts not rabblerousers and mindless criminals polluting the message that needs to be sent.

Of course, the opportunistic have landed and criminality is raging out of control. Sadly, it is par for the course. Mark Duggan is lost among the din and that is truly horrible but the underlying causes should be considered.

I am praying for a cessation to the violence and I am hoping, perhaps naively, that something good will come out of so much pain and horror but I know the likelihood is slim.

All in all, my heart is heavy today and I am saddened that things have come to such a sorry pass. Will it ever change?

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7 thoughts on “Dark Days Indeed – London Race Riots”

  1. I love a debate :D. When I say I understand the Watts and LA riots I mean in the context that, from a distance and through the medium of media, I can see catalysts for each and intellectualise the rationale for why there was a powder keg moment that erupted.

    Perhaps the perspective of the riots I, and those I am speaking with here, have at the moment appear different to us, who are trying to come to terms with them, and someone looking at it objectively from another viewpoint.

    I truly believe that you could gather up 50 people involved in the looting from each of the towns that have had disruption and ask them how this started and 1 in 25 might know that there was a riot in Tottenham due to the shooting of Duggan. If you asked the same sample why they were doing it, maybe 10 would make a political reference and the rest would say because they can.

    If you take a look at the geography involved you will see that this isn’t just about action that has spilled out from one borough or town into another; there are hundreds of miles between them: Lverpool (NW), Bristol (SW), Gloucester, Leeds, Birmingham and London.

    Honestly – the action is not in support of compatriots in any of the other towns. The rioting on Saturday in Tottenham was allowed to go on for hours; to play itself out by the police for hours. People pretty much had free reign to loot and carry off their wares with impunity. The media carried the story with relish, even interviewing people on the ground live, whilst the images showing looting right under the nose of the police was beamed into homes hour after hour.

    The next day there was disruption in Hackney, which is down the road from Tottenham. Then there was disruption in Croydon (South London) and Clapham? Ok – all of this you could make an argument for being linked. But how does that then link to Birmingham; 120 miles away, Liverpool; another 99 miles away; Bristol, Nottingham, Manchester, Wolverhampton and West Bromwich?

    When you listen to those on the scene being interviewed they state quite clearly they are doing it because they can and they want to get stuff – not because they are being oppressed, are disenchanted or disenfranchised. They state they are doing it because the police can’t stop them.

    Wow – look at the huge response you drew from me :D.

    The link between it all would probably be the fact there are enough people in each of these towns and cities that, in this moment of opportunity and public disorder, have felt comfortable throwing off any regard for civil order.

    😀 – Your turn ;).

  2. JJ Rawlings from Ghana used to say democracy is about what the people want and need, not about what the rulers think the people want or need, explaining that it is most unethical and politically unwise to attempt to govern a people by resorting to the use of force in the name of protecting the state as opposed to meeting the needs of the people. He was referring to African democracies. Sadly this applies to all of us.

    1. Dugutigui,

      Back again? 🙂 I was unfamiliar with this but think it is very wise. It is worth repeating…

      I was trying to take your advice and write something light for yesterday’s blog as we all need a respite from the madness. Hopefully, I will do better today lol.

      C.

  3. I hope we can change all this, but I’ll be damned if I know how. There are so many awful deeds being done on so many sides of so many issues that the truest of the questions and answers get obscured by the horror.

    No one wants to hear about empathy, or the fact that everyone should have a truly fair opportunity to excel within their righteous talents. In a world built on the idea that buying and selling goods is the absolute most important thing that exists (and must be supported at all costs to human decency) how are we meant to address any of the real human needs and issues that have always existed, and yet conflict so much with the dictates of corporate culture?

    It seems that everything, no matter how good or fair, that conflicts with the needs of the world’s corporations, is worked against by those in power. With this kind of education, is it any wonder that the public (especially its youngest consumers) is following their message so well that they take to destroying their own communities? Less work for the corporations to do.

  4. 😉 You were right, haha – we will come at this from different points of view. That however is what healthy debate is all about.

    I can’t remember which comedian said it, perhaps it was Chris Rock, but they made the point after the LA riots that it would probably have made more sense to tear up Bell Air or Rodeo Drive, not your own neighbourhood.

    These events are scattered across the nation and cannot be linked in any way to the initial incident in Tottenham. These people are burning the shops in their local areas and looting the businesses that fund their local economies.

    The areas that they are tearing down are the areas they will have to live in; the areas that were already screaming out for investment and will now probably look less enticing as somewhere to invest.

    The people who own those shops are sole-traders not major corporations and will most likely now be out of business forever.

    Whilst rioting is wrong, I can understand the Watts riots and the LA Riots made sense (indulge me). However – this activity is not for any political gain, it is not chorused in one voice about a particular wrong and is not about people rising up against oppression.

    These riots are just theft and destruction on a major scale!

    1. Mark,

      Oooh goody, a debate 🙂

      I agree with the premise that tearing down your community is not helpful in the grand scheme of things. I read a blog yesterday that said the youth feel no compunction about taking such actions as they feel disconnected from their community to begin with which is a common feeling amongst Generation Y. I have to concur because of the multiple conversations that I’ve had with teenagers about their feelings of being devalued and on the fringe are a sad fact.

      Now, you could say that is ridiculous and wrong but that doesn’t change their feelings of disconnection and rage at the machine. Those of us from the previous generations were raised with a different set of values which of course points to a parenting issue but it also speaks to a societal change. We are rapidly becoming a splintered, technology based, materialistic society which places little value on the working man and his contributions so why should they care?

      I believe that such events are the horrifying end result of a multi-layered problem manifesting itself across country lines.

      Why do you feel these events are not related to Tottenham/Duggan? Why else would they have started right after the event? I just can’t buy into the idea that mass lawlessness and protest broke out amongst hundreds of people just because they decided they wanted TV’s and designer clothes as some sources are regurgitating. I think that is a media smokescreen and as long as they continue denying that people have legitimate gripes we can expect a repeat and worsening of this behavior. The climate and conditions are absolutely right for it which is really frightening.

      I’d also like to know why you feel Watts & LA had more valididty? What steps do you think should be taken to address the events besides jailing the perpetrators?

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