Riots will not rectify Britain

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For the first time I can remember, I feel ashamed to say I am British. Having spent much of the last few nights sitting up watching the scenes on BBC and Sky News in London, Birmingham, Nottingham and Manchester, I cannot help but feel a certain level of apathy towards those rioting, and feeling immense amounts of sorrow for the scenes I have witnessed.

The ‘spark’, the killing of Mark Duggan by police in Tottenham on Saturday evening, seems to have been largely forgotten over the weekend by those individuals who have carried out the events of the previous few days, yet I cannot comprehend why this in itself was such a big issue. The news reports, admittedly maybe not entirely accurate, have painted the picture that Duggan was nothing more than drug dealing scum, who it has been proven was carrying an illegal firearm at the time of his death. The fact that the IPCC has no evidence to prove he has fired it is beside the point, in my opinion.

I can understand the feelings of people of a different background to myself, who have been stopped, questioned or pulled over by the police despite not being involved in anything slightly criminal. However, the less people there are like Duggan on the streets of Britain, the better it is, I feel, for everyone. I also agree that there is a level of inherent racism in the British Police Force, but these riots will not do anything to quell these stereotypes.

Being from Milton Keynes, a city under an hour’s drive from both London and Birmingham, and with some violence flaring here on Tuesday night, I do feel as though I am close enough to the action to get a decent perspective of it, but not close enough to be directly involved. However, I did witness scenes of mindless aggression on Tuesday night while at work, and it clearly had nothing to do with the death of Mark Duggan. The carnival in the Bletchley area of Milton Keynes, where the action began on Tuesday cannot have helped the situation as many people had been drinking heavily and probably just wanted a taste of the rioting that has rocked the country for the last few days.

The scenes we have witnessed on the news and first hand over the past few days is not something I wish to see again, and people need to see sense that smashing up private businesses is not going to do anything to help the ‘forgotten underclass’, as seen on the front of Wednesday’s Independent. People are rioting, but they don’t know why, and seem to think that the reason is because (and I quote), “The government is rich innit.”

Basra, Beirut and (because I loathe alliteration) Athens have all seen these scenes in the last few years, but for reasons which we, who live in an economically stable (or so it appears) country cannot begin to comprehend. The mindless violence from these people needs to stop, and people need to work together to make Britain a social and economic world leader once again.

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1 Comment

  1. I think better analyses are available:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/14/young-british-rioters-political-actions

    http://universityforstrategicoptimism.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/riotcleanup-or-riotwhitewash/

    Particularly good is this quote from Prof. Andrew Davis of the University of Liverpool whose research is focused on gang violence in Victorian Manchester

    “…the rhetoric was used for many of the same purposes, to create the illusion that violence was new and to divert attention from an unpalatble truth: gangs and knife crime have always been clustered in those areas of Britains cities characterised by poverty, unemployment and chronic levels of ill health”

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