The riots in London and throughout England in August 2011. Some thoughts.
How the "poor" in London operate.
Tottenham High street. Before and after.
The results of "poverty" and "deprivation" revealed in London
The story that is dominating the news here at the moment is the rioting and looting that has been taking place in London, and other parts of The United Kingdom, since the weekend.
It started in the area of Tottenham in the north of the city, an area that I used to know very well.
In the years when I worked as a safety officer for London Underground, one of the places I had to drag my sorry ass at seven o clock in the morning, in order to scrape a living, was Northumberland Park Depot, which is in Tottenham.
The bus that I took from Seven Sisters station to the depot used to go the whole way up Tottenham High Street. Those shops whose flames, cast an uncheering glow into the skies of north London a few nights ago, were the object of my bleary gazing in those days when I had to travel to make a living, as opposed to these present days, when I work from home in order to scrape the same living.
Quite a few of them are no more now, along with the homes of the people who lived in flats above them. The reason why shops and flats filled the mile or so of Tottenham High Street on Saturday morning, and smoldering ruins occupied the place where so many of them stood on Sunday Morning, is that some of the residents of that same Tottenham, in company with some others, who are said to have come into the area, decided to trash their own streets, and set large parts of them on fire.
Later in the night, while the police and emergency services were trying to deal with the mayhem on the high street, another mob descended on a retail park at Tottenham Hale,(similar name, slightly different location). They broke into the shops and helped themselves to every available type of consumer goods, from 42" plasma televisions, to trainers, and carpets. Others did the same in the area known as Wood Green.
The following night, copycat rioters broke into shops in several other areas of London. We are still waiting to see if tonight will bring us any more shennanigans.
There was a reason why the initial trouble started in Tottenham. Last Thursday a young man was shot by police in Tottenham Hale. According to the police, he was carrying a gun, and got shot dead when he fired a bullet at one of the policemen. A gun, that was not a police weapon, is said to have been discovered in the car. A lot of people in the area doubt the version of the story being put out by the police. It is being investigated by The Independent Police Complaints Commission, at the moment.
There was a vigil being held outside the local police station prior to the riots starting on Saturday night. It was apparently, the refusal of a senior policeman to explain matters to the people outside the station that provoked the initial rioting.
Ok that is the background, and now for the point of this article, because oddly enough I am not writing to discuss the issue of how the unfortunate man got killed. This is being investigated. Depending on which peoples pressure group is in the ascendant,(the family's or the police's) will determine the outcome of the said investigation.
The topic, I most particularly wish to address here, is the looting, and the damage to property. In Tottenham several large stores were burnt down. Many of the premises on our various high streets have flats above them. These are the homes of, sometimes the shopkeepers, and other times people who rent the flats. When a shop gets burned to the ground, the people who work there are put out of work. Those who live above it are made homeless. The premiums that everybody pays to the insurance companies go up, because the damage has to be paid for somehow, and everybody is left a lot less well off as a result. You cant blame the police for this. It is also wrong to try to pin culpability on society for marginalising the urban poor. 99% of poor people do not go round torching shops. Besides there are a lot more poor people homeless now because their supposed deprived brethern/sistern set fire to the places where they lived. The blame for all of this destruction must be placed squarely where it belongs, on the arseholes that set the fires, and threatened the firemen, so they were unable to put out the fires.
I have seen commentators saying that these rioters came from deprived areas, that they were poor, and they were supposedly angry at a society that didnt give them all the good things, that the people in the plusher suburbs of our city had. That is such absolute rubbish. The same chatterers say, sometimes in the same interview, that the disturbances were fueled by social media. The "disenfranchised" deprived youth were apparently coordinating the action by "blackberrying" each other. If they were so damm poor, where did they get Blackberries ?
Another thing I noticed among the reports of looting. People were driving up in their cars, and filling them with goods from the shops. They were not all just deprived young people apparently.
Another thought occurred to me as well. A lot of the looting was being done by teenagers. Some of it seems to have been done by children. Now, to the best of my knowledge, teens and children usually live at home. There are not many members of the teenage and "kiddy" brigade living independently. So they must have been bringing these plasmas and trainers, etc back to homes that they shared with their parents.
My parents thought me that it was wrong to steal. What kind of values are these parents teaching their children? Pretty crap ones, I suspect.
Real poverty is like this.
What it really means to be poor.
While these much to be pitied poor people,(I dont think), were busy filling up their cars and stolen shopping trollies with designer goods, in another part of the world there is a different story. In The Horn of Africa there is a refugee camp with seven hundred thousand desperate, and in some cases, starving people. They have trekked from Somalia. The camp is in Kenya. The people, that are existing there, have walked for hundreds of miles through drought ridden country to have a hope of survival. Some of the children survive the journey. More of them die along the way. Mothers who are too hungry to produce breast milk, watch as their babies starve to death.
The amount of people who are recieving the minimum help they need to survive in the camp, is dwarfed by the number who can not get to help, because they are too weak to make the journey. Some parts of Somalia are too dangerous for aid agencies to work in. Here the starving are beyond help.
These really are poor people.
They probably dont have televisions in the villages in starving Somalia. But if someone did put a big screen in front of one of those women, who are just waiting dead eyed, for death to reunite them with their dead from starvation children. If someone did this, and there was a news report on, with some film of people looting plasma screens from an electrical superstore, and it was explained to this skeletal mother that these people were doing this because they were poor, do you think she would understand?
Update on the riots in England of August 2011
The riots, which started in the Tottenham area of London in July 2011, spread to other areas of the city and to other cities in England over the next few days. Millions of pounds worth of property was damaged or destroyed and many shops were looted of all their goods. Many people were left homeless and there werer some people killed, including three young men in Birmingham, who were run over by rioters driving a car.
After a few days the police, who had been criticised for being less than proactive, moved in in force to suppress the disorders. Many people who had been identified by CCTV footage were arrested and charged with disorder and looting offences. Quite a few of them ended up in prison.
It is now just over a year since the violent disorder spread throughout the country. There has been no repetition this year. Hopefully, there will be none in the years to come, either.