Tuesday, 9 August 2011

London Riots Aftermath

To all the rioters that were out last night. Poor disaffected youth's so angry with the police that you decided to break into wine bars and ransack them for alcohol and cash. Power to the people?You felt obligated to destroy five generations of a family's history by burning down Reeves in Croydon and leaving parts of London in ruin. You put the lives of people in your own communities at risk, destroyed homes and businesses in your own back yard.

What have you done?

It cannot be denied that there is a very strained relationship between youth and the police force, particularly black youths. And anyone who would completely dismiss these riots as mere criminality and deny any connection between the dire economic situation and the events that unfolded last night would be naive. Young black males are more likely to be stopped and searched by the police. I remember even as a girl in secondary school being paranoid about the public image of young people. I used to go out of my way to act against the stereotype stamped on urban youths.

Inevitably there is anger rising in those suffering as a result of government cuts. Jobs are scarce, taxes are rising and even those with relatively good degrees find themselves unemployed. We get it. The social, political and economic situation is a breeding ground for things like this to happen.

But as for the actions of those involved in the riots last night, no matter what your motivations were, the things you have done are unforgivable. Last night you attacked and destroyed peoples homes and livelihoods indiscriminately. You behaved like animals pillaging retail parks for commercial items like Trainers and iPhones.

You cannot pretend that attacking police officers with fireworks and metal poles is way forward. These people have children, they have families. The police force is an institution, but it is made up of normal individuals with just as many rights and grievances as you.

Even if the police were your primary target, you didn't primarily attack the police. You attacked anything and anyone you came across, like mindless thugs. It wasn't enough for you to just rob those businesses, you had to burn them as well. You felt the need to ensure that nothing could be salvaged, that everything was completely destroyed. How monstrous of you all.

You claim this to be your way of showing the government that you can't take it anymore. Don't lie. Don't try to turn this into a political protest. Looting Curry's and your local Chinese restaurant isn't protesting. Saying to your friends 'Let's get some watches, blood', shows just what you were out there for- everything you could get.

There are pictures springing up all over Facebook, Twitter and BBM showing criminals posing with their  spoils; a girl with tights over her head and a crate of Supermalt under her arm, a young boy on a bike with a basket of snacks stolen from a local supermarket, a grown man slipping a monitor under his hoodie in broad daylight. And it isn't just fearless youths either, not just angry blacks. There are mothers and children, grown men, whites, blacks, Asians.

I'm watching a girl shouting at a BBC news camera about respect and rights. What about all those people whose homes you destroyed, whose businesses you burned to the ground? Don't we as citizens of this city deserve the right to live without fear? What about our right to our own property, to keep our jobs, to keep our homes and families safe?

Don't speak about the police's lack of respect for you, when you blatantly have no respect for the ordinary people going through the same economic and social struggles as you are. If you wanted to win the respect of society or the trust of your community, you have failed. All you have done is ensure widen the chasm between young people and the rest of society.

Violence begets violence. Respect begets respect.