Tuesday, 9 August 2011

London is Burning

For the past couple months many in Britain, and around the world, have been wrapped up in the goodwill and merriness brought about by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge's wedding. Even some of the most cynical found themselves recasting their image of Britain into that of yesteryear, daring to dream that there was still a hope for that long-last nostalgic version of the UK. Hope no more. The events of this past weekend have shown once again that Britain is lost - and anyone silly enough to consider attending the 2012 Summer Olympics should take a moment to reflect upon the images of London rolling across their tv screen. Vancouver's Stanley Cup riot ain't got nothin' on the mayhem currently spreading across the UK.

The riots started after police officers shot and killed an alleged gang member and drug dealer in Tottenham, a gritty neighbourhood in North London. That this man's ties to crime and gangs are well documented by British media are almost as relevant to the riots as the fact that he was killed. The riots in London are not about police brutality, they are about brutality attacking first responders and stealing whatever the city's scum can get their dirty little hands on. (However I will point out here for those who may not know that police in the UK do not carry guns - only special units in special situations - ie drug raids - are permitted to carry, which indicates the threat the force felt this man potentially presented. Also, there was a gun found at the scene.) The family of the killed man, although upset about police actions, have called for the rioting to stop. From day one. And from day one these riots have had nothing to do with "justice."

For a few days now, England has been reaping the results of its domestic policy over the past decades. Large groups of youth have travelled to various locations in the city to loot, steal, attack police, destroy property, break into homes and cause complete chaos. Generation Entitlement is taking what they believe they are entitled to. Free stuff. Free everything. This morning as I was on the tube I listened to a teenager tell his mother how all his friends had been texting him last night with updates on their looting activities - they had been out stealing dvd players, xbox's and 300GBP Brazilian weaves (which brings up another "unmentionable" about these riots). He then proceeded to tell his visibly upset mother that he should have been out there with his friends getting free stuff. He was laughing. He thought the whole thing was a big joke - and to the rioters it is. Burning buildings, torching police cars, stealing anything and everything is a direct reflection of the total lack of respect for self and others that is rampant in Britain, in particular in what North Americans would likely refer to as London's black ghettos (Brixton and Tottenham, two areas where the rioting began are two of London's most impoverished black neighbourhoods). Being poor does not make you a thief - and these people are not stealing because they are poor - if they were they would be stealing food and necessities - not loading up the trunks of their cars with Nike shoes as they did in Tottenham Hale. I wondered why nobody hit the nearby Ikea, and have now chalked that up to small European cars not being able to hold furniture, even if it is the flat in a box kind. When you raise a generation to believe that they can do whatever they want with no consequences this is what you get. When you have generations of families growing up on drug infested estates, attending schools where teachers excuse their behaviour and refuse to hold them to the same standard as everyone else you get a generation that believe it is untouchable. It is only a matter of time until this rioting starts racking up a death toll.

The Met has once again proven its inability to police appropriately when it matters. I know there are many officers putting their lives on the line around the clock over the past few days, and for that I am thankful - however it needs to be said that this rioting should have never spread. What started in Tottenham should have been contained and snuffed out swiftly. A black man was shot and killed in a gritty neighbourhood where there is a history of violence against police and the Met was clearly unprepared for the ensuing actions. As Londoners watched parts (and initially it was small parts) of Tottenham go up in flames, literally, young minds across the city realized the police were doing very little to stop looters. So why not join in? And so the snowball is rolling and nobody knows when it will stop. And Brits sitting in their London homes watching the news, as the majority of the city is doing, are not armed and cannot defend themselves when the mob comes to their door.

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SMW will not be posting any pictures of the riots. It is simply to great a risk to be near these crowds. I am curious to see how long and how far this spreads. The city is slowly starting to shut down in various parts - even my own local shops are closing up because of the proximity of rioting. Can curfews be imposed here? I really don't know.