Sunday, 14 August 2011

London Riots: The Aftermath of the Killing of A Black Gunman

The French have a saying: "Gouverner c'est prévoir" (To govern is to foresee).
I was reminded of this early last week, long after London and its suburbs had descended into an orgy of burning and looting.
This spontaneous outburst of  anti-social behaviour had been triggered by the extra-judicial execution of a Black gunman,Mark Duggan.He was in a cab when he had been followed by armed members of Operation Trident, an armed branch of the Police whose job is to combat the recent spate of Black-on-Black shootings.The details are not clear, but it seems as if they shot him on the floor of the cab without him firing at them.One officer received a bullet in his radio....According to a report in the "Guardian" newspaper, the bullet was a police-issue one.A loaded gun was found in the dead man's sock.
Two nights later--Saturday---after the news spread, the family and friends of the dead man held a vigil outside the local Police Station, Tottenham.After four hours, no senior officer had agreed to meet them to discuss the state of investigations, no attempt was made to mollify or assuage.
Pain turned to anger, and a 16- year -old girl in the group is alleged to have thrown a brick at one of the policemen.She was then said to have been rewarded by a baton strike across the face.All hell broke loose.
The news spread like wildfire.Buses, police cars, were overturned, burnt to a cinder.Residents had a feeling of deja-vu.A couple of decades previously, rioting had occured in the area as a result of another extra-judicial killing of a Black person---a Black mother of a suspect.The community began to fear a repetition of the dark nights which then ensued.Then, a policeman had been murdered by a large crowd....
The rioting soon spread, riots were sprouting up everywhere.Brixton, in the South, Enfield, a few miles up the road, Haringey, Stoke Newington, Walthamstow, all nearby, were now up in smoke.Croydon, 15 miles away, had staged its own copycat riot.It later emerged that youths had been using Blackberry's Messenger Service to inform each other of the next venue for mayhem.
The rioters/looters were by no means all Black---what is noticeable was the variety of people involved---White, Black, and all shades in-between.Most of the areas put to the torch were disadvantaged suburbs, blighted by unemployment, devoid of hope.
With each hourly news broadcast, the list grew----Islington,Haringey, Woolwich, Lewisham, in London, Manchester, Nottingham, Liverpool, and Gloucester, Bristol outside, miles away.
The Tory hierarchy had (almost) all gone away--at the same time!The Prime Minister, David Cameron, the Liberal-Democrat, Nick Clegg(his deputy), Home Secretary, Theresa May, as well as the Billy Bunteresque Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, were all on holiday.None signalled any intention of cutting short their holiday....until it became impossible to resist the clamour for firm leadership.
The mob had got the upper hand, their use of Blackberries had outfoxed the overstretched Police.It was common to see them standing by----spectators to mayhem.All this happened against a background of doctrine-inspired public-spending cuts---including  in the size of the police force!
Those on the political Right would not countenance any linking of deprivation with the destruction which took place.Indeed, for some on the Far-Right, it was a great time for Black-bashing.Black people were responsible for all the ills of society.It takes an effort of wilful stupidity to watch young people of all races---in some areas outside London, the gangs were majority White---and conclude that we were seeing a Race War.
Anomie, breakdown of norms, yes.These were certainly not Race riots.It emerged that the gunman, infamously pictured with his fingers shaped into a pistol in that dreadful hip-hop way, was of mixed-race.His White uncle, or so it has been claimed, is a big-time gang boss in Manchester.This, even if true, is no excuse for what seems like an extra-judicial killing.An enquiry is taking place, but I don't think anyone is holding his breath for justice.Policemen who kill Blacks are never punished.History tells us that a whitewash is not far away.
Fresh off the plane  from sunnier climes, the Prime Minister and his colleagues began to talk tough.Thousands more police would be drafted into London.Water, cannon, tear gas, the whole of the police's box of tricks was to be made available.Overwhelming force was deployed, the looters went home to try on their newly-acquired trainers, and to watch their new flat-screen plasma TVs.
Courts, meanwhile, have had to sit twenty-four hours a day in some parts.Those looters who were too fat to run, or too stupid in thinking they were invincible, are being serviced by overworked magistrates.Stiff sentences await.
Politicians have begun to bicker publicly with senior Police.The Tory hierarchy---those who couldn't be bothered to leave their sunloungers in Tuscany until the clamour for their return became overwhelming---are now tripping over themselves to portray the Police as weak, vacillating.No discussion of the effects of their policies is allowed.Anyone who wants to ask "why" is deemed to be on the side of Anarchy.Plans are being drawn up to curtail similar  future  events by closing down Facebook, twitter, etc.Meanwhile, the Police have been informed that the proposed cuts to their budget will go ahead anyway.
Whisper it, but there were times when I actually felt sorry for the Police last week.

No anonymous comments will be published.


sablikatriumph said...

The disadvantaged communities what do they lack?
No political representation for them?
I think that the stores that got looted if they decide to continue to stay they will have to envolve the youth.
Make them feel that they are stakeholders too.
This takes time and store owners need community training.

Big companies that got burn should invest a whole lot more into youth empowerment. Media plays a big role to put pressure on politics and corporate sector to realize this.
Youth and senior citizens should have more access to media outlets to weigh in their opinion.
Music, rap, grime etc should reconsider their position and make the youth aware of the power they have if the channel it righteous.

mrhayford said...

The area where the shooting took place has a bright young Black Member of Parliament, David Lammy.He found the rioting outrageous.He also wants the Police to give answers to the community.
I am worried by the bad way rap/grime musicians glorify mindless violence...Access to media?Good idea.

Ampers Taylor said...

The trouble is that by blaming the police you stop looking for the real answer. Rather blame successive governments - both parties - who have continued to experiment with your children's education at the expense of teaching them the three "r's" and burying us in the EU so that a whole generation has grown up without jobs and because of illiteracy, have little chance of doing well in life.

Vote Tory or Labour and get the same for the next generation!

mrhayford said...

You make some good observations, pertinent points.
However, it was not my intention to merely "blame the police".
I tried to be as objective as possible.

Hubert Taylor said...

@mrhayford, Attracted to your Twitter page I visited your beautifully crafted 'A Londoner observes' blog site.

Aside your lucid telling, please permit me to share thought with you on the matter of the colour labelling of people/race.
With your "head in the clouds.." not surprising we bump into each other. Yet with your "eyes wide open" I need only stand my point within reasonable range.

In your "London riots: ..." article (above) you used words/phrases as: "black gunman","black-on-black","black person","black mother","white, black,..shades","blacks" (in lower case). You are not alone as such and other common words/phrases (I think used in similar context), including on the UK 2011 census form are: 'Asian, black, Chinese, white', 'black African'.

In the manner of your use of the terms, please permit me to ask five pertinent questions.

(1) Does your "Black" refer to a race of people or, loosely to skin-colour?
(2) Does your "White" refer to a race of people or, loosely to skin-colour?
(3) If both refer to race, are there other races than the "Black" and "White"?
(4) If your "Black" refers to a race, then which race"?
(5) If your "White" refers to a race, then which race"?

If my questions are not deemed out of hand, please let us discuss your answers. My view is that if race is not defined and titled to be within easy reach of, and use use by, a toddler then a sense of family might well not be engendered in the people, as in nature, family is naturally founded upon race.

Kind regards and good wishes for 2012,
Hubert Taylor
Flat 2 18 St Michaels Road, Birmingham B18 5LA