Friday 12 August 2011

The 2011 riot in the UK

The violence, the worst unrest Britain has seen since race riots set London ablaze in the 1980s, began when an initially peaceful protest over a police shooting in London’s northern Tottenham neighborhood turned violent. That clash has morphed into a general lawlessness in London and several other cities that police have tried to halt. Tottenham has a large number of ethnic minorities and includes areas with the highest unemployment rates in London. It also has a history of racial tension with local young people, especially blacks, resenting police behaviour including the use of stop and search powers.

The current disorder is close to where one of Britain’s most notorious race riots occurred in 1985, when police officer Keith Blakelock was hacked to death on the deprived Broadwater Farm housing estate during widespread disturbances.

In the present case, it was the shooting death of a black man, Mark Duggan, a father of four on August 4th which triggered the unrest. But Duggan is an "unlikely martyr," in the words of London's Daily Mail: He belonged to a gang which allegedly dealt in both intimidation and cocaine. In his final days, Duggan packed a pistol and came under police surveillance, for fear he would avenge the stabbing of a cousin killed in an argument over a woman and drugs, according to his neighbours.

Police say Duggan was shot dead when police from Operation Trident, the unit that investigates gun crime in the black community, stopped a cab he was riding in. The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating the shooting, said a ‘non-police firearm’ was recovered at the scene, and media reports said a bullet had been found in an officer's radio. However, the Guardian newspaper reported that the bullet in the radio was police-issue, indicating Duggan may not have fired at the officer.

Duggan's partner, Semone Wilson, insisted Monday that her fiance was not connected to gang violence and urged police to offer more information about his death. But she said the riots appeared to be no longer linked to the initial protests. "It got out of hand. It's not connected to this any more. This is out of control," she said.

Part of the problem of the rioting lies at the feet of the police who shot Duggan. Their blunder is that they didn’t explain why they shot him. Was he armed and pointing a gun at them? Was he unarmed and running away from them? It is that question as to what really happened immediately before Dugan was shot that has infuriated a great many people. Even up to the publication of this article in my blog—that question hasn’t been answered by the police. Obviously, some of the rioters used the shooting as an excuse to riot.

However, later an investigation showed that the 29-year-old British man whose fatal shooting during an arrest sparked the current riots, did not open fire at police officers before he was shot dead last week. The Independent Police Complaints Commission said there was 'no evidence' that Mark Duggan had opened fire before he was shot. Duggan died during the arrest in Tottenham, north London on Thursday. A handgun found at the scene was not fired, the IPCC said, following ballistic test results.

Despite that revelation, the London riots were less the product of mass rage at Duggan’s death than calculated thuggery. Duggan's family had organized a peaceful demonstration, which was then hijacked by anarchists and criminals for their own purposes which was smash, grab, loot and burn. Regrettably, it didn't take much for some of the so-called normally law-abiding citizens to actively partake in the riot that ensued.

Now we all know that even when you have a peaceful protest march, there will be scumbags in the community who will take that opportunity to create havoc in the neighbourhood.

The rioting and looting that convulsed poorer parts of London over the previous weekend spread Monday to at least four new parts of the metropolitan area and broke out for the first time in another big city, in what appeared to be the worst outbreak of social unrest in Britain in 25 years.

The havoc that followed isn’t because of boredom. It is caused by criminals who loot, damage property and commit arson because they like doing it. The past weekend's carnage has left the city reeling at the British version of the Los Angeles riots of 1992, which caused $1-billion in property damage and 53 deaths which was prompted by the decision of a jury that acquitted four white police officers of their beating of paroled criminal, Rodney King, a black man.

Rioters throwing petrol bombs rampaged overnight through the deprived district of Tottenham, setting police patrol cars, buildings and a double-decker bus on fire. Police later said they were called to Enfield, a few miles north of Tottenham, where youths had smashed two shop windows and damaged a police car. “Not a riot, but serious disturbance,” the local member of parliament (MP) Nick de Bois wrote on his Twitter site. Two police cars and a double-decker bus were set alight, stores were looted and several buildings along Tottenham's main street which is five miles (eight kilometres) from the site of the 2012 Olympics. They were reduced to smouldering shells.

Police said 26 officers were injured as rioters bombarded them overnight with missiles and bottles, looted buildings including banks, shops and council offices, and torched three patrol cars near Tottenham police station. Residents said they had to flee their homes as mounted police and riot officers on foot charged the crowd to push rioters back.

A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron said, “The rioting in Tottenham last night was utterly unacceptable. There is no justification for the aggression the police and the public faced, or for the damage to property.” He added, “There are pockets of our society that are not just broken, but frankly sick. When we see children as young as 12 and 13 looting and laughing, when we see the disgusting sight of a young man with people pretending to help him while they are robbing him, it is clear that things are badly wrong with our society.”

He was referring to one of the really gross events that occurred during the riots took place in London. Mohn Asyraf Haziq, 20, a young man from Malaysia who is studying on a government scholarship was riding his bicycle with a friend to buy some food when they inadvertently encountered a crowd of rioters. Some of them were young enough to be in primary school. The thugs pushed him off his bike and punched and kicked him. His teeth were smashed and his jaw was broken. While he was on the ground, a black man approached him as if coming to his aid and placed a reassuring arm around his shoulders and helped him to his feet. While being held him up in a standing position, one of the other rioters opened up his backpack and stole his PSP player. He also had his wallet and cellphone stolen from him amid threats of being stabbed with their knives. The so-called ‘Good Samaritan’ was one of the thieves who robbed him while their victim was clutching his wounds. A woman in a nearby house brought him into her home and called an ambulance. At the time of this writing, he is still in the hospital.

Tim Godwin, the acting commissioner, said that while the violence on Saturday was rooted in frustration over the death of Mark Duggan, 29, a father of four shot dead during a police operation, later disorder on Sunday was "pure criminality." Stephen Kavanagh, the deputy assistant commissioner, added, "On occasions like this, it is the burglars, the thugs and the bullies that are trying to make the most of the opportunity."

By all accounts, these were riots waiting for an excuse. The spark was the police shooting of a black man, Mark Duggan, in the London suburb of Tottenham. But they did not turn into race riots: the perpetrators were of all colours and backgrounds.
All that united them was an impulse to smash and grab.

Violence and looting spread to new areas of London on Monday as shops and cars were set ablaze and police struggled to contain the spiraling disorder on a third night of rioting. Prime Minister Cameron was right however when he said that the police response to the beginning of the riots was too slow. Had they acted sooner, perhaps the riots could have been nipped in the bud so to speak.

On August 9th, newspapers in Britain published a haunting photograph: a woman flinging herself from a burning building into the arms of riot police below. The image was broadcasted on CNN and other television stations worldwide. The image captured the horror that has settled like a noxious dust on at least ten London neighbourhoods and other British cities.

In London on August 9th, businesses, homes, cars and fire trucks were ablaze early in the morning as police struggled to respond to looting and violence in a third night of riots across London. By that time, 225 people have been arrested and 36 charged in riots that began last Saturday night after a peaceful protest in a North London community turned violent. The worst unrest in London in decades saw buildings, vehicles and garbage dumps set alight, stores burglarized and police officers pelted with bottles and fireworks, as groups of young people rampaged through neighbourhoods across the capital.

Nightly violence has torn these communities apart for days. Dozens of buildings and cars have been torched. Stores have been looted; police and firefighters have been attacked. Large swaths of urban Britain resemble a battle zone.

In Clapham Junction, south London, police cornered off a major intersection as a crime scene after a fire ripped through buildings and dozens of stores were ransacked Monday night.

There’s no justification for outright theft and violence: one particularly sickening video shows young men pretending to help a wounded boy, then rifling through his backpack.

Bad policing clearly played a part. London police held back at the outset on Saturday night, fearing a repeat of the city’s racially fueled riots of the 1980s. Now Prime Minister David Cameron has more than doubled the number of cops on the streets and promises to end the violence. But the damage – both physical and psychological – has already been done.

While the extra policing may deter the impulse to violence, it will not eliminate the disaffection felt by many young people in Britain. “This is criminality pure and simple and it has to be defeated.” Cameron said.

In an attempt to understand the carnage in the UK, fingers are already pointing away from the rioters and towards other causes of the mayhem: racism, poverty and unemployment. "Tottenham is a deprived area. Unemployment is very, very high. They are frustrated," according to one resident quoted by Reuters. "We know we have been victimized by this government, we know we are being neglected by the government," said another man. "How can you make one million youths unemployed and expect us to sit down?" Politicians said that criminals and thugs, rather than those with genuine grievances, had taken advantage of the situation.

I doubt that there were or are a million youths in Tottenham that are unemployed. But even if that resident was speaking of unemployed youths all over the UK, that doesn’t justify them rioting. Causing mayhem in a community will not get them jobs.

The Guardian's Nina Power went further: "Decades of individualism, competition and state-encouraged selfishness combined with a systematic crushing of unions and the ever-increasing criminalization of dissent have made Britain one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.” unquote

Is she saying that it is the government's fault for provoking people into rioting by not cutting the fat and for creating a large unsustainable welfare state in the first place, which eventually, inevitably, had to be rolled back? Is she saying that it is the state's fault for deploying massive government intervention to stave off the 2008 economic crisis, which sent debt levels soaring while failing (as widely predicted) to produce a sustainable recovery?

Over the long term, such actions not only create actual dependency, on government programs and handouts, but also teach citizens that the government holds the key to their security. They engender an entitlement mentality that erodes the notion of personal responsibility, resulting in tweets like this one, reproduced in London's Daily Mail: Sonny Twag: "Want to roll Tottenham to loot. I do want a free TV. Who wudn't?"

Twitter and text messaging are being blamed for aiding organizers of the riots. Research in Motion announced Monday night it will work with police investigating the use of BlackBerry instant messaging. One BBM message sent Sunday, which has been shown to the Guardian by multiple sources, calls on “everyone from all sides of London” to vandalize shops on Oxford street. It said: “Everyone from all sides of London meet up at the heart of London (central) OXFORD CIRCUS!! Bare SHOPS are gonna get smashed up so come get some (free stuff!!!) fuck the feds. We will send them back with OUR riot! Dead the ends and colour war for now so if you see a brother. SALUT! If you see a fed. SHOOT!"

The mode of inciting the violence was the same in Gloucester as it has been in large cities: broadcasts via BBM or BlackBerry Messenger. One message disseminated shortly after the fire started informed local teenagers "the riots have begun, windows smashed, bike wheels taken, mandem pullin out bats n pitbulls everywhere, BC this to show respect for the rioters! Join in!"

Leon Davis, 17, said that he and other friends said that they had been receiving BBM messages since Monday suggesting Gloucester would be attacked, but they did not believe it could happen. Davis showed one BBM on his phone, received at 7.10 p.m., on Monday. It said: "7pm primark glosta riot begins! Pussys stay at home! Bad man dnt come alone. Tell a fren to tell a fren!" Davis said that he thought they were joking.

The prime minister has stated that he would also explore curbs on the use of social media tools if these were being used to plot “violence, disorder and criminality.”

The dummies who sent those messages weren’t aware that their messages can be traced directly to their BlackBerrys and RIM is cooperating with the police to disclose who the owners of the BlackBerrys are who sent messages to others encouraging them to riot. On Monday, RIM announced that it will cooperate with the police and regulatory officials wherever BlackBerry cell phones are available to its users. That is because the authorities can demand access to data from the cell phones if the messages relate to criminal activity. Police also said Twitter users could also be charged with inciting violence.

On August 8th, violence spread to both middle class and more impoverished neighbourhoods in London. Riots also flared outside London for the first time in Manchester and Liverpool in northern England. In the nation's central city of Birmingham, (which is about 200 kilometres northwest of London) dozens of people attacked shops in a main retail district spreading the chaos beyond London for the first time since violence broke out on Saturday night. A police station was set on fire in Birmingham,. At least 200 hooded youths massed near a shopping centre in the middle of the city, smashed windows and looted stores. Police cordoned off the area and arrested at least nine people. But the disorder was not on the same scale as the destruction wreaked on 11 London suburbs on Monday,

There were also smaller disturbances in West Bromwich, near Birmingham, Dozens of people attacked shops in a retail district; the western city of Bristol, where the Associated Press said 150 rioters went on a rampage in the city center. The disturbances also reached Liverpool, where police said vehicles were set ablaze and buildings vandalized in the city’s southern neighborhoods.

Fire crews battled to control a raging blaze that swept through a 100-year-old family run furniture store in Croydon, in south London, and forced nearby homes to be evacuated.

British police said three people have been arrested over the alleged attempted murder of a police officer as violent riots swept through London and spread to other cities for the first time. Police said the suspects were detained and arrested in the Brent area of north London after a police officer was struck by a car and hospitalized. The officer and a colleague, who suffered minor injuries, had stopped a number of cars in the belief that the occupants had been involved in the looting of a nearby electrical store. Police said in a statement the officer was seriously hurt as one of the cars drove away from the scene. It was later stopped and the three people inside were arrested.

On the 9th, British Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his holiday and chaired a meeting of the government’s emergency response committee called Cobra.

More than 1,700 extra officers were deployed on the 8th in London, with support provided by nine forces from areas around that city. And yet, still the violence continued. Clashes began in the early afternoon of the 8th in Hackney, East London, where mostly young men wearing bandanas and masks over their faces smashed the windows of businesses and looted just after 4 p.m.

Witnesses said it took 30 minutes for riot police to arrive and block off the main street outside Hackney Town Hall. That is far too long for the police to come onto the scene. When they finally arrived, rioters threw cement bricks and glass bottles at police who were in riot gear, as spectators cheered them on in some cases.

As far as I am concerned, spectators that encourage rioters to commit crimes are just as guilty as those actively doing the crimes. They should face the same penalties. One hooded youth attacked and kicked a journalist filming the scene.

“It’s just stupid. It’s just kids messing around,” said one witness who asked not to be named. “There’s just nothing for them to do.” That hardly justifies rioting.

Hackney MP Diane Abbott later visited the scene, calling it “terrifying.” She also said, “This is an area with a lot of pressure and a lot of tension it seems to me that when things kicked off in Tottenham, it was only a matter of time before it came to Hackney,” she told the BBC. The Metropolitan Police Commissioner Tim Godwin called the rioting “pure violence and pure gratuity.” I agree with his view of the situation. He said, “We will put them in front of the courts and we will be asking the courts to send down significant sentences in relations to this form of activity.”

Police are reviewing thousands of hours of CCTV video and asking the public for help identifying rioters. I should point out that London has thousands upon thousands of closed-circuit television cameras on its streets. Many of these criminals will be identified.

Despite a huge increase in the number of riot officers, gangs of hooded youths, many of them communicating via BlackBerry instant-message technology the police cannot monitor, as well as bicycles and mopeds to spread the word about where to strike, out-manoeuvred the police in the London districts of Hackney, Lewisham, Peckham and Croydon.

They smashed store windows and set several vehicles on fire, some of them burning uncontrolled for hours, threw firecrackers, bottles, rocks, shopping carts at the police and scattered easily to regroup when riot squads charged.

On TV, there were images of smoke billowing from a large furniture store consumed by flames in Croydon, South London, and reports of teenagers looting and setting cars on fire in Hackney, East London.

Authorities said there would be 16,000 officers on duty — almost triple the number present Monday — and said a large presence would remain in the city through the next 24 hours at least. The show of force seems to have worked. The disturbance was finally brought under control on Sunday after hours of sporadic clashes. Buildings were still smouldering for the fires, bricks littered the roads and burglar alarms continued to ring out. In London, where thousands of extra police had been deployed, was finally peaceful. There was an eerie quiet to the streets.

But outside the capital, chaos was spreading. In the northwestern city of Manchester, hundreds of youths — some looking as young as 10 — rampaged through the city center, hurling bottles and stones at police and vandalizing stores. A women's clothing store on the city's main shopping street was set ablaze, along with a disused library in nearby Salford. Manchester's assistant chief constable Garry Shewan said looting and arson had taken place there on an unprecedented scale. "We want to make it absolutely clear — they have nothing to protest against," he said. "There is nothing in a sense of injustice and there has been no spark that has led to this."

At a nearby retail park, electrical stores and mobile phone shops had been ransacked, with boxes for large plasma TVs discarded outside, along with CDs and glass from smashed windows. “They have taken almost everything,” said Saad Kamal, 27, branch manager of retailer JD Sports. “Whatever is left is damaged.”

Local MP David Lammy said it was not known if everyone had escaped flats above shops that were gutted by fire. “A community that was already hurting has now had the heart ripped out of it,” he told reporters. he added, “I’m concerned that what was peaceful protest turned into this and it seemed to go on for many hours before we saw the kind of policing that I think is appropriate.”

Locals said there had been growing anger recently about police behaviour. “I’ve lived in Broadwater Farm for 20 odd years and from day one, police always pre-judge Turks and black people,” said a 23-year-old community worker of Turkish origin.
Fingers were also pointed at the police for failing to anticipate the trouble, although Commander Hanstock said there had been no hint of what was coming. He said they expected to add the number of rioters recently arrested to the 55 people already arrested.

The capital also saw riots at the end of last year when protests against government plans to raise tuition fees for university students in the centre of London turned violent. During the most serious disturbances last December, rioters targeted the limousine belonging to heir-to-the-throne Prince Charles and his wife Camilla
London was in the grip of a heightened police clampdown Tuesday as fearful shopkeepers closed their doors early and people stayed at home after three nights of rioting, looting and arson.

Many shops in London remained close Tuesday in areas where police suspected rioters might congregate. Officers guarded those areas in greater numbers than had been seen Monday, including in the neighbourhood of Hackney where witnesses reported seeing hundreds of police outside the Town Hall in the afternoon.

In the largely Turkish community of Dalston, east London, vigilante groups patrolled the streets, chasing away suspected looters from the local businesses. There were calls for others to do the same across London.

The rioting claimed its first victim Tuesday when a 26-year-old man died after being shot in a car in Croydon, south London, police said. The circumstances of the shooting were not immediately clear, but Croydon was at the centre of the violent rioting late Monday and early Tuesday. Reports said the man had been in the company of two other people arrested for theft, and a car chase had ensued. The incident is likely to inflame further the tense atmosphere, as the police vowed to 'get tough' by trebling the number of officers on the streets of London. I don’t know if he was shot by the police.

The new outbreaks came as the police vastly increased the number of riot-control officers deployed in London and announced they had made more than 200 arrests since Saturday.

Teenagers were still taking pictures of the smouldering debris on Gloucester's Barton Road at 5am on Wednesday, wide-eyed in disbelief. None had thought that television pictures of riots in major cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool would spread to their quaint home town near the Welsh border.

What followed, according to witnesses still around to relay events as dawn broke, was a series of running battles with the police along Gloucester's narrow terraced streets. Riot police were drafted in alongside officers on horseback as they tried to quell the violence.

The disorder in the town, which began around 9.30 p.m., on Tuesday and continued into the early hours of the morning, was smaller in scale than the widespread looting and running battles elsewhere in England. Witnesses said the crowd of rioters consisted of around 50 youths, from young teenagers to men in their 20s.

Unlike far larger cities such as Nottingham, which appears to have seen hundreds of shops targeted overnight, In Gloucester there were attempts to break into less than a dozen local stores and glass-fronted betting shops. There was an unconfirmed report that a pet shop was targeted.

But the reaction through the night to the news to a blazing fire and rioting in Gloucester suggested that while smaller than elsewhere, the disturbance heralded something symbolic: evidence that the spreading violence could take hold in a cathedral city with a population of less than 150,000.

As one policewoman said guarding the burned out shell of a derelict building set on fire on Brunswick Road: "It's madness. No one can understand it." It was that fire in a derelict building beside a college near the centre of town that appears to have marked the start of the disturbances.

Youths were then seen to congregate nearby, but riot police chased the groups south and east, into Tredworth Street and, later, Barton Road. Leon Davis, 17, witnessed one of the few incidences of looting, when youths broke into a newsagent. "They kicked the front door in and ran out with alcohol, newspapers and fags (cigarettes). "Now the bookies has no front windows – and the shop opposite has no windows."

Dale Millar, 26, who spent the night photographing the disorder, showed images of teenagers hurling dustbins at shop windows and police, who had trapped them in Barton Street. "I saw missiles – bottles and rocks. They were everywhere." When asked what was the worst moment of the night, he replied, "I heard one little kid, 17, shout out 'I done my job today, I hit a police officer.'

Police were out on the street still in force as dawn broke, with vans parked beside upturned bins and smashed glass.

The rioting and looting that convulsed poorer parts of London over the weekend spread to the eastern neighborhood of Hackney yesterday evening, as hundreds of hooded youths confronted squads of riot police officers on the main street, smashing store windows, and attacking police cars and double-decker buses.

As authorities struggled to keep pace with the unrest, Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his summer vacation in Italy and will convene a meeting of the government's crisis committee on Tuesday to toughen the response to the escalating violence.

It began late Saturday in London's northern Tottenham district when a peaceful protest over the police's shooting of a suspect turned violent, leaving parts of the high street charred and its shops looted. But some have blamed the unrest on unemployment, insensitive policing and frustration across Britain over the government's austerity budget, which will bring deep cuts to social services and welfare payments.

"There is significant disorder breaking out in a number of our communities across London," Tim Godwin, the acting London police commissioner said Monday, acknowledging that the 1,400 officers police deployed across London were struggling to halt the unrest.

Witnesses in several neighbourhoods said police were slow to respond as violence broke out in communities in the east and south of London previously untouched by the chaos, leaving young thugs free to set fires and steal from high street stores.
The small groups of youths; most with their heads and faces covered used SMS messages, instant messaging on BlackBerry cell phones and social media such as Twitter to co-ordinate their attacks and outwit the police.

Once the preserve of businesspeople, BlackBerry handsets are popular with teenagers, thanks to their free, fast instant messaging system. Blackberry's manufacturer, Research in Motion, said in a statement that they were assisting authorities in their investigation and "feel for those impacted by the riots in London." Police were also monitoring Twitter, and warned that those who posted messages inciting the violence could face arrest.

In the Peckham district of south London, where a building was set ablaze along with a bus which was not carrying passengers, onlookers said the scene resembled a conflict zone. Cars were torched in nearby Lewisham, and shops looted in south London's Clapham district.

The effects of the riot

The Association of British Insurers has estimated that the riots will cost insurers more than 200 million pounds (US$320-million). At least $20 million of that amount is attributed to the theft of goods by the looters. You can be sure that they will pass those losses onto their policy holders when their insurance premiums come up for renewal. The prime minister promised to compensate people whose property was damaged by rioters, even if they were uninsured. Of course, the taxpayers will end up paying for the actions of the rioters and looters.

Four people were killed as a result of the riot. Three of them were killed when they were run down by the driver of a car who had other rioters in his car. The victims were standing near a mosque protecting their community from looters. A black man who was driving his car up and down the streets was screaming, “We will burn you and set fire to cars.” The driver of the car saw the crowd of Asians near the mosque and revved up the engine of his car and deliberately drove his vehicle into the crowd of people who were on the sidewalk. The impact between the car and the three victims was so great; the victims were thrown into the air as high as the nearby lamppost. They were killed instantly. Fortunately the driver was caught and arrested. He is one thug who will spend most if not all of his life in prison.

What kinds of people were rioting?

Residents of a London housing estate laughed at a televised plea by police for parents to call their children and help rein in the youths who looted and burnt swathes of the city. Not only were some of the parents at the riots themselves, but many of those taking part were not the hooded, teenage delinquents on which many have pinned the blame for the worst street riots Britain has seen for decades. Some of the rioters were primary school children.

Afro-Caribbeans, Asians, whites and others of various ages were involved in the riots that spread across London and further afield to the cities of Liverpool, Manchester, Bristol and Birmingham.

Some social commentators, point to public service cuts and high unemployment that have scarred poor, disadvantaged communities the most. Politicians and police on the other hand have described the riots as pure criminality, with youths emptying out shops in what looked like targeted raids. I agree with the latter view.

But no everyone fit the ‘hoodie’ stereotype. For example, a 43-year-old organic chef and an opera house steward are said to have been among those making their first appearance in court on Thursday. The pair pleaded not guilty to charges of looting and were remanded in custody. A postman, a primary school mentor, lifeguard, charity worker and a father of a newborn baby were among other defendants appearing alongside schoolchildren and college students to answer charges ranging from theft to violent disorder. As well, the 19-year-old daughter of a millionaire appeared in court charged with stealing £5,000 (US$8,000)-worth of electronic goods she allegedly looted in southeast London. She pleaded not guilty to five counts of burglary. Among a large number of detained rioters that kept one London court busy throughout the night were a graphic designer, a graduate student and someone about to join the army. These people are not the disenfranchised poor people who have a grudge against society.

Why do people riot?

So-called ‘austerity’ naturally becomes unpopular and provides a fertile atmosphere for thugs and anarchists to sow violence. Under such circumstances, it becomes all too easy for a mob to capitalize on incidents like Duggan's shooting for its own purposes. There are problems all over the world with respect to unemployment and the cutting back of services but rioting isn’t going to solve those problems.

The purposes of the rioters are still the same as they were almost a century ago when in 1921, Italian anarchist Errico Malatesta wrote that "It is necessary to provide all with the means of life and for development and it is therefore necessary to destroy with violence, since one cannot do otherwise, the violence which denies these means to the workers."

Anarchism is the political belief that society should have no government, laws, police, or other authority, but should be a free association of all its members. What took place is not anarchism. The rioters weren’t attempting to overthrow the government or do away with government. The rioting was closer to social chaos. It doesn't matter if rioters are attempting to overthrow the government or trying to bring in reform, the result is the same, a chaotic society will follow where the rioters feel that they are all entitled to free electronics or a cradle-to-grave safety net, even if they have to burn down the neighbourhood to get them.

Are onlookers part of the riot?

There are two kinds of onlookers. The first kind is those unfortunate people who are trapped in the area and have no other choice but to remain where they are until it is safe to go to their homes. The second kind of onlookers is those people who are excited at watching fires, staring at accident scenes and watching vandals, arsonists and looters committing their crimes. Later they can brag that they saw it all. What prompts them to go to the scene of a riot is the adrenalin kick they get from being part of the crowd where all the action is. Are they any different than being spectators at an organized dog fight? Not really. If the spectators were to stay away from the scenes of riots, the police would have an easier time arresting the criminals who are rioting. But because the crowd of spectators watching the hoodlums committing their crimes is so large, it is difficult for the police to apprehend the criminals since they can’t get close enough to them to make the arrests.

What steps can be used to quell a riot?

The government did not rule out the use of plastic bullets against the rioters, which would be a first for Britain. 'If that is a tactic that is going to be used, it's going to be properly considered,' said a government official. Plastic bullets have in the past only been used in the troubled British province of Northern Ireland - and not on the British mainland.

There were demands to use water cannon on the streets of mainland Britain for the first time to quell the rampant lawlessness. With the police appearing to lose control of parts of London, many people used the social network site Twitter to demand officers be allowed to use the weapon. Prime Minister Cameron has already authorized police to use baton rounds and water cannon where necessary.

An early supporter of the tactic was Ken Livingstone, the former London mayor, who said he agreed police should be allowed to start using the cannon to disperse rioters." The issue of water cannon would be very useful given the level of arson we are seeing here," he said. The devices have been used to control mobs in Northern Ireland, but senior police officers have never used them on the mainland. The high-pressure spray is one of several anti-riot weapons, including rubber bullets and tear gas, regularly used in other countries.

Hugh Orde, the president of Britain’s Association of Police Chiefs says that the use of water canons is inappropriate and ineffective because they are unwieldy and only useful in fixed positions. That’s nonsense. They have been every effective in the past.

One way to move rioters from a scene is to spray them with water that has an itching substance in it. It could be the oil that comes from Poison Ivy and further, a dye that can’t be removed for a very long time should also be placed in the water. Going to work, school or church with that dye on rioter’s faces will be embarrassing because everyone will know that those with the dye on their skin were participating in a riot. A bright green would do quite nicely. In fact, the dye can be the same dye that banks place in packets of money they give to robbers that later explodes and covers them from head to foot. A five minute warning as to what the rioters are going to face when the water cannons are going to spray them should be suffice to get rid of those people who are not participating in the riot but are mere onlookers. They that don’t move when ordered to do so, will get sprayed.

There is another way to clear an area of rioters. That is to use tear gas. There is also a kind of gas that can make rioters vomit for a long period of time. But it should only be used at night when all the stores are closed so that innocent storekeepers and their legitimate customers won’t suffer from the results of that particular gas.

Some residents called for police to call on the military for support. That is an option the government has. They could send in the military when the police fail to regain control of the streets. A curfew could also be introduced to force people to stay in their homes. However, reports said calls to bring in the army to restore order had been rejected by the police at Tuesday's crisis meeting with the government. I can understand why the government doesn’t want to bring soldiers onto the streets to quell a riot. Soldiers are not trained on how to quell a riot. However, they could be used to guard businesses. They should be supplied with rubber or plastic bullets and shouldn’t hesitate to shoot at the legs of looters, arsonists and others who are bent on damaging property. And if their lives are at risks, they should shoot their attackers in the head.

What should be the penalty for rioting?

Prime Minister David Cameron, facing a defining crisis of his premiership, promised on August 11th to crack down on street gangs as a national priority and said rioters behind Britain’s worst violence in decades would be hunted and punished. His words were, “As to the lawless minority, the criminals who’ve taken what they can get, I say this: We will track you down, we will find you, we will charge you, we will punish you. You will pay for what you have done.”

Alas, every city has soft-headed judges who believe in the theory that a slap on the wrist is sufficient punishment for crimes committed. If you doubt that, consider the trials of some of the hoodlums who at most got between two and four months in jail for looting. These judges don’t recognize the general deterrence concept that must be applied in cases such as this.

There was a hanging judge several centuries ago in England who sentenced a man to be hanged for stealing a sheep. The man said, “My Lord. It was only a sheep. Why should I be hanged for only stealing a sheep?’ The judge replied, “I didn’t sentence to death for stealing the sheep. I sentenced you to death to deter others of your kind from stealing a sheep.”

Cameron condemned the youthful rioters as thugs and vandals involved in wrong-doing. 'This is criminality pure and simple, and has to be confronted and defeated,' he said. 'If you are old enough to commit the crime, you are old enough to face justice,' he said in a warning to the rioters, many of whom are teenagers and children. In Bristol, Liverpool, Birmingham and Nottingham, hundreds of arrests were made. He’s following that old adage, “If you don’t want to do time, then don’t do crime.” Police have arrested more than 500 people in London alone, where police cells are full, the authorities have confirmed. Half of them are under 18 years of age. So far, as many as 1,200 people have been arrested in the UN for their part in the riots. Of course, it doesn’t follow that they will all be charged with criminal offences.

Most of the defendants who were arrested conform more closely to the prime minister’s definition of a sick society. Most of them were teenagers or in their 20s but some were much older and had jobs. Of those who were arrested, only a small minority had no record.

He is an example of one of the sick members of British society who was arrested. His name is Alexis Bailey, 31, an employee at a school. When he appeared in court, he admitted that he was part of a mob that tried to loot an electrical shop in the city of Croydon. Richard Miles-Palmer was also charged. He has a long list of prior convictions. He was found wheeling a shopping car full of stolen power tools through south London.

The son of the Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour has been jailed for 16 months after admitting violent disorder during a student fees protest in central London last December. Charlie Gilmour, 21, was seen hanging from a union flag on the Cenotaph and later leaped on the bonnet of a Jaguar car forming part of the royal convoy taking the Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall to the royal variety performance that was attacked by demonstrators. He also set fire to papers outside the Supreme Court in Parliament Square and was seen kicking at a window of a Topshop branch in Oxford Street and later carrying the leg of a mannequin. Student attacked the store caused £50,000 ($80,981 US) damage.

Gilmour, now short-haired, dressed in a suit and accompanied by his mother, who is the writer, Polly Samson, and David Gilmour, had earlier buried his face in his hands when the court was shown video footage of him at the demonstration shouting: "We'll eat fire and ice and destruction because we're angry, very fucking angry. We refuse to do anything we're told. They broke the moral law. We're going to break all the laws. Arson!" unquote

He admitted the offence of violent disorder, but denied hurling a bin at the vehicle; though Judge Nicholas Price, at Kingston crown court, said he was satisfied that Gilmour had been responsible.

The court was told that the public-school-educated second year history undergraduate at Girton College, Cambridge – who had said he did not realize the significance of the Cenotaph; had drunk whisky and taken LSD and valium in the hours before the demonstration. That would not be a satisfactory excuse if he had an accident while driving a vehicle so it shouldn’t be an excuse because he chose to act like a thug during a riot.

It has been reported that the family of Charlie Gilmour is going appeal against his 16-month prison sentence. The 21-year-old, who is the adopted son of Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour, was jailed for his part in a protest against tuition fees. He pleaded guilty to violent disorder after he joined thousands demonstrating in Trafalgar Square and Parliament Square last year.

The dons from Cambridge University condemned the sentence given to Gilmour as a “travesty of justice”. The academics, whose letter signed by 13 dons was published in The Guardian, feared the sentence would deter further protests. The letter, including signatures from Dr Priyamvada Gopel and Prof Maria Manuel Lisboa, said: “As Cambridge University dons, we view with disquiet the 16-month prison sentence imposed on Cambridge student Charlie Gilmour following his arrest at student fees’ protest.” Absolute fools. The thug wasn’t sent to jail for protesting. He was sent to jail for rioting and looting.

Dave Blackwell, a fellow protester from Brighton, wrote on the page’s ‘wall’ yesterday expressing his anger at the sentence. He said, “Gilmour is being made a complete example of by our government. They are trying to dissuade the rest of us from protesting. Since when has it not taken a little bit of civil disobedience to get things changed? Women would not have the right to vote if it were not for suffragettes.” He is another fool. Civil disobedience doesn’t mean you can riot and loot stores and cause damages to stores.

The mindless vandalism and destruction didn’t appear to serve any purpose to the thieves and vandals. Young men and women trashed entire city blocks for the sake of stolen clothes or other items they didn’t even need. Often the stolen goods were simply thrown away.

As I see it, there should be stiff penalties awarded against rioters. For example, if they break windows or cause other forms of damage to stores, they should get six months in jail. If they loot stores, they should get twelve months in jail. If they set fires to stores or vehicles, they should get two years in prison. If they set fires to residences, they should get ten years in prison. If they injure someone, their sentences should range from two years to twenty years, depending on the seriousness of the injuries. If someone dies because of those injuries, they should get twenty-five years in prison. Further, a civil judgment should be awarded against them for any damages they cause.

Rioting is no different than committing acts of terrorism. We come down hard on terrorists. We should do the same with rioters. If you doubt that, ask yourself this rhetorical question. “How will I feel when I see my vehicle, store or home being destroyed by fire at the hands of thieving rioters?”

The prime minister has announced that council tenants they could be evicted if they are found to be involved in rioting in English towns and cities. Several councils including Manchester, Wandsworth and Salford have said they will take action to evict tenants if they are found to be involved in rioting. Ravi Govindia, the leader of Wandsworth Council, said, "People who live in council homes should be under no illusions about the fate that awaits them if they are found to have been involved in Monday night's destruction and thuggery."

I think that the government should go further. If the rioters, vandals, arsonists and looters are convicted of their crimes and they are on welfare or unemployment insurance, their welfare and/or unemployment insurance should be cancelled. I realize that could cause problems for their children however, their children can be placed in foster care. I know what you are thinking. That is cruel and mean. Admittedly, it is cruel but it isn’t mean. Surely you don’t want the children of rioters, vandals, arsonists and looters being brought up by these criminals. The children deserve better.

If rioters, vandals, arsonists and looters are sent to prison and subsequently lose their jobs (if they have any), their welfare or unemployment benefits and their homes and their children, it may not deter these sick individuals but it will surely deter a great many who might be forced to think about the consequences of their actions before they respond to their BlackBerry calls to riot.

If you suspect that I have no sympathy for the thugs who would destroy our communities during the riots they are participating in, you are absolutely right. If you’re looking for a tear in my eye because of what punishment these thugs will get, use a 1000 power microscope to conduct your search for one of my tears. If you see a tear in my eye, it was probably brought about by a cinder from the smoke of the burning house nearby that the rioters set on fire.


As of August 14th, 745 rioters in London have been charged with public disorder and looting. Across the country, as many as 2,100 people have been arrested.

The creepy black man who robbed the Malaysian student after pretending to help him was arrested. Reece Donovan, 21 has been charged with stealing a portable Sony Playstation and a Nokia mobile phone from the victim's backpack while his victim was bleeding from his injuries.

It has been estimated that the damages to property are approximately $315 million dollars US.

No comments: