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More Raging about the Riots

August 10, 2011
tags: ,

Remember when you had that substitute teacher when you were a kid, and everyone in the class tried to stress him out, didn’t do any work and tried to get away with as little as possible until the period ended? A bonus level was if you could get the teacher to pull his hair out and refuse to come back. It was easy enough to do, after all if we all do it, he can’t put all of us on detention. If he tries to, we just won’t come. What’s he gonna do, suspend the whole class? Don’t think so. Power in numbers, man.

And it’s a rush, a sense of power. Normally, the teacher is in charge, but just for today, or maybe this week, we are. It’ll all sort itself out in the end, but for now let’s just have our fun.

Kids are little shits. Teenagers are horrible. Although most would understand the worth of having a real education, most would also understand the thrill of fucking with the system just for a bit, if you could get away with it.

“Experts” are popping up on TV. Claiming reasons like shut-downs of youth centres or drops in unemployment for the madness which is gearing up for a fourth night.

Here’s another, more correct, theory for you: breaking shit is fun. Getting things for free is awesome. If all your mates are out breaking and stealing shit, and getting away with it because the police are too scared of a public backlash in the form of the race card or the brutality card, why not join in? Sounds like a rush.

The outcry from the general public is now huge. There is no support behind what is going on, from any demographic other than the ones doing it. Private homes are being broken into now. Mobs are smashing giant plate windows of restaurants and storming the place, demanding everyone’s wallets and jewellery. People are being pulled from cars and buses and kicked and punched. Buses are being taken for joyrides into crowds. Old women are getting mugged on the street. Charity shops which are there to try and raise money and jobs, and provide for the very communities doing this, are being looted and razed to the ground.

There’s a recent video of someone on the ground, bleeding. There’s no police or anyone like that in the picture, or any sense of urgency, so presumably he fell or got punched by another rioter or something stupid like that. Other rioters look like they are helping him to his feet, but really it’s just to get an angle at his backpack, which they then proceed to rip open and steal the contents of while he is too dazed to fight back, before walking off and just leaving him there.

There is no common cause behind this. No social movement. Nothing at all. I don’t want to see another idiotic old man on the TV who tries to come up with bullshit justifications for these actions just so as he can seem “cool and with it and in touch” with the kids. Let’s call it what it is. Dickheads doing things that they can get away with, purely for the buzz of it.

How does the substitute teacher stop getting hassled? He cracks down on the class. If he has to, he picks a kid and makes an example of him. A justified example, one that can be defended, but one which lets the rest of the class know he means business. The police need to harden the fuck up. Any rioter out there tonight, for the fourth night in a row, destroying their own city and endangering the lives and livelihoods of the law-abiding people living here deserves everything that’s coming to them. They’ve had far more than enough time to calm down and be reasonable. It’s time to start cracking some skulls. I want to see batons, I want to see water cannons, I want to see plastic bullets. I want these people dragged away bleeding and locked up. If this were a legitimate protest, that would be seen as excessive force by the police. In a situation where the public is screaming to be saved from these maniacs, it should be seen as finally doing the right thing. Once they see the police are actually going to stand up to them, the rioters will stop. They have no cause to fight for, and the public would never support them. They’ve been warned.

Coming home tonight past the broken windows, closed shutters and burnt-out cars I felt like I was in one of those vampire movies where everyone scuttles to get home before sundown. Offices in town have all closed early, and the streets are starting to clear already, while it is still broad daylight, just because everybody is too damn scared to be on the streets as it all starts up again. If things continue along this path, I’m pretty sure someone’s going to die tonight. I just hope it’s one of them, and not some random unconnected homeowner just trying to sleep.

(Previous anger about the situation here and here. Later anger here.)

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16 Comments leave one →
  1. August 10, 2011 4:59 am

    They should declare a state of emergency, then use state of emergency powers to deal to these maniacs. Bring in the military, charge people under the new anti-terrorism laws, as they are essentially just terrorising people now.

  2. August 10, 2011 7:44 am

    I agree. Terrorism is a pretty good way to describe what this has turned into.

  3. catlady permalink
    August 10, 2011 10:08 am

    it is scarey stuff -hopefully with the increased police presence , and the growing vocal public condemnation , it will quckly taper off ,and hopefully the footage of looting etc will result in identification and arrests of many..what I find really worrying is that the setting is obviously so tinder dry ,that things can become so lawless and so out of hand so quickly ,and the fact the scenario can be repeated all round Britain , and potentially anywhere else for that matter…We kid ourselves that we are a civilised society ,and then incidents like these show just how fragile that “civilization ‘ actually is.

  4. Shanon permalink
    August 10, 2011 10:42 am

    This is absolutely ridiculous and I agree with your analysis. At this point, they aren’t protesting about anything, they’re just having fun with the violence and free-ride they’re getting. And I still can’t believe this is happening in England. You look at the pictures and it looks like a warzone, which I guess it kind of is now. It’s insane how things can change so quickly…

    • August 10, 2011 10:46 pm

      Except for it’s a warzone where only one side is allowed to act. So damn annoying to watch D:
      Cheers for the comment 🙂

  5. padraigcolman permalink
    August 10, 2011 12:37 pm

    I agree that kids are shits and often very scary. I avoid them when I can. However, trying to explain what is going on is not the same as justifying it or saying riots are good and rioters are decent chaps who have been misunderstood. Something has clearly gone badly wrong. Why?

    Faced with horrific scenes all over Britain politicians and police will bleat “This is pure criminal activity by mindless thugs and morons.” Any attempt to understand the phenomenon will be interpreted as condoning mindless criminality. Why is it happening? Is it because people have been conditioned to crave material goods and don’t like being told by toffs holidaying in Tuscany that they should tighten their belts? Greed is good – let’s take.Boris comes home and prances around with a broom!

    Why can’t the police control it? The police are thoroughly demoralised and have lost the respect of the public because of the Murdoch affair and the brutal way they have dealt with peaceful protest

  6. August 10, 2011 10:26 am

    You’re right to say that there’s a difference between explanation and justification. This is obviously not a normal situation, something has gone wrong, and finding out what that is should be a priority – after the initial mess is sorted out.

    Plenty of people are voicing their opinions about how this is due to social factors and all the rest of it, and they’re welcome to do so. I encourage people to voice their opinions here. But as far as I can see, people are trying to overthink it. I think the main reason police are saying this is “pure criminality by mindless thugs” is because it is pure criminality by mindless thugs.

    I have my own ideas about how it came to this, which I’ve partly outlined above, but which are largely based on the lack of respect for police. At any rate, things seem to have been quieter last night, and although I have to go out right now, I’ll post an update on the situation later.

    Thanks for the discussion, guys! Keep it up!

  7. August 10, 2011 10:36 am

    Check out the Police blog and it seems that they’re prevented from going in hard to cracking a few heads. Unbelievable. The looters simply do not fear the police. All of the news coverage shows that.

    http://inspectorgadget.wordpress.com/2011/08/09/the-next-48-hours/

    • August 10, 2011 2:02 pm

      Brilliant. Thanks for that, this side of it needs to get out. I’ll point to that blog in my update.

  8. August 10, 2011 4:51 pm

    In riot situations plod should immediately dispense with any ‘policing by consent’ and revert to ‘policing by force’. I’m not a black-cab driver, but its the ‘only language they understand’ 🙂 Root causes, deprivation and the rest of it just self-serving gibberish. We all know it yet pretend otherwise.

    • August 10, 2011 10:59 pm

      I know. There are plenty of other people in the same, or worse, situations, who manage to not become raving lunatics, and trying to pretend otherwise is crazy. Police need the right to power up, definitely. If they are doing it in order to protect others, it blows my mind that they would be so disempowered. I want some drastic changes after all this dies down.

  9. catlady permalink
    August 11, 2011 12:28 am

    I think this topic has nearly been flogged to death-‘”-we know these type of events will happen again , all it takes is the right / [wrong ] combination of factors to weaken social rules of behavior and the presence of people who will exploit it- the challenge will be how to respond better once they do occur ,including some reform to current police tactics ‘” ,that is the best analysis I have read [L . Saha-professor Reasearch school of Social Sciences , Australian National University]

    I am mulling over these recent events from the comfortable vantage point of half a world away….and fully understand immediate viewpoints will probably be influenced by geography…

  10. padraigcolman permalink
    August 11, 2011 5:30 am

    I totally agree that it is pure criminality by mindless thugs. I’m not sure where that gets us though.

    Cameron admits, “there are things that are badly wrong in our society” and stressed the police would have legal authority to use any tactics they needed including water cannon and plastic bullets. He would not allow concern about human rights get in the way of dealing with the situation. “Every contingency is being looked at. Nothing is off the table,” he said. “We needed a fightback and a fightback is under way.” This is to deal with relatively small numbers of mainly unarmed thugs. At the same time the UK is hounding Sri Lanka over alleged human rights violations during the defeat of the worst terrorist group the world has ever known, a group well-armed enough to fight conventional battles as well as guerrilla warfare, with an effective navy and a rudimentary air force, who massacred civilians without remorse, who invented suicide bombing.

    Incidentally, we are hearing rumours that the state of emergency in Sri Lanka will be lifted soon, just as the UK may be imposing one because of a few thugs. Perhaps the UK will get off our backs and let us sort things out. It’s only just over two years since out 30-year war ended.

    Isn’t it ironic that the Tories, the law and order party, have totally demoralised the police force by cutting manpower, resources and respect?

  11. August 11, 2011 10:25 am

    Good points. The thing is, Cameron is talking tough but not actually doing anything. As much as he is talking about water cannon, plastic bullets, and saying nothing is off the table, the rest of the sentence is, “if things continue along this path, we will begin to consider the use of —“. In other words, what they’re using right now is absolutely nothing. Not even the batons they have in their hands, out of fear of backlashes for infringing on the rioters’ civil rights. Instead, they just stand by and watch as the mobs loot stores and set fire to them.

    To be fair, I don’t know enough about the specifics of what enquiries the UK is making with regards to the Tamil Tigers, but it’s two different levels of the same issue: police and law enforcement authorities are too restricted to use what force they have available to stop criminals and prevent danger to normal citizens. The world has harped on and on about their rights, and everyone rushes to damn the police every time a hair is out of place. And this is what happens. It completely disempowers authority.

    As for where admitting it is criminal activity by mindless thugs gets us, it gets us to the point (hopefully) where we don’t need to be afraid of the spectre of crushing a legitimate protest, or somehow making these animals into martyrs. If we can admit that there is no social justification behind this whatsoever, then it should be easier to move the authorities towards being able to quash it.

  12. padraigcolman permalink
    August 13, 2011 1:48 pm

    The British government, specifically Cameron, Hague and Burt and previously Miliband, have been spouting the propaganda of the Tamil Tigers, prompted it seems by electoral concerns (vocal members of the Tamil diaspora in marginal constituencies). These British politicians have harped on and on about human rights in Sri Lanka and attempted to disempower the government when it was on the verge of victory over the terrorists. It has gone along with those who see the Tigers as martyrs. It was unfortunate that there were civilian casualties but these have been mischievously exaggerated.

    I have written about this at interminable length at

    http://pcolman.wordpress.com/2011/08/12/channel-4-news-and-sri-lankan-war-crimes/

    The Lambeth Borough Commander, Nick Ephgrave, said he “bitterly regretted” not containing the Brixton riot before stores were smashed, burned and looted. “You are hearing it through the crackling radio and it’s the fog of war stuff and it is difficult to make crystal-clear perfect decisions all the time.” The same words were used to excuse the slaying of Jean Charles de Menezes.

    Imagine what the fog of war must have been like for Sri Lankan soldiers faced by an enemy which employed not only guerrilla methods but suicide bombing, human shields, sophisticated modern weaponry, had a navy and a rudimentary air force.

  13. August 14, 2011 8:14 pm

    The “fog of war” thing is a valid point to consider, I think, in the sense that it can make it difficult to make decisions which one would make later, looking back on the situation. And that would be most definitely true for people involved in the conflict in Sri Lanka. What happened over there was an actual war. Again, however, I don’t know enough about the actual circumstances at the time, what happened, and exactly how critical the British government has been to make much of a call on it, but if they have been overly critical of the actions in Sri Lanka, and then try to use the same excuse to cover themselves in England, they’d be wanting a nice helping of their own words to eat.

    I expect the British government will be getting a bit of roasting over this once it all settles down, which might explain why they’re trying to pass the buck a bit now by criticising the police actions. Poor.

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