Monday, 8 August 2011

London's Burning

There are times when the expat may be given to feel that he or she no longer understands his or her country of birth. This is certainly how I've felt watching the news of the riots in London (and, now, other cities) over the past few days, although none of the people I know in London seem to understand them either.

My confusion on this is not for lack of knowledge of potential causes. The police reports about the shooting that sparked these riots seem very dubious and certainly worth investigating. Anyone who has seen the way in which certain members of the Metropolitan Police are given to harassing young men walking through certain areas in the city of London in the hope of getting an easy arrest will understand the extreme anger towards the police among youth in the city. Whilst I think it's rather early to be blaming the policies of the present government for this, the closure of youth clubs in many areas of the city cannot have helped.

However, the violence, which now seems to be growing to a scale larger than those of the riots of the early 80's, if not the same intensity, appears not,now at least, to be aimed either at the police or the government. Instead, it appears to consist merely of opportunistic arson and looting. The victims appear to be those living in the same neighbourhoods as the rioters. Whilst the initial riot was sparked by anger in the black community over a police shooting, the rioters now appear not to be of any particular background other than poor and disaffected.

[Video: A woman remonstrates with local youths in Hackney, via my good friend The Writing Baron]

No comments: