U.K. Riots in Context!
To those who perceive that the grass is always greener on the other side, here is a small collection of the ensuing debate by Britons about what is happening in Britain!
The Violence of the Violated
By A. Sivanandan – director of the Institute of Race Relations
16 August 2011
Everyone is clutching at explanations for the riots – gangs, greed, family breakdown, lack of respect. But I would like to go into their deeper causes.
Society is completely polarised between rich and poor, mediated through a culture of consumerism and quick fixes. Almost a third of the population is mired in poverty and deprivation. And this affects the younger generation much more directly and violently than any other section. Directly, through unemployment, cuts in education, youth facilities and mentoring schemes – they are neither socialised by work nor by community. Violently, because they are policed over and criminalised by stop and search laws and an anti-youth surveillance culture. They have nothing to look forward to – no economic mobility, no social mobility. And they have nothing to look back on, disconnected as they are from the previous generation. The system is trying to blame the parents but they themselves have been deprived of the wherewithal to bring up their children in a decent environment. (The only thing that trickles down is poverty.)
Hence the rebellion of the youth is neither community-based nor politically-oriented – which is what distinguishes them from the disturbances of 1981 and 1985. Those were uprisings based on community organising. These are riots mobilised on a Blackberry.
I have been asked if this has happened because multiculturalism has failed. On the contrary, multiculturalism has succeeded at the point of riot: the rioters came from all communities.
We have a political culture which has been manipulated by Murdoch and the press. We’ve got a feral elite of politicians, press, police and banks running the whole system. And there’s so much anger right across society-not just in these kids. This is not the end of rebellion, it is the beginning.
There Is a Context To London’s Riots That Can’t Be Ignored
By Nina Power – The Guardian
Since the coalition came to power just over a year ago, the country has seen multiple student protests, occupations of dozens of universities, several strikes, a half-a-million-strong trade union march and now unrest on the streets of the capital (preceded by clashes with Bristol police in Stokes Croft earlier in the year). Each of these events was sparked by a different cause, yet all take place against a backdrop of brutal cuts and enforced austerity measures. The government knows very well that it is taking a gamble, and that its policies run the risk of sparking mass unrest on a scale we haven’t seen since the early 1980s. With people taking to the streets of Tottenham, Edmonton, Brixton and elsewhere over the past few nights, we could be about to see the government enter a sustained and serious losing streak.
The policies of the past year may have clarified the division between the entitled and the dispossessed in extreme terms, but the context for social unrest cuts much deeper. The fatal shooting of Mark Duggan last Thursday, where it appears, contrary to initial accounts, that only police bullets were fired, is another tragic event in a longer history of the Metropolitan police’s treatment of ordinary Londoners, especially those from black and minority ethnic backgrounds, and the singling out of specific areas and individuals for monitoring, stop and search and daily harassment.
One journalist wrote that he was surprised how many people in Tottenham knew of and were critical of the IPCC, but there should be nothing surprising about this. When you look at the figures for deaths in police custody (at least 333 since 1998 and not a single conviction of any police officer for any of them), then the IPCC and the courts are seen by many, quite reasonably, to be protecting the police rather than the people.
Combine understandable suspicion of and resentment towards the police based on experience and memory with high poverty and large unemployment and the reasons why people are taking to the streets become clear. (Haringey, the borough that includes Tottenham, has the fourth highest level of child poverty in London and an unemployment rate of 8.8%, double the national average, with one vacancy for every 54 seeking work in the borough.)
Those condemning the events of the past couple of nights in north London and elsewhere would do well to take a step back and consider the bigger picture: a country in which the richest 10% are now 100 times better off than the poorest, where consumerism predicated on personal debt has been pushed for years as the solution to a faltering economy, and where, according to the OECD, social mobility is worse than any other developed country.
As Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett point out in The Spirit Level: Why Equality is Better for Everyone, phenomena usually described as “social problems” (crime, ill-health, imprisonment rates, mental illness) are far more common in unequal societies than ones with better economic distribution and less gap between the richest and the poorest. Decades of individualism, competition and state-encouraged selfishness – combined with a systematic crushing of unions and the ever-increasing criminalisation of dissent – have made Britain one of the most unequal countries in the developed world.
Images of burning buildings, cars aflame and stripped-out shops may provide spectacular fodder for a restless media, ever hungry for new stories and fresh groups to demonise, but we will understand nothing of these events if we ignore the history and the context in which they occur.
‘Racist’ Stop-And-Search Powers to Be Challenged
By Vikram Dodd
Friday 8 July 2011
The high court has agreed that a full legal challenge can be brought against a police stop-and-search power alleged to be used in a racist way against African-Caribbean people.
The challenge follows officers stopping and searching a 37-year-old woman with no convictions, after they claimed she was holding onto her bag in a suspicious way.
The woman, Ann Roberts, ended up being held down by officers on the floor in front of other people, handcuffed and taken to a police station where she was wrongly accused of being a class A drug user and placed on a treatment programme under the threat of arrest if she failed to attend.
Roberts was stopped under section 60 of the 1994 Criminal Justice and Public Order Act, brought in to tackle illegal raves. The power allows police to stop and search people without having a reasonable suspicion they are involved in criminality.
Roberts, a special needs assistant, argued that a disproportionate number of black Londoners are searched in violation of article 14 of the European convention on human rights, which bans discrimination.
Her lawyers say statistical evidence implies that a black person is more than nine times more likely to be searched than a white person. They go on to say section 60 is “incompatible” with three articles of the convention: 14, 5, which protects the right to liberty and security, and 8, which protects the right to private and family life.
Police say section 60 is a valuable tool which has been used to tackle areas plagued by violence.
On 9 September 2010 Roberts was on a bus when an inspector found she had insufficient money for her journey on her prepaid Oyster card.
Police were called when she could not produce identity documents.
According to her lawyers, she was searched under section 60 after a police officer took the view she was holding on to her bag in a manner that suggested she had something to hide.
She was told the area she was in was a “hotspot” for gang violence and the possession of knives. Few, if any, acts of gang violence are committed by married women in their mid 30s.
Roberts asked to be searched in a police station rather than in public in case it was seen by young people with whom she worked.
Police refused and when they tried to seize her handbag a struggle followed which led to officers restraining her on the floor.
Three bank cards with different identities were found in her bag. She explained they were in her name, her maiden name – having recently married – and her son’s name.
She was told she was being arrested on suspicion of fraud and taken to Tottenham police station.
She was subjected to a drugs test which she was told showed small amounts of crack cocaine, but a later test showed she was clear.
After being put in a cell, she was interviewed and told she was no longer suspected of fraud but was being detained on suspicion that she had obstructed a police search.
Later a caution was administered for obstruction.
To Be Accepted or Rejected!
British Riots: Elites “Shocked” The Poor Are Rising Up…
U.K. – Tottenham Riot and Disenfranchised Youth
Living off the Grid: How Ridiculous Can the U.K. Get!
U.K: The Affect of Globalization on Poverty
The Deserving Poor!
Anti-Austerity and Living on the Edge
Being Driven Insane!