Mark Duggan, a Tottenham local, was shot a week ago in Ferry Lane as police officers attempted to make an arrest. At the moment, there is no evidence of Mark Duggan shooting at the police, and the post-mortem tests found that he died from a single bullet wound to the chest, shot by the police. There are mixed stories about who Mark Duggan was: some stories portrait him as a crack-dealer gangster and other stories as a father of four who wanted to stay out of trouble.
Following this, London had days and nights of riots. Riots, that looked different from the usual protests of marching and banners, and from the riots that our fellow Athenians have made us accustomed to.
The London riots mostly consisted of teens and younger adults breaking windows of shops and stealing what they found inside: Chain stores like JD sports, Currys, and PoundShop (!) were targeted. We also saw videos of teens mugging teens, and an "accusation" from the public that these riots were based on greed and not politics. And yes, in a sense, these London riots felt different: we did not see the politically minded activists targeting police stations as a protest against the police killing a man and authoritarianism; and the targets were not simply against the big capitalist chain shops. But one, thing we cannot deny is that these London riots are political in their own way; they show us the poverty, the gaps within our society, the result of endless prejudice, of not fitting in. These, will result in gangs, in looting, in riots of this kind - because it makes you feel in control, it makes you be part of something, it brings results, and it brings a sense of achievement and revenge against what excluded you in the first place. And this is political.
"There is nothing more dangerous than to build a society with a large segment of people in that society who feel that they have no stake in it; who feel that that have nothing to lose. People who have stake in their society, protect that society, but when they don't have it, they unconsciously want to destroy it."
Now the interesting thing, to me, was people's reactions to the riots. I have heard friends saying bring back the curfews and bring the army in. Now, this is just a dumbass idea:
WHY CURFEWS AND RUBBER BULLETS ARE A DUMBASS IDEA:
If a local council introduces a curfew, then the police has powers to break up groups of kids and take anyone under 16 back to their homes or a safe place. Curfews can be introduced in areas where the police and the council agree that gangs have been hanging around and starting trouble or threatening people. Local councils can authorise the police to do this using powers from the 2003 Anti-Social Behaviour Act. The powers can last up to six months. After that, councils have to re-apply.
What makes me disagree with curfews is the power they can have over me and other "innocent" people - who gives anyone the right to tell me not to go to a place at a specific time. We have experienced the police abusing the Stop and Search power, quite a few times, already! Anti-war demonstrators have been filmed and searched by the police numerous times, unfairly and with no obvious reason - these searches felt to simply be a statement of police power; The last thing I really want is to be controlled with a curfew; No sir! i want to cycle to see my friends any time i want; i want to sit in a park and talk rubbish with them. This is not a crime. And curfews simply criminalize our existence of being in certain places at a certain time.
As for bringing in the army, the rubber/plastic bullets... well... No, thanks. Fighting violence with violence is just like fucking for virginity.
Besides, armies and curfews just oppress people. They will not solve the real issue.
The other reaction was people cancelling plans and being fearful: Just like curfews, the fear becomes a barrier to doing what we usually do, and i found that annoying. So, i made the decision to continue doing what i usually do. The police nor the rioters can control me. No, sir!
THE UGLINESS OF THE WHOLE STORY
The thing that really worried me and upset me was the suffering that the whole situation brought to our cycling community. I mean, i don't care that much about a stolen pair of trainers from JD sports - these big unethical chains can certainly afford it and have already spread alot of evilness (sweat shop products and all the rest, so go on and fight them!), but it does break my heart hearing that one of the nicest bicycle stores was also attacked. Micycle, a friendly bicycle shop and cafe in Islington lost most of their stock:
A youtube video of the Looting at Micycle:
A youtube video of the Looting at Micycle:
News also traveled fast, that cyclists were targeted in London Fields. Apparently cyclists were pushed off their bikes and mugged. An Evans bicycle shop was also broken into in Chalk Farm.
Unfortunately, the cycling communities were not the only "innocent" ones to suffer. The burning of PIAS distribution centre brought damages to indie music and film labels.
So, just to finish off, dear Rioters, please choose your targets wisely. Smash the system, Shut the City down, Mindfully Rebel.
Let the religious get religion, let consumers get a clue Let scientists get perspective, let activists get their due Let industry get a conscience, let the earth inherit the meek Let the divinity of nature speak
- Ani Difranco
and for the final thought: