You are currently browsing the daily archive for August 10, 2011.

(Photo credit of anarchist’s leaflet: Sally Gainsbury)

Some weeks ago, I saw Gomorrah, the film based on Naples’s Camorra.  When the riots broke out in Tottenham (London) at the weekend it occurred to me that, if left to continue, they could eventually result in a Camorra-type set-up in certain urban areas of England.

I have spent the past few nights reading articles and thousands of reader comments, a number of which come from victims and onlookers of the violence which spread from North London to many other boroughs of our capital city before moving north to Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, Salford and westward to Bristol.

We are fortunate enough in Britain, thanks to the taxpayer (a.k.a. ‘Government funding’) and postwar legislation, to have an (overly) bounteous welfare state which takes care of the lower strata of society, particularly in disadvantaged urban areas.  If anyone knows of a tent city in the UK, do let me know. Those who receive public assistance are not starving, nor do they want for clothes, shoes, television or mobile telephony.

Social programmes, community leaders, diversity officers and social cohesion organisations exist for children, adolescents and adults.  Despite ‘Tory cuts’, which, in reality, means slightly deaccelerated spending, these are still well-funded and, with the special interests behind them, will continue to be.

Many middle-class taxpaying households which fund these programmes have fallen on hard times.  Despite their best efforts, many adults have lost their jobs, have had to readjust their finances and carefully balance their budgets.  It means going without holidays away from home, economising on food as well as exercising restraint when it comes to clothes and social occasions.  Despite this, people pay their bills and their taxes without grumbling (too much).

So, it should not come as a surprise to London intelligentsia and media personalities that many middle class families have little to no sympathy for looters and arsonists rampaging the streets of our once-beautiful cities, especially when the middle class is paying the way of said looters and arsonists.

It was devastating to see that elegant late Victorian and Edwardian buildings which have brought a vestige of beauty to London’s more modest areas have been burnt down.  It was even sadder to discover that a number of residents living above or next to burnt out shops had to be evacuated, losing their homes and possessions.  And others — yet more taxpayers funding these runts — will be out of a job because those businesses are now gone.

However, this would seem to have little relevance for a group of teenagers on the rampage. And it garners little sympathy among community leaders and their fellow Marxist apologists.

Yes, we have been told for at least 20 years how these kids have been suffering.  Suffering so much that they can somehow afford top-end trainers (athletic shoes) and BlackBerry phones.  Why not a thank you to taxpayers across Britain instead of savagely stealing from them?  It is a sin to steal in any religious faith, yet, this is what they have done.  And they have bitten the hand which has fed them.

Why soil your own doorstep?  Large chains and small shops graced these neighbourhoods, one of the things I admired about the UK urban scene from the beginning.  There were supermarkets, carpet shops, department stores, cafés, other retail outlets and smaller establishments just steps away from one’s front door.  There was never a need to use a car or public transport in many neighbourhoods.  Now, of course, that has changed dramatically, perhaps permanently.

Kids, you’ve made your bed — now lie in it.  Don’t expect retailers to be clambering over each other to reopen in a new location nearby.  And please don’t complain when they shy away.

Some of those who have lost their businesses or flats might just start to become less receptive to today’s Britain and our current socio-political policies.  Who could blame them?

In short, rioters might be left moaning alone.  Many of us (myself included) didn’t have privileged upbringings, nor did our parents.  What we did have, though, were structured lives and an ethos based on self-reliance, which our parents instilled in us.  These prepared us for school and work.  We knew we had to get on in life.  Our parents told us that no one owed us a living.

To say that poor people feel ‘oppressed’ and have to loot is an insult.  Many generations of Londoners — including immigrants — have experienced true poverty without feeling the need to tear up their own neighbourhoods.   Instead, they worked to make a living and improve their own situation.  That requires time and effort.  Nothing, but nothing, comes easily in this life.

As to the police, I believe they are doing the best job they can under the circumstances.  They are not allowed, thanks to social cohesion experts, to truly take charge of the situation. This they have in common with many other European countries, yes, even France.  I mention that because a number of online commenters have said, ‘If only we had the CRS!’  Well, French police forces have undergone a bit of a revamp over the past several years and they, too, find themselves restrained.  No, we would probably have to look to Asia for the type of policing these riots needed.

However, there is the matter of serious police force (okay, ‘service’) cuts over the next few years.  Did this add to what seemed a bit reactive and passive stand-off at the weekend?  Not sure.  Then, there is another factor, which is public appreciation of the police.  To be fair, senior officers have imposed a target-driven quota of crimes to be solved, also common to other European countries.  It’s not the rank-and-file’s fault.  Having said that, the number of news stories over the past decade have been about police pursuing middle-class Britons for relatively minor offences.  And those from rural areas who participated in the Countryside Alliance marches a few years ago will not forget some of the unnecessary treatment meted out that day.  Then there is the lack of gumption on the part of some police officers to investigate crimes, particularly burglary or car theft.  Gradually, over the past 20 years, some of the middle class have become sceptical about the police ‘service’ delivery provided (paid for through taxes).

On balance, however, we have seen the police on the streets during these riots becoming targets of abuse and projectiles.  We are grateful for their continued presence in highly dangerous situations. You can find out more at Police Inspector Blog. Things are much more violent and threatening than they seem on television news.

But what do the kids on the streets think?  Do they believe they have scored a victory?  If so, this could lead to a Neapolitan situation whereby these gangs of miscreants become ‘elders’ (!) of their council estates — Little Caesars.  What sort of racketeering will be going on then, if not already?

Most of Naples is run by the ‘families’ of the Camorra.  The heads of these families live on their respective council estates.  They’re in charge of the drug supply.  They run extortion rackets. They launder money through legitimate businesses — groceries, clothing. They control the local government, even though they are not elected officials.  The police are fairly powerless, the general public even more so.

Let’s hope and pray it doesn’t come to that here.  These riots are either going to get the law-abiding in England to look at our country differently or resign ourselves to apathy.  What will we choose to do?

Riot highlights (photos with Daily Mail and Yahoo!UK articles):

‘London and UK Riots Day Three Aftermath’ (with links to previous days) – The Guardian

‘16,000 police to retake London’ – Daily Mail

Mayor’s aide calls for ban on BlackBerry Messaging – Daily Mail

Home Secretary rules out water cannon – Daily Mail

‘Forced to strip naked in the street: Shocking scenes as rioters steal clothes’ – Daily Mail

‘London Riots Come to the Ledbury’ [Michelin-starred restaurant]Naked Sushi

Croydon [South London] – House of Reeves furniture store (family-owned since 1867) set alight:

‘Race, Riots, Responsibility and Rational Thinking’ – Muffled Vociferation

‘Stop With The Angry Stuff, Already’ – Dick Puddlecote

Catch A Looter

UPDATE – August 12 – Malaysian student mugged in riots — YouTube video title has changed since it first appeared:

UPDATE – August 11 – The student from Malaysia had this to say today:

“They were trying to get at the phone in the pocket of my sweater. So they pulled my bike, and when they did this I hit the ground and injured my jaw. There was blood,” he said speaking in Malay Bahasa, his face badly swollen.

“The people fled the scene. Other people then approached me and said they wanted to help, but instead the people behind me just took stuff from my backpack.”

FURTHER UPDATE – August 11 (same link) – A man has been arrested over the attack on the Malaysian student in the video above:

The suspect, in his 20s, was taken into police custody as the student, Asyraf Haziq Rosli, insisted he bore no ill feelings about the incident on Monday and intended to stay in Britain until he completes his accountancy studies …

In a statement, Scotland Yard confirmed that a man had been arrested over the attack, which occurred as Rosli, 20, was on his way to see a friend in nearby East Ham who was worried about the rioting …

Rosli underwent surgery for a broken jaw on Wednesday following the attack, and he was discharged from hospital on Thursday morning …

A quiet moment in Camden: young couple prepares tea for the police

UK Riots in Pictures – Yahoo!UK  (Don’t miss the lady jumping out of the burning building — tragic)

London riots map

‘Anarchist response to the riots’ – Indymedia

‘Don’t Panic :: Don’t Talk’ [anarchist leaflet text pictured above] – Indymedia

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