Riots in London
August 6, 2011 7:40 PM   Subscribe

Riots have broken out in the Tottenham area of London Saturday night after a protest over a fatal police shooting on Thursday. A double-decker bus and several police cars have been set on fire, and one policeman is said to be in hospital. Shops have been looted, and several buildings have been set on fire.

BBC and Sky News camera crews have moved away from the scene for safety reasons, but LBC Radio is reporting live.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane (1387 comments total) 49 users marked this as a favorite

 
Do you have a good link for more background on the shooting, hard to judge a riot before you understand what caused it.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:46 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Summertime, innit?
posted by Flashman at 7:50 PM on August 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's the Guardian report on the Thursday shooting. I would hesitate to conclude that this was the singular cause for the riot, however.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:50 PM on August 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I accidentally misread the following sentence in the fifth link
Riot-squad officers clashed with demonstrators amid chaotic scenes in Tottenham, north London, last night as a protest over the shooting of a man by police turned violent.
as saying "…as the shooting of a man by police turned violent."

I hope all participants in the riot, and especially all the unfortunate passers-by caught up in it, manage to escape and disperse unscathed.
posted by Nomyte at 7:51 PM on August 6, 2011


Rioting and looting definitely spreading from the original site on Tottenham High Road - not that you'd know from rolling news. Pretty reliable reports of an entire shopping centre [mall] looted, and a few residential properties being targeted. Twitter has been awesome tonight for this - the BBC and Sky have all pulled their reporters out after two sat vans were attacked. And the best coverage is from the New York Times's London correspondent who is in with the rioters, tweeting and trying not to get his phone taken off him:

@PaulLewis
@Ravisomaiya
posted by cromagnon at 7:51 PM on August 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's no accounting for the text of the article, it being the Daily Mail, but there's lots of pictures here.

I've been following this all night but I don't think I can stay awake any more. We should remain out of its reach, although god only knows if anything'll happen tomorrow night.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 7:52 PM on August 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


There's not a great deal of information out there about what actually happened - Guardian articles on the shooting itself and the IPCC statement released a few hours ago. The lack of information's a large part of what the earlier protest (if not necessarily the riots) was about.

Word going around Twitter right now is that the riot was sparked by police in Tottenham assaulting a 16-year-old girl who was part of the peaceful protest. Completely unsourced as far as I can see, so don't take it as anything just yet.

Not a million miles away from us, although quite a lot more of London would have to set on fire before it reached where we are. Still a bit alarming to see people worrying it'll spread to Archway. I hope any Mefites in the Tottenham area are safe.
posted by emmtee at 7:54 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Different view of what is purportedly a fire in an Allied Carpets store.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:55 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


So is this still happening? The post says "have broken out" but the links I'm following suggest it's all over except for some ongoing fires..
posted by curious nu at 7:57 PM on August 6, 2011


Been waiting for this to pop up. The BBC has a fair bit of footage.
posted by tawny at 7:58 PM on August 6, 2011


Yeah, as far as twitter knows it's still happening. Try searching for #tottenham.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 8:00 PM on August 6, 2011


This is strongly connected to the Broadwater Farm riots.
posted by tawny at 8:01 PM on August 6, 2011


I'm seeing reports it's spread to Wood Green and/or Tottenham Hale retail park right now.

If anyone who hasn't been following this is wondering why news reports are so sparse and confused (apart from it being 4am): I can't lay my hands on a specific video (though there are a few collections of footage on Youtube which probably include it), but there was a moment in the live BBC coverage a few hours ago where a group of men surrounded, blocked and attacked the camera crew, and ended up forcing them to retreat behind the police line. The same happened to Sky's cameras, and the BBC's satellite van. There's very, very little new footage coming out of the Tottenham area.
posted by emmtee at 8:07 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Here's the BBC footage, emmtee.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:08 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


It looks as though the original site of the 10pm riot (Tottenham High Road) is now clear of rioters and under police control. But on peripheral side streets, and in particular around the Tottenham Hale Retail Park, there is significant ongoing looting. Tottenham Hale tube station has been broken into, which doesn't bode well for tomorrow, and there seems to be serious looting at Wood Green High Street where there seems to be no police presence at all.
posted by cromagnon at 8:08 PM on August 6, 2011


This appears to be a surprising case to incite a riot. Returning fire when a gunman resists arrest seems like a step up from killing someone for looking Brazillian or carrying a table leg.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:09 PM on August 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


Solar Storm Watch: Could This be Armageddon?
posted by stbalbach at 8:10 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


M9.3-class solar flare...meh
easy buck rogers.
posted by clavdivs at 8:17 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


> Solar Storm Watch: Could This be Armageddon?

No.


Your first computer was a Vic20, you lived through Y2K and you're buying into that? Or was that a tongue in cheek joke?
posted by loquacious at 8:18 PM on August 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


An inverse tachyon beam should take care of that solar flare. As long as the phase variance is modified keeping up with any subspace fluctuations.

As far as those Londoners though, I think they could all use a good Elizabethan adventure on the holodeck.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 8:22 PM on August 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


I live in Wood Green (about half a mile to a mile from Tottenham), right on the High Street, and someone set a car on fire about 200m up the road from me; there's been various noisy groups moving through, but it doesn't seem to be full-on rioting as such.
posted by Drexen at 8:23 PM on August 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Seems like there have been a lot of riots in the UK lately. Are there external instigators here like there were in the Seattle WTO riots?
posted by b1tr0t at 8:25 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Convoys of riot vans and fire engines have been going up and down the main road, and several busses have been abandoned (or awkwardly turned themselves around in side streets) but I haven't seen much police presence.
posted by Drexen at 8:27 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


The ticket office for the Tottenham Hotspur football team.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:28 PM on August 6, 2011


Also, here's a photo from my friend who lives in the area.
posted by Drexen at 8:30 PM on August 6, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'm not racist, but
posted by clvrmnky at 8:33 PM on August 6, 2011


emmtee writes "The same happened to Sky's cameras, and the BBC's satellite van. There's very, very little new footage coming out of the Tottenham area."

Will helicopters be used eventually or are they banned from flying over the area?
posted by Mitheral at 8:35 PM on August 6, 2011


I'm not racist, but

Is it "Ghostbusters 2"?
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 8:35 PM on August 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


I'm not racist, but

...the police are?
posted by Jehan at 8:36 PM on August 6, 2011 [21 favorites]


I also noticed that in 4 or 5 of the riot videos that I watched that the rioters were mostly non-white but perhaps that is simply the makeup of that area. I also noticed riot police in ski masks which I find very fascist.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:38 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seems like there have been a lot of riots in the UK lately. Are there external instigators here like there were in the Seattle WTO riots?
This one sounds more like the inner-city riots in the US in the '60s: sparked by a specific instance of police violence, but probably reflecting a larger sense of disenfranchisement and grievance in the community.

Stay safe, London mefites. Although I assume that at this point it's time for the rioters to go home to bed.
posted by craichead at 8:42 PM on August 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


This may or may not be relevant (and I may or may not be spamming the thread) but unemployment in the area is very high, with about 30 jobseekers for every local vacancy (source).
posted by Drexen at 8:43 PM on August 6, 2011


Does this have to do with the protests that have been happening in the last few months...
posted by PinkMoose at 8:46 PM on August 6, 2011


"I'm not racist, but" what, clvrmnky? What? I have no idea what your point is.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:50 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


This can't be right. They don't have an NHL team.
posted by jimmythefish at 8:50 PM on August 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


"I'm not racist, but" what, clvrmnky? What? I have no idea what your point is.

I also noticed that in 4 or 5 of the riot videos that I watched that the rioters were mostly non-white but perhaps that is simply the makeup of that area.
posted by andoatnp at 8:51 PM on August 6, 2011


Will helicopters be used eventually or are they banned from flying over the area?

I'd imagine the Met would pretty strongly discourage anyone wanting to fly a helicopter in the middle of this mess - I've no idea about the rules re: helicopters over London even in normal circumstances, though, and at 4:45am my ability to Google anything (as evidenced upthread) is nonexistent.

Allied Carpets on Tottenham High Road, before and after.
posted by emmtee at 8:52 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does this have to do with the protests that have been happening in the last few months...

Not really. Those protests were over cuts in government spending and (in part at least because they were against increases in university fees) attracted protesters from all over the country and from a wide range of social backgrounds. The protest that sparked this off is more specifically local and directly connected with the police fatally shooting a local man a couple of days ago. It also reflects general community anger and tension between locals and the police.
posted by GeckoDundee at 8:56 PM on August 6, 2011


Just to knock the issue on the head, Tottenham is a pretty racially mixed area. Whether it's a garden party or a riot, that mix will be reflected.
posted by Jehan at 8:57 PM on August 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm not a troll, but...
posted by the noob at 8:59 PM on August 6, 2011 [8 favorites]


Striking photographs from the BBC.

Also, my bedtime.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 8:59 PM on August 6, 2011



This appears to be a surprising case to incite a riot.


Still better than losing a freakin' hockey game.
posted by mannequito at 9:01 PM on August 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


thanks!
posted by PinkMoose at 9:06 PM on August 6, 2011


I'm not racist, but

in fact I am?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:08 PM on August 6, 2011 [14 favorites]


Are these the famous "youths" doing the rioting?
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:10 PM on August 6, 2011


I also noticed riot police in ski masks which I find very fascist.

Fascism is an aesthetic now?

Also, do you have a link to those videos? The photos the BBC has seemed pretty fuzzy and confusing to me, even with the captions.
posted by AdamCSnider at 9:11 PM on August 6, 2011


"I'm not racist, but" what, clvrmnky? What? I have no idea what your point is.

It's a reference to a deleted post from earlier today.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 9:12 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


I like the fact that some of the looters are looting Iceland of all places.
posted by Jehan at 9:13 PM on August 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Twitter talking about riots in Croydon.

What the fuck?

That's on the other side of town. It is where one of the other london Ikeas is, so that could be a connection.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:16 PM on August 6, 2011


More seriously, London to me was like a donut. The center was wealthy, and very nice, and the surrounding areas were pretty downtrodden and awful. Sort of a ring of poverty.

Dunno if that's actually the case, but it felt like it. I wonder if that's the common thread?
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:18 PM on August 6, 2011


Fascism is an aesthetic now?

Fascist have always been, uh, fashionable.
posted by b1tr0t at 9:20 PM on August 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


From Twitter-
Just got back from croydon. No riots. Jus the usual drunk kuffs. N das about it. Dnt believe everything u hear!

So I assume a lot of random misinformation going around.

Crappy for all involved though.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:22 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


London to me was like a donut. The center was wealthy, and very nice, and the surrounding areas were pretty downtrodden and awful.
What kind of donuts are you eating, man? That's pretty much the opposite of the donuts I've been eating.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:23 PM on August 6, 2011 [39 favorites]


Oh, you didn't know? "Donut" means the opposite in British English. A British donut.
posted by stroke_count at 9:27 PM on August 6, 2011 [9 favorites]


Hmm. On second thought, that might be a crappy analogy.

Imagine something that is a ring, where the inside is good and the outside is less good.

It's like that.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:27 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


What kind of donuts are you eating, man? That's pretty much the opposite of the donuts I've been eating.

A jelly donut. With really good jelly and really bad donut.
posted by dirigibleman at 9:31 PM on August 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


The Shire
posted by Sailormom at 9:31 PM on August 6, 2011


AdamCSnider writes "Fascism is an aesthetic now? "

Rather it's about a need for police to hide their identities.
posted by Mitheral at 9:38 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Imagine something that is a ring, where the inside is good and the outside is less good.

The opposite of Cleveland.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:38 PM on August 6, 2011


This may or may not be relevant (and I may or may not be spamming the thread) but unemployment in the area is very high, with about 30 jobseekers for every local vacancy

That'll probably be getting worse, what with so many places of employment burning down.
posted by Sys Rq at 9:39 PM on August 6, 2011


There are a lot of Twitter users reporting first-hand that The Mall shopping centre and high street in Wood Green have been hit hard, with looters openly carrying armfuls of stuff on the streets and zero police presence. And yet to look at any of the mainstream media sites, you'd think it was confined to Tottenham High Road. Weird.
posted by emmtee at 9:39 PM on August 6, 2011


It sounds like culpability surrounding the shooting is still fuzzy. I'm guessing most of the rioters don't actually know the facts either. Why burn the city down first, gather facts afterward?
posted by critzer at 9:45 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


Fascism is an aesthetic now?

Well, why not? There is actually some interesting scholarship surrounding the fascism aesthetic. First page of a Jstor article

a little bit by Sontag

posted by edgeways at 9:51 PM on August 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


Why burn the city down first, gather facts afterward?

Riots are spontaneous expressions of anger and frustration that are usually based not so much on one specific event, and its exact details, but rather on a general feeling, held by the rioters, of oppression or mistreatment at the hands of government, the upper classes, etc. The 'one specific event' is generally just a trigger that unleashes pent-up emotion and anger, expressed in acts of violence and destruction.

That would be the short answer to your question, I think.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 9:55 PM on August 6, 2011 [16 favorites]


It sounds like culpability surrounding the shooting is still fuzzy. I'm guessing most of the rioters don't actually know the facts either. Why burn the city down first, gather facts afterward?

Indeed old chap. Most civilized riots start with an inclusive round-table discussion over muffins and tea to weigh the pros and cons of looting a chemists' and how that may reflect on the issue and community in question.
posted by jimmythefish at 9:56 PM on August 6, 2011 [18 favorites]


Haringey youth club closures video from last week - After Haringey council shuts eight of its 13 youth clubs, local teenagers fear boredom will fuel violence...
posted by motty at 10:01 PM on August 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're oppressed by the police, just cause they like to go around stabbing kids. They're oppressed by employers, just cause they don't bother going to school.
There *is* a lot of racism at all levels of society and institution in the UK, but a lot of 'oppression' is self-inflicted.
posted by Flashman at 10:02 PM on August 6, 2011 [5 favorites]


They're oppressed by the police, just cause they like to go around stabbing kids.

I beg your pardon?
posted by motty at 10:04 PM on August 6, 2011


Indeed old chap. Most civilized riots start with an inclusive round-table discussion over muffins and tea to weigh the pros and cons of looting a chemists' and how that may reflect on the issue and community in question.

Why yes. In fact, the 1965 Watts riots occurred only after a series of panel debates on CBS moderated by Walter Cronkite, followed by a referendum on whether to riot, followed by another referendum approving the reasoning for the riot, followed by an amendment to the California constitution establishing the day and time of the riot.

There was a similar procedure for the Rodney King riots, but unfortunately the need for an environmental impact statement made the process so unwieldy the riot occurred before it could be properly approved and scheduled.
posted by dw at 10:06 PM on August 6, 2011 [12 favorites]


motty, Flashman is referring to the well-documented mass stabbings of children in Tottenham.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:08 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


ski masks= fascist, how empirical.

and the hooded people pushing around the media were just cadres for the green revolution hiding there identities from the nightly execution squads centered in the Mets basement.

Are there reports of racially motivated incidents? I would think not, seems the rage is directed at police and then looting and mayhem begins.

CBS moderated by Walter Cronkite
I believe that was Chet Huntley, could be wrong there.
posted by clavdivs at 10:08 PM on August 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


Riots are spontaneous expressions of anger and frustration that are usually based not so much on one specific event, and its exact details, but rather on a general feeling, held by the rioters, of oppression or mistreatment at the hands of government, the upper classes, etc. The 'one specific event' is generally just a trigger that unleashes pent-up emotion and anger, expressed in acts of violence and destruction.

What a load of horseshit. Riots like this happen when a large population of shitheads with no respect for the property of others seize upon any fucking excuse whatever to go around burning buildings and stealing.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 10:09 PM on August 6, 2011 [16 favorites]


Imagine something that is a ring, where the inside is good and the outside is less good.
My daugher, who's up way too late, says "Poptart." I pointed out that Poptarts aren't ring-shaped, and got an epic eye roll.
posted by MrMoonPie at 10:15 PM on August 6, 2011 [3 favorites]


How utterly delightful, ferdinand.bardamu, that you are here to explain everything to us in such clear terms. Tell us, please - we're all dying to know - what remedy would you suggest we apply to this 'large population of shitheads' to which you refer? Perhaps you can also explain why it is that such large populations of shitheads keep appearing quite specifically in run-down areas during times of austerity and, in the case of the UK, Tory governments?
posted by motty at 10:18 PM on August 6, 2011 [41 favorites]


Riots are not really spontaneous per say, like a single flash point, they just seem that way.
Directing the anger at the precieved cause of the frustration, in this case the police, would led to burning off police cars and a brick and plastic mash-up. Burning and looting is another matter, it is people taking advantage of an already bad situation. The loss of security, property, and even ones own person all because of thieves. Doing these things is not protest it is criminal no matter the "causes".
posted by clavdivs at 10:23 PM on August 6, 2011 [2 favorites]


How utterly delightful, ferdinand.bardamu, that you are here to explain everything to us in such clear terms.

Why not the same response to flapjax at midnite? He was the one who first ventured to provide an exegesis of the term riot.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 10:24 PM on August 6, 2011


Riots are spontaneous expressions of anger and frustration that are usually based not so much on one specific event, and its exact details, but rather on a general feeling, held by the rioters, of oppression or mistreatment at the hands of government, the upper classes, etc.

Fair enough, I'm just having trouble locating background data about these particular rioters and the mistreatments they've endured. Don't know if anyone from Tottenham is commenting here, but maybe they'd have some insights? I'm having a hard time understanding how looting a store is making a statement, too, but I guess I'm not that versed in riots overall.
posted by critzer at 10:26 PM on August 6, 2011


There are usually clipboard-bearing young research analysts canvassing the neighborhood prior to any serious riots to determine the breadth of community support for the riot and impact assessment. Generally any looted and/or burned properties are determined in advance by in-depth discussion and confirmed by deed poll at least six weeks prior to the actual riot itself. This allows any affected residents to make appropriate application to the correct office to prepare arrangements.

It is considered good form for those people who are looted and/or burned out to provide some light refreshment to the rioters to indicate their support for this civic process.
posted by winna at 10:28 PM on August 6, 2011 [6 favorites]


Ah yes, Crassus Inc.
The protest seemed to start as an organized and peaceful event, not the criteria for a spontaneous vandalism and property damage.
posted by clavdivs at 10:33 PM on August 6, 2011


My dear ferdinand.bardamu, it is quite natural that I didn't bother replying to so mundane a comment as poor flapjax's. The truth is that I could have easily written such a thing myself, and none of us would be any the wiser for it.

Your answer to the problems in hand, however, rather fascinate me. I have absolutely no idea whatsoever what sparkling brilliance you will come up with.

I ask again, about these 'shitheads' of which you speak - how come they only seem to turn up in run-down areas during times of austerity, and what remedy - surely you do have one - would you suggest we apply to them?
posted by motty at 10:39 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


*fascinates* me

Bollocks
posted by motty at 10:40 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


how come they only seem to turn up in run-down areas during times of austerity

Does it really matter? Surely run down, austere areas can have its fair share of shitheads, can it not? Being run down and austere might explain why some folks there have little to lose by rioting. But it doesn't explain how anything productive is gained by rioting.
posted by 2N2222 at 11:02 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


But where is Riot Dog?
posted by Malice at 11:08 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


My dear ferdinand.bardamu, it is quite natural that I didn't bother replying to so mundane a comment as poor flapjax's. The truth is that I could have easily written such a thing myself, and none of us would be any the wiser for it.

Your answer to the problems in hand, however, rather fascinate me. I have absolutely no idea whatsoever what sparkling brilliance you will come up with.

I ask again, about these 'shitheads' of which you speak - how come they only seem to turn up in run-down areas during times of austerity, and what remedy - surely you do have one - would you suggest we apply to them?


Well, my dear motty (begging your pardon for the informality), I daresay I must agree it likely that none of us would have gleaned any but the scantiest wisp of wisdom, if that, should you have greased the gears of your noggin to eke out a comment resembling that of the estimable flapjax at midnite, though you may, perhaps, be able convince me to alter my opinion on the matter should an example be forthcoming. As it now stands, however, that we are currently in agreement as to the utility and gainfulness of your commentary, I must ask that you henceforth refrain from sullying up this thread any further.

As to your fascination and flattery, I must admit I felt a touch of blush alight my cheeks as my eyes descried your composition. I should, however, remind you that I offered nothing resembling an explanation to the questions you are asking and, indeed, simply offered a rebuttal, as have others (in a more eloquent fashion than your humble interlocutor) to the ludicrous notion that the events which gave rise to this thread have anything to do with a concerted political action. I will here restate my thought that the manner of behavior described in the news reports is just that of simple opportunistic criminality. As to your questions, I find I must demur and encourage others who are more readily possessed of opinions on the matter (and especially time to give them voice!) to speak in my stead.

Yours,

ferdinand.bardamu
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 11:08 PM on August 6, 2011 [14 favorites]


Does it really matter? Surely run down, austere areas can have its fair share of shitheads, can it not?

The news links that I read said that the poverty rate there was about 50%. Here's the thing, when you take a bunch of people and confine them to an area (economically in this case) , give them no hope for the future (economically), fail to provide a decent education, and then go about lowering what few benefits that they can get from society (like increased college costs , decreased pensions and higher taxes) while all the time dangling a section of the city (inner london) that is bright, beautiful and forever out of their reach - you're probably going to end up with a decent amount of disenfranchised and pissed off people.

Being run down and austere might explain why some folks there have little to lose by rioting. But it doesn't explain how anything productive is gained by rioting.

There comes a point in life, if you've been put down for enough time, that you may just feel that you want to go out and break shit. Because you sure as hell can't do anything else or go anywhere else. You may not have ever experience that and if so you should consider yourself lucky. I don't think that anyone was attempting to do anything more productive then making a statement to the effect of "Look at me you miserable bastard - i DO exist!" .
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:21 PM on August 6, 2011 [35 favorites]


newsfilter. don't we have an unspoken rule in these cases to let a couple days pass until a full FPP can be created?


Are there external instigators here like there were in the Seattle WTO riots?

Yes, NGOs working for democracy...
posted by infini at 11:31 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


FWIW - LBC is now saying that 8 policemen have been injured and the riots are, according to them, have quieted down. No reported stats on injuries to the rioters. They are mentioning the racial aspect as well, noting that the neighborhood is predominantly Black. Looting in some place called Woodgreen. Police asking people in the area to remain at home. Things seem to have quieted down.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 11:33 PM on August 6, 2011


the wood green incident(s) seem to have been focussed on a shopping centre.
looters took advantage of the fact that london's police forces were massively distracted by, and deployed to, the tottenham protests/riots elsewhere to ransack and loot a shopping centre. apparently took over 4 hours for police response to arrive at wood green.

Wood Green seems to be a for-profit exploitation of the Tottenham political turmoil.
posted by Bwithh at 11:38 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


ski masks= fascist, how empirical.

Riot cops wear ski masks so that they can act with impunity. If you can't identify them, they can do whatever they like and get away with it. There is no other reason for them to hide their identities like that. If you think cops should be accountable for their actions, you should be against those masks.
posted by twirlip at 11:40 PM on August 6, 2011 [36 favorites]


motty writes: My dear ferdinand.bardamu, it is quite natural that I didn't bother replying to so mundane a comment as poor flapjax's.

Poor flapjax checking back in here, with a reminder, to the oh-so-intellectually-superior motty, that I was replying specifically to this comment:

Why burn the city down first, gather facts afterward?

If the question was to be taken at face value, my answer was entirely appropriate. The person who asked it apparently needed a reply as basic as the one I provided. You, of course, motty, were aware of the essential truth (and therefore, mundaneness) of my reply, and I'd like to thank you here for your understanding of the accuracy of my comment and my insight. Really, thank you so much. You've shown yourself to be a relatively intelligent fellow, at least in this instance. Keep it up!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 11:58 PM on August 6, 2011 [1 favorite]


you're probably going to end up with a decent amount of disenfranchised and pissed off people.

Sounds like a delicate way of saying being poor makes you a shithead.

I don't think that anyone was attempting to do anything more productive then making a statement to the effect of "Look at me you miserable bastard - i DO exist!" .

Destroying and looting property makes a statement all right.
posted by 2N2222 at 12:18 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


It would be great if a riot didn't break out in this thread.

I'm interested to hear what our folks in London have to say, and I hope everyone is okay.
posted by taz at 12:20 AM on August 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


.

As far as the news (relying on the Australian ABC) tells me, these riots were the results of a cop shooting a guy...who had shot at and hit a cop first. Hardly strong moral grounds to base your revolution on. Having said that, there are clearly wider issues that have risen to the surface. I just wish these sorts of events results in the burning of people who actually matter, instead of random small businesses and vehicles.
posted by Jimbob at 12:22 AM on August 7, 2011


I don't live in Tottenham so I'm basing this off news, twittersay and the like, but there's a lot of anger and resentment towards the police in that area for what people see as victimisation of local black youth. Operation Trident directly targets black people (and was apparently the operation under which Thursday's shooting took place) and people have stories of being stopped and searched constantly. People in the area feel like the police are never there to help them but always there to hurt them, indiscriminately. Add in the recent journalism scandals revealing corruption runs through the Met like water runs through a fish, and the poverty and long-term deprivation mentioned by Lariat, and the reasons for the riot become a bit more clear.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:38 AM on August 7, 2011 [12 favorites]


More seriously, London to me was like a donut. The center was wealthy, and very nice, and the surrounding areas were pretty downtrodden and awful. Sort of a ring of poverty.


There used to be a great bit of graff in inner city Melbourne

"Rich man, your city is surrounded"
posted by the noob at 12:40 AM on August 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


Tottenham: ‘This is what you get – fire’
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:41 AM on August 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


Lenin's tomb has a bit on the riots.
The police seem to have let it be known that they were shot at first, and that a police officer was injured. The impression was thus given in the early media reports that they killed the young man in self-defence. Whatever the officer's injury, he was only kept in hospital overnight. Later, the police claimed that the bullet miraculously struck the officer's police radio which, like a bible or a piece of the true cross, absorbed the shot. They say that in the seconds following this they opened fire in self-defence. An eyewitness, however, claimed that the young man was already restrained on the ground when the shots were fired.
Jimbob, the British police often have a habit of releasing initial information to their journalist friends which reflects well on them, but turns out not to be true.

E.g. when they shot de Menezes, all the press reported that he was highly suspicious because he was wearing a bulky jacket and vaulted the station barriers. Neither of those things was true, but they dominated the reporting.

Also when they killed Ian Tomlinson, the police initially claimed that they were attacked by "a number of missiles" which later turned out not to be true.

So, the official line that a man decided to start shooting at four armed policemen when his vehicle was stopped and they simply returned fire, may not be true. It's certainly not believed.

Maybe this time it's all true that the police were acting in simple self-defence. But in general, it's not paranoid or unreasonable to be skeptical of early statements by the Metropolitan Police, since they do quite often turn out to be lies.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 12:51 AM on August 7, 2011 [52 favorites]


Thanks for that link, ArmyOfKittens. I was surprised to find a very apt MLK quote that I'd never come across until now: "a riot is the language of the unheard".
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:52 AM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


More seriously, London to me was like a donut. The center was wealthy, and very nice, and the surrounding areas were pretty downtrodden and awful. Sort of a ring of poverty.

Eh? doesn't sound familiar. London's socio-economic geography is a lot more complex than that. Sure, there are rich and poor areas but it's not this.... donut-which-is-not-actualy-a-donut.
posted by Bwithh at 1:07 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're oppressed by the police, just cause they like to go around stabbing kids.

I beg your pardon?


Knifecrime is a big bugbear in the UK.
posted by rodgerd at 1:10 AM on August 7, 2011


donut-which-is-not-actualy-a-donut

Wasn't that one of those pop-psych books fro the 70s?
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:14 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


TheophileEscargot has it. The important thing here is perceptions. The perception is that the Metropolitan police proactively targets elements of the local community and spins the news to suggest otherwise. The perception is reinforced by evidence from recent years that the media's presentation of things is skewed in favour of the police (until the truth eventually comes out). It is notable that most young people were trading accounts of what happened via Blackberry Messenger. No doubt there would have been rumour, hysteria and falsehoods raising things to a fever pitch but that is what happens when there is little trust in the mainstream media's presentation of events. Opportunists would have moved to loot in the chaos.

On a very minor side note, just seen BBC News andthe Allied Carpets building mentioned up thread is a wreck and most likely will need to be demolished. A very nice Art Deco building destroyed.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 1:16 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


newsfilter. don't we have an unspoken rule in these cases to let a couple days pass until a full FPP can be created?

Nope, looks like that rule is not only unspoken, but unenforced and generally unthought of. One might even describe it as non-existent.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:16 AM on August 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


from the 70s
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:17 AM on August 7, 2011


here's NY Times reporter Ravi Somaiya's report on the riots. He was on the ground at Tottenham and Wood Green and tweeting. For a few hours he seemed like the only mainstream news reporter who was reporting on the Wood Green shopping centre looting - both the media and police in general seemed to be too preoccupied or scared by Tottenham to say or do much about Wood Green for several hours

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/06/shops-and-cars-burn-in-anti-police-riot-in-london/?hp

quote:
Simultaneously, a scene of astounding anarchy unfolded at a shopping center several miles away in Wood Green, but was not detected by news media, nor, it seemed, the authorities, until several hours later. Clothing and hangers littered the street as young looters smashed the doors and ransacked nearly every shop, carrying off bagfuls of goods from stores like H&M, The Body Shop and GNC, with the ease of strolling shoppers. Police were nowhere in sight as 30 to 40 young men and women laid waste to the mall.

posted by Bwithh at 1:17 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


They're oppressed by the police, just cause they like to go around stabbing kids.

I beg your pardon?

Knifecrime is a big bugbear in the UK.
posted by rodgerd at 1:10 AM on August 7 [+] [!]


I think the incredulity was less an ignorance to the concept of a stabbing in general, and more to the idea of just assigning 'propensity towards murder' as a innate trait of an entire underclass, while simultaneously handwaving away any concept of the unequal application of police force towards specific groups delineated by racial or economic strata.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:20 AM on August 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


Regarding the misreporting of various police killings as mentioned upthread, we shouldn't have to be reminded of Metropolitan Police and media collusion and corruption lately should we?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 1:26 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


For a few hours he seemed like the only mainstream news reporter who was reporting on the Wood Green shopping centre looting

Oh, and Paul Lewis of the Guardian too. Should credit him too for tweeting
posted by Bwithh at 1:28 AM on August 7, 2011


I think the incredulity was less an ignorance to the concept of a stabbing in general, and more to the idea of just assigning 'propensity towards murder' as a innate trait of an entire underclass, while simultaneously handwaving away any concept of the unequal application of police force towards specific groups delineated by racial or economic strata.

Name a city where young black males don't commit an inordinately outsized portion of the crimes.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 1:41 AM on August 7, 2011


The Guardian (July 29 article) on the impact of public spending cutbacks to youth infrastructure in London, including Wood Green and Tottenham
posted by Bwithh at 1:43 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Name a city where young black males don't commit an inordinately outsized portion of the crimes.

Wow. Racist much?
posted by hippybear at 1:45 AM on August 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


Beijing. And yeah, piss off.
posted by iotic at 1:54 AM on August 7, 2011 [29 favorites]


Flashman writes: There *is* a lot of racism at all levels of society and institution in the UK, but a lot of 'oppression' is self-inflicted.

The use of air quotes here, around the word "is"... is something that, um... is very, um, just... kind of unbelievable. Those air quotes* are an indication, after all, that there "isn't" a lot of racism at all levels of society and institution in the UK. But their use shouldn't surprise me, I suppose, with the "self-inflicted" part that comes next in Flashman's comment.

*Air quotes are often used to express satire, sarcasm, irony or euphemism
posted by flapjax at midnite at 1:55 AM on August 7, 2011


flapjax at midnite: I think you've confused airquotes with asterisks used for emphasis. The sentence "There *is* a lot of racism" implies to me that the word "is" is in bold, not that it's meant sarcastically.
posted by simonw at 1:59 AM on August 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Operation Trident directly targets black people

This is a red herring, in my view. Trident was set up because community leaders in black communities wanted a defined police response to black on black crime.

I live in a pretty racially-mixed area - Brixton - and actually feel pretty safe almost all the time. But I'm white. Trident isn't there because people like me are wring their hands asking what can be done. Trident is there because prodigious numbers of young, predominantly black men are being injured or killed in gun and knife incidents.

There definitely is a case to be made for the [poor] way the Met tackles race issues, but Trident isn't one of them. Trident is there not because the perpetrators are black as much as because the victims are black.
posted by MuffinMan at 1:59 AM on August 7, 2011 [8 favorites]


Some people wanted to protest. Some people wanted to steal shit. I imagine the overlap, the middle bit of that Venn diagram was pretty small. Annoyingly, I was going to Tottenham Hale Comet to buy a new television this morning.
posted by tigrefacile at 2:00 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Flapjax, I assumed asterisks were used for emphasis.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 2:01 AM on August 7, 2011


ferdinand.bardamu writes: Name a city where young black males don't commit an inordinately outsized portion of crimes.

Remember that scene in "12 Angry Men" where the flat-out racist on the jury exposes himself, beyond any shade of doubt, as someone who bases his reasonings and arguments and opinions on nothing more than the race of the defendant? That was the point at which he was shunned and ignored by the other jurors.

That's what needs to happen, in my humble opinio, right here and right now, with the person who posted the comment I've linked to.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:05 AM on August 7, 2011 [27 favorites]


Agreed. And air-quotes or no, this comment is offensive. But hey stupid racist people will be stupid and racist I guess. Hopefully some more useful info will appear in this thread and we can ignore the ignorant trolls.
posted by iotic at 2:09 AM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


flapjax at midnite: I think you've confused airquotes with asterisks used for emphasis.

Flapjax, I assumed asterisks were used for emphasis.


Sincere apologies if I misinterpreted the meaning, but in a text-based form of communication (as we are engaged in here), and when discussing race, of all things, I think it's pretty important to take great caution and get these things right. Italics are to be used for emphasis, no? That is my understanding. Putting asterisks around a word has come to signify, as is my understanding, air quotes. The printed version being referred to as "scare quotes".

But again, apologies for misinterpreting the meaning if indeed the asterisks were misused to merely indicate emphasis.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:17 AM on August 7, 2011


Putting asterisks around a word has come to signify, as is my understanding, air quotes.

You're wrong there. Quotation marks are used as quotation marks. Emphasis is indicated in any number of ways, from *this* to this to this to _this_, but NEVER will "this" be used for emphasis.
posted by hippybear at 2:26 AM on August 7, 2011 [23 favorites]


There *is* a lot of racism at all levels of society and institution in the UK, but a lot of 'oppression' is self-inflicted.

The scare quotes in this case are actually around the word oppression, and are clearly meant to imply that the author means to say "so-called oppression." No worries Flapjax, you were still right on about the sneering, dismissive use of scare quotes!
posted by dialetheia at 2:28 AM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


OK, hippybear, I stand corrected.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:28 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


when discussing race, of all things, I think it's pretty important to take great caution and get these things right.

Yeah agreed Flapjax. There are some fucking clumsy/downright horrible comments in this thread already.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 2:29 AM on August 7, 2011


Thanks hippybear and dialetheia. If this stuff was more standardized and universally understood and agreed on, we'd all be better off!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:30 AM on August 7, 2011


BTW, is anyone else getting weird delays in having their comments show up? I have to load a page twice in order to see my latest posted comment...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 2:32 AM on August 7, 2011


I'm having that same delay, flapjax. I even double commented earlier, because when the first one didn't show up immediately, I thought I'd hit refresh instead of post.

How dare the MeFi staff be asleep in the middle of the night??? This place needs a-fixin!

posted by hippybear at 2:38 AM on August 7, 2011


Asterisks are pretty standard for emphasis - in plain text, rather than html. It's sufficiently common that my Microsoft email client automatically converts words bookended by asterisks into bold in emails I send at work.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:44 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


On a very minor side note, just seen BBC News andthe Allied Carpets building mentioned up thread is a wreck and most likely will need to be demolished. A very nice Art Deco building destroyed.

*sigh* No doubt repeated all over the show. I imagine 99% of the damage will be to people and businesses already up against it, and the net result will be worse, not better for locals.

I think the incredulity was less an ignorance to the concept of a stabbing in general, and more to the idea of just assigning 'propensity towards murder' as a innate trait of an entire underclass, while simultaneously handwaving away any concept of the unequal application of police force towards specific groups delineated by racial or economic strata.

Possibly, but panic over the (real or imagined) epidemic of knife crime in the UK is one of those things that would be a bit odd if you didn't follow the UK news.
posted by rodgerd at 2:50 AM on August 7, 2011


The BBC's overnight coverage was ridiculous; they didn't break away from their schedule at all, which resulted in breaking news about riots and fires in London being interrupted by a half-hour puff piece on the 2012 olympics and, at around the time I went to bed, an interview programme called Hard Talk.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:57 AM on August 7, 2011


Allied Carpets factory pic.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 2:58 AM on August 7, 2011


Every person interviewed in the area tells the same story: people there don't trust the police, services cut year on year, no jobs, no opportunities, and no sign of improvement on the horizon, just more cuts to services and facilities.

The story still circulating on twitter is that the police struck the first blow at the peaceful protest. Despite London being be-camera'd more than any other city in the known universe, I doubt we'll ever know for certain one way or the other. Footage has a tendency to disappear.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:05 AM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Some people wanted to protest at the shooting of an armed man by the police. About 150-ish did during the day. They won't wait for the IPCC investigation to complete - a mandatory event with any police-involved shooting in the UK.

(I lived in Tottenham, leaving due to the ongoing crime and violence a couple of years ago, the final straw being the police armed raid on my next-door neighbour for guns and Class A drugs).

Some people, strangely all young males (and please remember the large majority of young males visible on the street during the daytime are involved in the "african haircut" shops - as lookouts, cash handlers and actual dealers), decided to attack the police in the evening.

The police are strongly resented along Tottenham High Road because they disrupt the majority employment of the area, raiding "haircut" shops that serve one customer a day, harassing people in the street who are hanging around with no visible means of employment and generally causing trouble to the non-legal businesses.

My personal theory as an ex-resident? The dealing trade as a group decided to protest the shooting of one of their own by attacking local residents and shops. Some other residents decided to also get a new TV with a five finger discount, but that's to be expected in a riot. Decent, law-abiding people, as usual, have been hurt further by this.

For the US members of MeFi? Think of this as the corner-boys of Baltimore on the TV show The Wire having a riot because one of their own has been shot by the police.
posted by Hugh Routley at 3:22 AM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Also there are apparently eyewitness accounts that state Duggan was shot while prone/restrained.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:24 AM on August 7, 2011


Having grown up in NYC with a lot of hispanic friends, I got to see police racism up close as a kid, and I can empathize with the rage it provoked. I'm white, and when I think of the time when cops spotted myself and my mexican best friend smoking pot in a city park, my blood still boils.

We saw the cruiser go by and threw the pipe we'd been using as far as we could - by the time the cops got to us we had nothing on us to find, and of course they were frustrated. One of the huge Irish-looking ruddy cops marched right up to us and shoved my friend full in the chest (before he even bothered to search us), he stumbled backwards and barely keps his feet. I watched as my normally proud and boastful friend stared at his feet as the cops screamed at him, called him every sort of racist name, shoved him, and tried to provoke him to physically defend himself so they would have an excuse to use their night sticks. He just stared at his feet and muttered "yes sir, sorry sir", etc. Meanwhile the entire time, I'm giving the cops my best "I will fuck you up" glare, and they're ignoring me. Had my friend even glanced up they would have broken half his ribs. Finally I'm noticed and get the warning to "keep your eyes down unless you want to get it like your spick friend."

I have a lot more stories like this. More than ten years have passed since I've had any kind of run-in with police, but to this day whenever I see a NYC cop I can feel my blood pressure spike, even as I tell myself not to generalize. Back then, if I'd ever found myself in a chaotic scene with a police cruiser around, I would've set that thing on fire in a heartbeat. To anyone who hasn't been there, all I can say is that, being on the receiving end of police abuse - the rage is profound.
posted by tempythethird at 3:25 AM on August 7, 2011 [51 favorites]


ArmyOfKittens:

This is London - there are world class facilities a £2 bus ticket away. The Lea Valley Park is a five minute walk from Tottenham High Road. There are excellent places to spend your time, for free, within a short journey. There are so many facilities, resources and places to go that an entire industry exists to help you find something Try Here...

These are people who are sick of being harassed by the police because they are involved in illegal activities. Law-abiding people do NOT hang around near the railway station in Tottenham because the dealers will threaten or attack you.
posted by Hugh Routley at 3:30 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


*Air quotes are often used to express satire, sarcasm, irony or euphemism

For everything else use "LOL"
posted by the noob at 3:30 AM on August 7, 2011


More seriously, London to me was like a donut. The center was wealthy, and very nice, and the surrounding areas were pretty downtrodden and awful. Sort of a ring of poverty.

Dunno if that's actually the case,
posted by Lord_Pall at 5:18 AM on August 7


It isn't. London's poor areas are dotted around, as are its wealthy areas, as are its middle class areas. For example, Richmond and Hampstead are in outer London and they are a very long way indeed from being downtrodden and awful. On the other hand many areas of Lambeth and Southwark are a stone's throw from from the river and far from salubrious.
posted by Decani at 3:30 AM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


There are also eyewitness accounts that say the man on the ground was the minicab driver. The man shot was on his feet - getting out of the passenger side of the cab.
posted by Hugh Routley at 3:30 AM on August 7, 2011


What a load of horseshit. Riots like this happen when a large population of shitheads with no respect for the property of others seize upon any fucking excuse whatever to go around burning buildings and stealing.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 6:09 AM on August 7


There is truth both in your viewpoint and in flapjax's. Flapjax's view is most definitely not horseshit. You are giving the strong impression that you probably don't know very much about being raised poor and living in a poor area.
posted by Decani at 3:35 AM on August 7, 2011


Also weird to see the number of people on twitter referring to the police as "the feds". That's a bit of language adoption that passed me by.

Hugh: that's what local reporters are saying. I don't live there, I don't feel qualified to offer much comment.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:36 AM on August 7, 2011


Local residents on the news expressing disbelief at the sheer scale of the looting.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:40 AM on August 7, 2011


For our non London friends, not to condone but to provide more context, there have been questions about the police earlier this year with the death of reggae star Smiley Culture, who appears to have stabbed himself in the heart making a cup of tea duing a police raid.

Again, not to condone the actions of looters, but I've heard a lot of anger over Smiley Culture's death and what people perceive as the lack of a clear and honest explanation.
posted by ciderwoman at 3:42 AM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


"the feds" - means you self-identify with the whole gang culture thing in North London - see the incomprehensible language used in the film "Attack the Block" - it's spot on with the kind of language my ex-neighbours used (and I assume still use).

It's a way of identifying people who match up with your group - well spoken and polite? = probably a taxpayer. Call people "blud" and "fam" and refer to police as the "feds"? = you self-identify as one of the people who have a part-time job as a lookout and are looking for better work with a gang.

My neighbours knew exactly who I was because I'd tell them I'd called the police - then they'd threaten me for involving the "feds"...
posted by Hugh Routley at 3:44 AM on August 7, 2011


Name a city where young black males don't commit an inordinately outsized portion of crimes.
posted by ferdinand.bardamu at 9:42 AM on August 7


Oh dear. That was unfortunate.
posted by Decani at 3:44 AM on August 7, 2011


This is London - there are world class facilities a £2 bus ticket away.

I don't know about you, but there have been times in my life when $4 ($8 for a round trip) was more money than I had in my pocket to go visit even the best world-class facility that was nearby. If the opportunities are truly as limited and shrinking as people have suggested in this thread, chances are the resources to put out even that small amount of money on anything more than an infrequent basis simply aren't available to a lot of the people in Tottenham.
posted by hippybear at 3:45 AM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Daily Mail: Fears that violence was fanned by Twitter as picture of burning police car was re-tweeted more than 100 times.

What's this I see on the very same page? A picture of a burning police car? Clearly Twitter put that there too.
posted by emmtee at 3:46 AM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Before and after, Allied Carpets.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:47 AM on August 7, 2011


Before and after, Allied Carpets.

Did someone upthread call that an Art Deco building? Because that's decidedly NOT Art Deco.
posted by hippybear at 3:50 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hashalbum is worth refreshing every now and then.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:58 AM on August 7, 2011


Audio of the eyewitness interviewed by the BBC claiming violence started when police 'set upon' a 16-year-old girl.
posted by emmtee at 3:58 AM on August 7, 2011


A good round up by Ravi Somaiya, who tweeted all night from Tottenham and Wood Green.

http://thelede.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/06/shops-and-cars-burn-in-anti-police-riot-in-london/
posted by ellieBOA at 3:59 AM on August 7, 2011


World class facilities are nice and all, but they're not a substitute for jobs.
posted by ryanrs at 4:02 AM on August 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


More pictures, from the Guardian this time.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:10 AM on August 7, 2011


They want free stuff.
posted by the cuban at 4:15 AM on August 7, 2011


The looted computer shop in those Daily Mail pics has three iMacs left abandoned there. Odd.
posted by imperium at 4:24 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


ryanrs:

London has the best jobs market in the whole UK. There is work for young lads who have had an education and can read and write and add up and speak good clear English. The same £2 bus ticket that takes you to any part of London will get you to jobs from minimum wage up to millionaire stockbroker. The real problem is communities that value leaving school over an education, who value acting tough with their mates in a gang above the long-term slog of putting the hours in to get up above minimum wage and learning a trade.

All of the people I remember seeing on the street again and again in Tottenham were not dressed for a job interview. All of them *were* occupied - they had jobs. Just not ones that paid taxes.

Let's not pretend these are deprived youths who are protesting the lack of well paid jobs. These were the *local industry* lashing out at the people who hassle them. One of their own had been shot and they wanted to get payback.
posted by Hugh Routley at 4:25 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Isn't that a Currys? I imagine people would have prioritised more portable stuff like laptops and especially mobile phones -- easier to carry and hide, and you can carry more at once.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:26 AM on August 7, 2011


"London has the best jobs market in the whole UK. There is work for young lads who have had an education and can read and write and add up and speak good clear English. The same £2 bus ticket that takes you to any part of London will get you to jobs from minimum wage up to millionaire stockbroker."

ah yes, the famous bus that is the answer to all unemployment.
posted by wayward vagabond at 4:30 AM on August 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


On yer bike!

Drug dealers did it!

Have you thought about looking for a job with the Daily Mail?
posted by knapah at 4:31 AM on August 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


The oddest bit of that Mail item:
There were also reports that youths had stormed McDonald's and had started frying their own burgers and chips.
posted by likeso at 4:34 AM on August 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


It amuses me how many people see this kind of thing happening in Egypt or somewhere and claim it is an outpouring of popular rage about unemployment, police oppression, or whatever... but when it happens in 'the West' it must be drug dealers and people with no respect for private property.
posted by knapah at 4:34 AM on August 7, 2011 [27 favorites]


It amuses me how many people see this kind of thing happening in Egypt

There were riots involving buildings being burned, shops being looted, vehicles set on fire, and such in Egypt? All done by a small number of people in a suburb of the capital?

Funny, the coverage I saw on my television showed a largely peaceful protest taking place in a main square of a large city involving hundreds of thousands of people, all without much (if any) looting.

If you have different coverage you can link to, I'd appreciate having my views changed. I hate believing a falsehood, and welcome contradictory evidence.
posted by hippybear at 4:39 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Quote:
I was on the high road between 8.30pm-11.30pm.

I arrived after the police cars were on fire.

With that said things were reasonably calm - stand off

It became violent and escalated after a police officer hit a women with a baton.

She was v. distress and was running back into the crowd after being near the police line.

This angered the crowd and they proceeded to throw rocks bottle etc...

Regarding the bus - it was just the driven on the bus - he drove right it into the crowd - therefore had to stop - people got on the bus - the driver walked off with no trouble and took the keys with him. people asked for the keys but driver said no - no one challanged him
Guardian live blog.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:39 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Nope - not a Daily Mail reader. I'm a (recently) former resident of Tottenham (you can see my former flat near to the burned out jewelery shop) speaking from personal experience of 5 years living there.

There is work in London - there are 232 retail jobs right now within a £2 journey Here

Have any of you with knee-jerk reactions of "on yer bike" and "drug dealers did it!" actually been harassed for interfering with the dealing because you walked past and were out of place (and so possibly been a police officer)?
posted by Hugh Routley at 4:42 AM on August 7, 2011


"Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe." - Frederick Douglass
posted by mareli at 4:44 AM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Mr. Creedy will get this under control soon, I'm sure.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:46 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


There is work in London - there are 232 retail jobs right now within a £2 journey

That's actually £4 (have to pay for the return trip) plus the travel time required. And if London is anything like most cities, busses are not exactly a swift way to travel. So, we'll say that it takes, what? An hour each direction to get to and from work from Tottenham for one of those dead-end retail jobs? And what is the basic wage? Have to add on the travel time as having some value in the person's life...

I think you're being far too glib about a lot of factors when it comes to employment.
posted by hippybear at 4:49 AM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


"There is work in London - there are 232 retail jobs right now within a £2 journey Here"



youth employment at lowest in 20 years

At 22%, the unemployment rate for 16- to 24-year-olds is highest in London.

so exactly how many young Londoners do you think are competing for those 232 jobs? against a whole phalanx of also-unemployed *adults*?
posted by wayward vagabond at 4:55 AM on August 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


If you go to this page and look at the 14th picture (image directly linked at 'Image Credit' below) you'll find the following:

# Egyptian volunteers guard looted goods confiscated from looters at a street in Cairo. With the police having disappeared from the streets, residents reported gangs of youths, some on motorbikes, roaming the streets, looting supermarkets, shopping malls and stores. Some of the gangs made it to affluent residential areas in the suburbs, breaking into luxury homes and apartments. # Image Credit: AP

There was looting, and quite a lot of it, but it was stopped by the volunteer guards. I agree that Egypt is not the best example to have used, but in situations like these we often see a rush to condemn rioters as entirely self-interested criminal elements and quash any thought of the events as part of an expression of rage by local people i.e. the whole "a riot is the language of the unheard" thing.
posted by knapah at 4:59 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Let's not pretend these are deprived youths who are protesting the lack of well paid jobs. These were the *local industry* lashing out at the people who hassle them. One of their own had been shot and they wanted to get payback.

In a way, yeah. But you live in a society that has funneled these kids into these lives without giving them any other choice, and though they may think they're being awesome and hardcore, the truth of the matter is that their lives will in all likelihood suck compared to the lives of the educated middle class (uncertainty, disease, violence, incarceration). They never had a choice or a chance to join that educated middle class. And that's where the injustice is. You can condemn these kids, but don't spare the system that created them.

In short, go watch season 4 of The Wire.
posted by tempythethird at 4:59 AM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Wow, it's an hour by SUBWAY to get from Tottenham to London. I bet it's a half-day by bus.
posted by hippybear at 5:00 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Where do you get that from? It's in zone one (i.e. the centre of London).
posted by GeckoDundee at 5:02 AM on August 7, 2011


knapah: okay, I stand corrected. Although overall, the Egypt situation was not one where the rioting and looting was the sum total of what was going on, which seems to be the case in Tottenham. If it had been, there would have been hundreds of thousands of people looting and rioting and setting fire to things in Cairo. Even your example shows that it was a small minority in Egypt who were doing the looting, and that it was quashed by the populace itself, something we didn't see in Tottenham.
posted by hippybear at 5:04 AM on August 7, 2011


hippybear:

Nothing glib about working hard all of my life and then seeing people excusing the behavior of others because, somehow, their refusal to work hard in school and then work their way up from entry-level jobs to the kind of wage you can raise a family on, is *my* fault, because I can't afford higher taxes.

I grew up in the inner city (Coventry, one of the most ethnically diverse places in the country). I grew up in a deprived area. I have worked hard from school onwards. I earn a living wage, not because I have some sort of inherited wealth or privilege but because I consistently put the time and effort in. I pay more than 50% of my wages in tax (including VAT etc.) (Tax Freedom Day 2011 was 30th May - see here).

I can't afford to keep funding greater and greater social funding - even though I fully believe it is a good thing for society to help the poor and disadvantaged (because *I* was one of them).

I have watched friend after friend fuck about all their lives. And then complain because it's someone else's fault. I have lost my job several times, picked myself up and got another one. My most recent job came after 400 job applications. So it's not easy, it requires effort.

But please, don't claim I'm being glib just because I say you can do something if you work at it.
posted by Hugh Routley at 5:05 AM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Actually, I think I'm wrong about that, sorry. I'm thinking of Tottenham Court which isn't in Tottenham.
posted by GeckoDundee at 5:05 AM on August 7, 2011


Where do you get that from? It's in zone one (i.e. the centre of London).

Um... I get that from going to http://www.tfl.gov.uk/ and typing "Tottenham" and "London" into the journey planner, and then selecting "Tottenham Hale Underground Station" from the next screen, and looking at the resulting schedule returned to me. Plus, Wikipedia says that Tottenham is in Zone 3, not Zone 1.
posted by hippybear at 5:06 AM on August 7, 2011


Yeah, Tottenham is in zone 3, roughly 40 mins from the center by tube.
posted by Drexen at 5:07 AM on August 7, 2011


But please, don't claim I'm being glib just because I say you can do something if you work at it.

But that's not what you're saying.

What you're saying is that these people are all drug dealers, are all failures in school (largely because of their own lack of personal discipline) and are all unwilling to find work. When obviously they are willing to find work, because according to your words, they're all working at dealing drugs in various capacities within those organizations.
posted by hippybear at 5:11 AM on August 7, 2011


roughly 40 mins from the center by tube.

Well, according to the website, there's only one train which gets between A and B in 40 minutes. All the others take an hour.
posted by hippybear at 5:12 AM on August 7, 2011


I grew up in a deprived area. I have worked hard from school onwards. ...

You seem to be implying that because you had the strength and luck to pull yourself up that everything's fine and those who failed are at fault?

Curious.

How about: only the most talented, hard-working, and lucky people manage to pull themselves up and out of the mire. But those born into the right ethnicity and economic bracket can easily go through their lives without much talent, or work-ethic, or luck - and still do more or less ok, as opposed to being forced into some Hobbesian urban hell. Sound fair to you?
posted by tempythethird at 5:12 AM on August 7, 2011 [13 favorites]


Maybe if people who had not been to London stopped talking about how to get around in London based on googling and using the famously pessimistic TFL website?

Quick notes: Tottenham is in North London. It's about 10km from Tottenham Court Road. Tottenham Court Road being in the West End. Tube stations on or near Tottenham High Street include Seven Sisters and Tottenham Hale, which are in Zone 3 - that is, still recognizably London, but getting towards the suburbs.

A bus ticket on Oyster pay-as-you-go is £1.30, so depending on how many buses you get the cost of a journey by bus could cost £2.60+ there and back, with a cap on the total payment by Oyster card over a day at £4 for bus journeys - that is, £2 there and £2 back. A tube (subway) ticket from Zone 3 to Zone 1 is £2.90 peak (i.e. to get to work), £2.50 off-peak (to get home).
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:12 AM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Okay fair enough. How many unemployed people can drop £4 repeatedly for job interviews and such? When I was looking for work recently, I was having to make conscious choices between buying not-bottom-end food and having gas money to drive to the city nearby for interviews. I'm sure the same calculus goes into someone living in Tottenham thinking about whether they can even get into London for an interview or not.
posted by hippybear at 5:17 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was having a doughnut moment, having been on the central line a couple of weeks ago and seeing Tottenham Court Road as the next stop. But you don't really think the cost of a tube journey is what's keeping inner city youth unemployment high, do you?
posted by GeckoDundee at 5:20 AM on August 7, 2011


Well, according to the website, there's only one train which gets between A and B in 40 minutes. All the others take an hour.

A lot depends on where you're putting your A and your B - what do you mean by "a train to London" The City of London? The West End? Westminster? Tottenham Hale and Seven Sisters are on the Victoria Line, so you can get to Oxford Circus (the heart of the West End) in 15 minutes and Victoria (the biggest station in Westminster) in 20. Getting to the City of London is relatively harder, because the Victoria and Picadilly lines run North-East to South-West, but you can hop on an overground train and get to Liverpool Street in 15 minutes.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:20 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Salvation for the legions of unemployed youth in Tottenham is but a train ride away! Why are they rioting when they could just hop on the tube and GET A JOB?

/hamburger with chips
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:24 AM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


To give a counter point to Hugh Routley, who seems to be dangerously close to becoming the London voice in this thread, if you live in London and have eyes that can see, then you know there is a huge gulf between the employed, educated middle class and the unemployed or underemployed, poorly educated lower class.

I've lived pretty much everywhere - Wimbledon, Clapham, Charlton, Elephant and Castle, Finsbury Park, Peckham - and there's always been that tension. The street I live on now, in Peckham, is basically the border between the haves and the have nots. You can actually see it. One one side are cute, turn-of-the-century terraced houses worth £350K and upwards, on the other side the rundown council owned or council-subsidised flats where the core population of Peckham live.

Trying to cross from one side of the divide to the other is not impossible, but v tough, or so it would seem by the lack of mobility between one side and the other. What you notice most when you actually work in a professional job in London, is that most of your colleagues don't come from here. They may live cheek by jowl with the natives but they got their education and their breaks elsewhere.
posted by Summer at 5:24 AM on August 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


Hugh Routley, there's currently around 10,000 job claimants in Haringey, for around 400 local jobs. The jobs people could potentially travel to are generally competed for by an equally large number of people who are local to them. The local council is rated as one of the worst-performing in England, with schools and youth facilities being gutted in the latest round of cuts.

It's great that you managed to get a good job. It sounds like you worked hard for it. But to claim that anyone can get the same results just by "working hard" is glib and unrealistic. The supposed fecklesness of the poor, the marginalised and the disenfranchised is not the sole cause of high unemployment by a long stretch; it's a complex phenomenon with a strong input from those are actually, you know, in power.
posted by Drexen at 5:27 AM on August 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


While changing everywhere where there is a heritage of a class system, your address, your accent and where you went to school all still matter to a great degree.
posted by infini at 5:29 AM on August 7, 2011


For jobs in my sector -- education administration -- there are hundreds upon hundreds of applications for each position. It was hard enough for me to get the job I have now, and I have almost ten years experience, great references, and relevant training.

How much harder is it to get school-leaver jobs? In this market? If you don't have the benefits of white skin and a nobby accent and education in a half-decent school it can be practically impossible. John Q Rioter and Jane Q Looter shouldn't be fucking rioting and looting, but they're not responsible for the state of the city or the job climate or into what circumstances they were born.

Blaming unemployed youth in London for being unemployed is pretty fucking rich.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:33 AM on August 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


Before and after, Allied Carpets.

I am NOT looking forward to Monday's issue of Inside Carpet magazine.
posted by the noob at 5:38 AM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Geckodundee: Well, there are two things here. Hippbear is being actively unhelpful by picturing Tottenham as some sort of distant outpost somewhere near Northampton - he's still talking about getting "into London" from Tottenham, when Tottenham is in London. I assume he means what Londoners used to call "going up West", although that is unclear, but lack of local knowledge is creating a smokescreen which actually makes it harder to challenge the initial proposition.

Back on the initial proposition - Hugh Routley has based his model of how many entry-level retail jobs there are just waiting for school-leavers to walk into by doing a search for the word "assistant" on a jobs site and setting a 15-mile radius. If he had bothered either to think about this or to read the results of his own search, he would have hit two problems, one with his methodology and one with his results.

The methodological problem is obvious. Tottenham is getting near the edge of what people would generally consider "London proper" (say, Brent Cross), and is about 10km (6 miles for the Brits) from the West End. a 15-mile radius is a ludicrous distance. London isn't Los Angeles - people don't generally travel 15 miles to get to entry-level jobs in retail. And, although the London Underground (subway) is a marvel, once you are making two or three changes the time cost does mount up. His 15-mile radius covers a huge and densely-populated area, in which 232 jobs is a minuscule number.

The problem with results would have been clear if he had looked at the results of his search. The word "assistant" includes Assistant Manager roles, which are not entry-level. Nobody is going to leave school and walk into a job that is paying £40,000 (that is, about $65,000), but this is on the first page of his search.

So, his analysis is flawed in input and output, and the conclusions he draws are therefore unsound. But trying to use the Internet to recreate an understanding of one of the world's most gloriously illogical transport systems is only going to draw attention away from the real problems in his analysis.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:39 AM on August 7, 2011 [28 favorites]


Drexen - appreciate the counterpoint. You make a fair point there.

No one is blaming unemployed youth in London for being unemployed - I blame a whole community that portrays macho images of being a gangster as being laudable while working hard is considered "white" (like my friends have been told). Job creation comes from the local people - everywhere. Big companies don't really increase the number of jobs in a society, overall. Small and medium sized companies create real, new jobs.

Those companies don't exist in Tottenham, no matter how hard the local council, and other funding and enterprise bodies try. Why? Because the local culture makes it acceptable to act in one way (dealing, violence, "insurance" and general mafia/gangster behaviour) and doesn't try to improve things.

As a clear example: how many people seem to be ashamed they're defending a known local scumbag who (it seems, until the IPCC report) had a gun and had obviously come to the attention of the police (so clearly wasn't hiding that he was armed). This, of course, came after his relative had been murdered. These people are not paragons of virtue and yet they are being defended as innocent victims by local priests on BBC news this lunchtime.
posted by Hugh Routley at 5:43 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


running order squabble fest:

Fair point, it was a rushed example while I wanted to make a point. Getting a job is always hard. It always has been, even during the boom. It's harder now. You make a fair point.

However, the open drug markets (a.k.a. "hairdressers with no customers") were there during the peak of the boom. Nothing has changed in that regard.
posted by Hugh Routley at 5:48 AM on August 7, 2011


Hugh Routley - Blaming culture is putting the cart ahead of the horse.

Take kids out of their horrifying surroundings at an early age - put them in nature, challenge them, give them sources of self esteem, introduce them to new interests, give them outlets for their passions and talents, and they will start seeing gangster culture as dumb and shallow and gangsters as gullible posers.

A pathological culture cannot be attacked head-on, address the causes and the culture will dissipate.
posted by tempythethird at 5:51 AM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


However, the open drug markets (a.k.a. "hairdressers with no customers") were there during the peak of the boom.

And you still insist in depicting these people as not having employment? I hate to break it to you, but even as black market as it is, drug dealing is a capitalist enterprise.

The youth are taking the employment which they can find, which is illegal and illicit and unwise to participate in on a lot of levels. But it isn't like they're not working a job which puts money in their pocket.
posted by hippybear at 5:52 AM on August 7, 2011


Hugh Routley: Fair point, it was a rushed example while I wanted to make a point

It was a terrible example, though, and failed to make any worthwhile point. Look at your search again: as far as I can tell, not one of the jobs on the first page is entry-level.

If you have some sort of statistical proof of the number of peopleactually involved in the drug trade in Tottenham - because your accounting right now sounds a little Lovecraft-in-Brooklyn (not Lovecraft in Brooklyn, I hasten to add) and the employment possibilities otherwise open to them, go for it. Otherwise you're just telling us a) that you have a strong emotional response to hairdressers and b) that you are looking for proofs of a thesis you have already decided is correct.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:54 AM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


By the way, here, here and here are videos video of looting happening on Wood Green High Street (which I live on - the door to my flat is right at the end of the first video), and the eventual police response.
posted by Drexen at 5:55 AM on August 7, 2011


By the way, here , here and here are videos video of looting happening on Wood Green High Street

Did a double take at 2:14 of that first video link. There's a shop called... LOOT.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:06 AM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


London has the best jobs market in the whole UK. There is work for young lads who have had an education and can read and write and add up and speak good clear English. The same £2 bus ticket that takes you to any part of London will get you to jobs from minimum wage up to millionaire stockbroker.
posted by Hugh Routley at 12:25 PM on August 7


Having recently spent over two years unemployed in London, I respectfully submit that this is rose-tinted horseshit.
posted by Decani at 6:09 AM on August 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


Hugh Routley:

You, frankly, are showing your advantages. I have also lived in London (I'm from Brighton). I've lived in the East End (far side of the Docklands), Archway, Camden and even briefly Tottenham.

I'd just like to say that I don't recognise your characterisation of the areas, and find it fairly racist. I was always able to get jobs, but I'm certainly not stupid enough to think that's unrelated to the fact that I was articulate, white and male. Frankly, you can't honestly say that kids from inner London schools get much of a fair break, and to say that all of their issues are chosen seems to betray a complete lack of understanding. It disgusts me.

I worked in training people in IT, and dealt with many people who had never used a computer effectively due to basic literacy issues and almost complete gutting of special education provision in most London schools. You think there's plentiful work out there for those people? There is not, and to sneer from the sidelines isn't hugely helpful. People see a state that spends more mental effort policing and restricting them than it does improving their lives, and IMHO they aren't wrong about that.

But, you know, they probably really wanted a lookout job for £50 a day. Yeah, that'll be it.
posted by jaduncan at 6:18 AM on August 7, 2011 [9 favorites]


Wow, it's an hour by SUBWAY to get from Tottenham to London. I bet it's a half-day by bus.
posted by hippybear at 1:00 PM on August 7


London is huge. Really. But the trip is more like 40 mins. Even so... London is huge.
posted by Decani at 6:21 AM on August 7, 2011


I also just have to say - most of the hairdressers are hairdressers. There's a lot of people, you know. They all have hair. That is all. You read a bit like you get your information from the fevered imaginations of the Mail or something.
posted by jaduncan at 6:25 AM on August 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


You seem to be implying that because you had the strength and luck to pull yourself up that everything's fine and those who failed are at fault?

posted by tempythethird at 1:12 PM on August 7


This, of course, is an attitude much-loved by the working class conservative. My father shared it, even after fifteen years of unemployment. It seems to be a remarkably obdurate delusion.
posted by Decani at 6:27 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Decani - your profile lists your job as a train driver. That's a pretty specialist job. I can totally understand how you would struggle to get a new job in the same role. From your photo you seem to be, like me, beyond the point where you want an entry-level job.

Seriously: Do you think you could have got a minimum wage job in a shop? (I'm guessing you didn't *want* one - you would have worked hard to get where you are). That's fair enough and it's going to make it very very hard for you to get a new job. Two years unemployed is pretty shitty, even more so when you were previously making a living wage.

I'm talking about the young lads in Tottenham who have a choice - work hard and travel away to get a job, or fuck about and end up earning *less* working for the drug dealerships. The culture of the local people needs to change to force these lads to see that they are wrecking not only their lives but the mothers and sisters they live with.

Have you walked through Tottenham on a regular basis? I don't know how anyone can disagree with this...
posted by Hugh Routley at 6:30 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


tottenham, tottenham, no one can stop them.

posted by sgt.serenity at 6:31 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm talking here (to all the other posters saying I'm naive or stupid and so on) about replacing illegal service jobs (i.e. related to drug dealing) helping a very few get rich selling drugs (being lookout typically pays way less than minimum wage - I've asked my ex-neighbours) with a culture that really doesn't encourage brothers and sons from getting a job from the local tough guy or gang.

Yes, drug dealing is capitalist. It's a job. And nearly everyone on the street earns a tiny amount. Only the three guys in their 30's who used to drive past twice a day in an imported Cadillac Escalade earn any real income - and they don't share back down to the street.

I agree I used a rushed example that didn't help me show there are alternatives. Fair enough. That's now, it's harder to get a job than a few years ago. The drug dealing and criminal culture was here before the recession. Jobs are always hard to get - you have to work a long time in school before you can even qualify for an entry-level minimum wage job. It's far easier to not bother and then get yourself a shitty job as a lookout at 15. But then you are stuck and fucked for life.

My whole point has been that this *IS* the culture in the area. Mothers, sisters and others turn a blind eye and refuse to condemn it. They claim it's other people's fault and then try to make out their criminal brothers and sons and boyfriends are innocent. It's the fault of the people who told my friends that learning is "white". It's the fault of the guys who claim that anyone can become really rich, like them - when actually only a tiny number of the gangsters receive the winner-take-all riches. It's the fault of the priest on TV right now who refuses to engage with the IPCC, demanding that investigations are completed in 1 day and attending protests outside police stations demanding the police answer their questions - when they could use the real tools of democratic accountability and (frankly) even go protest outside the correct place - the IPCC offices.

These people fuck things up for everyone else. And these people have been lining up on TV today to tell us how it's everyone else's fault.

Don't pretend I'm naive and blame the poor for being poor. I blame the people who don't see a problem with their insistence on creating special cases for them. I blame the people who blame schools for not teaching when they don't make their sons attend. I blame the people who think that *blaming* people is somehow wrong and that every moral decision is equivalent.

Yes I'm showing my advantages. I was born into a family that taught me a UK accent. I happen to be the son of an immigrant - but I don't speak with that accent outside the home. I am white, but a huge chunk of London is not. Please don't try to tell me that none of the people who work in shops and bars and factories and sports centres and everywhere else in London are white.

These kids are from a deprived area - they aren't going to end up as millionaires. But they could end up with enough money to have a car and an annual holiday and a family and maybe even a nice home.
posted by Hugh Routley at 6:40 AM on August 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


I also just have to say - most of the hairdressers are hairdressers.

There are lots and lots of hairdressers (or weave shops as they're often unkindly known) in areas of London with a large Afro-Caribbean/African population. I have about five within 100 yards of me. I can assure you they are not fronts for anything apart from what seems like extremely complicated hair procedures and gossip.

Which isn't to say some hairdressers might not be fronts, but to extrapolate that most of them are seems pretty far fetched.
posted by Summer at 6:44 AM on August 7, 2011


Jaduncan

There's one part of the High Road where more than half of the shops are "hairdressers" - all with one chair and no customers who *ever* sit down.

Of course there are real hairdressers and they are pretty obviously really there to cut your hair and usually pretty busy.

However, the standard method of dealing drugs in Tottenham is to open a barbers/hairdressers and then conveniently never ever cut anyone's hair (except maybe the staff when it's a bit quiet in the mid-morning). That way, when the police rush in, you were just waiting for a haircut, not buying or selling, honest m'lud.
posted by Hugh Routley at 6:45 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


My whole point has been that this *IS* the culture in the area. Mothers, sisters and others turn a blind eye and refuse to condemn it. They claim it's other people's fault and then try to make out their criminal brothers and sons and boyfriends are innocent. It's the fault of the people who told my friends that learning is "white". It's the fault of the guys who claim that anyone can become really rich, like them - when actually only a tiny number of the gangsters receive the winner-take-all riches.

What you're describing here is the kind of culture that grows up in an area of deprivation. It's what happens when people (mostly young men) can't find a way to achieve status or success within mainstream culture. Why do you think this is happening in Tottenham at this time? Because the people there just happen to be more feckless and irresponsible than the rest of the nation?
posted by Summer at 6:51 AM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


The rioters will always be with you.

I spent a year trundling up and down Tottenham High Road and around Wood Green and Hoxton in the back of a cop van with a film crew. The area has always been a powderkeg and, like most deprived bits of London, massively hostile to the Met. Most Met officers are not from the areas they police; most are white and working class. So there's a huge amount of hostility on both sides. There is also, to be honest, a pretty large petty-criminal population. For example, I went to see a guy who claimed to have been beaten up by the police, who at the end of the interview opened a door and offered to sell me one of a dozen fur coats which had fallen off the back of a lorry. He was also about twice the size of most of the cops. On the other hand, I met several people who clearly HAD been on the receiving end for doing little more than talking back or failing to stop their motorcycle promptly enough.

Tottenham police station itself is pretty much a fortress. The whole thing had a Precinct 13 feel about it.

Riots are always overdetermined. The proximate cause might be a particular police action and a collection of simmering grievances but it's summer heat that really sets the whole thing up... everyone on the streets late at night, a fair amount of drinking involved ... tensions rising ... usually a bunch of pub fights and so on in the days before... but once the first window gets smashed or car lights up, all bets are off, and the local sociopaths can make hay.
posted by unSane at 7:03 AM on August 7, 2011 [16 favorites]


"Well, according to the website, there's only one train which gets between A and B in 40 minutes. All the others take an hour."

Tottenham Hale to Liverpool St is 15 minutes. But even an hour is hardly an uncommon journey for working in London. My station to station time currently is 40 mins, but when I worked in Tottenham, I took two trains and over 90 minutes to get there. A co-worker took 2 hours by bus. When I worked off Tottenham Court Road (which is not part of Tottenham), it was 40 mins on the tube after 20 mins by bus.
posted by Auz at 7:13 AM on August 7, 2011


My whole point has been that this *IS* the culture in the area. Mothers, sisters and others turn a blind eye and refuse to condemn it. They claim it's other people's fault and then try to make out their criminal brothers and sons and boyfriends are innocent. It's the fault of the people who told my friends that learning is "white". It's the fault of the guys who claim that anyone can become really rich, like them - when actually only a tiny number of the gangsters receive the winner-take-all riches.


See my post right above on the futility of attacking culture.

But anyway, I've been having this same argument with much of my family for too long. The argument will not be solved here. It boils down to this:

You: People are responsible for their own decisions, and when people fail to make rational decisions or even worse act against their own interest, because they had the option to make better decisions but failed to exercise that option (because of laziness, culture, etc.), it is their fault. Thus, when they suffer the consequences of their shitty decisions and/or end up in prison, it is just, and said people only have themselves to blame.

Me, I think the majority of mefi, social science, neuroscience: The range of a person's possible action is determined by a vast and unknowable set of factors, from the neurochemical to the socioeconomic. Though we will never enumerate or properly prioritize every possible factor, we know that the early childhood circumstances play a disproportionate role in determining the future adults horizons. Someone who has a relatively stress-free, stable, and stimulating childhood will have a greater chance of getting ahead later in life, and such a childhood tends to correlate with wealth. A person deprived of such a childhood, and then thrust into a discriminatory society will have very little chance of getting ahead.

Your position (the standard conservative position) assumes an outmoded over-individualistic view of the human animal that is being discredited by all sorts of disciplines. Of course, your view is appealing because it lets you comfortably point your finger at the other, pat yourself on the shoulder for being the "responsible" one, and avoid any sort of self-examination. It also lets you pretend that you're much more in control of your own destiny than you really are. I get the appeal, but nevertheless this perspective is facile and the fierceness with which so many cling to it is disappointing and tiresome. But, have fun finger-pointing and feeling righteous, that's why you're making this argument here of all places isn't it?
posted by tempythethird at 7:14 AM on August 7, 2011 [58 favorites]


It's what happens when people (mostly young men) can't find a way to achieve status or success within mainstream culture.

This is almost but not quite true.

It's what happens when people (mostly young men) find it easier to achieve status or success by emulating gangsters than within mainstream culture, or when the status they think they can achieve that way is more valuable to them then finding status or success within mainstream culture.

There are plenty of kids -- the majority -- who come out of these communities just fine.
posted by unSane at 7:18 AM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


And also -- when 'mainstream culture' assigns high status to gangstas -- watch out.
posted by unSane at 7:20 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


For the US members of MeFi? Think of this as the corner-boys of Baltimore on the TV show The Wire having a riot because one of their own has been shot by the police.
I'm thinking that you completely missed the point of The Wire. Have you ever even seen The Wire? You think the point of The Wire is that drug dealers in Baltimore are shitty, lazy people who just need to get a bus ticket and a job?
posted by craichead at 7:20 AM on August 7, 2011 [19 favorites]


I agree with you on the most part unSane, but don't forget being a gangster is a very short-term, dangerous path. You have to have a limited set of options to choose it.
posted by Summer at 7:23 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm already irritated with some American news outlets gleefully pouncing on their ability to think themselves clever by touting the headline "Anarchy in the UK" on online news articles.
posted by Kitteh at 7:36 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


I agree with you on the most part unSane, but don't forget being a gangster is a very short-term, dangerous path. You have to have a limited set of options to choose it.

No you don't, and it's not helpful to just go ahead and baldly assert that that would be the case. There can be plenty of bad, immature, short-sighted reasons to choose a criminal life over better options.

And that's entirely aside from the fact that it's just fucking wrong.
posted by Anything at 7:43 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, but most of the young rioters aren't gangsters -- they're just kids more or less on the periphery of that lifestyle who are suddenly confronted with an opportunity and possibly some social pressure to enact it.
posted by unSane at 7:44 AM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Your position (the standard conservative position) assumes an outmoded over-individualistic view of the human animal that is being discredited by all sorts of disciplines. Of course, your view is appealing because it lets you comfortably point your finger at the other, pat yourself on the shoulder for being the "responsible" one, and avoid any sort of self-examination. It also lets you pretend that you're much more in control of your own destiny than you really are. I get the appeal, but nevertheless this perspective is facile and the fierceness with which so many cling to it is disappointing and tiresome. But, have fun finger-pointing and feeling righteous, that's why you're making this argument here of all places isn't it?

Good point. Succinct, and uses a lot less vitriol than the remarks I'd been forming.

Hugh, you mentioned the Wire earlier (which makes me think you haven't actually watched it when it's contrasted against your point, but whatever) so maybe you'd be open to another work by David Simon, The Corner. It covers a lot of the same territory, but it's based in direct observation, interviews, and historical analysis instead of fiction. Pretty good read.
posted by codacorolla at 7:47 AM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


ArmyOfKittens: "Tottenham: ‘This is what you get – fire’"

From the article:
Violence, after all, bleeds from every pore of the capitalist state: from dire impoverishment and starvation through to police brutality, all the way up to war. But this kind of violence is routinely excused: it's either necessary to 'keep us safe', or it's just the way things are.

The kind of violence that we're told there's 'no excuse' for - the kind the newspapers focus on so angrily and relentlessly - is usually not even actual violence at all. It's setting a police car on fire - or, for that matter, smashing the windows of the Millbank Tower.
Excellently put. No one really questions when businesses or governments make harmful choices in the light of existing circumstances. A company lays off a third of its workforce -- knowing that this will inevitably mean hundreds or thousands of people suffering financially -- and just shrugs its shoulders and says what can it do? Riots should, realistically, be seen as a natural part of the cycle of poverty and abuse in the same way that layoffs, environmental abuse, and ripping off consumers are all just driven by the "invisible hand" of capitalism.
posted by Deathalicious at 7:48 AM on August 7, 2011 [20 favorites]


Craichead.

No you are completely the wrong way round. I certainly don't think they are feckless or lazy. I used to see (and say hello) to the lookouts as I went to work, and the same faces 14 hours later. All for £50 or less a day. i bet every single one regretted not staying in school...

I was trying to show how it was equivalent to imagine the poor kids on the Wire rioting because one of theirs was killed by the cops to the poor kids on Tottenham high road rioting because one of theirs was killed by the cops.

I'm saying they can choose to get out of the situation beforehand, but not afterwards, and those around them don't help to make things better for the next generation. Especially that fucking priest trying to make the functions of civilised policing (i.e. an IPCC investigation) into some kind of conspiracy to do down the black kids. Culture can change and is has in many places - it takes society to see that their habit of turning a blind eye is destroying those they love.

In the meantime, these riots are simply the local industry complaining/protesting against those who are hostile to them - the police. One of their own has been killed by the police, so they've acted out.

The worst part is the "community leaders" who try to wrap up real problems as though it is the problem of those outside. It's the local people who support the local industry through action or inaction. Only those people can change things. For a real example see my culture (Northern Irish Catholic) finally rejecting violence as a way of changing society - after three decades of the Troubles - they've finally got back to where they started with some small political devolution.

Oh, and yes - I do expect people to take responsibility for their own actions and their decisions. How else can you expect civilisation to improve the lot of our poorest and least privileged? If we simply assume people can't rise above their basic urges then we might as well forget trying to instill "the habit of virtue" in our society. I truly believe we can help the poorest help raise their futures. But that's impossible if they are simply animals who can't choose a better life.

So: tempythethird - are the poor just a bunch of animals who can't help themselves? or can they choose a better future for themselves and act accordingly? (perhaps because society shows them the way?)
posted by Hugh Routley at 7:52 AM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Me, I think the majority of mefi, social science, neuroscience: The range of a person's possible action is determined by a vast and unknowable set of factors, from the neurochemical to the socioeconomic. Though we will never enumerate or properly prioritize every possible factor, we know that the early childhood circumstances play a disproportionate role in determining the future adults horizons. Someone who has a relatively stress-free, stable, and stimulating childhood will have a greater chance of getting ahead later in life, and such a childhood tends to correlate with wealth. A person deprived of such a childhood, and then thrust into a discriminatory society will have very little chance of getting ahead.

Wow, where did the person go? In your theory, a person's actions are "determined" by society, upbringing, genetics, etc., and the person's agency is assumed away. That's one hell of a vanishing act.
posted by gd779 at 7:58 AM on August 7, 2011 [5 favorites]


So: tempythethird - are the poor just a bunch of animals who can't help themselves? or can they choose a better future for themselves and act accordingly? (perhaps because society shows them the way?)

It's that parenthetical bit that's the trouble, though. Society can "show them the way" all it wants, but if every door along that way is locked...?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:59 AM on August 7, 2011


Name a city where young black males don't commit an inordinately outsized portion of the crimes.

Glasgow. Edinburgh. Aberdeen. Inverness. The recently-imprisoned drug kingpin in the area of the Highlands where I live was a white, fortysomething mother of two.

Do I get a donut?
posted by Cuppatea at 7:59 AM on August 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


I'd like to commend everyone for their patient and informative rebuttal of Hugh The Plumber here and also does anyone know whether it's true the violence was quelled when the police were forced to deploy their Kevin Eldon?
posted by fullerine at 8:03 AM on August 7, 2011


I have an honest question: if some Afghanis stone women, or some Christians oppress homosexuals, the individuals involved are scum and their culture abominable. If some youth in Tottenham terrorise the neighbourhood and loot shops, they are individually blameless and the culture outside of theirs is responsible. Why the difference? I find it very condescending towards said youth and poor people in general, most of which live perfectly respectable lives.
posted by Spanner Nic at 8:03 AM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sys Rq:

If all the doors are locked then society isn't showing them the way is it? Plenty of people from Tottenham have jobs - look at the rate of employed Afro-Caribbean *women* in London - far far higher than men. It's their local society that holds these drug workers back - the same group who burned buses and local businesses last night, reducing their own opportunities even further.
posted by Hugh Routley at 8:04 AM on August 7, 2011


So: tempythethird - are the poor just a bunch of animals who can't help themselves? or can they choose a better future for themselves and act accordingly? (perhaps because society shows them the way?)

Wow, Hugh is really giving us all of the old conservative chestnuts. Watch, as he nimbly pulls the time worn "liberals are the real racist/classist" card.
posted by codacorolla at 8:05 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, and yes - I do expect people to take responsibility for their own actions and their decisions. How else can you expect civilisation to improve the lot of our poorest and least privileged? If we simply assume people can't rise above their basic urges then we might as well forget trying to instill "the habit of virtue" in our society. I truly believe we can help the poorest help raise their futures. But that's impossible if they are simply animals who can't choose a better life.

So: tempythethird - are the poor just a bunch of animals who can't help themselves? or can they choose a better future for themselves and act accordingly? (perhaps because society shows them the way?)


Over the past few years I have spent time taking a closer look at the world's official poor, the bottom of the pyramid (BoP) in both urban and rural settings in parts of South East Asia, South Asia and Sub Saharan Africa.

While tempythethird has articulated way better than I, its not just a matter of "poverty" as in no money that creates this kind of hopelessness that you see in the inner cities (yes I've been on the Red Line in Chicago all the way down to the end of the South Side) - there are far more factors involved.

Systemic ones, historic ones and complicated ones.

And I can understand the sudden spurt of rage when faced with patronizing attitudes of the smug.
posted by infini at 8:05 AM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


If all the doors are locked then society isn't showing them the way is it?

Sure they are! They get a map and a shove.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:05 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


fullerine - way to go totally misreading what I've written. "...the plumber"? Like I'm some right-wing nutter? Re-read what I've written and then you can apologize for insulting me like that.
posted by Hugh Routley at 8:06 AM on August 7, 2011


Like I'm some right-wing nutter?

On a text-only Internet discussion board you are what you write.
posted by codacorolla at 8:08 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


If all the doors are locked then society isn't showing them the way is it?

This isn't the thread for this for but I finally gave up after my contract in Finland ended in January and am in transition out to find work elsewhere in the world less xenophobic.
posted by infini at 8:09 AM on August 7, 2011


Cuppatea, and don't forget Stirling. The drug kingpin in the raploch was a 60 year old granny "Big Mags. She actually had the whole New Jack City thing going with a block of flats in the estate...
posted by titus-g at 8:11 AM on August 7, 2011


Spanner Nic: Little hint - if you editorialize after it, it's not an honest question. It's a question the answer to which you already think you know. See also Hugh's job search. Good science isn't about trying to fit experimental outcomes to things you already believe.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:12 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Animals? Rising above basic urges? Man, I really don't share this Christian-ish view.

Our basic urges aren't some terrible thing that we need to rise above, and we're all animals that can "help ourselves" to varying degrees.

At my age, a lot of doors have already closed for me, that's just how things go. Luckily I'm pretty well placed.

For the poor, a lot more doors have closed than have closed for me, at an earlier point in their lives. They can help themselves, but its a lot harder for them than it is for me. Case in point: Though I'm mostly a technical guy, I decided to teach myself how to do rudimentary vector graphics work. I got myself the software, a thick book, some video tutorials, and a friend to help me along when I'm stuck. I have many friends with technical abilities, the ability to read and assimilate huge amounts of information quickly, and a great tolerance for frustration and delayed gratification. It may not sound very nice, but many poor people don't have those things, and thus will find it much harder to help themselves than I find it. Depending on the degree of their privation, they may find it impossible.

The existence of an underclass is already failure. We as a society do our best by the existing underclass (by, for example, not locking up non-violent drug offenders, and if we have to incarcerate, not doing so for punitive reasons) and try to make it so in the next generation, the underclass is significantly smaller.

Wow, where did the person go? In your theory, a person's actions are "determined" by society, upbringing, genetics, etc., and the person's agency is assumed away. That's one hell of a vanishing act.

First of all, this is not my theory, and its not even a theory. More like common knowledge. And the person is still there - the person is free to act within the bounds of the factors you mentioned. Do you really think otherwise? Then why aren't Christian homosexuals wishing themselves straight and inner-city poor willing themselves middle-class?
posted by tempythethird at 8:15 AM on August 7, 2011 [7 favorites]


I think it's entirely possible to entertain both sides of this argument. Yes, people need to be held responsible for their actions. Yes, there's more that can be done to ensure that disenfranchised neighbourhoods are given support and help.

Unfortunately, I think we need to acknowledge that Tottenham gang culture is societies fault whilst locking up the boys who perpetrated the worst of the crimes in the area. It's a paradox, but I can't see any way round it.

This isn't purely a liberal issue either. I think, for example, that it's possible to acknowledge that the current banking crisis is the fault of a corrupted system & still punish individuals who worked within that system. I doubt that there's many people would accept the "It wasn't me, it's where I live & the peer pressure that made me do it." from some pinstriped wanker who's responsible for bringing countries to their knees.

I think we can still hate Red State Republicans for their heinous attitudes towards sexuality whilst knowing that a culture of Christian indoctrination is the real enemy.

The issue here isn't that either Hugh Routley or tempeythethird is right. It's that they both may be right and it's really hard to be able to approach the subject with any degree of duality.
posted by seanyboy at 8:18 AM on August 7, 2011 [42 favorites]




Cuppatea, and don't forget Stirling. The drug kingpin in the raploch was a 60 year old granny "Big Mags. She actually had the whole New Jack City thing going with a block of flats in the estate...


Clearly, the solution to this problem is to send big mags in to sort it out.
posted by sgt.serenity at 8:19 AM on August 7, 2011


So I write about personal responsibility - that makes me conservative?
I write about local culture holding people down - and that makes me conservative?
I write about the causes of this riot being related to the illegal jobs in the area and their rejection of the police - and that makes me conservative?
I write about the locals trying to make a virtue of destructive and poisonous behaviour - and that makes me conservative?

Try re-reading my comments. I fully believe that we (those lucky enough to get out, or be born into a culture that values progressive values - like making the most of your opportunities) should say something when people create cultures that are destructive or poisonous to their own futures.

The idiocy of "Cultural Equivalence" simply dooms those trapped in shit cultures to a shit future. Whether they're born in Mogadishu, Baltimore or Tottenham High Road. Remember, four centuries ago my ancestors were born in a shit culture - and they collectively chose to change things. It's called the Enlightenment and only a racist thinks that only white people can share in the benefits that rational thought and behaviour bring to a society. Every culture in the world can take on the benefits of the Enlightenment - it's up to each group to choose.

So don't mis-read what I've said as a conservative rant - read it again and see I propose that people see Enlightenment values as the way to fix the problems in cultures. That includes taking responsibility, and asking others to do so - a progressive concept if I ever saw one.
posted by Hugh Routley at 8:19 AM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


The idiocy of "Cultural Equivalence" simply dooms those trapped in shit cultures to a shit future. Whether they're born in Mogadishu, Baltimore or Tottenham High Road. Remember, four centuries ago my ancestors were born in a shit culture - and they collectively chose to change things. It's called the Enlightenment and only a racist thinks that only white people can share in the benefits that rational thought and behaviour bring to a society. Every culture in the world can take on the benefits of the Enlightenment - it's up to each group to choose.

Dear Hugh,

We're passing the hat around so you can travel a bit and see the world.

Best,

The Unenlightened teeming masses of humanity out there
posted by infini at 8:24 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


And the Hugh Routley pileon is starting to look a bit unseemly.
posted by seanyboy at 8:27 AM on August 7, 2011 [21 favorites]


Riots are spontaneous expressions of anger and frustration that are usually based not so much on one specific event, and its exact details, but rather on a general feeling, held by the rioters, of oppression or mistreatment at the hands of government, the upper classes, etc.

Riots should, realistically, be seen as a natural part of the cycle of poverty and abuse in the same way that layoffs, environmental abuse, and ripping off consumers are all just driven by the "invisible hand" of capitalism.


Vancouver will be pleased to know these things.
posted by shii at 8:29 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


First of all, this is not my theory, and its not even a theory. More like common knowledge.

Be careful of common knowledge. It's often wrong. A little learning is a dangerous thing, etc.

And the person is still there - the person is free to act within the bounds of the factors you mentioned.

First of all, that's not what the word "determined" means. Second of all, I think your theory is hopelessly muddled: what does it even mean for a person to be free to act within the bounds of "a vast and unknowable set of factors?" I think you're papering over some deep contradictions there by declining to examine your assumptions and their implications more closely.

Then why aren't Christian homosexuals wishing themselves straight and inner-city poor willing themselves middle-class?

The latter, at least, happens routinely. I'm not going to touch the whole "Christian homosexuals" debate with a ten foot pole right now.
posted by gd779 at 8:29 AM on August 7, 2011


The Enlightenment! Why didn't I think of that? 18th century solutions for 21st century problems.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:29 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


infini - do you know what The Enlightenment means? The link goes to a Wikipedia entry, but it's a pretty good starter.
posted by Hugh Routley at 8:29 AM on August 7, 2011


It's a question the answer to which you already think you know
It's a question to which my instinctive answer can be easily changed by a reasonable argument, because it doesn't have a sound base, and which you have answered by aggressive and smug vagueness. So, so far, no change. Please consider that self-righteousness tends to turn people away from your position, if I may say so.
posted by Spanner Nic at 8:30 AM on August 7, 2011


running order squabble fest: so being rational is somehow invalid because it wasn't invented this week? Looking at, and working out ways to solve the problems of society by helping the poorest achieve a future is somehow invalid?
posted by Hugh Routley at 8:31 AM on August 7, 2011


infini - do you know what The Enlightenment means? The link goes to a Wikipedia entry, but it's a pretty good starter.

Not really, I hid when the missionaries came over. And yes, I'm outta here now. Time for a walk.
posted by infini at 8:33 AM on August 7, 2011


And the Hugh Routley pileon is starting to look a bit unseemly.
He seems to be enjoying it your honour. Must be the purity of his reason.
posted by fullerine at 8:35 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


infini - so, from your flippant comment, you *really don't* know what The Enlightenment means.
posted by Hugh Routley at 8:36 AM on August 7, 2011


Oops, I was aiming for snark, but it looks like we've already descended into straw men and name calling by this stage. I'll have to come back when the thread boils down to a few diehards declaring victory.
posted by shii at 8:40 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Spanner Nic. I don't think you can have aggressive vagueness. If you want to ask an honest question, we can help you with that, but it involves abandoning prejudices, and not getting defensive.

So, start from there. Your not-honest question was:

If some Afghanis stone women, or some Christians oppress homosexuals, the individuals involved are scum and their culture abominable. If some youth in Tottenham terrorise the neighbourhood and loot shops, they are individually blameless and the culture outside of theirs is responsible. Why the difference?

First up, find someone who has said that in this thread. Give us a shout when you've done that.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:41 AM on August 7, 2011


I write about local culture holding people down - and that makes me conservative?

That's actually kind of interesting. You smack of conservatism to me because of a trait that I have a hard time pinpointing precisely, but I'll give it a shot.

I don't truly understand the connection but conservatism seems to have a dislike for systemic thinking. My own views don't deny the individual agency, and I don't think that criminals should be forgiven because they are not in control of their actions. But at the same time, I acknowledge that acting at the individual level does not solve societal problems, its merely maintenance. If we hope to make any positive change, we have to work at a systems level, not an individual level. But many conservatives (with the US exception of David Brooks and other Atlantic Magazine-type writers) enlarge the individual perspective to the degree that it completely overshadows the systemic perspective. And thus they rob themselves of the only true way to solve these problems (and label it "social engineering" in the process.) I think seanyboy is thinking along the same lines.

The idiocy of "Cultural Equivalence" simply dooms those trapped in shit cultures to a shit future.

I don't know if you're talking to me, but I'm on your side here, and I am definitely no cultural relativist. (My parents culture is aggressive, chauvinist, and blinkered - I want nothing to do with it and admit that freely.) I just think that no shitty culture has ever ceased to exist by being yelled at from the outside, or while the things that caused the culture to form in the first place are still in existence. Fix structural issues, and people who you have successfully saved from said culture will usually return and use their legitimacy to help further disassemble the culture. I believe this works well to diffuse gang warfare.
posted by tempythethird at 8:41 AM on August 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


Give 'us' a shout? To you and what clique? Is this high school? Are you trying to be popular, or promote your way of thinking? Look at how seanyboy and tempythethird argue persuasively. All you are doing is convincing me reactively that Thatcher was a half-goddess and feudality must be reinstated right now, just because you can't find the patronisation-off button in yourself.
posted by Spanner Nic at 9:00 AM on August 7, 2011


In a little more news, police in Enfield Town have apparently been advising shopkeepers to lock up early this afternoon and go home in case there's any repeat of last night further afield in North London. (Enfield's about 4 miles from Tottenham, in case you were wondering.) Looking so far like it was unnecessary - I live very near the town centre and can't hear a thing, so either there's no-one here or they're very quiet rioters.
posted by ZsigE at 9:07 AM on August 7, 2011


I have watched friend after friend fuck about all their lives. And then complain because it's someone else's fault. I have lost my job several times, picked myself up and got another one. My most recent job came after 400 job applications. So it's not easy, it requires effort.

But please, don't claim I'm being glib just because I say you can do something if you work at it.
posted by Hugh Routley


I very much appreciate being able to see this through your eyes, and I certainly don't think you're being merely glib.

But I do think you are blinding yourself to the fact that you have succeeded only because your friends have failed.

If they had all worked as hard as you, you would be unemployed and hopeless instead of one of them.

If there are 1000 people and 100 jobs, nine hundred people will be unemployed and desperate no matter how hard they work at getting a job, and not because there's anything wrong with them.

The only proper attitude toward your failed compatriots is gratitude, and the less effort they made, the deeper your gratitude should be.
posted by jamjam at 9:10 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


If the riots are anything like we get in Belfast, then I'd not be surprised to see it kick off again once it gets dark, especially if the weather is reasonable. I'd also expect violence tonight, if there is any, to be focused on police lines rather than buildings.
posted by knapah at 9:12 AM on August 7, 2011


"Us" is an idiomatic British term for the single person direct object, Spanner Nic - as in "give us a bell" (call me on the telephone) or "give us some chips" (give me some fries). I assumed from your Britishisms that you knew that.

But I can't be responsible for your feelings of persecution. I'm just trying to help you to achieve what you state as your objectives.

So, you've provided a postulate and a question:

If some Afghanis stone women, or some Christians oppress homosexuals, the individuals involved are scum and their culture abominable. If some youth in Tottenham terrorise the neighbourhood and loot shops, they are individually blameless and the culture outside of theirs is responsible. Why the difference?

It's become clear that this is not actually your postulate, however - which is why it was not an honest question. Your postulate is:

According to the people with whom I disagree, if some Afghanis stone women, or some Christians oppress homosexuals, the individuals involved are scum and their culture abominable. But also according to those people, if some youth in Tottenham terrorise the neighbourhood and loot shops, they are individually blameless and the culture outside of theirs is responsible. It is inconsistent or hypocritical to hold these views together.

So, the first step is to test the postulate that this is what people with whom you disagree actually say. And the first step of that is to see whether this is a viewpoint expressed by anyone in this thread, or whether you are assuming that people in this thread hold these views based on your prejudices (or, if you prefer, prior experimentation). And the easiest way to establish that is to see whether there is any such pair of beliefs expressed by a person in the thread.

I guess the next step would be to find a test set of people who hold belief B ("if some youth in Tottenham terrorise the neighbourhood and loot shops, they are individually blameless and the culture outside of theirs is responsible") and see if they also hold belief A ("if some Afghanis stone women, or some Christians oppress homosexuals, the individuals involved are scum and their culture abominable"). Once you'd done that, you could look at the question of what the difference between these two beliefs is. But right now you haven't even done the fieldwork to establish that these are in fact beliefs held in those forms by people.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:14 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


jamjam - isn't that zero-sum thinking? If 1000 people work hard and personally-smart (both behaving in a non-toxic way and encouraging others to do the same through social pressure), then doesn't that mean there are going to be loads of new small businesses, jobs, small-scale innovation - and that means more than 100 jobs?

Surely the wealthy areas of the UK are not pre-ordained?
posted by Hugh Routley at 9:17 AM on August 7, 2011


conservatism seems to have a dislike for systemic thinking.

Forgive me, but you seem to have a mental model of the world where the left has a scientifically-valid, well-thought-out plan, and the right is a bunch of aged loons. May I suggest that this is both complete bollocks and breath-takingly patronising?

Policy is hard. Some right-wing policies work well (free market economics) and some work badly (free market economics). Some left-wing policies work well (economic planning) and some work badly (economic planning). And yes, my examples are deliberate. The world is big and complex.

You've been positive and proposed a policy of tackling low youth employment and drug use by put them in nature, challenge them, give them sources of self esteem, introduce them to new interests, give them outlets for their passions and talents, Great. I'm going to assume that's "systemic thinking"? OK, where are the studies? The successful implementations? The wide-spread use? The evidence of cultural change? The science? Let's go there. Where's your systemic thinking?

Because, you know, the right thinks the left has a dislike for systemic thinking too - it would probably call it a lack of realism. Is that right? No, of course not. But neither is it right to criticise right-wingers as somehow lacking in analysis and thought. Silly name-calling is not helpful. Social policy is hard.
posted by alasdair at 9:22 AM on August 7, 2011 [26 favorites]


This might be useful to the people reading this thread: Wicked Problems

As always, it's smart thinking on MeFi's own cstross' diary, but this time by guest Karl Schroeder (another truly excellent author).
posted by Hugh Routley at 9:25 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


But I do think you are blinding yourself to the fact that you have succeeded only because your friends have failed.

If they had all worked as hard as you, you would be unemployed and hopeless instead of one of them.

If there are 1000 people and 100 jobs, nine hundred people will be unemployed and desperate no matter how hard they work at getting a job, and not because there's anything wrong with them.


What, there are only a certain number of jobs out there? Are jobs a natural resource that can be depleted? Are we approaching peak jobs?

The question is not jobs, it's productivity. If a person is sufficiently productive, then eventually he or she can find a way to get paid for that productivity. Having money in one's pocket makes one a consumer, thus generating a job for someone else. It's a virtuous cycle. The problem here isn't the lack of jobs, it's the inability or unwillingness of certain people to adapt themselves for the jobs that are available. (NB: This does not imply that the jobs that are available are "good" jobs or jobs that a middle class person in the developed world would aspire too.)
posted by gd779 at 9:26 AM on August 7, 2011


Most Met officers are not from the areas they police; most are white and working class.

this always strikes me as the problem with any police force. Its a lot easier to trust people who are like you.
posted by JPD at 9:30 AM on August 7, 2011


The question is not jobs, it's productivity. If a person is sufficiently productive, then eventually he or she can find a way to get paid for that productivity.

The corner boys (or whatever the local term is) in Tottenham are doing this. They're just doing it in a way that society disapproves of (not without reason).
posted by rtha at 9:33 AM on August 7, 2011


Back on topic, the Guardian is suggesting that the flashpoint of the Duggan demonstration becoming violent may have come when a teenaged girl threw an object at the police line and was attacked by police.

This picture of the burned-out shell of a London bus is pretty sobering. That's some pretty remarkable property damage, right there. It's an interesting contrast to the student protests in the centre of London earlier this year, when students caught in kettles made bonfires allegedly to warm themselves, and police charged allegedly to prevent destruction of public property by fire. If nothing else, this demonstrates perhaps what those student protesters could have done if they had been intent on causing real damage.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:34 AM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


Sorry to veer off-topic, but are those round over-sized buckler-looking riot shields standard UK riot shields? Most other places have the rectangular curved plexiglass shields that more resemble the ancient Roman ones...
posted by porpoise at 9:37 AM on August 7, 2011


First of all, that's not what the word "determined" means. Second of all, I think your theory is hopelessly muddled: what does it even mean for a person to be free to act within the bounds of "a vast and unknowable set of factors?" I think you're papering over some deep contradictions there by declining to examine your assumptions and their implications more closely.

Right you are, "determined" is the wrong word and I used a loaded word sloppily. Here, I'll rewrite:

"The range of a person's possible action is bounded by a vast and unknowable set of factors, from the neurochemical to the socioeconomic."

And, stated as such, I don't see much of a contradiction. A person has freedom as long as the action falls within the confines set up by biological and societal boundaries.

Forgive me, but you seem to have a mental model of the world where the left has a scientifically-valid, well-thought-out plan, and the right is a bunch of aged loons. May I suggest that this is both complete bollocks and breath-takingly patronising?

One can never qualify enough. I guess I was talking about the sort of right that in the US claims public transport is "social engineering" and thinks that social policy is so unintended-consequence-prone that it shouldn't even be attempted.

But anyway - "the left" is generally full of ideas - from using the tax system to orient economies toward more sustainable energy use, to everything and anything connected to land use and urbanism (which includes transport, innovative farming, mixed-use zoning, walkable communities), all sorts of experiments with the health system (see Atul Gawande's writing in the New Yorker).

On domestic policy, the right in the US these days has ideas only if an issue can be spun in a way to favor privatization. Otherwise, it doesn't seem to care at all. Education? Vouchers. Health-care? Vouchers and savings accounts. Pretty much anything else? Is it regulated? Deregulate. Is it already deregulated? Then what's the problem? As long as you're challenging me to produce citations (sorry, I have a day job), I'll give you a challenge too - show me any innovative proposals from the right that don't boil down to privatization and dismantling state authority.

Of course, I'm talking specifically about the US here, and have already excluded the Atlantic set.
posted by tempythethird at 9:37 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


porpoise - the round shields are in all patrol cars, used for all kinds of confrontations (usually entering homes after known-domestic-violence calls). They are much lighter than the full shields that tend to arrive along with the TSG (Tactical Support Group - e.g. hard lads in full riot gear who beat news vendors to death).

In a riot, it'll usually be more senior cops with the round shields, as well as supporting roles such as "snatch squads" (rush in, grab a specific person, run back to the TSG lines). The TSG stand their ground in full riot garb.
posted by Hugh Routley at 9:44 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's the Territorial Support Group, not the Tactical Support Group. Just for clarity.
posted by knapah at 9:53 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Heard this program on Radio4 a few weeks back. It's focus is on the Brixton riots of '81, but I thought it gave a very good insight into how something like this gets started.

I'm not likening the two, just thought it was interesting!

Disclaimer : BBC radio link - UK ears only...
posted by ivorbuk at 9:56 AM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


a 15-mile radius is a ludicrous distance. London isn't Los Angeles - people don't generally travel 15 miles to get to entry-level jobs in retail. And, although the London Underground (subway) is a marvel, once you are making two or three changes the time cost does mount up. His 15-mile radius covers a huge and densely-populated area, in which 232 jobs is a minuscule number.

I don't think this is so ludicrous. The middle of Los Angeles to Pasadena is about 16 miles, and it's easy to imagine an entry-level retail job seeker traveling from poor inner-city LA to rich Pasadena's Old Town shopping distract ( I know both places fairly well) . LA to Pasadena's public transport connections are fairly good, but this is unusual for LA. Many places within a 16 mile radius of LA centre which would be much harder for a public transport user to get to. LA public transport much much more limited in reach and frequency than London (although also significantly cheaper), although many people can't afford to drive regularly and buses and trains are crowded during rush hours. Almost everyone on LA public transport is working class compared to much greater class diversity you see on e.g. NYC and London public transport.

Potters Bar (for instance - just picking this one out at random. I don't know the area but I do know London pretty well), a higher income commuter belt suburb, is about 16 miles from the middle of London. Even though it's substantially smaller than Pasadena (which is a proper little city), the public transport link between Potters Bar and the middle of London is at a similar level (but a bit more expensive like London living costs in general). But it's also plugged into the much denser wider London transport network. So there are a lot more people in the reasonable commute catchment area for inner London to Potters Bar than inner LA to Pasadena.
posted by Bwithh at 10:00 AM on August 7, 2011


Thanks knapah - stupid error.
posted by Hugh Routley at 10:02 AM on August 7, 2011


Watching Twitter explode with rumours is at the same time hilarious and sad. "Enfield Town" has started trending in the UK, and to judge by updates from that search you'd think that every major shop in the town centre is on fire, there are gangs roaming the streets, and that Armageddon is basically upon us. What has actually happened (I wandered into town and had a chat with a friendly policeman) is that there were a few minor disturbances earlier, and since then the police have closed down the main shopping centre and have brought in a couple of riot vans just in case. There were two choppers circling overhead earlier, but they've now gone, and all is once again peace and quiet. It's a very provincial English kind of disturbance.
posted by ZsigE at 10:04 AM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


Heard this program on Radio4 a few weeks back. It's focus is on the Brixton riots of '81, but I thought it gave a very good insight into how something like this gets started.

I'm not likening the two, just thought it was interesting!

Disclaimer : BBC radio link - UK ears only...


not just UK ears only - BBC radio links are generally freely listenable outside the UK. I'm in the US and can play this fine on my US internet link without any proxy or anything.
posted by Bwithh at 10:08 AM on August 7, 2011


Unfortunately, I think we need to acknowledge that Tottenham gang culture is societies fault whilst locking up the boys who perpetrated the worst of the crimes in the area. It's a paradox

I don't think it is. It's perfectly logical to hold people responsible for their own actions while acknowledging they exist within a system which makes those actions more or less likely. It's the basis of justice.

It's the same as acknowledging that individuals are genetically more likely to be, say, violent, while still holding them accountable for the crimes they commit.

The idea that the people who look at incidents like this in the context of wider economic and social pressures want to give criminals a pass is a straw man argument. We're just saying you need to find the cause if you want to cure the symptoms.
posted by Summer at 10:08 AM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Unemployment in London and elsewhere in the U.K.

If you're a young man in Hull, or in certain parts of South Wales you're more than twenty minutes from the nearest job (It's no more than twenty minutes on the tube from Tottenham Hale to Oxford Circus) but there may not be a sufficient concentration of disaffected or criminal elements to start a riot, I don't know. Tottenham isn't really that poor either, in London terms, there are areas of Tower Hamlets and Newham that are significantly poorer. Are the police in N17 significantly more insensitive than anywhere else in London? What Tottenham does have is a lot of kids with guns and knives, but then so does Peckham. Maybe a kind of typology is at work. It happens because it has happened before, and happened here before.
posted by tigrefacile at 10:10 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


not just UK ears only - BBC radio links are generally freely listenable outside the UK. I'm in the US and can play this fine on my US internet link without any proxy or anything.

This is a new developmet. It used to be that BBC iPlayer was only available for UK IP users, and even then was restricted for a lot of proxies. Bravo on them for opening up themselves to the world.
posted by hippybear at 10:12 AM on August 7, 2011


I'm sure there are lots of different factors at play tigrefacile. Peckham has quite a strong family/community feel to it which I never noticed when I lived north. I've never been scared in Peckham. I was frequently scared when I lived in Finsbury Park.
posted by Summer at 10:14 AM on August 7, 2011


This is a new developmet. It used to be that BBC iPlayer was only available for UK IP users, and even then was restricted for a lot of proxies. Bravo on them for opening up themselves to the world.

I've been listening to BBC radio iplayer links for at least the last 2 years, I think. *Video* iplayer is still restricted to the UK, for political-economy-of-BBC-funding-issues and also now international-pay-version-of-video-iPlayer-launching-soon-so-please-use-that-non-UK-residents.
posted by Bwithh at 10:17 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wasn't dissing Peckham (much nicer than Lewisham, say) but there does seem to be a gang problem there, as there is in Croydon, Tottenham and Harlesden. There may well be Bengali gangs in Whitechapel or Portuguese gangs in Stockwell but they don't make it into the papers enough for me to have registered their activities.
posted by tigrefacile at 10:31 AM on August 7, 2011


Okay fair enough. How many unemployed people can drop £4 repeatedly for job interviews and such?

If you're on the dole the job centre pays your travel expenses for interviews. The trouble isn't in being able to get across London for an interview, though. The trouble is that there are no jobs.
posted by dng at 10:38 AM on August 7, 2011


If you're on the dole the job centre pays your travel expenses for interviews.

A tiny but very significant example of how these things are so much better in the UK than in the US. Here, if you're lucky enough to be getting unemployment during your time of joblessness, you're on your own as far as getting around goes, even to job interviews. (And unemployment compensation in the US averages under $300/week and is limited to 99 weeks.)
posted by hippybear at 10:41 AM on August 7, 2011


Three separate fleets of assorted emergency vehicles just piled north up our road, sirens going. Either something requiring a dozen police vans, three ambulances and a fire engine just happened north of Kentish Town, or they're preparing for another go tonight.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:42 AM on August 7, 2011


tigerfacile: Well in all those other places you mention no one was shot by the police, neither were 16 year-old girls who tried to protest, met with riot police truncheons.

In this case there was a trigger to turn the pre-existing socio-economic tension into blind, violent rage.

It's obvious that there are not enough entry level jobs to go around as discussed above. Unemployment (at these levels, certainly) is a systemic failure, not a personal shortcoming. Austerity and the high unemployment it entails, destroys the fabric of societies better than a crack epidemic.

And really, with youth unemployment this high and the austerity cuts going on, you should expect much more of this (not just the UK, Europe as a whole - and now the US).
posted by talos at 10:43 AM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bwitth: Potters Bar (for instance - just picking this one out at random. I don't know the area but I do know London pretty well), a higher income commuter belt suburb, is about 16 miles from the middle of London.

I think I get your point, but I confess I was assuming that the LA entry-level retail worker would have a car, if not a very nice one. I was thinking that in my experience of LA people seem much happier to drive what would seem long distances for Londoners to get to things. So, I was actually thinking of driving 15 miles to get to an entry-level retail job in LA, rather than taking public transport.

On riot shield usage - the Territorial Support Group is the Met's full-time PSU (public support unit) and is made up of officers at Level 2 or Level 1 public order training levels. They are trained to carry and run with long shields, but it's a lot easier to manoeuvre a short shield if you're body-to-body. The long AM2 shields (the "National shield") are used when there's a risk in particular of petrol bombs being thrown, to guard against splash damage.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:47 AM on August 7, 2011


Oh and big laughs to whoever said above that with enough application and hard work they might even be able to afford a nice house. After 20 years of solidly middle class, averagely and lately above averagely paid responsible labour, I'm still nowhere near to even approaching being able to buy a house in London or its environs.
posted by Summer at 10:48 AM on August 7, 2011 [10 favorites]


Just to repeat the point though - these guys *are* employed. (a lot of this discussion has been about how they could have avoided the drug trade, but didn't, for a variety of reasons).

They work for the dealers (driving past twice a day in their Cadillac Escalade so they can properly look like *american* dealers who are glamorous for some reason)

My honest opinion (ignoring the self-serving and lying "community leaders" - just like home in Derry) is that this is purely getting back at the people who disrupt their jobs - the police, council and others in authority.

When you earn £50 a day for a 14 to 18 hour day, being hassled by the police really has a big impact. Plus the cops hassle *every* local lad of the requisite age and dress because they don't know who has a job in the trade.

That easily accounts for the 300-500 people the police are counting.
posted by Hugh Routley at 10:51 AM on August 7, 2011


Sandra Laville, the Guardian's crime correspondent, reports that reinforcements from Thames Valley, Essex, Surrey, City of London and Kent police forces have been called in tonight to prevent a repeat of the violence.Guardian live blog.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:51 AM on August 7, 2011


Summer -

I didn't say house, I said home. I've given up the idea of owning a house in the South-East.
posted by Hugh Routley at 10:52 AM on August 7, 2011


Hugh Routley writes:

Decani - your profile lists your job as a train driver. That's a pretty specialist job. I can totally understand how you would struggle to get a new job in the same role.

I'm a trainee. Brand new start. I'd spent 28 years in IT, hating every second of it, so I was looking for anything - and I do mean anything - that didn't involve desks, computers, or loathsome fuckers in suits using the word "leverage" as a verb.

Yes, you could say my age and the fact that I was rejecting my past experience counted against me. Of course it did. But one thing you learn when unemployed for a significant length of time is what the job market is really like - you know, outside of the Daily Mail and Express op-ed pages. And I learned that it was tough as hell, and not just for people in my rather peculiar position. I saw, and talked to, a lot of the same people at the job centre every fortnight and they were not wasters. They were jamming in anywhere between 10 and 200 job apps per week. And getting nowhere.

Me? I'm a smart guy with an IQ that wavers between 160 and 170-odd (depending on how much Laphroaig I've necked). I have a degree in physics and astrophysics, the aforementioned 28 years of IT/business experience, a fit and strong body, a quick brain and an articulate mouth, no neuroses, no allergies and no problem with doing any damned job at all for any salary greater than 10K sterling.

And jobs, they did not flow. And that was for someone like me. The people I got to know down at the Labour, who has shitty or no qualifications and experience so patchy their CVs looked skewbald? They were fucked, mate. Fucked.

Seriously: Do you think you could have got a minimum wage job in a shop?

No. I tried. I was "over-qualified"

(I'm guessing you didn't *want* one - you would have worked hard to get where you are).

You're guessing wrong. I would have taken such a job.

I'm talking about the young lads in Tottenham who have a choice - work hard and travel away to get a job, or fuck about and end up earning *less* working for the drug dealerships. The culture of the local people needs to change to force these lads to see that they are wrecking not only their lives but the mothers and sisters they live with.


And you are confident that this description describes the rioters to a tee, are you? It must be quite pleasant to be so sure of how violent disorder happens. Especially so soon after the event.

Have you walked through Tottenham on a regular basis?

Yes. I have lived in London since 1980, and I am very familiar with Tottenham.

I don't know how anyone can disagree with this...

I would suggest that this inability to understand disagreement with your worldview might be something you want to look at.
posted by Decani at 10:55 AM on August 7, 2011 [45 favorites]


Where does the £50 a day figure come from, anyway? That is a particularly specific amount of money for an illicit employment which I assume the person who keeps stating it isn't involved with.
posted by hippybear at 10:56 AM on August 7, 2011


Just to repeat the point though - these guys *are* employed.

They work for the dealers


...

Plus the cops hassle *every* local lad of the requisite age and dress because they don't know who has a job in the trade.

That easily accounts for the 300-500 people the police are counting


They're all drug dealers, except for the ones that aren't, which is most of them, presumably.
posted by dng at 11:03 AM on August 7, 2011


I have a bit of a house, but no garden. Just as well, really, because barring a lottery win by the time I've paid for it I'll be too old for weeding.
posted by tigrefacile at 11:08 AM on August 7, 2011


Court gives woman go-ahead to take controversial section 60 to task over allegations it discriminates against black people:
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.

talos's link -- 'There will be riots over youth club closures':
Others worry that a perfect storm of unemployment, the withdrawal of the Education Maintenance Allowance and a squeeze on programmes to help disadvantaged youths could bring more than just a rise in crime figures and result in a "lost generation".

"The young people in Tottenham, they are not so much a community within a community, they are a community beyond the community, with their own rules, their own codes, their own hierarchy," said Symeon Brown, 22, who helped run a campaign to prevent the cuts in Haringey. "How do you create a ghetto? By taking away the very services that people depend upon to live, to better themselves."
posted by catchingsignals at 11:09 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


The outgoing Labour government may have been financially reckless, I don't know enough to say, really. But the EMA seemed like money well spent to me. I suspect its withdrawal was a matter of dogma rather than accounting. But again, Tottenham is hardly about to become a ghetto.
posted by tigrefacile at 11:17 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


Initial ballistics tests on the bullet that lodged in a police officer's radio when Mark Duggan died on Thursday night show it was a police issue bullet.

The revelation will fuel the fury in tottenham about the killing of Mark Duggan by armed officers. It also undermines suggestions that there was an exchange of fire between Duggan and the police before he died.

The bullet which was found lodged in the radio of one of the officers at the scene is still undergoing forensic tests. But reliable sources have said the first ballistics examinations suggested it was a police issue bullet.

These are very distinct as the Metropolitan Police uses dum dum type hollowed out bullets designed not to pass through an object.

The early suggestion from the IPCC was that the Met officers had returned fire after someone in the minicab opened fire. But the result of the ballistics early test suggests both shots fired came from the police.

posted by dng at 11:46 AM on August 7, 2011 [15 favorites]


Wings over Sealand: When there's no future how can there be sin:
The poor have nobody to vote for. Nobody speaks for them in the halls of democracy. Their futures have been sold out from under them in the form of a crippling debt burden, PFI bills and unaffordable education (whether through tuition fees or the loss of EMAs). They have no reason to believe in a better tomorrow, and no means to influence it. They've been left to rot, and vilified as feckless scroungers into the bargain. Before you condemn them, answer this question: what do they have left but bottles and stones?
posted by talos at 11:47 AM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


From the article on Section 60, above:

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.

OK, obviously this is really bad, but is there anything more lolworthy than being threatened with arrest for not attending a treatment program for a drug you don't take?

"Well, miss, that's as may be, but if you aren't addicted to crack in time to be treated for your addiction next Wednesday, I think you'll find things will not go well for you."

Epic lulz.
posted by running order squabble fest at 12:04 PM on August 7, 2011


Initial ballistics tests on the bullet that lodged in a police officer's radio when Mark Duggan died on Thursday night show it was a police issue bullet.


It's one thing to suspect that the police and media lie to the public but it's a(depressing)nother thing to have it confirmed.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:05 PM on August 7, 2011


Yeah, with that revelation out there I can't see this going to good places.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:06 PM on August 7, 2011


The original 'magic bullet' story.
posted by Summer at 12:07 PM on August 7, 2011


But seriously, has nothing changed in the way the police deal with 'facts' after Stockwell?
posted by Summer at 12:08 PM on August 7, 2011


"It's a fucking girl!"
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:10 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


OK, obviously this is really bad, but is there anything more lolworthy than being threatened with arrest for not attending a treatment program for a drug you don't take?

It's not very lolworthy when you are told you are just in denial for the 10,000th time.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 12:11 PM on August 7, 2011


Yeah, with that revelation out there I can't see this going to good places.

Because what this horrible weekend definitely needed was fuel for the flames in Tottenham, Wood Green, and now Enfield.

(Excuse the negative tone, the riots have really got to me)
posted by ellieBOA at 12:11 PM on August 7, 2011


This isn't the thread for this for but I finally gave up after my contract in Finland ended in January and am in transition out to find work elsewhere in the world less xenophobic.

what a load of self serving bullshit. Really, Finland is xenophobic? How so? how about Burma or india or russia. and here is my smack down when i labeled a people xenophobic, perhaps you could learn from it.

and to the person about ski masks. Rull'y, so them criminals who hide there faces are some how obsolved of thier crimes. Ski masks help protect against chaffing and spit, plus some of those people might be undercover.
posted by clavdivs at 12:16 PM on August 7, 2011


Really, Finland is xenophobic? How so? how about Burma or india or russia.

Yes, maybe, probably, and yes. I don't think anyone was suggesting that Finland is the only xenophobic place in the world, or that it is the most xenophobic, or that it is completely xenophobic--only that there are other places that are less so with regard to the backroud of the person making the comment.

It's not a controversial statement; furthermore, it appears to have come from personal experience, whereas your nonsequitur re: Burma apparently came from nowhere.

/derail
posted by Sys Rq at 12:27 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


"backroud"=background
posted by Sys Rq at 12:28 PM on August 7, 2011


ArmyOfKittens' link looks pretty damning. Streets empty, twilight, a group of policemen and a slight figure being tossed around. There are already people moving into shot ready to go. Not good.
posted by tigrefacile at 12:32 PM on August 7, 2011


It's one thing to suspect that the police and media lie to the public but it's a(depressing)nother thing to have it confirmed.

Let's stop assuming the police are on our side

---

Some reactions from people living in the area

Tottenham is not a bad place full of bad people
posted by catchingsignals at 12:34 PM on August 7, 2011


Decani - Absolutely Brilliant (!) explanation there - thank you! I'm currently in a very similar situation to yours and have experienced much the same. You really have to be in that position to understand it don't you?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:39 PM on August 7, 2011


It's the Territorial Support Group, not the Tactical Support Group. Just for clarity.

It's the Special Patrol Group, not the Territorial Support Group. Just for clarity.
posted by Jehan at 12:41 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's depressing to have to say this but if unnamed "police sources" comment on something shortly after an event it's FUD, assume the opposite.

Also, The Met are a law unto themselves and the strongest argument against a national police force I know of.
posted by fullerine at 12:44 PM on August 7, 2011 [3 favorites]


clavdivs: Ski masks help protect against chaffing and spit, plus some of those people might be undercover.

Then mental contortions that people go through to justify their warped image of the world never fail to amaze me. Ski masks are not for "chaffing and spit". They are for thugs and if your police force is out wearing them then they too are thugs.

I strongly suggest that you wear a ski mask the next time you go into your local bank and when your local masked thug force is pounding your deluded backside into the ground I want you to explain to them how it's all about the chaffing.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 12:46 PM on August 7, 2011 [6 favorites]


Enfield Town:

"Serious clashes now in #Enfield. Around 200 teens broke into jewellery store. Police dogs and baton attacks. Sustained and chaotic baton charges by police with dogs. Around 20 dog handlers. Police reacted in less than a minute to jewellery store being ransacked. Bystanders and press were struck with batons."
posted by catchingsignals at 12:58 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yep, think the Enfield situation is getting worse. Police chopper has just flown back in, and I'm starting to hear yelling off in the distance. Staying firmly inside for the night...
posted by ZsigE at 1:06 PM on August 7, 2011


Just saw a load of police in cars and vans heading south along the A10, followed by 5 ambulances. Presumably heading towards tonight's festivities.
posted by Hugh Routley at 1:10 PM on August 7, 2011


Pictures on BBC news live now - police cars being smashed up, "100+ youths" causing disturbance.
posted by Hugh Routley at 1:12 PM on August 7, 2011


Let's stop assuming the police are on our side

What can you do when you give up on the police force? (not a rhetorical question).
posted by ellieBOA at 1:15 PM on August 7, 2011


Jehan - the Special Patrol Group were disbanded in 1987. They were replaced by the Territorial Support Group.
posted by Hugh Routley at 1:16 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


What can you do when you give up on the police force? (not a rhetorical question).

You try and stay out of their way as much as you can.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:19 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


What can you do when you give up on the police force?

While I don't have an answer to this question... I'd say that anyone who has assumed "the cops are your friends" has been living in a programmed bubble who needs to have their illusions burst.

Maybe that's different in the UK from in the US, but the idea of the police as an occupying army has been present in US culture for decades. (Not the bits of US culture my parents participate in, but pretty much anyone who has their eyes open, anyway.)
posted by hippybear at 1:19 PM on August 7, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd say that anyone who has assumed "the cops are your friends" has been living in a programmed bubble who needs to have their illusions burst.

Happily not that naive, but maybe naive enough to hope that measures exist to 'police the police', working better than the IPCC?
posted by ellieBOA at 1:24 PM on August 7, 2011


What can you do when you give up on the police force? (not a rhetorical question).
posted by ellieBOA at 9:15 PM on August 7


Riot.

And then, hopefully, work to install a better police force. The Met are shits. They're corrupt, jaded, racist, violent, lying bastards. I speak from personal experience, anecdotal experience and actual recorded evidence. They're an awful force, the only surprising thing about this rioting is that it took so long to kick off.
posted by Decani at 1:27 PM on August 7, 2011


Some photos from Enfield.

And then, hopefully, work to install a better police force.

What are concrete steps a person could take to do this? (not meaning to turn this into AskMefi!)
posted by ellieBOA at 1:31 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


What are concrete steps a person could take to do this? (not meaning to turn this into AskMefi!)
posted by ellieBOA at 9:31 PM on August 7


I wish I knew. I really do. But by golly I'll support anyone who comes up with some.
posted by Decani at 1:35 PM on August 7, 2011


Paul Lewis, whose twitter was linked to earlier, has summarised the Tottenham and Wood Green riots well for the Guardian.
posted by ellieBOA at 1:42 PM on August 7, 2011


Meaningless anecdote: in my new train driver job, one of my fellow-trainees is an ex-Met cop. So far he has repeatedly referred to gypsies as "Do As We Likies" (rhymes with "Pikies", ha ha) and called us "right-on cunts" for not laughing; consistently referred to the gay man and woman in the class as "the twinks"; regaled us with sexist and racist jokes on a daily basis (and yet, mysteriously, been vastly unimpressed by the anti-police joke I threw back at him); told us proudly about how he perjured himself in court in order to get a guy convicted for an assault he didn't commit, just because this guy got into a fight with his brother at school; told us about how he punched a woman during a drug bust because "she was being a gobshite"; referred to the G20 protesters as "the vermin"... and a lot of other things I don't particularly care to recall.

It doesn't exactly encourage me to re-assess my view of the Met, I must say.
posted by Decani at 1:47 PM on August 7, 2011 [17 favorites]


Police under attack as London burns: Doubts emerge over fatal shooting of Mark Duggan, which sparked two days of rioting
posted by homunculus at 1:55 PM on August 7, 2011


The sad truth behind London riot
posted by homunculus at 1:56 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the twitter feed of a Times journalist called Billy Kenber who is tweeting from Enfield at the moment.
posted by ellieBOA at 1:58 PM on August 7, 2011


The sad truth behind London riot

Is rioting the correct way to express your discontent?

"Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?

posted by ellieBOA at 2:01 PM on August 7, 2011 [27 favorites]


Meaningless anecdote: you're right, it is meaningless. Honestly, talk about playing to the crowd.

I met a - insert your bogeygroup of choice - man the other day. Didn't like him. They're probably all like that.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:51 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hugh Routley:
So I write about personal responsibility - that makes me conservative?
I write about local culture holding people down - and that makes me conservative?
I write about the causes of this riot being related to the illegal jobs in the area and their rejection of the police - and that makes me conservative?
I write about the locals trying to make a virtue of destructive and poisonous behaviour - and that makes me conservative?


Sorry, I'm jumping on this point really late, but this has been bothering me reading over the thread.

You write in such a way as to create an "other" out of the disenfranchised poor, to cast them all as a criminal underclass, to deny that they have any legitimate socio-economic issues beyond laziness and an antisocial attitude. This is what makes you fundamentally a conservative. Hope that helps.

By the way, the idea that leftists deny all personal responsibility is a terrible right wing strawman. Obviously everyone agrees that personal responsibility is a virtue, it's just that (contrary to right wing thinking that the left is full of dreamers and romantics), the left are the true realists in this regard, that they understand that there are practical limits on what anyone can achieve given their socio-economic background. Negative versus positive freedom and all that.
posted by iivix at 2:57 PM on August 7, 2011 [14 favorites]


Ugh.... listening to London LBC talk radio. The talk show host , Anthony Davis, would be right at home in any American conservative talk radio station. No mention of any social problems - he calls the protesters "professional anarchists". He's claiming that they people are doing it because it "gives them pleasure, a high, it's fun for them" .When you connect to the radio stream you get an advert for the Metropolitan Police Force which should have told me everything I needed to know :( Ugh - turning that crap off.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 3:13 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Then mental contortions that people go through to justify their warped image of the world never fail to amaze me. Ski masks are not for "chaffing and spit". They are for thugs and if your police force is out wearing them then they too are thugs.

There is no tradition of US police officers wearing balaclavas. I know the RUC and IRA used to wear them. Did it become a UK policing trend flowing from NI? Maybe the police in NI wore them during demonstrations and riots to avoid the risk of retaliation? Still do not understand how it became used in London. Do police in Manchester wear them? Edinburgh? Is it a London thing or England thing or whole UK thing at this point?
posted by mlis at 3:27 PM on August 7, 2011


Fwiw - US police forces have started wearing them as well - I first noticed it during the early Bush admin . There was a time in the US where that sort of behavior would have received a huge public outcry, a time when we demanded accountability from the police. Those times are sadly long past. Thugs.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 3:34 PM on August 7, 2011


There is no tradition of US police officers wearing balaclavas. I know the RUC and IRA used to wear them. Did it become a UK policing trend flowing from NI? Maybe the police in NI wore them during demonstrations and riots to avoid the risk of retaliation? Still do not understand how it became used in London. Do police in Manchester wear them? Edinburgh? Is it a London thing or England thing or whole UK thing at this point?

There is indeed a tradition in the US of the balaclava-wearing police officer - it's standard kit for SWAT teams (which are usually comprised of normal police officers who volunteer and are then given special training and perks but then maintain their normal duties as well). The balaclava covers most of the face (it is not like the winter-time cold weather open face balaclava worn by NYPD patrol officers for instance). With standard issue goggles, the whole face is obscured. The official reason given is that this is *not* to hide the face (except in the case of disguising officers who also do undercover work) , but that the balaclava is made out of special materials that protect the face against fire, glass, explosion, tear gas etc.
I imagine that a similar official explanation could be given for the use of balaclavas by riot police (or SWAT teams in riot situations).
posted by Bwithh at 3:38 PM on August 7, 2011


They're flame retardent: http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/police_officers_wearing_ski_mask
posted by MattWPBS at 3:43 PM on August 7, 2011


Friend in Brixton reports there's trouble down there tonight, though not on the Tottenham scale. Nothing on the news about it yet so either they don't know or she's overexaggerating (either is possible tbh)
posted by ciderwoman at 4:17 PM on August 7, 2011


Name a city where young black males don't commit an inordinately outsized portion of the crimes

Wall Street?
posted by vac2003 at 4:29 PM on August 7, 2011 [18 favorites]


We warned Tottenham situation could get out of control – community leaders

I'm puzzled by the reporting on a non-police issue gun being found at the scene of the shooting and not reporting that it was wrapped in a sock and unfired.

It only takes a handful of opportunists to start looting after a civil disorder is underway, if only because the police are so visibly unable to respond.

On the other hand, it takes an entire department to foul community relations to the point where civil disorder feels like a reasonable means to redress grievances. Given the established drug trade reported in the area, it's a certainty there is also police corruption and protection of informants engaged in crime.

One of the undercurrents in the 1999 Seattle WTO disturbances was police resistance to an anti-corruption campaign by the new police chief.
posted by warbaby at 4:36 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


On a side note, I enjoyed this article from the Indie which could pretty much sum up the allegations and situation in Tottenham. Only it's about Stoke Newington from twenty years ago, the area just to the south of Tottenham that is now the preserve of yummy mummies and over priced delis.

Tottenham, this is your future...
posted by ciderwoman at 4:41 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Friend in Brixton reports there's trouble down there tonight, though not on the Tottenham scale. Nothing on the news about it yet so either they don't know or she's overexaggerating (either is possible tbh)
The Guardian is confirming that.

It occurs to me that Twitter is probably the best way for journalists to report from the scene. The rioters seem to be targeting the media, possibly because they don't want anyone taking pictures that will allow them to be identified, but journalists with smartphones can pretty much blend into the crowd, especially if they're youngish and male.
posted by craichead at 5:08 PM on August 7, 2011


Fwiw - US police forces have started wearing them as well - I first noticed it during the early Bush admin . There was a time in the US where that sort of behavior would have received a huge public outcry, a time when we demanded accountability from the police. Those times are sadly long past. Thugs.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 6:34 PM


Oh, you noticed a police procedure that was changed, ski masks and your deduction is:

There was a time in the US where that sort of behavior would have received a huge public outcry

citation please and multiple ones or should we just hang on your perception. We are demanding police accountability now and in many places. I would not want some hooded punk spitting at me and if or he or she wears a hoodie, I will wear a ski mask. Is there a law against this or is your whole perception of oppression based on fashion. Your assertions are inane.

Ugh.... listening to London LBC talk radio. The talk show host , Anthony Davis, would be right at home in any American conservative talk radio station. No mention of any social problems - he calls the protesters "professional anarchists". He's claiming that they people are doing it because it "gives them pleasure, a high, it's fun for them" .When you connect to the radio stream you get an advert for the Metropolitan Police Force which should have told me everything I needed to know :( Ugh - turning that crap off.
posted by Poet_Lariat

that is my whole point, what a leap, you believe or cite some asshat then compare him to another asshat like we needed to be informed, like your a kiosk of critical information and then connect some supid ad which you finally admit you must turn off.

grow the hell up.
posted by clavdivs at 5:24 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


On identifying the police - British policemen below the rank of Inspector should be identifiable by their collar numbers, which are now worn on their shoulders rather than their collars. Failing to display that number is a breach of regulations.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:32 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


No updates from the Guardian for about an hour now. Things settling down at all?
posted by maryr at 5:38 PM on August 7, 2011


On identifying the police - British policemen below the rank of Inspector should be identifiable by their collar numbers,

That's good to know although I wonder if in Britain, as in the U.S., "special" police like riot squads and swat teams are exempt from displaying such identification? In the U.S. it is now perfectly legal and acceptable for such police squads to display no identifying information at all.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 5:40 PM on August 7, 2011


That's good to know although I wonder if in Britain, as in the U.S., "special" police like riot squads and swat teams are exempt from displaying such identification? In the U.S. it is now perfectly legal and acceptable for such police squads to display no identifying information at all.

No, but there have been instances where numbers were removed, covered, or "traded" between officers. The last of these supposedly works by creating a deniability to their actions, as reports of a certain officer committing a criminal offense in one area can be compared against logs placing them elsewhere.
posted by Jehan at 5:44 PM on August 7, 2011 [4 favorites]


No updates from the Guardian for about an hour now

One of the updates on there seems to suggest that Doctor Who is one of their reporters.

10.40pm: Political commentator Gaby Hinsliff tweets:

#tottenham now clearly shaping police reform debate. cops in my timeline suggesting riots mean you cant cut manpower/pay/pensions etc now...

posted by dng at 5:45 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


in my timeline

that'll be a Twitter timeline
posted by Bwithh at 6:11 PM on August 7, 2011


(and on Anthony Davis being like a conservative shock jock - I used to work with him and he's actually a nice and pretty balanced guy. I had no idea he was on lbc these days so listened in after your post and thought he was being generally quite fair with callers)
posted by ciderwoman at 6:17 PM on August 7, 2011


A live blog still reporting the events in London tonight.
posted by Jehan at 7:07 PM on August 7, 2011


ciderwoman: When I listened he was good to the callers (whom I assume were preselected) but he was really obviously pushing a "law and order" type of agenda. The quotes I gave earlier about him saying that the protesters were there because they liked the violence and were having fun were to me just inciting the listening audience. Not to say that here aren't more then a fair share of thugs out there but he wasn't touching on the social aspects that led up to this in any way at all. I just had to eventually turn it off because it reminded me so much of American talk radio.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 7:09 PM on August 7, 2011


Poet_Lariat: That's good to know although I wonder if in Britain, as in the U.S., "special" police like riot squads and swat teams are exempt from displaying such identification? In the U.S. it is now perfectly legal and acceptable for such police squads to display no identifying information at all.

There's a long and storied tradition in British policing of officers covering up or removing badge numbers for reasons mentioned above. Indeed, it's almost a hallmark of many police operations – specifically when it comes to things like the Tottenham/Wood Green riots, or to the student protests of Oct/Nov last year, or the G20 protests in the City of London where Ian Tomlinson was killed, or to, well, basically any public expression of dissent. As other people have mentioned, covering up or removing badge numbers – which has long been completely illegal – allows officers to act with impunity.*

During the miners' strike in 1984/85, the London Met shipped riot-trained officers to various parts of Yorkshire and the midlands to "subdue" picket lines by means of batons, fists, feet and anything else to hand. Almost all of them made sure their badge numbers were either covered or removed. And the Met officers were specifically brought in because they were not from the areas they were policing, and therefore had no personal ties or sympathies which might "cloud" their "judgement". (There's an element of the military idea of dehumanising the enemy at work in this.) I think that there's a similar dynamic at work here: the police might live and work in the same area as the riots, but there's such a disconnect between their lives outside of work, and the lives of people so frustrated that they feel their only option is to burn down a carpet shop, that they've no problem seeing the riot as something completely devoid of wider context, because the wider context is not part of their day-to-day, other than being Shit That They Have To Deal With At Work. And that lack of context breeds contempt, which the Met have plenty of for anyone who isn't part of their own clique, which is to say everyone who is not either a News of the World hack, their boss, or someone who they need to protect from the massed hordes of great unwashed feral youth that, in their minds, roam every street in London.

*I remember being on the picket line for a strike at the Timex factory in Dundee back in 1993, when busloads of scab workers were being brought in, the bus windows covered in cages in case anyone threw something larger than a pebble at them, and there was a heavy police presence. Not one of them – and we're talking upwards of 150-odd officers here – had a visible badge number should you want to report them for, say, cracking someone's head with a baton, which there was plenty of.
posted by Len at 7:20 PM on August 7, 2011 [11 favorites]


It hurt to see that 1930s carpet building on fire. I can undertand the frustration of the crowd, and the need to do SOMETHING if only to get a reaction from those in power, but I still hate to see something irreplaceable be lost. The anger and the violence, however justified or not, will be mostly forgotten within a decade, but that's another corner of an old city that will now be one more glass storefront.
posted by twirlypen at 8:31 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thanks for the link to that West Londoner live blog. Sounds like Sunday night's riots were purely commericial - that is, all about the looting. Your moment of zen:

0305: Brixton looters reportedly stealing goods from each other now the shops are empty.
posted by maryr at 9:07 PM on August 7, 2011 [1 favorite]


and to the person about ski masks. Rull'y, so them criminals who hide there faces are some how obsolved of thier crimes.

Not at all. Wearing a mask doesn't absolve anyone of anything. Cops and non-cops alike are responsible for their own actions; both groups wear masks because they don't want to be held responsible by other people.

Ski masks help protect against chaffing and spit, plus some of those people might be undercover.

I'm not sure what chaffing is, but spit is one of the reasons for those clear plastic visors, which are far more effective than masks made of permeable fabric. And the Met would have to be pretty stupid to have actively-undercover officers doubling as members of the riot squad, with or without masks. Besides, as Len and others have pointed out, UK riot cops have also been known to hide their badge numbers (and I've seen riot cops here in Vancouver do the same thing). How do you explain that?
posted by twirlip at 10:28 PM on August 7, 2011


I'm puzzled by the reporting on a non-policeissue gun being found at the scene of the shooting and not reporting that it was wrapped in a sock and unfired.

Got a source for this? Otherwise it might be nothing more than the rumour that he was 'executed'.
posted by MattWPBS at 11:41 PM on August 7, 2011


Got a source for this?

This has been confirmed in the Guardian.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:03 AM on August 8, 2011


Got a source for this?

This has been confirmed in the Guardian.


I wouldn't call this confirmed: "The latest developments come as one community organiser suggested the handgun recovered was found in a sock and therefore not ready for use."
posted by andoatnp at 12:08 AM on August 8, 2011


"David Lammy, the MP for Tottenham, call the cuts to youth services a "big, big mistake".

--Printed 29 July 2011 in the Guardian
posted by vacapinta at 1:04 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


There've also been disturbances in other parts of London, including Brixton in the south. The Urban75 forum has some threads - one on the situation in Brixton and a bigger one on Tottenham (the forum is based in Brixton, so the Brixton thread has a lot of comment from people in the area: it's interesting to see things develop from rumours to more substantial information).
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:04 AM on August 8, 2011


Late to the party, but hoping someone can clear this up for me. From Theo's link to Lenin's Tomb:
But given that the police are sending dozens of vans full of riot squad to the scene, and given that at least one was witnessed speeding toward the riot with 'Knight Rider' music playing at top volume, I would not rule out the possibility of another killing.
Is the Knight Rider thing a specific UK euphemism for police sirens, or is that sentence to be taken at face value? Because the latter would be all kinds of fucked up.
posted by brokkr at 2:26 AM on August 8, 2011


OK, black woman from Tottenham here (now living down the road in Islington). Having grown up there and as I still work there (not in a barbers shop), I was expecting to come on here and hopefully find a few more news links that I've not managed to catch so far.
What I have seen, however, has made me feel really ill. I know that this is the internet, but the level of outright ignorance from some posters on here really astounds and upsets me. I reckon I'll just leave you lot to it.

Oh and Hugh Routley, living in an area for a few years next to some arsehole neighbours does not give you an insight into a whole community, let alone an entire culture.
posted by joboe at 3:31 AM on August 8, 2011 [26 favorites]


Is this for real or is this twitter account hoaxing? #LONDON #RIOT spreading to multiple areas of the capital, including CENTRAL LONDON.
posted by dabitch at 3:38 AM on August 8, 2011


joboe: please stick around and give us your perspective and anything you're hearing/seeing from the area.

dabitch: there were disturbances in Brixton (South London) last night, as well as Walthamstow and Enfield (North London). A small group reported looting in central London (Oxford Circus) as well.

Good roundup as ever on the Guardian liveblog and the link I posted above to Urban75.
posted by Infinite Jest at 4:22 AM on August 8, 2011


Brixton is a bit of a mess this morning. The helicopter was going all night.

It's not a riot, it's not widespread. It is a smartly judged piece of looting in the knowledge that not only are the police stretched, but they don't want to create flashpoints where they don't have to.

I could get all Daily Mail and rue how sad it is that a bunch of pricks have decided to trash the centre of Brixton, but there you go. Quite apart from the damage, Brixton tube was shut this morning and may well be shut for a bit of time. Incredibly disruptive to all the folk who come down by bus from Streatham, Herne Hill etc.

Sticking it to the man apparently now basically means using the death of a bloke in north London as an opportunity to nick stuff to be resold.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:37 AM on August 8, 2011


Enfield Town's not looking pretty this morning. Not as bad as I feared - damage was restricted to a fairly small section of the High Street (which was completely closed off as of a few hours ago and possibly still is), but there were loads of police vans around when I walked to work this morning and I could see a number of broken windows. One burnt-out car, too. It was apparently worse over towards the A10 (major road into Central London about half a mile east of me) - friends who live overlooking it said they could see gangs roaming around and smashing stuff for quite some time.

Obviously I don't know exactly what causes people to do this, but general gut feel is that the Enfield/Brixton/Wood Green disturbances are qualitatively different to the Tottenham riot. The latter was explicitly against the police and the apparent result of seething resentment and ill-treatment; the former looks a lot more like a bunch of opportunistic teenagers nicking stuff.
posted by ZsigE at 4:47 AM on August 8, 2011


How Blackberry, not Twitter, fuelled the fire under London’s riots

The unlikely social network fuelling the Tottenham riots

Guardian Liveblog on Oxford Circus BBM messages
posted by rory at 4:58 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Tottenham on fire
posted by ciderwoman at 5:44 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


A post by a Wood Green independent bookshop.
posted by Drexen at 6:11 AM on August 8, 2011


I wonder: Does this all mean that we are about to see an end to those awesomely self-righteous editorials in British newspapers whenever disenfranchised immigrant youths in France starts torching some cars? Because that will be such a loss...
posted by Skeptic at 6:43 AM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Sorry, the Telegraph has been full of self-righteous nonsense for a day now.

This second round of looting suggests the protests and the looting are only loosely connected and the recent looting was opportunistic.

The usual case for most riot reporting is bogus analysis for several days, followed by several weeks of editorializing, then finally the investigations either happen or don't.

When full investigations happen (they often don't or are coverups) the story that emerges is usually very different than the headlines at the time of the disturbance.
posted by warbaby at 7:08 AM on August 8, 2011


via the Guardian: time-lapse video of fires in the Tottenham night sky between Saturday and Sunday
posted by Mister Bijou at 7:53 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tottenham before and after images pull cursor across images to see destruction.
posted by dabitch at 8:27 AM on August 8, 2011


Interesting that some businesses have roll shutters on their doors but not their windows.
posted by Mitheral at 8:44 AM on August 8, 2011


via the Guardian: time-lapse video of fires in the Tottenham night sky between Saturday and Sunday

The police helicopters look like UFOs.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 8:56 AM on August 8, 2011


Mister Bijou, you may wish to look up about four posts.
posted by ciderwoman at 9:10 AM on August 8, 2011


Watching the BBC live stream from their helicopter, Hackney is looking more than a bit tense right now.
posted by emmtee at 9:25 AM on August 8, 2011


Mobile phone shops in Kilburn (west London) closed as a precaution. Rumours of trouble in Harlsden as well, though there aren't any nice shops in Harlsden so that'll be some rubbish looting.
posted by ciderwoman at 9:37 AM on August 8, 2011


I'm way late to this, but I have walked the Tottenham area so this all hits home even if I am currently eight time zones away.

By the way, the idea that leftists deny all personal responsibility is a terrible right wing strawman.

This recent piece from Guardian speaks well to this notion ...

From the right comes condemnation of the criminality, uncritical support for the police and a snorting contempt for any attempt to diagnose the events with reference to their wider social and economic context: unemployment, poverty, historic tensions with the Met and so on. From the left comes, yes, an insistence that the events cannot be truly understood without reference to that wider social and economic context, an insistence that the police must be held to account, and so on.

And so on. It's worth a read.
posted by philip-random at 9:49 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Apparently the McDonald's on the Lewisham High Street (which I live about a mile away from) has had its windows smashed in. Fortunately, the geniuses decided to do this only a few hundred feet from the biggest police station in Europe and were quickly shut down by a precision display of close-order standing around.

Not visible in the background: the main branch of the Lewisham Public Library and the store where I buy my XBox 360 games.)
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:48 AM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I take that back. Apparently the entire street's locked down by riot cops now and at least one fire's been started. Suddenly I'm glad I don't live nearer a big shopping area.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:08 AM on August 8, 2011


From the right comes condemnation of the criminality, uncritical support for the police and a snorting contempt for any attempt to diagnose the events with reference to their wider social and economic context: unemployment, poverty, historic tensions with the Met and so on.

What I've seen of the UK right wing press coverage has been a bit more nuanced (I'm not saying that these perspectives are ones I agree with but providing summary to show the nuance):

1. strong support for rank and file police officers but also emphatic (as in headline-emphatic) criticism of the police leadership / higher ranks. This line of attack also implictly blames the national government too.

2. accepting failures over social and economic issues as part of the cause here but blaming mostly the local Labour councils (citing mismanagement/bad policy ideas/corruption etc.) who typically run these poorer areas for these failures. Some right-wing commentators have dismissed the idea that national austerity cuts are to blame because the full impact of those cuts have not yet been implemented but point to long-running alleged policy and budgetary problems in Labour-controlled local government instead
posted by Bwithh at 11:16 AM on August 8, 2011


Sitting here with the netbook between the two PCs showing BBC News 24, got twitter searches running for all local areas... It's going to be another fun night.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 11:44 AM on August 8, 2011


Sitting here with the netbook between the two PCs showing BBC News 24, got twitter searches running for all local areas... It's going to be another fun night.

Can't believe this is day three, really hope this stops soon.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:52 AM on August 8, 2011


Friend has told me it's all happening in Birmingham tonight near the bullring.
posted by ciderwoman at 11:53 AM on August 8, 2011


Yes. "Birmingham" is currently going nuts on Twitter. Sigh. I really like Birmingham. Don't burn down the library, kids.
posted by Sonny Jim at 11:55 AM on August 8, 2011


The BBC News channel has just reported copycat disturbances in Leeds and Birmingham.
posted by ellieBOA at 11:56 AM on August 8, 2011


and as I pressed 'post' on this the BBC news confirmed trouble in Birmingham, and also possibly Leeds.
posted by ciderwoman at 11:57 AM on August 8, 2011


snap ciderwoman
posted by ellieBOA at 11:58 AM on August 8, 2011


Shop windows in the process of being smashed around New St station, according to BBC ...
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:00 PM on August 8, 2011


I've just walked through riot police in Peckham. Luckily nothing's happening except lots and lots of youths milling around like it's a big outdoor party. Walking through riot police is not something I ever want to do again though.
posted by Summer at 12:02 PM on August 8, 2011


Summer, that's exactly how I felt earlier. It feels more like one of those random facebook parties gone horribly wrong than a riot against anything.
posted by ciderwoman at 12:05 PM on August 8, 2011


Am following from my flat in South Hackney. There's a gorgeous rainbow just blazing across the canal - hoping that a heavy rainfall might calm things.
posted by freya_lamb at 12:06 PM on August 8, 2011


Just heard about Birmingham and Leeds and knew I could come here and find better information than anywhere else. Stay safe, British Mefites.
posted by immlass at 12:08 PM on August 8, 2011


Yes cw, it's weird. I've never seen this many young people out, and they're all laughing, drinking and having a good time while riot police stand around like Roman guards watching them. There are currently gangs running up and down my street in the late summer sun.
posted by Summer at 12:11 PM on August 8, 2011


Word is a man was shot in the face (by the police?) in Leeds.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:14 PM on August 8, 2011


Apparently it's spreading down into Catford, where a sporting goods store southwest of me just got looted, and into Lee, where one of my wife's friends is stuck on the top floor of a pub.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:16 PM on August 8, 2011


Some photos from Birmingham this afternoon.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:23 PM on August 8, 2011


Tumblr coverage (pics, updates) purportedly from Birmingham over the last hour or two.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:24 PM on August 8, 2011


Oh snap.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:24 PM on August 8, 2011


I can't believe how fast and far this is spreading. I wonder when it'll migrate across the pond.
posted by five fresh fish at 12:25 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


It'd be lovely for one of the Tories to come out and say, "We understand that you have no hope, you feel you have no future, you feel ignored and unsupported. We have heard you. We are changing our policies and we will no longer starve the inner cities."

But no. Cameron is still out of the country, Clegg is twatting around being his usual useless self, and May has basically said WE'RE COMING TO ARREST YOU YOU SUB HUMAN SCUM.

Fucking Tories.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:28 PM on August 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Croydon on lockdown.
posted by ellieBOA at 12:30 PM on August 8, 2011


@ArmyOfKittens: I was just going to say the same thing. Exactly how bad does this have to get until the Prime Minister gets off his arse and gets back to his country?
posted by TheDonF at 12:32 PM on August 8, 2011


Clegg is twatting around being his usual useless self
Well, Clegg said there'd be unrest if a Tory government got in and started slashing everything to the bone. As people have pointed out on Twitter, at least that's one promise he's kept.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:33 PM on August 8, 2011 [17 favorites]


I fucking despair that the Tories are in charge for this. They will willfully fail to understand, they will take exactly the wrong courses of action assuming they act at all, and everything will get worse before it gets better.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:35 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Cameron is still out of the country

but it's not like he isn't suffering too; we just had a news report here in Greece that at a small coffee bar, the Italian barista didn't recognize him and told him he'd have to take his espresso and cappuccino to his table himself because she was too busy.
posted by taz at 12:39 PM on August 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


I fucking despair that the Tories are in charge for this.

Me too, but in a perverse way I like having lived through Reagan and then moved to another country to live through THATCHER II: THE THATCHERING.

Maybe we'll at least get some decent synth-pop out of the whole thing. =/
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 12:40 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Just been on the phone to my mum, a devout Tory, who said: "There should be more armed police on the street." Um, I think that was the problem in the first place mum.
posted by Summer at 12:45 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ken Livingstone is right on the fucking money on BBC. And yet still having to explain that understanding the causes behind the riots doesn't mean YAY VIOLENCE GO SMASH STUFF KIDS.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:49 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Police chased away from Pembury in Hackney.
posted by Lord_Pall at 12:49 PM on August 8, 2011


Policeman to Paul Lewis: "You're not a fucking journalist. Do you want some?"
posted by jack_mo at 1:04 PM on August 8, 2011


OMG. Croydon.
posted by Summer at 1:07 PM on August 8, 2011


It's getting dark now, so probably a) it'll stick to current locations and b) it'll get worse there.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:10 PM on August 8, 2011


Apparently a huge furniture store burning to the ground in Croydon. The BBC's showing footage here.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:11 PM on August 8, 2011


That furniture store fire is spreading. Holy shit.
posted by Summer at 1:15 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


A leaflet found in Dalston, full of advice for rioters if the police pick them up, and how to minimise the risk of that happening in the first place.
posted by jack_mo at 1:15 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


David "Wanker" Cameron is coming back tonight to chair a Cobra meeting.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:18 PM on August 8, 2011


Ken Livingstone is right on the fucking money on BBC. And yet still having to explain that understanding the causes behind the riots doesn't mean YAY VIOLENCE GO SMASH STUFF KIDS.

He was, but he was also scoring political points. He was sincere though I'm sure -- that's the kind of thing he's always said, despite how unpopular "understanding the causes" tend to be.
posted by catchingsignals at 1:18 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


1. strong support for rank and file police officers but also emphatic (as in headline-emphatic) criticism of the police leadership / higher ranks. This line of attack also implictly blames the national government too.

Which is ironic, because most of the scandals around racism seem to come down to rank-and-file BNP members and senior police running anti-racism programs.
posted by rodgerd at 1:19 PM on August 8, 2011


But no. Cameron is still out of the country, Clegg is twatting around being his usual useless self, and May has basically said WE'RE COMING TO ARREST YOU YOU SUB HUMAN SCUM.

Fucking Tories.


The government not actually doing any governing seems to be the theme of the summer so far.
posted by dng at 1:20 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


He can score all the points he likes if he's going to keep being a prominent voice not apparently astonished at all this mysterious anger that's come out of nowhere.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:21 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cameron's coming back, it looks like.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 1:22 PM on August 8, 2011


From twitter: "Cameron is pulling a Dubya after Katrina ... too little, far too late, laden with contempt"
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:23 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Dave's on his way back! All the hoodies can stop looting and line up for a nice hug.
posted by emmtee at 1:25 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can tell there are bona-fide londoners in this thread because part of it is a discussion of how long it takes to get from point A to point B.
posted by memebake at 1:26 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Apparently it takes a Conservative politician quite a long time to get from Point A (fancy foreign sojourn) to point B (domestic emergency).
posted by tigrefacile at 1:30 PM on August 8, 2011


Nonstop helicopters and sirens in the background of Stoke Newington. Are Pembury or Mare St. still happening?
posted by timshel at 1:30 PM on August 8, 2011


He just realised he forgot to tip the youth.
posted by catchingsignals at 1:30 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Via Twitter: http://twitpic.com/633c2d, http://yfrog.com/h26oee8j
posted by TheDonF at 1:45 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jesus, Croydon is fucking mental. And Debenhams in Birmingham has been ransacked, reports of ten and eleven year olds carting off piles of clothes.
posted by Len at 1:46 PM on August 8, 2011


Here's an odd one. Brixton riot girl in Curry's uniform arrested for looting ... Currys.
posted by dabitch at 1:48 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


For various reasons I've had an internet/Twitter free day. Then I stick on BBC News. Christ on a fucking bike! What's going on? Croydon looks like a warzone.

*Toast lies butter side up on floor. Mouth agape*
posted by ClanvidHorse at 1:50 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The toast did a double flip in shock.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 1:51 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


twitvideo of a woman telling the rioters off
posted by dabitch at 1:52 PM on August 8, 2011 [12 favorites]


Dabitch, I don't think that's odd. I think it would be hard not to say "fuck it, I want a new ipod too..."

Dumb to get caught though.
posted by pmcp at 1:52 PM on August 8, 2011


Here's an odd one. Brixton riot girl in Curry's uniform arrested for looting ... Currys.

Someone looting a lute
posted by catchingsignals at 1:53 PM on August 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Do you still want that toast ClanvidHorse. All the shops shut up early where I am, and I've got a can of baked beans with that piece of toast's name on it.
posted by panaceanot at 2:00 PM on August 8, 2011


twitvideo of a woman telling the rioters off

Can I vote for her to be Prime Minister?
posted by catchingsignals at 2:01 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


The footage of the fire at a large shop in Croydon was something else. As it progressed, the sheer heat from it seemed to be setting buildings across the road on fire. Tram tracks, traffic lights and road signs were all spontaneously combusting. The building itself was chewed up by the blaze in no time.
posted by nthdegx at 2:05 PM on August 8, 2011


I am heartbroken. London has been my home for 17 years and I have always been proud to live here. My immediate area is not - despite Twitter rumours to the contrary - rioting this evening, but places I know well are.

London boroughs don't have the money to make this better overnight. Shops are going to be shuttered for a long time, and the divisions in London that people above have commented on are going to be made worse.

We're better than this.
posted by calico at 2:05 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I really like Birmingham. Don't burn down the library, kids.

Wait, Birmingham Library? Then can burn that down, it's alright, nobody will complain, honestly.
posted by Jehan at 2:06 PM on August 8, 2011


From September 2010: The home secretary, Theresa May, has dismissed fears that deep spending cuts could undermine the ability of the police to tackle possible civil unrest, and insisted the British did not respond to austerity by rioting on the streets.
posted by TheDonF at 2:07 PM on August 8, 2011 [13 favorites]


I can't believe the speed with which that building in Croydon went up and affected nearby buildings.

Someone please institute an award for that first Fireperson to come on scene and try to minimise the damage. That really took some courage.

For all the emergency staff on tonight...............there are no words.

Surgeons all over the SouthEast are on alert, the last time that happened was the London bombing. It is all kinds of wrong that this time it's looters causing this level of violence.

FUCKERS! Do you not get it that your mother or grandmother will not be operated on tomorrow because of the on-call hours issue???!

Just hope it's only a hip that needs replacing because if your mother's aneuryms blows, you will be responsible for her death, NOT the surgeons who came in after hours exhausted.
posted by Wilder at 2:07 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


twitvideo of a woman telling the rioters off

Fucking brilliant. Good on her.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:08 PM on August 8, 2011


As a Birmingham resident I'd just like to say that Birmingham Riots tumblr is spreading unsubstantiated rumours.

West Midlands Fire Service have just confirmed they haven't attended any incidents in the city tonight, there are a few broken windows in the city centre and tonnes of police around but not much else at the moment.

Fingers crossed anyway.
posted by brilliantmistake at 2:12 PM on August 8, 2011


I only moved to London last November, this is making me so very sad. Normally I complain about the weather but I hope it rains buckets with thunder and lightning, anything to help staunch the violence.

The news was also saying that one of the biggest problems is not just the actual rioters and looters but casual spectators getting in the way. FFS they need to just go home so the police and firemen can do their jobs.
posted by like_neon at 2:13 PM on August 8, 2011


The man who owns the furniture store in Croydon is on Sky news and has totally shamed the reporter who called the fire 'a spectacle'. The business has been in his family for five generations, and it supports local 20 families.
posted by essexjan at 2:14 PM on August 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


Been watching this for 20 minutes or so on BBC now. This is truly horrible.

Saw this on twitter: “@simondebrux: These riots are political only in that those rioting are so disenfranchised they have no sense it's their own communities they are burning”.
posted by ClanvidHorse at 2:15 PM on August 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


A moment of levity: BREAKING NEWS
posted by homunculus at 2:16 PM on August 8, 2011


The Reeves brothers watch 5 generations of their family furniture business go up in smoke - heartbreaking.
posted by dabitch at 2:17 PM on August 8, 2011


According to the libertarians on reddit, I wouldn't need to be scared tonight If I had a gun to protect myself. I live upstairs from a Tesco only 20 minutes from Hackney.

I fail to see how the situation in London tonight would be improved if there were readily available firearms.
posted by panaceanot at 2:18 PM on August 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Apparently police are storming rioters on Kentish Town Road. Getting a bit close to us.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:18 PM on August 8, 2011


This is brutal. London is such an amazing place. It's a shame that the only people who seem to care about it are helpless to do anything about this. The kids don't care, the police don't seem to be doing anything, those in government are reluctantly cutting their holidays short. It's fucking awful.
posted by Elmore at 2:18 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


@tomfoot1 is the person to follow for accurate Camden news right now.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:19 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Wait a minute... reliable reports of looting from the shops down the road now. Well I never.

When I think of all those out-of-town people I have buttonholed on the subject of How Wonderful Living In Charlton Is - hm. Work was genuinely weird today - I work in Canary Wharf and not one single person mentioned any of this or seemed upset by it, because they all live in Surrey or Kent.
posted by calico at 2:22 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


AOKittens - thanks for the Camden link.
posted by bright cold day at 2:23 PM on August 8, 2011


Of course after posting that just had a very reliable message saying that the Mailbox (an upmarket department store shopping arcade) has just been looted in Brum town centre and there's now a standoff with police.

Wankers.
posted by brilliantmistake at 2:25 PM on August 8, 2011


So far it seems the Camden/Kentish/Chalk Farm stuff is confined to a few smashed windows. Heavy police presence.

Still not sleeping until all this is over for the night/morning.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:29 PM on August 8, 2011


"How Wonderful Living In Charlton Is"

Hey neighbour!

Apparently Eltham Argos may have been looted. Or just the window smashed. Also Sainsbury's - or not. And one of the McDonald's may have been burnt down. Or not.

So tempted to go and look.
posted by Auz at 2:30 PM on August 8, 2011


It'd be lovely for one of the Tories to come out and say, "We understand that you have no hope, you feel you have no future, you feel ignored and unsupported. We have heard you. We are changing our policies and we will no longer starve the inner cities." But no. Cameron is still out of the country, Clegg is twatting around being his usual useless self, and May has basically said WE'RE COMING TO ARREST YOU YOU SUB HUMAN SCUM. Fucking Tories.

I reject this construction completely. This is not a political protest, this is criminal opportunism at its worst, and you're foolish for excusing it. These people don't give a warm one about the rising cost of education or pension security, they're the same sort of ignorant bullies that get in line to beat up the class swot and sit around with their tabloid newspapers saying 'hanging's too good for 'em' about whatever true crime scandal is on the front page every day. Part of the reason I left London was that I got tired of bovver boys like this trying to queer-bash people like me. They are not your friends, and they are not little lost babes in the woods.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:31 PM on August 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


i'm in the centre of several areas of tension and destruction in South London. fire about a mile down the street from me in Collier's Wood, looting less than two miles in other direction in Clapham Junction. Croydon ablaze, Peckham full on rioting.

it's the most surreal and sad thing ever. just want to cry.

this is not "civil disobedience". this is madness
posted by wayward vagabond at 2:33 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


anigbrowl: "I reject this construction completely. This is not a political protest, this is criminal opportunism at its worst, and you're foolish for excusing it."

I'm going to say this is capital letters so I don't have to say it twice.

UNDERSTANDING THE CONTEXT DOES NOT EQUAL SUPPORTING OR EXCUSING THE RIOTING. ALL RIOTERS BEAR RESPONSIBILITY FOR THEIR ACTIONS. ALL THE RIOTERS ARE VIOLENT FUCKS AND NEED TO BE ARRESTED. AT THE SAME TIME, IT IS FUCKING STUPID TO CLAIM THAT THE CURRENT SOCIOECONOMIC CLIMATE BEARS NO RESPONSIBILITY.

Clear?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:35 PM on August 8, 2011 [40 favorites]


meanwhile London's burning and Boris Johnson has not seen fit to get his ass back here until tomorrow afternoon. twat.
posted by wayward vagabond at 2:38 PM on August 8, 2011


Sitting right between Brixton and Clapham Junction (at Clapham North) should I be worried?
posted by like_neon at 2:38 PM on August 8, 2011


I think as long as you're not a curry's, grocery store or a bookie storefront, you should be fine.

Also no pictures.
posted by Lord_Pall at 2:39 PM on August 8, 2011


Seriously though, it really really does look to be almost completely focused on high streets and shopping centers. So that's a plus i guess.
posted by Lord_Pall at 2:40 PM on August 8, 2011


Hey neighbour!

Delighted to make your acquaintance sir, tho' I may have wished for a more pleasant opportunity.

Yeah - there's a lot of misinformation about. Someone I follow on twitter suggests that the standard for credibility is that it comes from someone you know or it's pictures of a place you know. Seems reasonable.
posted by calico at 2:40 PM on August 8, 2011


These people don't give a warm one about the rising cost of education or pension security, they're the same sort of ignorant bullies that get in line to beat up the class swot and sit around with their tabloid newspapers saying 'hanging's too good for 'em' about whatever true crime scandal is on the front page every day.

And that generalization couldn't just as well apply to the police, could it?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:41 PM on August 8, 2011


I'm going to say this is capital letters so I don't have to say it twice.

That doesn't say much for the quality of your argument, and I do not appreciate being shouted at.

It is your construction of the context that I am disagreeing with, and I do not think it is 'fucking stupid' to dispute your assignment of responsibility to the current socioeconomic climate. Other countries going through worse austerity measures are able to have protests (or not, as they see fit) without degenerating into rioting. Like it or not, your interpretation of the causes as if they were unavoidable just validates claims like 'it's society's fault, innit' narrative.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:41 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is not a political protest, this is criminal opportunism at its worst, and you're foolish for excusing it.

"Criminal opportunism" is an interesting idea. While I do not doubt the criminal nature of their actions, I am surprised that we accept a large number of people are willing to commit crimes given the opportunity. Why is that?
posted by Jehan at 2:41 PM on August 8, 2011


Lord_Pall: "I think as long as you're not a curry's, grocery store or a bookie storefront, you should be fine."

Also if you're a JD Sports or a Footlocker, look around: you're pretty likely already on fire.
posted by emmtee at 2:43 PM on August 8, 2011


like_neon: I live between Clapham North and Stockwell, and an hour ago it seemed pretty calm, so I wouldn't be too concerned yet. Not that many shops about (and the ones along Clapham Road were all shuttered).
posted by adrianhon at 2:43 PM on August 8, 2011


Other countries going through worse austerity measures are able to have protests (or not, as they see fit) without degenerating into rioting.

Examples?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:43 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Violence flared in Hackney's Mare Street area today. John Domokos talks to local residents as police dog units move in.
posted by ericthegardener at 2:44 PM on August 8, 2011


This violence didn't come out of nowhere. Cities don't just decide to riot.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:44 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


And that generalization couldn't just as well apply to the police, could it?

No, not in practice. The British police have plenty of faults, but not to the point of justifying a tu quoque fallacy.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:45 PM on August 8, 2011


No, not in practice. The British police have plenty of faults, but not to the point of justifying a tu quoque fallacy.

But the general public...?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:47 PM on August 8, 2011


"Seriously though, it really really does look to be almost completely focused on high streets and shopping centers. So that's a plus i guess." - Lord_Pall

Yeah, unless you live above one like I do a-double-s-hole.
posted by panaceanot at 2:48 PM on August 8, 2011


And apart from anything else, if we just lock up the people who are rioting now but do nothing to address the other root causes, this will just happen again. And again. And again.

Don't feel like sticking my head in the sand.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:48 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The BBC live text feed has some utterly heartbreaking photos of people (no permalink, sorry) having to leave their homes as their street burns behind them. Whatever the wider context behind it, there are some thoroughly hideous examples of humanity running riot on the streets tonight.
posted by ZsigE at 2:48 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Police in Camden..
posted by dabitch at 2:49 PM on August 8, 2011


Couldn't figure out why there were incidents showing up in Acton on this map.

It's auto pulling postcodes from tweets. And a bunch of people keep saying it's like WW3 has started.

Some postcode humour for everyone.
posted by Lord_Pall at 2:49 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Criminal opportunism" is an interesting idea. While I do not doubt the criminal nature of their actions, I am surprised that we accept a large number of people are willing to commit crimes given the opportunity. Why is that?

Because we have the evidence right in front of us? There's a lot of dishonest people out there, from white-collar criminals who cheat on their taxes to people who'll grab stuff out of a store if they can hide in a crowd. Some people are naturally kind and unselfish, some are naturally vicious and greedy - and by 'naturally' I mean 'that's how they act when left to themselves', as opposed to speculating on what the causes are. I don't think it has a lot to do with genetics or socioeconomic status.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:49 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, unless you live above one like I do a-double-s-hole.

Well, then you should keep an eye out.
posted by Lord_Pall at 2:50 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have three flatscreens and a cupboard full of trainers. How do I articulate my anomie? Several broadsheets have chosen a picture of a late-twentysomething trustafarian with a can of Special Brew as the image which best represents what's going on. Is that right? A white guy with a drink problem approaching middle age, are those the factors at play here? Really?
posted by tigrefacile at 2:50 PM on August 8, 2011


Wetherspoons, Woolwich apparently.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:50 PM on August 8, 2011


I'm about five mins from the big Sainsburys and small Tesco Metro. Otherwise it's mostly restaurants at my end of the high street (if they touch Sun Sun Chinese or The Pepper Tree so help me God...) so I guess we'll be ok, although been hearing plenty of sirens (Godspeed). Why did my husband have to on a business trip to Finland tonight of all nights?
posted by like_neon at 2:50 PM on August 8, 2011


A reporter in Clapham filming on his phone asked a young woman leaving a store with armfuls of stuff why she was doing it. She said "I'm getting my taxes back". Fucking moron.
posted by essexjan at 2:51 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


like_neon: I wouldn't be too worried there, at least for the moment. I'm more worried about Clapham Tandoori myself ;) But if anything goes down nearby and you get worried, send a PM (goes to anyone in Clapham)
posted by adrianhon at 2:53 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


anigbrowl:

There's a chapter of David Simon's Homicide: A Year on the Killing Streets in which he talks about how the murder rate in Baltimore spikes during summer heatwaves. All the underlying tensions – the poverty, the racist policing, the general air of utter hopelessness which is ingrained in most of west Baltimore's population – all pours out, and I think the same has happened here. (There's even been a heatwave in London for the past week.) And I don't think that it's daft speculation to say that huge socioeconomic forces are at work behind all this; to deny that is, I think, blinkered in the extreme.
posted by Len at 2:53 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


But the general public...?
posted by Sys Rq at 2:47 PM on August 8 [+] [!]


Quit it already. I'm not making comments about the general public, I'm making comments about the people who are out looting and rioting for the sake of destruction. You're twisting my words, and I'm not willing to continue a conversation with someone who does that.
posted by anigbrowl at 2:53 PM on August 8, 2011


We're in Lewisham, but we're down a semi-residential street (we're next door to a school), and the only things near us are a bunch of hair salons, tiny convenience stores, and one Co-Op that closes at eleven PM. Here's hoping the innate boredom of our neighborhood works for us this time.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 2:53 PM on August 8, 2011


"Yeah - there's a lot of misinformation about. Someone I follow on twitter suggests that the standard for credibility is that it comes from someone you know or it's pictures of a place you know. Seems reasonable."

Been hoping for some sort of photo I could recognise. There's also https://twitter.com/#!/nigelfletcher - but he appears to be a Tory, so probably can't be trusted.
posted by Auz at 2:53 PM on August 8, 2011


Riots are a symptom of social malaise, protests are a demand for a cure. But protest can only turn to riot if no political alternatives exist. Yes, the Tories are, well... Tories smug in their toriness, but what political project, what realistic slogan can the marginalized poor protest under? Ed Miliband and assorted newlaborites, Thatcher-lite? Seriously?

I lived through the riots of 2008 in Athens, this is not the same situation (i.e. looting was a second order effect then, it seems to be a driving force in London), but the parallels are many. Destroy a generation's prospects, marginalize and deprive them of any means of betterment, all the while showing on TV and the media the most vicious of banksters and media moguls swimming in money and luxury, and violence becomes the only possible answer:
As political and social protests grip the Middle East, are growing in Europe and a riot exploded in north London this weekend, here's a sad truth, expressed by a Londoner when asked by a television reporter: Is rioting the correct way to express your discontent?

"Yes," said the young man. "You wouldn't be talking to me now if we didn't riot, would you?"
Trapped in a cage, starved, cramped, their lives threatened, rats will turn on each other in instinctive suicidal despair and rage. And then the lab manager can comment on their inherent, stupid, viciousness...
posted by talos at 2:54 PM on August 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Clapham Junction looting, video.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:54 PM on August 8, 2011


Well, then you should keep an eye out.

Huh? Did you just vaguely threaten me? I'm bowing out now... but If you think destroying property is cool, and I should watch out because I rent a flat near one, I think your comments should be deleted or something. Actually... leave them... just think about what you're suggesting.
posted by panaceanot at 2:54 PM on August 8, 2011


Are the Met and Fire Department just stretched too thin? Not seeing a widespread response in a lot of the video footage, but they might just be responding to triage calls until stuff calms down..
posted by Lord_Pall at 2:54 PM on August 8, 2011


Not that this is quite on the same scale, but we just had a mob riot here in Milwaukee last weekend, with people being pulled out of their cars and beaten, and I can't even imagine that happening all over the city. This is a terrible place to be a black teenager though, so I think we'll see more of it. This is already the 2nd time it's happened in a month, and a local mall was looted in the spring.
posted by desjardins at 2:55 PM on August 8, 2011


The disorder in Hackney has spread to Kingsland road. Apparently men from the Turkish restaurants are fighting back. There's news too that areas of Stepney Green are being closed off. I know it's not targeted at people/private homes but it feels like a siege.

The choppers are circling again. It's going to be a long night.
posted by freya_lamb at 2:55 PM on August 8, 2011


Other countries going through worse austerity measures are able to have protests (or not, as they see fit) without degenerating into rioting.

Examples?


Ireland.
posted by Elmore at 2:55 PM on August 8, 2011


I'll have to postpone the argument, too busy watching the street.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:55 PM on August 8, 2011



Huh? Did you just vaguely threaten me? I'm bowing out now... but If you think destroying property is cool, and I should watch out because I rent a flat near one, I think your comments should be deleted or something. Actually... leave them... just think about what you're suggesting.


What?

I'm not suggesting anything. Read my comment without any sense of snark, but as an honest comment. Someone asked if they should be worried, I said "Seems to be focusing on retail shops".

You said "I live over a retail shop". I responded, without snark or threat or humor, that you should keep an eye out. Unsure how that's a threat or unusual. I genuinely mean that. Keep an eye out and if the situation looks grim, relocate.
posted by Lord_Pall at 2:57 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there the smallest chance that we can refrain from pondering whether the innate viciousness of either Londoners or their politicians is to blame while this amazing city is going through this very sad night? There's time for it later, and to be honest we'll never settle it to everyone's satisfaction then either.
posted by calico at 2:57 PM on August 8, 2011


Woman jumps for her life from burning building on Surrey Street.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:57 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mr. Bad Example your comment made me smile at this horrible time. My husband and I walked around a small corner of Lewisham this weekend (Brockley, exploring for potential future homes) and we rejected it because it wasn't lively enough! :)
posted by like_neon at 2:57 PM on August 8, 2011


Because we have the evidence right in front of us? There's a lot of dishonest people out there, from white-collar criminals who cheat on their taxes to people who'll grab stuff out of a store if they can hide in a crowd. Some people are naturally kind and unselfish, some are naturally vicious and greedy - and by 'naturally' I mean 'that's how they act when left to themselves', as opposed to speculating on what the causes are. I don't think it has a lot to do with genetics or socioeconomic status.

But then we can do nothing about such criminality except assure punishment, surely? We must always view other with suspicion about their potential for criminality unless we know differently. These riots, therefore, are about nothing more than the inability to police firmly. No causes are important, except those which have affected the capability of the police, and any solution must center on strengthening the police. This is an awful path to go down.
posted by Jehan at 2:59 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Met line dancing practice in Camden.
posted by emmtee at 2:59 PM on August 8, 2011


Apologies Lord_Pall... my nerves are on edge.
posted by panaceanot at 2:59 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


And I don't think that it's daft speculation to say that huge socioeconomic forces are at work behind all this; to deny that is, I think, blinkered in the extreme.

If there were coherent political protests going on I'd agree with you. I remember things like the poll tax riots when Thatcher was PM, and after things like the miner's strike, her dismantlement of the GLC, and sundry other examples of authoritarianism run riot I found the causes easy to understand. This is just yobbery, and exists as much in good times as bad. I simply do not agree that these rioters are frustrated by their uncertain economic future or the prospect of an increased retirement age.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:00 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Is there the smallest chance that we can refrain from pondering whether the innate viciousness of either Londoners or their politicians is to blame while this amazing city is going through this very sad night? There's time for it later, and to be honest we'll never settle it to everyone's satisfaction then either.

I'm sorry, I'll refrain from doing so any more. I appreciate that being in London at the moment must be difficult and this thread could be useful for other things right now.
posted by Jehan at 3:00 PM on August 8, 2011


Sokay, and a bit understandable. Things are bit crazyface all over the place right now.
posted by Lord_Pall at 3:01 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


All quiet in Highgate, oddly enough. A lot of tutting going on though.
posted by ComfySofa at 3:01 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Stay safe, AoK, and anyone else who's in areas where things are hot. Maybe pull together your backup drive, important papers, etc. and stick them in a bag, ready to go. Keep your shoes on. (And your pants. If this were anywhere but here, I probably wouldn't have to say so explicitly. Oh, and since I'm not talking to Americans: trousers. Put your trousers on and leave them that way!)
posted by rtha at 3:01 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


No one from the government was available to appear on #newsnight tonight to talk about the London riots
posted by TheDonF at 3:02 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Woah yeah panaceanot, I don't think Lord_Pall meant it the way you thought. Clearly tensions are making everyone a bit edgy. Let's make sure we understand we're on the same side with this and I hope your night passes uneventfully.
posted by like_neon at 3:02 PM on August 8, 2011


I think everybody's nerves are on edge. I can feel myself drifting further to the right by the minute. And the jokey tweets from around the country are becoming difficult to bear.
posted by Grangousier at 3:03 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


rtha: I've had boots on and bag ready to go for a couple of hours now.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:03 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


These riots, therefore, are about nothing more than the inability to police firmly. No causes are important, except those which have affected the capability of the police, and any solution must center on strengthening the police.

Please don't put words in my mouth.


Other countries going through worse austerity measures are able to have protests (or not, as they see fit) without degenerating into rioting.
Examples?

Ireland. Spain. Israel. All of these places have been having protests about inequality and economic insecurity - which are important and worrisome issues - without burning down their own neighborhoods or going on a looting spree.

I lived through the riots of 2008 in Athens, this is not the same situation (i.e. looting was a second order effect then, it seems to be a driving force in London), but the parallels are many. Destroy a generation's prospects, marginalize and deprive them of any means of betterment, all the while showing on TV and the media the most vicious of banksters and media moguls swimming in money and luxury, and violence becomes the only possible answer:

Bullshit. That's a troll's excuse and you're falling for it.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:04 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's video of Nick Clegg warning about riots in the face of a government "pushing through difficult measures", during the election campaign.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:05 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Watching Sky News at Clapham, think they said Lavendar Hill, and there are so many people just mingling around taking pictures. Why does this piss me off?
posted by like_neon at 3:07 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


anigbrowl: If there were coherent political protests going on I'd agree with you. I remember things like the poll tax riots when Thatcher was PM, and after things like the miner's strike, her dismantlement of the GLC, and sundry other examples of authoritarianism run riot I found the causes easy to understand. This is just yobbery, and exists as much in good times as bad. I simply do not agree that these rioters are frustrated by their uncertain economic future or the prospect of an increased retirement age.

Well in that case you're old enough to recognise that sometimes these sorts of riots do not always erupt as a result of a coordinated political campaign. I will absolutely say that the rioters in many parts of London are obviously opportunistic twats; that said, I'd wager a few hundred that a good chunk of them are the same disenfranchised youth that rioted in 1980/81.

My point is, basically, that protesting teenagers and youths don't necessarily have a single focus for what they're protesting against. All they know is that, as jobless, skint, disenfranchised youths, they have nothing to gain from engaging in society, and nothing to lose from burning everything down.
posted by Len at 3:11 PM on August 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


With respect, anigbrowl, perhaps the rioters just can't hear you from San Francisco?
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:12 PM on August 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


a few reports on twitter of looting starting in Balham now.
posted by wayward vagabond at 3:13 PM on August 8, 2011


From the Guardian's live blog, Dalston's not going down easily:

"We've detoured to Dalston where a bus was set on fire in shacklewell lane earlier. The single deck bus is now cordoned off and there doesn't seem to be much damage, but the incident has clearly shaken the large Turkish community here. Many shopkeepers are on the street talking about how they chased away the gang of youths behind the bus fire.

"We beat up four of them quite badly and they ran off," one man, who wouldn't give his name, said. Another said: "this is not justice, coming here and trying to attack us." Notably several businesses are still open ascot usual here, unlike other violence hit areas.

We've just watched a mob of locals chase a gang of hoodies down the main road, with police vans on full siren in pursuit."
posted by emmtee at 3:14 PM on August 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


All they know is that, as jobless, skint, disenfranchised youths, they have nothing to gain from engaging in society, and nothing to lose from burning everything down.

It's going to happen in the US, too. Young people are starting to get edgy. They're completely disconnected from the political process, and everyone is telling them they have no future.
posted by empath at 3:15 PM on August 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Are things staying at the same intensity, escalating or dying down? I can't make heads or tails out o f the tweets at the moment.
posted by Lord_Pall at 3:17 PM on August 8, 2011


Passing the time waiting for the riots to come through here like a cartoon Tasmanian Devil by trying on all the colours of lipstick I own.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:17 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, I followed Louise Mensch on twitter after the notw thing but she's pissing me the fuck off now.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:18 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


AOK - Mensch was a very quick follow/un-follow for me too. Thanks for reminding me.
posted by bright cold day at 3:19 PM on August 8, 2011


Newsnight just reported a fire in Notting Hill. On that note, got to worry about the upcoming carnival.
posted by bright cold day at 3:21 PM on August 8, 2011


Why was the presenter on BBC News channel relentlessly attacking Ken Livingstone? WTF was that all about?
posted by Jehan at 3:22 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Bets on seeing the army on the ground in the next week?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:24 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, come on, attacking Ken Livingstone is a great stress-buster. And he enjoys it!
posted by KokuRyu at 3:24 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


What are you doing? "Getting my taxes back"
posted by dabitch at 3:24 PM on August 8, 2011


Jehan: BBC News 24 presenters basically have a licence to lambast anyone who deviates from the pre-determined narrative. It's a really frustrating and annoying trait.
posted by bright cold day at 3:24 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jehan: I was surprised at that; seemed like he just wanted Ken to say, "These riots are utterly unacceptable" and leave it like that. Clearly we're not allowed to ask why the riots are happening now, as opposed to a month ago or a year ago or five years ago.
posted by adrianhon at 3:24 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Map of confirmed incidents so far, again via the Guardian.
posted by emmtee at 3:27 PM on August 8, 2011


AOK - putting the army poses some serious problems - training, logistics, management, interface with police etc. Expect the London Met to keep topping up with police from Cambridgeshire, Essex etc. for as long as possible. The army is a square peg for the round hole.
posted by bright cold day at 3:27 PM on August 8, 2011


this is when it would be good to have something similar to the National Guard - a step above police, a step below military.
posted by wayward vagabond at 3:28 PM on August 8, 2011


Yeah, I'm not advocating it, but if it's going to kick off in other towns and cities, how many police will they be able to import?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:29 PM on August 8, 2011


Watching Sky News at Clapham, think they said Lavendar Hill, and there are so many people just mingling around taking pictures. Why does this piss me off?

Because it's like the hockey riot in Vancouver: a cheap laugh and something to post on the Facebook wall, even if one is not actively smashing stuff up. It's a bunch of spoilt kids, rather than people actually hungry and desperate. Again, you look back the the miner's strike or poll tax riots, the last time there was large-scale civil unrest, and it's a very different atmosphere - people weren't taking pictures of each other with instamatics or polaroids because it wasn't a party.

I'm going to take a break at this point, because I'm aware that my remarks are developing a 'get off my lawn' tone. But the fact is that Cameron's Tory party is a mild and moderate one, notwithstanding its broad reform agenda. David Cameron is a lot closer to John Major than he is to Margaret Thatcher, for one thing; for another, neither he nor his government are responsible for the global financial crisis, which is the main cause of economic insecurity in developed countries right now. I think it's really foolish to keep giving a platform to a one-size-fits-all class war narrative that has never actually improved anyone's life that I'm aware of. All it does is give people an excuse to avoid dealing with actualities.

I felt just the same way about the self-serving narratives of Irish history that some of my fellow countrymen relied on to justify terrorism in Northern Ireland or on the British mainland. They weren't actually true in any meaningful way, and the real problems were distorted or ignore because people were so eager to shoehorn them into a mythological narrative and ended up making things far, far worse than they needed to be.

A mythology of continuous existential conflict is unhealthy, unproductive, and obstructs progress by perpetuating and legitimising violence as a means of political expression.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:30 PM on August 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


COBRA meeting 9am tomorrow.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:30 PM on August 8, 2011


reliable twitter: Large group on hartland road - kids throwing rocks at police
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:35 PM on August 8, 2011


Yeah I hate the way Curry's keeps all my taxes. Where's my HD telly?
posted by like_neon at 3:36 PM on August 8, 2011


But the fact is that Cameron's Tory party is a mild and moderate one, notwithstanding its broad reform agenda.

Your facts and my truth are wildly diverging here.

I felt just the same way about the self-serving narratives of Irish history that some of my fellow countrymen relied on to justify terrorism in Northern Ireland or on the British mainland.

Was that before the british army were shooting unarmed civil rights protesters in Derry or after ?
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:36 PM on August 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


BBC reports rioting in Ealing. So since I live near Wood Green and work in Ealing Broadway, my week is now going to involve commuting from one riotzone to another.
posted by permafrost at 3:37 PM on August 8, 2011


Police seem to be really defending Camden.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:37 PM on August 8, 2011


Twatwatch: Nick Griffin MEP "Local English activists keeping out of way. So must all of ours, let the colonists cause all the trouble."
posted by Auz at 3:38 PM on August 8, 2011


twitter: @Camdenpubcrawl: Electric Ballroom in Camden has just been smashed up. We are totally gutted. :( #LondonRiot
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:38 PM on August 8, 2011


Yeah, Ealing Broadway??

Guy on the BBC says Ealing Shopping Center is on fire ... This is a nice suburb.
posted by carter at 3:39 PM on August 8, 2011




Yeah I hate the way Curry's keeps all my taxes. Where's my HD telly?



oh - i think you'll find currys have been ripping uk customers off for years with their non existent 'insurance' for items that were covered by warranties anyway and only refunding inherently damaged items after a lawyers letter. The money currys have made for years ripping people off is far, far more than a couple of shops worth of goods.

Anyway, carry on with the usual chav bashing.
posted by sgt.serenity at 3:40 PM on August 8, 2011


camden news on the BBC now.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:40 PM on August 8, 2011


Okay, I know it's kind of trivial in the grand scope of things, but I found myself inordinately happy that the rumors the Catford Cat had been destroyed were unsubstantiated. I love that goofy-ass thing.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 3:41 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Caller on BBC news claims a Pizza Hut in Camden has been set on fire, said there were "no police". Must be in a different part of Camden to the street charges.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:42 PM on August 8, 2011


Police seem to be really defending Camden.

Sarcasm Army of Kittens? They look rather on the back foot and they don't have any shields etc. I'm hoping they don't smash up the barfly because my sister will have to clear it up.
posted by pmcp at 3:44 PM on August 8, 2011


Guy on the BBC says Ealing Shopping Center is on fire ... This is a nice suburb.

And to think this is the week my employers picked to move back to Ealing.

Apparently Wood Green to Turnpike Lane closed, I was hearing lots of sirens just now.
posted by permafrost at 3:45 PM on August 8, 2011


When there’s no future how can there be sin
We’re the flowers in the dustbin
We’re the poison in your human machine
We’re the future your future

posted by Elmore at 3:45 PM on August 8, 2011


Sarcasm Army of Kittens? They look rather on the back foot and they don't have any shields etc. I'm hoping they don't smash up the barfly because my sister will have to clear it up.

Yeah, that seriously doesn't look like they'll manage to stop anything.

I imagine at some point, the rioters will get bored?
posted by empath at 3:46 PM on August 8, 2011


pmcp: "Sarcasm Army of Kittens?"

Half and half. Everything's confused but it seems there are pockets of heavy police presence, but it's scattered.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:47 PM on August 8, 2011


nthdegx writes "the sheer heat from it seemed to be setting buildings across the road on fire."

Probably are. Pure radiant heat is enough to ignite materrials you just need more energy than with an open flame.

anigbrowl writes "Again, you look back the the miner's strike or poll tax riots, the last time there was large-scale civil unrest, and it's a very different atmosphere - people weren't taking pictures of each other with instamatics or polaroids because it wasn't a party. "

You can't discount the wide availablity of cameras now. 20 years ago you were a freak if you carried a decent camera with you all the time (I know for that freak was me). Nowadays 90+% of the population has at least a mediocre camera with them at all times and a significant percentage has a fairly decent camera tucked into their purse or pocket. Not only does this mean people are better equipped to take pictures because they get more practice there is also a reduced stigma attached to picture taking. And people are encouraged by a world wide audience to record events around them. The compact digital camera has been game changing.
posted by Mitheral at 3:49 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Sky news reporter: "they're nasty pieces of work, they did not want to be filmed" Ummm that's not why they're nasty...
posted by like_neon at 3:51 PM on August 8, 2011


Wondering why there are so many police milling around places where the looters have clearly done with (burned down croyden). Considering how thin on the ground they are, shouldn't they be moving on to where the actual looters are?
posted by like_neon at 3:56 PM on August 8, 2011


Woolwich

Does this video show

a) marginalised and disenfranchised youth motivated by a hatred of the police?
b) unthinking youthful anarchy which has developed as predicted given the closure of youth centres?
c) the total collapse of responsibility within a welfare-supported underclass?
d) Some young men throwing stuff at some under-strength policemen for reasons that we will probably never understand unless we interview each one of them and probably not then either?

There were some small signs recently that Woolwich was going to turn a corner, that regeneration was going to work and there would no longer need to be boarded up shops on Powis St. Hope that can still happen.
posted by calico at 3:57 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your facts and my truth are wildly diverging here.

Then back up your disagreement with examples. The last example of massive police overreach I recall in London was when that guy died after being hit in the kidneys by a riot copper following the G20 protests in 2009. Funnily enough that happened before the last election.

Was that before the british army were shooting unarmed civil rights protesters in Derry or after ?

After. You may recall some 3000 people were killed by paramilitary terrorism over the following ~30 years, up until people got past the useless mythologizing and solved the problem by voting instead of blowing things up. British police shooting peaceful protesters in Derry in 1972 was unjustified, but that does not make bombing civilians in response OK.

oh - i think you'll find currys have been ripping uk customers off for years with their non existent 'insurance' for items that were covered by warranties anyway and only refunding inherently damaged items after a lawyers letter.

Oh no, how awful it was to be forced to buy insurance on consumer goods. Oh wait, that never happened, but somehow you think it justifies smashing the stores up, the cost of repair for which will come out of employees' and consumers' pockets.

You can't discount the wide availablity of cameras now. 20 years ago you were a freak if you carried a decent camera with you all the time (I know for that freak was me).

I was thinking of those little 110 film cartridges that were popular in the 80s as tourist cameras. They were widespread enough that girls used to have them in handbags to take pictures of themselves having a good time down at the pub or suchlike - although I agree that by eliminating the cost of film, digital has changed the nature of photography more than I allowed above.
posted by anigbrowl at 3:57 PM on August 8, 2011


i just really worry what might happen if someone gets killed during all this. i shudder to think.
posted by wayward vagabond at 3:58 PM on August 8, 2011


Is it starting to rain? That could really help.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 3:59 PM on August 8, 2011


There are no water canons available since they are all in Northern Ireland, as they were needed last month.
posted by Elmore at 3:59 PM on August 8, 2011


If the last few years have shown us anything, its that people photographing absolutely everything in london is the only way to make sure the police at least attempt to tell some semblance of the truth.
posted by dng at 4:00 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't know about taking pictures, but almost exactly 20 years ago my idiot friends and I found ourselves in a really scary situation when we went to check out the damage after the first day of the Mount Pleasant riots, not realizing that riots tend to start up again after people get home from school and work. We weren't rioting and had no interest in rioting, but we ended up in the middle of an angry crowd which we were lucky to extract ourselves from intact. Teenagers being morons seems to me to be a constant, and stupid gawkers don't have a whole hell of a lot to do with the causes or politics of the disturbance.
British police shooting peaceful protesters in Derry in 1972 was unjustified, but that does not make bombing civilians in response OK.
Oh, come on. Rioting kids in London aren't equivalent to the IRA. They may be equivalent to rioting kids in Northern Ireland, which there have been plenty of, but this is not an organized terrorist campaign.
posted by craichead at 4:01 PM on August 8, 2011


Water cannons aren't allowed to be used in England and Wales, as far as I know.
posted by dng at 4:01 PM on August 8, 2011


Very quiet over here in E5 right now (and I'm right on the Nightingale Estate). It was really bad earlier - we had the chopper overhead as, just down the road, the police lined up in force with horse support behind. Just down the road is where this lady gave her on the button speech.

Criminality is indeed always criminality, and one hopes that everyone out there tonight who deserves it gets punished.

That said, from seeing it and hearing it every day on the streets here in Hackney, I'm goddamn certain a fair part of this is rage from a chunk of youth that feel they have no future and no community.

They then find that future and community (or at least they think they do) in gangs and anti-social activities. In the long term that's likely to be their ruin, but since when are teenagers any good at thinking long term?

The shit that's going on tonight makes me angry because it ruins the city I love. Water cannon the people doing it for shits and giggles if you want (although I'd prefer they be arrested). Declare them criminals and lost causes if it makes you feel better.

But if we, as a city, as a society, don't admit that there are some major flaws in the environment in which these kids grew up that need to be addressed, then all we're doing in ensuring that their younger brothers and sisters will be doing the same thing in five years time.
posted by garius at 4:03 PM on August 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


BBC reporting that some party store in Clapham on fire now, opposite Debenhams. Police helpless as no fire brigade in sight.
posted by like_neon at 4:05 PM on August 8, 2011


Chalk Farm reportage on BBC now.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:08 PM on August 8, 2011


Oh, come on. Rioting kids in London aren't equivalent to the IRA. They may be equivalent to rioting kids in Northern Ireland, which there have been plenty of, but this is not an organized terrorist campaign.

You might want to read back up the thread to see the context of that remark. I didn't make such a comparison.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:09 PM on August 8, 2011


These appear to be pictures of the Clapham fire. If those are residence on the upper storeys, that is very disconcerting indeed.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:10 PM on August 8, 2011


Hampstead?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:10 PM on August 8, 2011


residences
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:10 PM on August 8, 2011


Sky is reporting that people's homes are being broken into. A woman woke up to find a gang in her house, she called the police, they are too busy to attend, the Sky reporter has promised to stay with the distressed woman until the police can get there. A neighbour said that the people rampaged down the street, burning cars and smashing things.
posted by essexjan at 4:11 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I know it's completely and utterly irrational, but I've been twitchy all day not so much because I'm so close to the looting and rioting, but because I haven't been able to get the "It started as rioting" speech from 28 Days Later out of my head. =P
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 4:12 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


I caught the end that essexjan, did you hear where that was?
posted by like_neon at 4:12 PM on August 8, 2011


One of my friends is reporting that he can see a huge fire in the Ponders End area - Twitter's suggesting it's the Iceland warehouse. Really, really hope we're not about to have a repeat of last night up this way.
posted by ZsigE at 4:13 PM on August 8, 2011


Wow, some utterly moronic comments here. Saying this is totally divorced from socioeconomic context is beyond belief.

If Belfast doesn't kick off as well I'd be expecting to see a large contingent of the PSNI being dispatched to Britain with armoured land rovers etc. They're pretty used to this kind of thing.

Normally, when rioting happens in Belfast, they tend to peter out after 3 or 4 nights. If this goes on longer than that the government will be very worried indeed and I fear what they'll do. I also have a horrible feeling we'll see more deaths...
posted by knapah at 4:13 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


basmati rice
posted by pmcp at 4:13 PM on August 8, 2011


from @tomfoot1, journo in camden: Back up arrives - charge imminent, dogs barking, police chief here
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:15 PM on August 8, 2011


I think it was Ealing, like_neon.
posted by essexjan at 4:15 PM on August 8, 2011


News presenters overwhelmed by sheer volume of locations.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:17 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


In Camden.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:17 PM on August 8, 2011


If Belfast doesn't kick off as well I'd be expecting to see a large contingent of the PSNI being dispatched to Britain with armoured land rovers etc. They're pretty used to this kind of thing.

Can the PSNI be legally deployed to England? Are they empowered under English and Welsh law?
posted by Jehan at 4:19 PM on August 8, 2011


Lawrence Road, Liverpool.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:20 PM on August 8, 2011


I was right outside the party shop in Chalk Farm earlier today.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:21 PM on August 8, 2011


For the police this is like smoothing down bubbles in wallpaper -- deal with one and another pops up elsewhere.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:22 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, they're talking about the party store in Clapham, not Chalk Farm.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:23 PM on August 8, 2011


Shit, not another city. I need to go to sleep but don't want to wake up to even more places.
posted by ellieBOA at 4:24 PM on August 8, 2011


A few (interesting) additions: Nina Power writes on the 'context' of the riot, broadening the discussion to current UK policies and beyond.

Should we even be asking role of social media and a more old-fashioned form of mass organisation has been spotted by some on the streets

Haven't we heard these warnings before? They've certainly been dismissed. The irony is palpable
posted by 0bvious at 4:24 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


For the police this is like smoothing down bubbles in wallpaper

I think what we are seeing here is a new power relationship beginning between the government and the governed, for good or ill.

The authorities no longer have a better communications infrastructure than 'the people'. This one is all just for funsies, but in places like Syria, they're playing for keeps.

These are dry runs for a revolution.
posted by empath at 4:25 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm trying very hard to keep my own counsel, but what I find as dismaying as the violence and the distruction is what the aim of it appears to be - getting stuff. It's worth terrifying all these people, doing all this damage, to get your hands on something that otherwise you wouldn't have...the Guardian liveblog has a report of someone asking through the broken window of a Halfords for a looted satnav. A satnav? It's worth that kind of damage to your dignity for a satnav?

I'd like to be clearer that neither of my comments above were intended to suggest that we can never look for reasons behind this or lessons to be learnt from it. I have my own prejudices of course and my own thoughts on what causes this sort of unrest. My point is that maybe now isn't the best time.
posted by calico at 4:26 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


AOK - Sky had a camera in Camden a little while ago. They might cross again. BBC News appear to be entirely reliant on phone hook-ups (and are generally just recycling video).
posted by bright cold day at 4:26 PM on August 8, 2011


Oh and in regard to countries like Ireland suffering worse austerity, the unemployment benefit in Ireland is still €188, quite a bit more than the UK's £56 or so. Ireland is suffering alright but the poor aren't being hit by the same sustained assault as they are in the UK.
posted by knapah at 4:26 PM on August 8, 2011


I would imagine that if there's an emerging realization among would-be looters that the police is overstretched and largely ineffectual, we could see much more of this in the coming hours or days.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:27 PM on August 8, 2011


Word on the twitters is that a few dozen kids with weapons are up near Kentish Town tube, no idea how accurate that is. Just down the road from us.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:28 PM on August 8, 2011


Eesh, another fire - this time Innova Park in Brimsdown's going up. Home to a Holiday Inn, a Sony Centre and a school (Oasis Academy) - one of my friends teaches there, she sounds absolutely distraught right now. The local arsonists seem to be having a lovely time with the lack of police.
posted by ZsigE at 4:29 PM on August 8, 2011


I would imagine that if there's an emerging realization among would-be looters that the police is overstretched and largely ineffectual, we could see much more of this in the coming hours or days.

I was just thinking that. Plus the rioters have better C+C than the cops. If the rioters realise this, and the authorities realise that the rioters realise this, then it's curfew time and the army.
posted by carter at 4:30 PM on August 8, 2011


from a Guardian reporter: RT @mrmatthewtaylor: Police office just told me "we can't cope. We have passd breaking point" #londonriots
posted by wayward vagabond at 4:31 PM on August 8, 2011


This really looks like it's going to take: a) curfew, b) the army, c) travel restrictions/checkpoints to get it under control.

The looters are using classic swarm tactics: stealthy approach, sudden convergence, rapid withdrawal. The police/defense have to be strong everywhere at once, a losing proposition. The solution is to immobilize the looters (curfew and checkpoints) combined with lots of troops everywhere with quick reaction forces. This is going to be a mess.

The networked swarming using social media is one choke point that would be very hard to cut off. Nobody would like taking down the civilian communications net, but the all-points network of social media is very robust. It really amplifies the ability to flashmob a weak area.

T.E. Lawrence: "Translated into Arabic, the algebraic factor would first take practical account of the area we wished to deliver, and I began idly to calculate how many square miles: sixty: eighty: one hundred: perhaps one hundred and forty thousand square miles. And how would the Turks defend all that? No doubt by a trench line across the bottom, if we came like an army with banners; but suppose we were (as we might be) an influence, an idea, a thing intangible, invulnerable, without front or back, drifting about like a gas? Armies were like plants, immobile, firm-rooted, nourished through long stems to the head. We might be a vapour, blowing where we listed. Our kingdoms lay in each man's mind; and as we wanted nothing material to live on, so we might offer nothing material to the killing. It seemed a regular soldier might be helpless without a target, owning only what he sat on, and subjugating only what, by order, he could poke his rifle at."
posted by warbaby at 4:31 PM on August 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


bright cold day: "AOK - Sky had a camera in Camden a little while ago. They might cross again. BBC News appear to be entirely reliant on phone hook-ups (and are generally just recycling video)."

Thanks, switching feeds.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:31 PM on August 8, 2011


Not entirely sure about the legal basis for PSNI deployment in Britain, but the equipment - land rovers, water cannon etc. - certainly can be used.
posted by knapah at 4:33 PM on August 8, 2011


wayward vagabond: "from a Guardian reporter: RT @mrmatthewtaylor: Police office just told me "we can't cope. We have passd breaking point" #londonriots"

Yeah, I think the army is inevitable now.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:34 PM on August 8, 2011


Yeah, I think the army is inevitable now.
Has that happened before?
posted by Lord_Pall at 4:35 PM on August 8, 2011


Marc Reeves:
That shop in Croydon is on a street that bears its name: Reeves Corner. Established by my [great-great-]grandfather in 1867. Now gone.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:35 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Dunno, but this has clearly broken the Met.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:36 PM on August 8, 2011


Wait, Birmingham Library? Then can burn that down, it's alright, nobody will complain, honestly.

That says it all, really.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:36 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I think the army is inevitable now.

Game over, politically speaking, for both Cameron and Boris if that happens I suspect.
posted by garius at 4:37 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


RE: Army on the streets - last time I remember was round Heathrow/Hounslow a few years back during that major terror scare there.

VERY surreal popping down to Londis whilst a small tank rolls by.
posted by garius at 4:38 PM on August 8, 2011


Photo purportedly shows members of the Turkish community in Dalston coming together in an attempt to keep the area safe from rioters.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:38 PM on August 8, 2011


Yeah, I think the army is inevitable now.

Has that happened before?


I don't know the last time the army was deployed in England for purposes of crowd control or riot policing, but last regular deployment was before 1848.

Wait, Birmingham Library? Then can burn that down, it's alright, nobody will complain, honestly.

That says it all, really.


What does it say? It was some light relief, a comment on how ugly and unlovable Birmingham Central Library is. I don't seriously expect it to happen, to be clear.
posted by Jehan at 4:40 PM on August 8, 2011


Although there were rumours about the army during the Miners' Strike, but that wasn't official, anyway.
posted by Grangousier at 4:41 PM on August 8, 2011


garius: "Game over, politically speaking, for both Cameron and Boris if that happens I suspect."

The coalition is fucked if they get the army on the streets, but also fucked if they let this happen for another night. The riots have moved out of the places people can tell themselves are just violent and into the rest of London. I don't see a third option tbh.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:41 PM on August 8, 2011


Whatever happens, I think the political backing is probably now there for an EPIC overhaul/revamp/restaffing of the Met. Root and Branch.
posted by garius at 4:45 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So, we're going back to the Chartistsfor when the Army was used for civil control?

You know, if that's true, then this brings things into a sort of 1848 focus and makes a direct link with the Arab Spring. Hmmm. *scratches head*
posted by warbaby at 4:45 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The coalition is fucked if they get the army on the streets, but also fucked if they let this happen for another night. The riots have moved out of the places people can tell themselves are just violent and into the rest of London. I don't see a third option tbh.


I think they were proper fucked as soon as they didn't drop their holidays and come back to deal with the crisis. That hesitation, or perceived hesitation is going to fuck them.
posted by Lord_Pall at 4:45 PM on August 8, 2011


And the tans.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:46 PM on August 8, 2011


All things considered, this government should fall.
posted by warbaby at 4:46 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Cameroff
posted by Elmore at 4:47 PM on August 8, 2011


And the fact that Cameron didn't tip.
posted by garius at 4:47 PM on August 8, 2011


Marc Reeves' deadpan was incredible and admirable in the face of some pretty rote questioning.

"Did you see any looting of your shop?"
"We sell three-piece suites. I think I would have noticed if someone had walked out with one on his shoulders."
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:47 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Did you all see The Ledbury in Westbourne Grove was attacked? The mob broke all the windows and then attempted to take the wallets and purses of all the diners but were chased out by the chefs with knives.
posted by JPD at 4:48 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


My sister and her kids are in Camden Town; she just FB'd that the windows of the townhouse just a few doors down have all been smashed out and a fire has been started. I am fucking terrified.
posted by scody at 4:48 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some of the scenes from Liverpool are very disturbing - cars being burned and mobs charging at police lines. Here is video and @benschofield is updating on Twitter.
posted by nowonmai at 4:50 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh and in regard to countries like Ireland suffering worse austerity, the unemployment benefit in Ireland is still €188, quite a bit more than the UK's £56 or so. Ireland is suffering alright but the poor aren't being hit by the same sustained assault as they are in the UK.

That's got something to do with an unemployment rate of 15% in Ireland vs 8% in the UK. If it were as simple as you're suggesting, then I'd say Irish people have (and have had) much lower economic prospects than their contemporaries in Britain. Also, the benefits structure in Ireland and the UK is rather different.

The reason I am not buying into the socioeconomic context argument is because this had nothing to do with protests about jobs or benefits. If it had started as a political protest that then went downhill, I'd be a lot more sympathetic to such explanations (though not to the rioters, necessarily). But this just does not look to me like a 21st century version of the Jarrow march.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:51 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sigh I might not be able to watch the live taping of 8 out of 10 cats that I won tickets for tomorrow. Doesn't end til after 10 and I don't fancy walking home alone tomorrow (even though a week ago I would have thought nothing of it).
posted by like_neon at 4:51 PM on August 8, 2011


Some of the scenes from Liverpool are very disturbing - cars being burned and mobs charging at police lines. Here is video and @benschofield is updating on Twitter.


Apparently that's woolwich, not liverpool. Check the comments. (Past the snarky ones)
posted by Lord_Pall at 4:52 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Wait, Birmingham Library? Then can burn that down, it's alright, nobody will complain, honestly.

That says it all, really.

What does it say?


My point was that the poor spelling of your post only underlines the need for libraries.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:52 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Seriously JPD? That's really scary.
posted by dabitch at 4:52 PM on August 8, 2011


BBC live blog says a police station in Birmingham is on fire.
posted by permafrost at 4:53 PM on August 8, 2011


Photo purportedly shows members of the Turkish community in Dalston coming together in an attempt to keep the area safe from rioters.

They're on to something. Maybe other Londoners ought to give it a try instead of tut-tutting about how it's all the fault of the establishment.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:54 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah, that's Woolwich (same one I posted above)

My beautiful south London. I know you think I'm being ironic, but I'm not.
posted by calico at 4:55 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


twitter: An astonishing--and defining--political failure; a Katrina moment; a memory that will shape a nation for a generation.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:55 PM on August 8, 2011


These would be the children of the people Buford studied in Among the Thugs.

angibrowl: it doesn't have to be monocausal. Most situations aren't. The disturbances were made possible by the social context and then exploited by opportunists. Both/And.
posted by warbaby at 4:55 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


anigbrowl: "They're on to something. Maybe other Londoners ought to give it a try instead of tut-tutting about how it's all the fault of the establishment."

Oh shut up.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:55 PM on August 8, 2011 [18 favorites]


My point was that the poor spelling of your post only underlines the need for libraries.

this is why I stopped correcting people's typing on the Internet.
posted by anigbrowl at 4:56 PM on August 8, 2011


So, we're going back to the Chartists for when the Army was used for civil control?

I think so, yes. I would be interested to find out if that's wrong, but the governments of the times slowly ceased to rely on the army because of their faithlessness. The common soldier was working-class and typically sympathized with rioters and protesters, rather than the state. It was for this reason that the Yeomanry were used at Peterloo, which lead to disastrous results. Police deployment throughout Chartist activity was preferred to minimize escalation of violence, especially during urban riots.

My point was that the poor spelling of your post only underlines the need for libraries.

I'm sorry that something I posted on the internet has poor spelling and punctuation.
posted by Jehan at 4:56 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thanks for the correction, Lord_Pall; Sky News are currently showing the same footage saying they think it's from Liverpool so I'm not the only one passing on misinformation I guess.
posted by nowonmai at 4:57 PM on August 8, 2011


They're on to something. Maybe other Londoners ought to give it a try instead of tut-tutting about how it's all the fault of the establishment.

Good plan, Londoner! If you get on a plane now, you'll be able to get there in... 13 hours or so? Cool. I'll meet you in Tesco.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:57 PM on August 8, 2011 [5 favorites]


Buses still pulling up here. Clinging to the arrival of each one like a fuckugly lifeline.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 4:58 PM on August 8, 2011


Oh do calm down Jehan, I was trying to make a point about how great libraries were and how stupid it was to attack your own community that's all, I didn't think it was that disguised.

In other news, two 24hr supermarkets in Kilburn run by serbs (who have moved to Kilburn in recent years) are being guarded by half a dozen men, and sensibly no one has tried to attack them yet. God knows what would happen if they did.
posted by ciderwoman at 4:59 PM on August 8, 2011


Sainsburys is still staffed despite having been closed for two hours. Wonder if they're afraid to go home?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:01 PM on August 8, 2011


so. many. sirens. please god make it stop.
posted by wayward vagabond at 5:01 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Warbaby, the reason I'm so skeptical is that there's a long history of riots in the UK, and while this is an exceptionally large and severe riot, it's neither wholly uncharacteristic (for the country) or tightly coupled to economic policies.

Oh shut up.

Compelling line or argument you've got there.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:01 PM on August 8, 2011


The reason they still hate Churchill even more than Thatcher in Wales is because he sent in troops to control the Tonypandy Riots. (1911)

They also sent in the troops (with tanks) to the Battle of George Square (1919)

[and of course N.I.]

Assuming that it's civil control in the U.K., not just England.
posted by titus-g at 5:02 PM on August 8, 2011


Seriously, anigbrowl, stop it. Can you not see you're being a massive arsehole?

Not trying to win an argument. Trying to share information about an ongoing FUCKING RIOT.

Let's debate in the daylight.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:03 PM on August 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


see the incomprehensible language used in the film "Attack the Block"

Man, I'm so late, but I didn't know "Go home and watch Naruto" or "I shoulda stayed home and played FIFA" to be incomprehensible.

But then again, it may have less to do with the language being used and more to do with the listener's comprehension (or lack thereof).
posted by yeloson at 5:04 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


NYT The Lede: Egyptian Bloggers Parse London Riots in Real Time
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 5:04 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Fleet of police vans just passed, heading south into Kentish.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:05 PM on August 8, 2011


I just read this on Twitter: 1700 police officers on the streets of London tonight. There was 5000 for the royal wedding.
posted by ob at 5:05 PM on August 8, 2011


Good plan, Londoner! If you get on a plane now, you'll be able to get there in... 13 hours or so? Cool. I'll meet you in Tesco.

OK, keep posting about how other people are stepping up to confront the rioters in their own communities and wondering what will happen outside your own front door. I'm just pointing out that your home's likely to be safer if you're out in front of it with your neighbors. But don't mind me if the concept bothers you.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:07 PM on August 8, 2011


ob: "I just read this on Twitter: 1700 police officers on the streets of London tonight. There was 5000 for the royal wedding."

Yeah, I saw that, no idea if it's accurate. Too easy to believe things like that tonight.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:07 PM on August 8, 2011


Well, I am in Camden. My flatmate and I have been watching out the window all night. We kept seeing people streaming onto our street from Chalk Farm Road -- not sure where they were going, Kentish Town I guess -- and later, police in riot gear with dogs. So many people. I'm a little scared.
posted by Put the kettle on at 5:08 PM on August 8, 2011


anigbrowl: "I'm just pointing out that your home's likely to be safer if you're out in front of it with your neighbors. But don't mind me if the concept bothers you."

Yeah, I'll take my five foot seven tranny arse with chronic pain out into the street with a table leg, shall I? I'm fearsome.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:09 PM on August 8, 2011 [6 favorites]


posted by Put the kettle on
Because we all need a smile right now... Eponysterical?
posted by like_neon at 5:10 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I saw that, no idea if it's accurate. Too easy to believe things like that tonight.

quick google says yep.
posted by wayward vagabond at 5:10 PM on August 8, 2011


1700 police officers on the streets of London tonight. There was 5000 for the royal wedding. - 1,700 *EXTRA*. Careful.


as modify-tweeted (in bold) by @jamesrbuk (James Ball), Guardian data journalist
posted by Bwithh at 5:11 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


anigbrowl - Mostly I'm on this thread for a sense of community or connection or something. I live just north of the Elephant and Castle, above a stationery shop, of all things. Most likely nothing will happen to us - it's actually worryingly quiet out there, but it's unlikely we'll sleep much tonight, and the experience of wondering whether at some point in the next few hours if the mob pass through I might have to choose between being burned alive or beaten to death, for all its novelty, is not rendered any less distressing by fact it almost certainly won't happen. Because it's standing in for a general fear of something that might happen, that's happened to a lot of other people over the last few days.

This isn't a jolly theoretical argument for a lot of us on here. Whatever the actual threat might be, the uncertainty and the fear is very real.

If you don't care about that, that's fine, I'm sure I can be just the same about people on the other side of the world. But that's why people are telling you to shut up, and it's probably not a good idea to get in a snit about it.
posted by Grangousier at 5:12 PM on August 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


like_neon: "posted by Put the kettle on
Because we all need a smile right now... Eponysterical?
"

I have had so much tea. I might go for a swim tomorrow and see if the pool tastes like PG Tips.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:12 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ha, like_neon! Truly the happiest words in the English language.
posted by Put the kettle on at 5:13 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


warbaby: "So, we're going back to the Chartistsfor when the Army was used for civil control?

You know, if that's true, then this brings things into a sort of 1848 focus and makes a direct link with the Arab Spring. Hmmm. *scratches head*
"

Wonder where we are on Time Wave Zero.
posted by symbioid at 5:14 PM on August 8, 2011


anigbrowl: I'm just pointing out that your home's likely to be safer if you're out in front of it with your neighbors.

And I'm pointing out that your home is in San Francisco, and that this is heroic armchair quarterbacking by someone with very little skin in the game.

To be honest, I'm amazed you can see ArmyofKitten's home from San Francisco, but if you could give them a heads up if danger's close, I'm sure that would be appreciated.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:14 PM on August 8, 2011 [14 favorites]


Fuck me, I had to get off FB typing to friends in London WTF is going on when someone else (not a friend but a friend of a friend) started in with "throw all the hateful scum into the fire, ingrateful (sic) scum. And oh yeah, throw in the arabs, too."

Mind you, this shithead is in Canada. STFU, racist prick.
posted by Kitteh at 5:14 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Yeah, I'll take my five foot seven tranny arse with chronic pain out into the street with a table leg, shall I? I'm fearsome.

Worked for me. I still only weigh 8.5 stone, so I do actually have a grasp of your situation. I am not suggesting that you go looking for a fight, but that you get together with your own neighbors the same way you would over some natural calamity. This is safer than sitting inside hoping a brick doesn't come through your window or that a molotov cocktail won't set fire to your curtains.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:15 PM on August 8, 2011


I dunno Bwithh, I swore i heard someone from the Met earlier (could have been 3 hours ago now) say a number like 1400 when asked how many police are out. It wasn't 1400 extra, when he said it.
posted by like_neon at 5:15 PM on August 8, 2011


This guy for Camden news too.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:16 PM on August 8, 2011


Well this one genuinely is in Liverpool: http://dailybooth.com/LiverpoolEcho/18130618. I think it was only a matter of time.
posted by nowonmai at 5:16 PM on August 8, 2011


And BBC news just said 1700 as well. Also said they are being supported by 11 forces outside the Met.
posted by like_neon at 5:16 PM on August 8, 2011


And I'm pointing out that your home is in San Francisco, and that this is heroic armchair quarterbacking by someone with very little skin in the game.

I have rather a lot of family in your neck of the woods, something that seems not to have occurred to you. Also, my main skepticism is about the idea that the rioters are noble economic savages. I admit to being a rather chilly-hearted Benthamite about this kind of thing.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:17 PM on August 8, 2011


Anigbrow, with all due respect, you might want to leave this for people who are here to talk about what's going on and save your thoughts for after it's all over and we all know our friends are OK. I'm not looking to debate your views, just saying there might be a better time and place for someone on the other side of the pond to give us their opinions.
posted by ciderwoman at 5:18 PM on August 8, 2011 [4 favorites]


Oh hey we seem to have a helicopter. Brill.
posted by calico at 5:18 PM on August 8, 2011


anigbrowl: " Also, my main skepticism is about the idea that the rioters are noble economic savages. I admit to being a rather chilly-hearted Benthamite about this kind of thing."

Your complete inability to comprehend what people are talking about is sort of heroic at this point.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:18 PM on August 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


@Camdenpubcrawl seem to know what's going on too.
posted by pmcp at 5:19 PM on August 8, 2011


"I admit to being a rather chilly-hearted Benthamite"

well you got the chilly-hearted bit right. c'mon. you're just arguing for the sake of it with people who are distraught right now. enough.
posted by wayward vagabond at 5:20 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tesco, Tottenham Court Road.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:20 PM on August 8, 2011


Al Jazeera English is doing a LOT of coverage about the riots. Nearly every other news network I can find on DISH Network is spending most of their time talking about the stock market plunge and Obama's speech today.

In this instance, I have to give props to AJE (once again) for covering the things that actually matter.
posted by hippybear at 5:21 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Worked for me. I still only weigh 8.5 stone, so I do actually have a grasp of your situation.

You know what, save the advice for when the big one knocks us off our pins here in SF. And quit universalizing your experience; you're not there, you are not the people in question, and you are beginning to sound like a Dirty Harry wannabe. It's really, really off-putting.
posted by rtha at 5:21 PM on August 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Recycling truck making everyone on the road jump.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:22 PM on August 8, 2011


Don't know if it was mentioned further up the thread but thewestlondoner has got better rolling updates than most other places I've found.

East Dulwich had rioters come through earlier, presumably overflow from Peckham. Various shops on Lordship Lane looted, although no obvious fires.

Slightly worried by reports that there are hydrogen canisters stored in a building near the currently-on-fire fancy dress shop by Clapham Junction.
posted by inire at 5:23 PM on August 8, 2011


BBC News just mentioned disturbances in Manchester as well as Liverpool.
posted by Jehan at 5:23 PM on August 8, 2011


ArmyOfKittens: "Tesco, Tottenham Court Road."

Hah, that's actually the Tesco I go to on the way to work.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:23 PM on August 8, 2011


The BBC are showing another huge fire in Croydon just now.
posted by dng at 5:26 PM on August 8, 2011


For any Jeff Vandermeer fans, this is starting to feel a lot like Ambergris at Festival time. Except at least the Gray Caps had the good grace to get it over with in one night.

I have something for you you will like it
posted by emmtee at 5:26 PM on August 8, 2011


Innova Park in Enfield
posted by garius at 5:26 PM on August 8, 2011


To be fair, rtha, the struggle to keep the big chains out of the Mission District is pretty much exactly like this - the looming threat, the need for a community response, the demand to get out their and defend what 's yours. anigbrowl is no doubt just trying to give us the benefit of that experience.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:27 PM on August 8, 2011


You know what, save the advice for when the big one knocks us off our pins here in SF. And quit universalizing your experience; you're not there, you are not the people in question, and you are beginning to sound like a Dirty Harry wannabe. It's really, really off-putting.

I'm a Dirty Harry wannabe because I have a low opinion of the rioters? That's just ridiculous. My point is that in a situation like this it's actually safer to stay in groups with your neighbors, which olowers the risk of getting attacked in the first place. You can take or leave that suggestion as you see fit, but suggesting that this is some sort of macho posture is just ridiculous.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:27 PM on August 8, 2011


reputable twitterer: Just to be clear Camden Town isn't completely smashed up, only a couple of shops. Chalk Farm Road is where the main damage is.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:28 PM on August 8, 2011


Correction: the hydrogen canisters are in the currently-on-fire fancy dress shop. Which isn't good.
posted by inire at 5:29 PM on August 8, 2011


How about the suggestion that the views of someone on another continent might not be the most wanted thing right now? Seriously anigbrowl, you've made your point, you're just repeating it now, maybe give it a rest.
posted by ciderwoman at 5:29 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


These police officers have got to be fucking knackered by now, having been at it since Saturday.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:30 PM on August 8, 2011


Slightly worried by reports that there are hydrogen canisters stored in a building near the currently-on-fire fancy dress shop by Clapham Junction.

Pressurized hydrogen isn't super explosive without an oxygen source, afaik.
posted by empath at 5:30 PM on August 8, 2011


inire: "Correction: the hydrogen canisters are in the currently-on-fire fancy dress shop. Which isn't good."

I thought those were helium canisters?
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:31 PM on August 8, 2011


To be fair, rtha, the struggle to keep the big chains out of the Mission District is pretty much exactly like this - the looming threat, the need for a community response, the demand to get out their and defend what 's yours. anigbrowl is no doubt just trying to give us the benefit of that experience.

ROSF, perhaps it's escaped your attention that I lived in London for a long time, still have family there, and have been in the middle of things like the poll tax riots before, which was not a fun place to be either. I don't live in the Mission, nor am I concerned with things like planning permission for stores. When I did live in the Mission, back in the 90s, it was a crack ghetto and I've had the (dis)pleasure of being shot at several times. So I am not, as a matter of fact, relying on the TV to get a sense of what is going on in London at the moment.

Obviously it's too upsetting for people that I don't think the government is sole cause of these riots so I'm just going to bow out of the thread right now.
posted by anigbrowl at 5:31 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is much more reminiscent of the book Gangs of New York (1928, no not the movie). A series of riots overtook Manhattan from about the Civil War until the 1920s, never really subdued just occasionally driven underground by the National Guard.
posted by 2bucksplus at 5:31 PM on August 8, 2011


The people who are actually affected by the rioting have been pretty overwhelmingly in favour of not taking your suggestion, you're the one who continues to force it on them.
posted by tivalasvegas at 5:32 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kilburn rioting appears to have faded away. Police were VERY heavy handed during the early evening, cautioning and moving on any small groups of youngsters. The phone shop got done over, some skirmishes on the side streets, but it was no Croydon. Perhaps the mix of heavy handed police and scary Serbian community curtailed too much rioting, who knows.
posted by ciderwoman at 5:32 PM on August 8, 2011


"Clean up in Camden tomorrow at 11AM! Meet at the Camden Town tube station! Will be posting more info as it becomes available!"
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:32 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


I thought those were helium canisters?

South London could be filled with marauders with squeaky voices...
posted by Grangousier at 5:32 PM on August 8, 2011


anigbrowl: "Obviously it's too upsetting for people that I don't think the government is sole cause of these riots so I'm just going to bow out of the thread right now."

When you come back, please make sure you don't just start arguing with points no-one has made again.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:33 PM on August 8, 2011 [9 favorites]


Okay, so what I hear from Twitter is that Woolwich (the place masquerading as Liverpool above) is now under police control and cordons have been set up like so

Also that the helicopter I hear is circling round the Peninsula shopping centre in Charlton where apparently 'hundreds' of looters have been making away with stuff...
posted by calico at 5:34 PM on August 8, 2011


... that didn't make any sense, really, did it? Sorry. Adrenaline.
posted by Grangousier at 5:34 PM on August 8, 2011


I'm a Dirty Harry wannabe because I have a low opinion of the rioters?

No. Because you're advising people to go stand outside. This may or may not be good advice, depending on the circumstances. And you seem unwilling to acknowledge those circumstances.

On preview:

Obviously it's too upsetting for people that I don't think the government is sole cause of these riots so I'm just going to bow out of the thread right now.


People are irritated that you're coming off all I KNOW BEST I AM RIGHT YOU SHOULD AGREE WITH ME. It's fucking annoying in a thread like this.
posted by rtha at 5:35 PM on August 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Still haven't seen the rioters who've been about to come up from Kentish for the last couple of hours. Word is some people banded together to defend Kentish Town, and some of the rioters may have gone south to try and loot Tottenham Court Road.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:36 PM on August 8, 2011


I thought those were helium canisters?

Started out as helium, then the BBC said hydrogen, now it's helium again. I assume superheated gas is generally a bad thing though.
posted by inire at 5:36 PM on August 8, 2011


South London could be filled with marauders with squeaky voices...

I'm hoping for a JD Sports or Cellphone Warehouse manager to make a bold attempt to escape the ravening hordes in the style of Up.
posted by emmtee at 5:37 PM on August 8, 2011


Cellphone Warehouse? Cellphone? I'm off to make a cup of tea and eat a bulldog by way of penance.
posted by emmtee at 5:39 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Camden Road.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:39 PM on August 8, 2011


I assume superheated gas is generally a bad thing though.

Cue biryani joke.

While I'm in a confessional mood, I might mention that when I saw the photos of Tottenham Court Road I was momentarily concerned for the blesséd Apple Store.

But then if there's one company that could afford to be looted, it's probably Apple.
posted by Grangousier at 5:39 PM on August 8, 2011


I assume superheated gas is generally a bad thing though.

I definitely wouldn't want to be in the room when a helium tank explodes, but I think the room being on fire would be a more pressing concern, anyway. It's not the kind of thing that levels a city block or anything like that.
posted by empath at 5:39 PM on August 8, 2011


Inire: helium is inert - so, nonflammable and non-explosive, even when pressurized, I think. I'm guessing it's there to blow up balloons, so helium is more likely than hydrogen, I'd guess.
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:40 PM on August 8, 2011


He just wanted a job
posted by shii at 5:40 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Ho. Lee. Shit.
posted by Mental Wimp at 5:40 PM on August 8, 2011


helium is inert - so, nonflammable and non-explosive, even when pressurized, I think

Commercial helium tanks are about 2000 psi. Definitely enough pressure to do some damage if the tank fails.
posted by empath at 5:43 PM on August 8, 2011


Twitter: Liverpool is kicking off big time. Toxteth sounds like a war zone
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:47 PM on August 8, 2011


But then if there's one company that could afford to be looted, it's probably Apple.

That's something I've been wondering -- have they been to loot places like Knightsbridge?
posted by catchingsignals at 5:47 PM on August 8, 2011


Having been at plenty of riots (I just seem to be at the wrong place at the wrong time, from the poll tax onwards) I don't think I've ever seen rioting from such a solidly young section of society. This may just be a kilburn and hackney thing (the only ones I've seen up close), but if those two are the same as the others, it really did feel like something unlike any other disturbances I've seen.

Oh there go more police, Kilburn not finished yet it would seem.
posted by ciderwoman at 5:48 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Vans and riot police also setting up in Stokes Croft, Bristol. Seems to be precautionary at the moment, but trouble wouldn't be much of a surprise given recent history.
posted by inire at 5:48 PM on August 8, 2011


empath: Sure - but shrapnel from the pressure differential and the loss of structural integrity, not the gas itself exploding or more flames, right? You wouldn't want to be nearby, but it won't make the structural situation around the building appreciably worse...
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:48 PM on August 8, 2011


A gas cylinder with the regulator blown off can easily go through a brick wall. Even if the gas isn't flammable, they still represent a considerable hazard.
posted by *becca* at 5:50 PM on August 8, 2011


A LOT of police in Camden Town.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:52 PM on August 8, 2011


This live BBC feed is showing a residential building on fire in Ealing
posted by dabitch at 5:53 PM on August 8, 2011


Armyofkittens, I heard the Lock Tavern had been smashed up. Do you know if there's any truth in that?
posted by ciderwoman at 5:54 PM on August 8, 2011


New York Times' @ravisomaiya saying 1700 extra officers. *shrug* bound
posted by Bwithh at 5:55 PM on August 8, 2011


I heard that too, from several sources. Don't know for certain though.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 5:55 PM on August 8, 2011


bound to be confusion at time like this
posted by Bwithh at 5:55 PM on August 8, 2011


These guys help a hurt kid up, only to steal stuff from his bag.. Nice.
posted by dabitch at 5:57 PM on August 8, 2011


Right. Quarter to two, and the helicopter's gone so I suppose I should try and get some sleep. I know that getting tired is going to make all this worse tomorrow, but I'm thinking about things I never thought I would have to worry about: will I be all right riding in tomorrow and locking up at North Greenwich like I normally do? The Thames path is pretty much out of the way of anything but then I do go past the Stone Lake retail park which apparently has been done over. Don't think I can ride all the way in because that will take me through some areas where there will definitely be no riots (nothing to steal) but where it's a bit quiet and I'm a bit spooked right now. People have been mugged for their bikes. Should I take my back up drive into work with me? Should I go to work at all? Is there something I should be doing to help clear up instead?

When I stop to think calmly I think as likely as not the worst thing that is going to happen to me is going to be that I can't go to the Charlton game tomorrow (already cancelled on the police's advice) but these are not calculations that I thought I'd ever have to make.
posted by calico at 5:57 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lots of tweets referring to disturbances in Bristol now.
posted by Jehan at 6:00 PM on August 8, 2011


Calico, I'd advise going about your business as usual, this is London and we don't let people stop us doing what we do. I went to the pub tonight just because I wanted to show that some of us still go out (well, not just for that reason, but there was some of that). They shut my local - chickens - but the next pub along was open and it was great in there, a load of people who like me had gone out becasue we wanted to make sure life went on as normal. And drink some beer. Same after 7/7, made a point of getting on the tube the next day.

And having seen Charlton a few times I think you should be grateful the rioters have done you one favour.
posted by ciderwoman at 6:02 PM on August 8, 2011 [10 favorites]


twitter: Manchester now confirmed. Masked males smashing vehicles and setting them on fire according to eye witness on Trinity Way
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:03 PM on August 8, 2011


GM Police are contradicting that, though. Saying all is quiet.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:03 PM on August 8, 2011


Waltham Abbey sainsburys suppermarket depot is properly ablaze.
posted by ciderwoman at 6:05 PM on August 8, 2011


" I'd advise going about your business as usual, this is London and we don't let people stop us doing what we do"

quoted for truth. this is one of those times the famous stiff upper-lip is remarkable. if they could do it day after day during the Blitz, surely we can do it after some stinking looting.
posted by wayward vagabond at 6:05 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Bristol is confirmed now by the police on the BBC.
posted by Jehan at 6:05 PM on August 8, 2011


This reminds of the riots in Paris a few years back - remember all those cars being set alight, night after night?
posted by awfurby at 6:06 PM on August 8, 2011


ciderwoman: "Waltham Abbey sainsburys suppermarket depot is properly ablaze."

Image.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:07 PM on August 8, 2011


Announcer on BBC 5 Live just now: "It's coming up on ten past two, at least in places where the clocks haven't been stolen it's ten past two".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 6:08 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looting is bad enough but fires? To grocery depots?? Beyond comprehension.
posted by like_neon at 6:09 PM on August 8, 2011


give every single London firefighter a goddamn pay rise. i can't imagine having to face what they've faced the last three days.
posted by wayward vagabond at 6:10 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Electric Ballroom in Camden is apparently fine.
posted by catchingsignals at 6:11 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


give every single London firefighter a goddamn pay rise. i can't imagine having to face what they've faced the last three days.

The delightful Brian Coleman is currently trying to change their shift patterns (him and the Mayor having threatened to sack them all last year then re-employ them on new terms). Oh. And all their fire-engines are currently owned by a PPP firm battling liquidation.

Frankly they deserve fucking medals.
posted by garius at 6:13 PM on August 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


yeah, seriously (turns out I lied about going to bed) it's not so much the stiff upper lip as, really, what else does one do? Of course we're all going to do what we always do tomorrow and get on with things. I follow the BBC Proms feed on twitter and all through the night they've been tweeting away about whatever marvellous classical thing they have on this evening. It's just the looting is...incongruent with the idea of London I have in my head. It has upset me, and like I say I am very very unlikely to be worse hit than upset, but you know upset is something too.

(ciderwoman I'm sure you are a lovely person but you display terrible taste in football teams)
posted by calico at 6:14 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


twitter: Currently, police have a stand off in the main Camden Town streets, stop and charge.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:14 PM on August 8, 2011


Looting is bad enough but fires? To grocery depots?? Beyond comprehension.

The BBC are saying this is a Sony warehouse now. Not that that mitigates anything, obviously.
posted by dng at 6:14 PM on August 8, 2011


Calico, hah, we all have our footballing burdens to bear.
posted by ciderwoman at 6:16 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


So surprised and saddened to see this go on for another night :) Stay safe London Mefites.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 6:17 PM on August 8, 2011


The mobs seems to have contracted back to Camden Town, near the big Sainsburys. That's still too close for comfort.

Have no idea how I'm going to get through work tomorrow, I'm usually waking up in less than four hours.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:18 PM on August 8, 2011


Helicopters over Kentish now.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:18 PM on August 8, 2011


The amount of misinformation going on tonight is also shocking. Not just nobodies on Twitter, but that Sony depot was first an abbey, then a grocery depot - this is from the BBC.

They are switching between reports of the riots and what sounds like some sort of economic meltdown. This might be a sign for me to go to bed and read a chapter of A Clash of Kings.
posted by like_neon at 6:19 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh my God: Scenes from Clapham Junction, via The West Londoner.
posted by MonkeyToes at 6:20 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


this is London and we don't let people stop us doing what we do

No, you don't. At 7pm on 7/7 when curfew was finally lifted the first thing I did was go for a curry dinner with a local friend, walking from my hotel in Tavistock Square. I'd brought the news back that morning, running from the corner where I'd heard the #30 just before I turned towards the bus stop. Keep that spirit of London alive.

oddly just a year later I was in Paris on March 28th...
posted by infini at 6:21 PM on August 8, 2011


The amount of misinformation going on tonight is also shocking. Not just nobodies on Twitter, but that Sony depot was first an abbey, then a grocery depot - this is from the BBC.

Waltham Abbey is a place, where they thought the blaze was happening.
posted by Jehan at 6:21 PM on August 8, 2011


Not just nobodies on Twitter, but that Sony depot was first an abbey, then a grocery depot - this is from the BBC.

I don't think the BBC said it was an abbey, but that it was in Waltham Abbey, which is the name of the town.

The BBC News feed running on their live blog is strange though. Every time it goes to a non-riots story the feed goes dead, before resurrecting itself when they switch back to London again.
posted by dng at 6:22 PM on August 8, 2011


I've been trying to find a way to phrase this and am worried that it might come out wrong. But, as with many cities, I'm sure, one nagging thing about living in London, especially outside the very centre, is the young lads in hoodies hanging around who probably aren't going to hurt you, or rob you, but if someone did, it would be them. Shrödinger's muggers, as it were. It's an uncomfortable thing, both for the need for vigilance and the political discomfort of effectively pigeonholing people who are often members of ethnic minorities. An uncomfortable fun of fear and low-level racism. But the people to be wary of do exist, and they are there, holding people up, snatching bags and phones. There but not obvious.

It's like they've formed an army.

Sorry if that's a bit melodramatic. On the one hand, I suppose it's just London reverting to 18th Century type, on the other I suspect the country is about to get very heavily into Law and Order.
posted by Grangousier at 6:23 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh my God: Scenes from Clapham Junction

W.T.F. ! ??
It's like the frigging "Quatermass Conclusion"
posted by Poet_Lariat at 6:24 PM on August 8, 2011


That should have been "an uncomfortable fug". It's not fun.
posted by Grangousier at 6:25 PM on August 8, 2011


BBC News cut to weatherman: "It's set to be unsettled across the UK..."
posted by Jehan at 6:27 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I am learning more about England geography tonight than I have living here for five years!

That Clapham Junction video is from earlier tonight, before the blaze. That's another thing freaking me out, all these clips from earlier being show constantly makes feel I'm not getting an accurate current view.
posted by like_neon at 6:27 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


The BBC News feed running on their live blog is strange though. Every time it goes to a non-riots story the feed goes dead, before resurrecting itself when they switch back to London again.

Oh wait, the feed also stays on for the weather. Good old the weather. I think it might be the real version of the "Everything's Okay" video from The Day Today.
posted by dng at 6:29 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


running order squabble fest writes "helium is inert - so, nonflammable and non-explosive, even when pressurized, I think. I'm guessing it's there to blow up balloons, so helium is more likely than hydrogen, I'd guess."

No real fear of even a tank of pressurized hydrogen exploding (or propane, or butane) as the mixture is too rich (no oxygen in the tank). Helium of course will suppress fire being neither fuel or oxidizer. The concern would be of a catastrophic valve failure caused by either over pressure from a failed safety release or physical damage from a building falling on the tank. A valve failure like that can cause the tank to fly around like a rocket. Which can cause physical damage and spread fire. Tanks should be secured to prevent that (IE: valves up and chained to a sturdy wall) but people are pretty cavalier about proper storage and of course if a building falls down all bets are off. And if the tank doesn't fly around flammable gases will fuel the fire and are hard to put out and hydrogen once released from the tank can form an explosive mixture.

The truly dangerous commonly stored "compressed" gas is acetylene. "Compressed" in quotes because acetylene isn't stored under significant pressure but rather dissolved in acetone. High pressures caused by fire can cause it to explode spontaneously without oxidizers in the tank. Also it'll burn in as little as a 2.5% oxygen mix. You seriously do not want to be around anywhere they have a tank of acetylene during a fire.
posted by Mitheral at 6:29 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


But, as with many cities, I'm sure, one nagging thing about living in London, especially outside the very centre, is the young lads in hoodies hanging around who probably aren't going to hurt you, or rob you, but if someone did, it would be them. Shrödinger's muggers, as it were. It's an uncomfortable thing, both for the need for vigilance and the political discomfort of effectively pigeonholing people who are often members of ethnic minorities. An uncomfortable fun of fear and low-level racism. But the people to be wary of do exist, and they are there, holding people up, snatching bags and phones. There but not obvious.

i see and live with these young guys in my neighbourhood every day. they stand right on my streetcorner being loud and brash and full of swagger. i've confronted them numerous times when they're loitering or otherwise generally intimidating people. almost always they are too shocked that someone is calling them out to do anything but meekly move on.

i was terrified it would kick off here in Tooting tonight, even with Ramadan in full effect in these parts. and while it happened in frightening scenarios all around me, just down the street in either direction, (touch wood), it didn't happen here.

all of which is to say: i guess you can't always judge a book by its cover.
posted by wayward vagabond at 6:31 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Rumours that the London Eye is on fire. What.
posted by inire at 6:32 PM on August 8, 2011


twitter: "Status update from #camden - still fighting in street. Constant screaming/shouting. Sirens haven't stopped for a minute. Very tired."
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:33 PM on August 8, 2011


BBC - it's not even in Waltham Abbey, it's in Enfield. So i guess my earlier comment of misinformation still stands?

Every time I think am ready to go to bed, there is something else.
posted by like_neon at 6:34 PM on August 8, 2011


Rumours that the London Eye is on fire. What.

think that's a faked photo making the Twitter rounds. if it were, it'd instantly be all over the news.
posted by wayward vagabond at 6:34 PM on August 8, 2011


twitter: "man being interviewed on 5 Live saying he saw 20 ppl heading to Sony Centre with petrol bombs. Would explain size."
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:37 PM on August 8, 2011


Riot police chased down the street in Woolwich.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:40 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


I have to agree with an MP earlier who said the really sad thing is, after this what kind of businesses will consider investing in these areas and provide jobs and opportunities? (think it was Diane Abbott from Hackeny?)
posted by like_neon at 6:41 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kittens: That's a scary video. Don't the London police use gas or other riot control devices (rubber bullets, etc) ?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 6:44 PM on August 8, 2011


My local fuckwits appear to be contained to the south for now, so I'm going to try and get some sleep. Stay safe, everyone.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:44 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Lariat: no afaik, although I can't see that lasting.

Breaking: met police confirming they're using their fleet of armoured vehicles now. Don't know what else they have in their arsenal to pull out.

Sleeping now, hopefully.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 6:45 PM on August 8, 2011


I think I have to tap out as well. Here's to a quiet morning and hugs all around. I think a London Mefi meetup is in order when things settle down (hopefully soon).
posted by like_neon at 6:46 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


Really am going to bed this time. I leave with a small note of optimism (tho I appreciate that big-brand stores getting fixed might not be what we're all really worried about) - the clean-up has started in Charlton.
posted by calico at 6:46 PM on August 8, 2011


Veterans of the 2011 Doomwatch
posted by Grangousier at 6:47 PM on August 8, 2011


Don't the London police use gas or other riot control devices (rubber bullets, etc) ?
If the police had responded to that charge with gas or bullets the situation would've escalated out of control. If you watch the way they line up, they withdraw it's designed to not provoke (or scare) a much larger group of people. In fact the situation escalated when one of the police men became aggressive which invited a response.

In other words, they do this shit for a living.
posted by fullerine at 6:49 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


oh wait, one more thing - the hashtag #riotcleanup may come in helpful if you're in town and would like to help.
posted by calico at 6:50 PM on August 8, 2011 [3 favorites]


Laurie Penny on tonight's events.
posted by motty at 6:53 PM on August 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


I'm getting reports from family members of the riots that have now spread to Liverpool. Smithdown Road is basically on fire. Baa Bar has been smashed up, people in clubs in town have been locked in, Tesco on Hanover Street has been smashed up, cars all smashed up on Grove Street, London Road supposedly ablaze? Stay safe Liverpool and the rest of the UK. :(
posted by triggerfinger at 6:54 PM on August 8, 2011


Ah, well, the thugs seem to have gone to bed. I ought to too.

It's so quiet out there. It only gets this quiet on Christmas Day.
posted by Grangousier at 7:13 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


London Riots Come to The Ledbury:
Will and I were going to celebrate with a night out at 2 Michelin star restaurant The Ledbury. I had come to terms with the fact that it would be an expensive dinner, but boy, I had no idea how expensive.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 7:30 PM on August 8, 2011 [1 favorite]


That person sounds extraordinarily calm for someone who has just had her rings stolen off of her fingers by marauding looters...
posted by craichead at 7:50 PM on August 8, 2011


This is just insane. I have family in the Lewisham area and I just hate to know that they had to experience this BS. Make fire burn all them dutty tiff them.
posted by RedShrek at 7:50 PM on August 8, 2011


Some coverage from Liverpool Echo
posted by warbaby at 7:52 PM on August 8, 2011


JD fucking Sports. What a fucking talisman of impotence masquerading as power.
posted by holgate at 9:14 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Police issue bullet. That is some sick shit right there.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 9:36 PM on August 8, 2011


We've got to stop these people acting like bankers!
posted by telstar at 10:19 PM on August 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


http://www.endgamethebook.org/Excerpts/1-Premises.htm

Premise Four: Civilization is based on a clearly defined and widely accepted yet often unarticulated hierarchy. Violence done by those higher on the hierarchy to those lower is nearly always invisible, that is, unnoticed. When it is noticed, it is fully rationalized. Violence done by those lower on the hierarchy to those higher is unthinkable, and when it does occur is regarded with shock, horror, and the fetishization of the victims.

Premise Five: The property of those higher on the hierarchy is more valuable than the lives of those below. It is acceptable for those above to increase the amount of property they control—in everyday language, to make money—by destroying or taking the lives of those below. This is called production. If those below damage the property of those above, those above may kill or otherwise destroy the lives of those below. This is called justice.
posted by symbioid at 10:46 PM on August 8, 2011 [8 favorites]


"Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school. The people who do will be waking up this week in the sure and certain knowledge that after decades of being ignored and marginalised and harassed by the police, after months of seeing any conceivable hope of a better future confiscated, they are finally on the news. "

http://pennyred.blogspot.com/2011/08/panic-on-streets-of-london.html
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:56 PM on August 8, 2011 [7 favorites]


Sounds a lot like Watts, 1965.
posted by Scram at 11:06 PM on August 8, 2011


It's just going to get worse for them, though. When the counter reaction comes (in the form of more policing, people leaving the area and so on) those neighborhoods are going to become even poorer and more heavily policed than ever.

I just heard about this today. It's sure been an awful summer.
posted by Kevin Street at 11:06 PM on August 8, 2011


The West Londoner has been live blogging these events.
posted by adamvasco at 11:17 PM on August 8, 2011


http://pennyred.blogspot.com/2011/08/panic-on-streets-of-london.html

And as easy as it is to chalk it all down to the the masses being oppressed and deny that it has anything to do with upbringing you can't excuse the lawlessness.

I was brought up in a poor area of the country, with bad housing, rife unemployment and zero opportunities but I never kicked an old lady's front door in on my street and robbed her.

Yes, the masses are being ridden over roughshod by a typical Tory government.

Yes, the Labour party and their bailing out of the wealthy at the cost of the poor was and is a tragic, sickening thing to do.

But you don't take it out on your own community.

That is entirely down to a lack of civic pride and a huge, gaping lack of common sense.

posted by dirigibleman at 11:24 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Guardian's Michael White has some thoughtful commentary
posted by Bwithh at 11:33 PM on August 8, 2011


Roll up for the grand old Etonian led Big Society hoedown!
Monday afternoon riots.
Sirens all over London, skys full of choppers.
Section 60 in effect.
Tories - clueless. Police - purposefully useless. Army -in the barracks awaiting 'Kensington & Chelsea' to come up on a Blackberry. Youth, fucking thousands of them - shopping. They don't give a fuck. Guess you can't ignore them anymore, anyway.
Cameron still on a Tuscan sojourn, Osborne in fucking Disneyland! The oaf mayor may have fallen asleep in his soup.
Have you sen the world at 17? No money no job 9k a year education, 250k 1 bed flat, war + war +war, over population, pollution, violence, knife crime, corrupt police, surveillance media, dirty millionaire Tories in a effective one Tory party state. If you've no family money you're fucked.
I hope these kids rip the corporate bastards for as much as possible. Nobody want to see fires, homes or small businesses targeted, corporations though, are the supreme thieves. I'm NOT of course advocating the targeting of corporate premises and the removal of good from within. I'm unlikely to shed a tear over it though. Corporations kill community, fear makes profit, community reduces fear and opposes predatory profiteering.
posted by adamvasco at 11:34 PM on August 8, 2011 [2 favorites]


Thoughtful? Sounds like a cranky ol' white dude.
posted by symbioid at 12:00 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


from adamvasco's link,

is this what the Arab Spring looks like if you're on the wrong side?
posted by infini at 12:00 AM on August 9, 2011


is this what the Arab Spring looks like if you're on the wrong side?

Syrian death toll passes 2,000 as Assad ignores international pressure
posted by homunculus at 12:10 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Tottenham: Nothing left to lose.
In the most unequal borough of the UK, young people do not riot just for the fun of it.
posted by adamvasco at 12:13 AM on August 9, 2011


When events like these riots happen we often see causal appeals on one side to social structures and on the other individual agency. It is rare that a sufficiently broad enough group of people can agree because it affects the model we use to understand society and thus inform our personal politics. But these riots pose a difficulty because they are both so obviously meaningful and meaningless at the same time, making explanations confused.

Purely individual criminality cannot explain the common backgrounds of those rioting. When we see groups of similar people acting in a given way surely there is meaning in that? Nobody can appeal to random chance that a group just "happens" to be criminal, and it is reasonable to seek a cause for such actions even if we condemn them. But when we identify a cause—be it poverty, exclusion, racism, oppression, or other—it is impossible to deny that these riots are not manifestations of a desire to change or oppose those causes. The riots are total criminality without a redeeming social or political message or goal, and indeed would not have even happened in this way were they oriented to such a goal.

It is as though observers can see meaning but participants either cannot see or are incapable of acting upon their own interests. Can people be alienated not just from society but also from themselves? I think that to violently seize some shred of power yet squander it on nothing but destruction and consumer goods demonstrates just that.

These riots can be explained, but not excused.
posted by Jehan at 12:46 AM on August 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


Thoughtful? Sounds like a cranky ol' white dude.

So racism, sexism, and agism are now the right tools to dismiss anything we don't like?
posted by rodgerd at 12:49 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


of course not. on the other hand are riots the right tools to gain anything we like?
posted by clavdivs at 12:57 AM on August 9, 2011


From adamvasco's different link, a comment i found thoughtful, and explanatory, and perhaps, excusable too.

We have created ghettoes in the heart of our cities. Millions of young people, many black and Asian but many whites also, doomed to a life of hopelessness and despair. Communities riven with poverty and deprivation, long and short term unemployment, poor housing, slum conditions, extortionate house prices and rents. Most consumer goods beyond their reach. Holidays, cars, homes. Things that they can only dream about. All of this exacerbated by the austerity measures being imposed on working people throughout the world to pay for a rotten corrupt system. Council services slashed. University places beyond reach due to the increase in fees. Hospitals and social services slashed. Pensions and benefits under attack. Housing inadequate and unaffordable. Council services, sports centres, libraries, youth centres and the very services that provide society's safety net, all slashed. Police on the street slashed.

Yet all around us we see money poured into weapons of mass destruction to blow women and little children in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya to bits. Millions wasted in the pursuit of oil and securing a strategic position in the middle east for BP and Shell.

All around we see the very bankers and financial speculators who bankrupted the planet with their greed, incompetance and recklessness being bailed out by taxpayers and lavished with millions of pounds worth of bonuses. We see democratically elected governments, supposed servants of the people who elected them, carrying out anti-people policies that benefit only the bond-holders, the casino capitalists, the bankers, the markets.

It is high time that we asked ourselves if bailing out the collapsed financial system is worth destroying our society, our communities for. Do we want a City of London or do we want schools, hospitals, homes, decent pay and conditions, a chance to enjoy our retirement, decent council services? That is the choice we face and every single mainstream party has made the decision for us. Regardless of what we the people want, our leaders have decided that the survival of the City of London and the rotten, corrupt, bankrupt, poisioness system it represents is to take priority over all else. Everything that we and our parents and grand-parents have fought and worked for is to be swept away to pay the debts of the banks.

It is no wonder that one tiny spark can result in a massive sponaneous eruption of anger. We saw it in Tunisia and throughout the Arab world. Now we are witnessing it in our inner cities. At the end of the day if these people had jobs to go to, if they had decent homes and life chances, in short, if they had a stake in society, they wouldn't be rioting. When you take everything away from people you leave them with nothing. When people are left with nothing then they have nothing to lose. We see criminals propering everyday. Bankers, media chiefs, police chiefs, politicians, corporate tax dodgers, war criminals. All around us crime at the top is endemic and appears to pay. It is no wonder that people are angry.

posted by infini at 12:59 AM on August 9, 2011 [17 favorites]


it is impossible to deny that these riots are not manifestations of a desire to change or oppose those causes

I think in cases like this, the question is not to ask 'why did they do it?', but 'why did they feel they had nothing to lose?'.

I may have an overly pessimistic view of human nature, but we appear to be a pretty violent species for the most part - particularly young men - but we're kept in check by a large number of factors. Why were those factors missing in those people, in this place, at this time?

What does the rest of society have that they don't have that made this seem like a good idea to them?
posted by Summer at 1:02 AM on August 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Wait, Birmingham Library? Then can burn that down, it's alright, nobody will complain, honestly.
Never been up to their actually pretty wondrous Archives and Manuscripts division then, I take it? It has some of the best materials for studying the history of socialism in 19th- and early 20th-century Britain. Oh, the irony in that.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:13 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


From that rather annoying Michael White article:
As so often, Ken Livingstone couldn't resist jumping in with an attack on coalition spending cuts. Truly, he is the Boris Johnson of politics, opportunist to a fault.
Huh? Surely Boris Johnson is the Boris Johnson of politics. I am confused.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:19 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Truly, he is the Boris Johnson of politics, opportunist to a fault.

When I originally read that, the wording said "the Boris Johnson of left-wing politics".
I don't know why "left-wing" got edited out - probably a screwup.

anyway, I thought the article was one of the better commentary pieces I've read
posted by Bwithh at 1:21 AM on August 9, 2011


What does the rest of society have that they don't have that made this seem like a good idea to them?

A TV and cool shoes, maybe. When I was growing up no one quite imagined our parents would leave us poorer.

I do know we never respected cops though, maybe because we all knew the drug laws they spent all their time enforcing were pointless wastes of time that left us all vulnerable to...

...well to this.


Egypt, LA, London...forget the economics or the politics, when the people hate the police they can't maintain order. If they are enemies, well there is something fundamentally wrong, isn't there?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:28 AM on August 9, 2011


Never been up to their actually pretty wondrous Archives and Manuscripts division then, I take it? It has some of the best materials for studying the history of socialism in 19th- and early 20th-century Britain. Oh, the irony in that.

I've used Birmingham Central Library for research in the past, so you're wrong there. Actually using the library taught me that the building is just as ugly and dysfunctional inside as outside. But this is a sidetrack on a throwaway joke, so I don't know why I'm having to defend it against being taken seriously for the second time. Please can anybody else wanting to discuss this just either not or memail me? Thanks.

posted by Jehan at 1:32 AM on August 9, 2011


Interesting article in the Guardian: London riots: how did the Metropolitan police lose control of the capital?

It says that the CO11 (IE: the Metropolitan police riot squad) is trained to handle political protests, where large numbers of people gather in a predetermined place. But police tactics like kettling don't work with small, highly mobile groups like the ones in these riots. The rioters can meet up, break apart, stream past the police like water, then use text messaging to meet up again at some location chosen on the spur of the moment.

I wonder if one result of the riots will be a requirement for social media services to shut down when ordered to by the government. Maybe Egypt was ahead of the curve there.
posted by Kevin Street at 1:35 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some people in this thread are trying to make this all about how we don't spend enough money on poor people. Let's have some facts.

2010 Budget figures (the most recent I could find).

FY2010 UK Budget: £704Bn

Spending
* Social Security: £196Bn
* Health: £122Bn
* Education: £89Bn
* Personal Social Services: £33Bn
* Housing and Environment: £27Bn
* Industry, Agriculture and Employment: £20Bn

So 467 of the 704 Billion Pounds taken in taxes and in loans from the rest of the world are spent directly on the health and social help for the population. That's almost exactly two thirds - someone obviously set that through a policy decision.

On top of that the £20Bn for Industry etc. above contains direct and indirect support for people getting jobs, such as direct support for JobCentrePlus as well as indirect subsidies for industry (e.g. loans, grants, training tax-credits etc.) So that's more than two thirds then.

Compare that to the

* Defence: £40Bn

So if we entirely scrapped the defence of the nation, we could add as much as an extra 8% to the social portion of the budget. Sad how the facts show we haven't neglected the poor. We spend a huge amount of our taxes on helping people to have better lives.

Some more figures added for as much completeness as I can find:

* public order spending: £36Bn
* transport: £22Bn
* Interest (not including capital repayment) on National Debt: £43Bn
* General/Misc (Various Departments): £74Bn <---- I think this is loads of smaller spends put together, so possibly some social spending involved here.

Note: this doesn't add up to the full budget as I haven't bothered to total up any more bits - but you can see the general shape of the budget.

Now, remember that Tax Freedom day is the 30th May 2011 - that's just under 50% of the year spent earning that £704Bn for the "average" taxpayer.

So let's stop pretending that as a society we don't do a huge amount to help our poorest. Oh, and for those who will pretend that the "savage evil Tory Cuts" will have changed things so drastically that 2010 is irrelevant - remember the social spending, health and education budgets can't have been cut as the first is legislatively mandated and the other two were "ring-fenced" - e.g. total health spending has gone up 3% in this financial year. Hence other departments are having to take 25% cuts because the big spends aren't being cut at all. That'll help bring down the *rate* we increase our national debt - our deficit - but won't make any impact on the existing debt - that's for a future parliament.

We should be proud we spend so much of *our* money on helping the poor - don't believe the standard hard-left lie (recycled agressively by Labour since the people threw Labour out) that we somehow are a cold-hearted society who don't pay anything for the poor.
posted by Hugh Routley at 1:58 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Post-Riot News

-- Prime Minister Cameron is chairing the government's emergency committee Cobra, which has resolved to rename a number of other government agencies after fierce animals. The MOD with be renamed "Growly Tiger", and Transport for London is now to be called "Shitty Hippo". "This should scare the yobs into submission", said the Prime Cameron.

-- The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea has set up counseling centres for residents distressed by the realization that Hackney, Bethnal Green and Tottenham are actually parts of London. "I thought Brixton was just a myth to frighten the children," said resident Anna Bessington-Hume. "And Bethnal Green is in Pakistan or somewhere - isn't that where Jemima Khan is from?"

-- Chaos at the Royal Courts of Justice: English common law is largely based on the touchstone of the "reasonable person," exemplified by the "man on the Clapham omnibus". But, last night, the said man burned down the Clapham omnibus and looted Debenhams. As a result of this legal revolution, the UK Supreme Court has been downgraded to the "UK Above-Average Court," and the concept of reasonableness has been replaced by that of "redonkculousness".

-- Dalston survived the riots when the Turkish community defended its shops and homes from marauding gangs: Police have confirmed that the safest place in London is now your local kebab, and not (pace Simon Pegg) the local pub. This has led to calls from Brussels for Turkey to be forced to join the EU and quell violent protest across Europe with their large carving knives and some chili sauce.

-- Reactions to the looting: "Sheer Criminality" - Theresa May, Home Secretary. "Knifey-boy stabby-thug gang-hoons" - Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor. "Bum-dirty pukey-socks knob-shite twatty-faces" - Met Police Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steven Kavanagh.

-- PM David Cameron has called on the Big Society to be more social and less big, please.

-- London Mayor Boris Johnson has reminded Londoners of their historical togetherness and the "spirit of the blitz". To reawaken civic pride, he has asked German Chancellor Angela Merkel to resume bombing the East End, "just like those reunion tours that all the pop bands are doing".

-- A manager of a Currys electronic goods store has scooped up his looted shop and returned it to Currys HQ for mending, claiming "it's still under warranty". He supplied a stamped, self-addressed envelope for its return.

-- John Prescott has been positioned on House of Lords balcony to defend Westminster from further looting. "I'll take you all on!" cried the two-fisted battle-peer.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:07 AM on August 9, 2011 [47 favorites]


I'll say this first: these rioters are plunderers and thugs. They are not rioting because they are "oppressed", they are rioting because:
a) they can; and
b) they'll gladly take that wide-screen TV, thank you very much.

This said, their culture is the inevitable outcome of a society that has lionised greed and rewarded blackmail. Is it surprising that, after top bankers have managed to get bailed out and keep their bonuses by threatening "market mayhem" otherwise, these thugs have realised that they are also capable of bringing about a more literal sort of mayhem to the streets? If you reward anti-social behaviour at the top, don't expect it to recede at the bottom.

It's of course the finest sort of irony that the rioters are using the quintessential white-collar tool, the BlackBerry, to coordinate their attacks. I've always said that those things are Satanic engines, I never quite expected this to become so literal.
posted by Skeptic at 2:08 AM on August 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Hugh, if I wasn't trying to reply on a phone I'd love to respond to you in detail, suffice to say it is a great deal more complicated than taking the raw budget numbers and implying there's no problem. The cuts that have been made disproportionately affect the poor and unemployed.
posted by knapah at 2:09 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


So let's stop pretending that as a society we don't do a huge amount to help our poorest.

Your figures don't support your argument Hugh. Some (large) proportion of those numbers spent on health, industry and education etc. is a direct transfer back to the middle class of taxes paid by the middle class. Social security mostly goes to aged pensioners.

There might be an argument to be made that we're doing a lot for the poor, but your analysis doesn't support it.
posted by bright cold day at 2:13 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


FY2010 UK Budget: £704Bn

Spending
* Social Security: £196Bn
* Health: £122Bn
* Education: £89Bn
* Personal Social Services: £33Bn
* Housing and Environment: £27Bn
* Industry, Agriculture and Employment: £20Bn



well surely someone should sit the rioters down and demonstrate the *sheer lunacy* of the looting when clearly, they are all well provided for. good luck with that.
posted by wayward vagabond at 2:14 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Some people in this thread are trying to make this all about how we don't spend enough money on poor people.

I've not seen anyone do that. Not surprising that you understanding of social policy and its consequences doesn't get much further than pounds, shillings and pence after your performance upthread though.
What I've seen repeated numerous times here is that while what's happening is criminality, it is occurring in a context. There have always been 'lumpen' elements in working class communities, but formerly those communities were strong enough not to tolerate widespread anti-social behaviour, and there were other prospects for youth. That kind of community has been broken down over three decades since Thatcher's neoliberal turn (continued in under Blair's Labour) and we've seen a celebration of naked materialism and 'getting yours' that Skeptic alludes to in his comment). These are Thatcher's children on the rampage.
posted by Abiezer at 2:18 AM on August 9, 2011 [16 favorites]


Thank you, the quidnunc kid, Encore Encore!



Boy, am I glad Gandhi was finally incarnated on earth, the mirrors are all foggy in London
posted by infini at 2:42 AM on August 9, 2011


Things that I am amazed by:

1. The non-response from the government so far. Theresa May wittering on about "community policing" this morning looked out-of-touch and incompetent.

2. Seen on TV and all over the internet, the idea that the rioters bear responsibility for their actions and that their actions can be seen as a result of inner-city neglect (when I worked at MMU, students coming from "widening participation" backgrounds would talk about using their EMA to buy food for the family; EMA is now gone) is being displayed by the most unexpected people, even though it apparently still causes some heads to explode.

3. You can buy bags of centimetre-long mini-Twirls.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:44 AM on August 9, 2011


Two minute silence on Clarence Road, Hackney.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 2:45 AM on August 9, 2011


London Poverty Profile Tottenham , where it kicked off, is in Haringey. Also an overview of recession impact in boroughs. You will notice that the mobile middle class live mainly in the light coloured areas.
posted by adamvasco at 2:48 AM on August 9, 2011


"A mob is a strange phenomenon. It is a gathering of heterogeneous elements, unknown to one another (except on some essential points such as nationality, religion, social class); but as soon as a spark of passion, having flashed out from one of these elements, electrifies this confused mass, there takes place a sudden orgainization, a spontaneous generation. This incoherence becomes cohesion, this noise becomes a voice, and these thousands of men crowded together soon form but a single animal, a wild beast without a name, which marches to its goal with an irresistible finality. The majority of these men would have assembled out of pure curiosity, but the fever of some of them soon reaches the minds of all, and in all of them there arises a delirium. The very man who came running to oppose the murder of an innocent person is the first to be seized with the homicidal contagion, and moreover, it does not occur to him to be astonished at this."

- Gabriel Tarde
posted by dubold at 2:59 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am astounded that nobody has been killed. These thugs seem to be a little more minded than is being made out.

Also, a more cynical man may assume ACPO are currently negotiating a change in the planned cuts to police budgets and London will be awash with coppers tonight.

Finally, Cameron is done. All he can do now is determine when the next election is. It's such a shame Milliband has about as much political skill as that kid who's face is plastered over the internet with the shit he looted.
posted by fullerine at 3:01 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"So long as the 'Hooligan' maltreated only the 'Hooligan' - so long as we heard chiefly of the attacks and counter-attacks of bands, even if armed sometimes with deadly weapons - the matter was far less important than it has become. There is no looking calmly, however, on the frequent recurring outbursts of ruffians, the systematic lawlessness of groups of lads and young men who are the terror of the neighborhood in which they dwell.

Our 'Hooligans' go from bad to worse. They are an ugly growth on the body politic, and the worse circumstance is that they multiply, and that School Boards and prisons, police magistrates and philanthropists, do not seem to ameliorate them."

The Times, 30 October 1890
posted by dubold at 3:06 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Cameron's confirmed parliament will be recalled for a day on Thursday
posted by brilliantmistake at 3:09 AM on August 9, 2011


breaking news: Cameron makes shitty, ineffectual speech, refuses questions, runs away.
posted by wayward vagabond at 3:14 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's the way - claim it's all about how we deprive the poor. Then when I show it's not factually true, then claim it's not about money. It's about social policy - and of course that's free right? Social policy never cost a penny.

This is after 13-odd years of Labour over-domination of our parliament so surely social policy must be perfect by now?

There is only a limited amount of money in any society. My point is that we are spending a huge amount of that total amount of cash in our society on social spending of all kinds. In fact we are spending more than we earn, but that's a different thread.

Yes - taxpayers do get something back. In fact they do get a lot back. I get access to the NHS for example. For shame. I'll go hand in my progressive credentials.

These evil "middle classes" you so obviously sneer at are actually the vast majority of the population. Of course they get a lot back from the taxes they pay. It's a democracy.

Here's a thought experiment: Should we stop giving any money to the "middle class" through benefits to the old or disabled or sick or mothers etc.? We live in a democracy. What do you think the majority will do if they don't feel they get any value from tax? Do you think the would vote to increase their taxes? Or perhaps as they didn't feel involved, they might vote to cut spending on the poor?

How much more tax should we spend? From what I've seen in my economics education - if we increase taxes beyond around 40% of GDP we simply start to squash economic growth - we are over that (rough, vague) upper limit already for the percentage of GDP taken by the state. Look at the struggles over the last thirty years that the scandinavian social democracies (a laudable social redistribution) have had over economic growth (e.g. Swedish growth in the 80s etc.)

How much should we take from the taxpayers by cutting their benefits? Look at California since they enacted Proposition 13 in 1978 - this was the first "taxpayer revolt" resulting in the current situation where Americans are taxed less than they've been in generations, but still think they put too much money into poor people's pockets. People don't, as a rule, vote to take their money and spend it on the people who rob them. You have to slip it in with benefits that everyone gets - e.g. universal healthcare, universal job-seeker's support, universal disability benefit, universal access to social housing (even if the "middle class" know deep down they'll always be at the back of the queue).

How much to you think they would vote for if we took away the so-called "middle class" benefits? Do you think the poor would be better off afterwards? (Why do you think Labour didn't end child benefit for "middle class" mums?)

TL:DR - stop pretending that this is a conspiracy by the tory toffs to do down the poor. Look at how things really are and start from there - there are solutions to these problems, but "smash the rich" isn't going to get you anything. It's been tried - the rich left the UK and the tax take went *down*.
posted by Hugh Routley at 3:26 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


breaking news: Cameron makes shitty, ineffectual speech, refuses questions, runs away.

posted by wayward vagabond at 3:14 AM on August 9 [2 favorites +] [!]

Seriously - what would you have wanted to hear? What did you expect the PM to say (if, say, his name was Ed Milliband)? I am genuinely interested to understand people's expectations here.
posted by Hugh Routley at 3:29 AM on August 9, 2011


Some people have noticed the emergency committee is called cobra and made jokes about silly names.

COBRA is Cabinet Office Briefing Room A. That's all.

So obviously - the COBRA committee meets when there's a big storm, or riots, or flooding or whatever.
posted by Hugh Routley at 3:33 AM on August 9, 2011


From the Guardian July 29th

Gang experts, MPs and sector workers are warning that these cuts – which have hit youth services harder than any other area of local authority spending, according to the education select committee – could have a serious impact on the safety of young people in urban areas.
posted by criticalbill at 3:33 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Account from Hackney last night
posted by criticalbill at 3:34 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


"smash the rich" isn't going to get you anything
Gets you on the News.
and an X-Box
posted by fullerine at 3:35 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I rather liked the bit on the BBC's live update page about Libya's offer of solidarity for the rioters...
posted by infini at 3:38 AM on August 9, 2011


I'm taking the reportage with a large pinch of salt. There was 'unrest' reported in my area last night, which the local rag says was 'contained'. My hairdresser told me that it was nothing more than a routine burglary where someone got in through the back of one of the boutiques and stole a jacket.

If there'd been a mob, they'd have burned the street down once they realised all there is to loot in the shops round here is cupcakes, chihuahua outfits and vajazzling gems.
posted by essexjan at 3:44 AM on August 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Hugh maybe the capitalistic model you espouse doesn't work?
Maybe the democratic process you laud doesn't work any longer either in its execution in this modern age. Do you not see that the wider the gap between the have's and have a littles and the have a littles and the have nots then the greater the chance of social unrest? Riots in London are nothing new.
Football matches cost money to go to; Riots - they're free and you get looting thrown in as well and myth making and bonding as a tribal society and the satisfaction of We showed the cunts.
posted by adamvasco at 3:49 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


adamvasco -

So what do you propose? Perhaps the model I don't espouse (I'm explaining how it *is*) doesn't work. What should we do?
posted by Hugh Routley at 3:57 AM on August 9, 2011


It would be awesome if you could post a few more comments in a row, Hugh. That should ensure quiet streets tonight.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:58 AM on August 9, 2011


Riot.
posted by brokkr at 3:59 AM on August 9, 2011


Indy piece from (the fantastic) Camila Batmanghelidjh:
I got a call yesterday morning. The kids gave me a run-down of what had happened in Brixton. A street party had been invaded by a group of young men out to grab. A few years ago, the kids who called me would have joined in, because they had nothing to lose. One had been permanently excluded from six schools. When he first arrived at Kids Company he cared so little that he would smash his head into a pane of glass and bite his own flesh off with rage. He'd think nothing of hurting others. After intensive social care and support he walked away when the riots began because he held more value in his membership of a community that has embraced him than a community that demanded his dark side.

It costs money to care. But it also costs money to clear up riots, savagery and antisocial behaviour. I leave it to you to do the financial and moral sums.
posted by Catseye at 4:03 AM on August 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


TL:DR - stop pretending that this is a conspiracy by the tory toffs to do down the poor.

The only people here who've said "conspiracy" are you and Frederick Douglass.

Is this a Tory conspiracy? No, of course not. Hanlon's Razor. They've not specifically set out to oppress the poor; they just don't care about the poor.
posted by wo is me at 4:08 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


essexjan, your neighborhood sounds like the perfect place for a hen party
posted by mdonley at 4:11 AM on August 9, 2011


Abiezer: "These are Thatcher's children on the rampage."

I was thinking, last night, after watching that Campden video by the Sky reporter: This is what a riot looks like under possessive individualism. No banners and chanting, no cohesiveness of cause and shared hardship, just a nihilistic exuberance of profit seeking and destruction. This is what a riot looks like when the actual ideology of "Fuck you, gettin' mine" trickles down.

Jeff help U.S. America if this crosses the pond.
posted by titus-g at 4:13 AM on August 9, 2011 [15 favorites]


-- Dalston survived the riots when the Turkish community defended its shops and homes from marauding gangs: Police have confirmed that the safest place in London is now your local kebab, and not (pace Simon Pegg) the local pub. This has led to calls from Brussels for Turkey to be forced to join the EU and quell violent protest across Europe with their large carving knives and some chili sauce.

The most amusing tweet I've seen on the riot went something along the lines of "Bloody foreigners, coming here and defending our cities, who do they think they are?!"
posted by rodgerd at 4:21 AM on August 9, 2011 [16 favorites]


Props to Mark Stone of Sky.
posted by nthdegx at 4:23 AM on August 9, 2011


What should we do?
Good question. Answering it is hard, proper difficult. Perhaps, and this isn't my usual sarcastic response, perhaps we should stop looking for answers from the same fucking people who got us here.

I can honestly say if I was in the same situation as those kids and I had no family, no job, no future no voice I'd currently be playing on my newly purloined X-Box.

I can honestly say if I was in the same situation as those investment bankers and I had a lot of property, a large pension and a few million in the market I'd currently be clamouring for the Army on the streets.

We all have to change, shit we have to change or we going to cook. Problem seems to be those of us who have a larger stake in the status quo are more reluctant to change. The thing I don't seem to understand is why is always the kids who have to be persuaded to change.

Stop Rioting?

Why?
posted by fullerine at 4:23 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Look at how things really are and start from there

And how things really are is the outcome of that process of social atomisation, community breakdown, precarity and loss of the sort of employment opportunities that were once part of what bound those communities together, rising inequality, a turn to finance that created a hollow boom masking the above and reinforcing the notion that self-worth can be measured by what things you have, and so on and so on.
That provides a coherent explanation of why we see some of our young people acting as they have unchecked, where in the past even during riots other values predominated. The other narrative seems to be Cameron's 'criminality, pure and simple', which is to say nothing and the real inability to address actual social conditions.
posted by Abiezer at 4:32 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Clean-up crowd applaud police in Clapham.
posted by nthdegx at 4:33 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I've seen three pretty good articles on the London Riots so far

Nick Harkaway: Crime Without Causes
"One thing is clear: this is no one’s fault. It is spontaneous badness. That’s the message coming from politicians about the rioting in London."

Colin Talbot: It may be the Under-Class that did it, but it’s the Uber-Class that lost it
"First, there are the ‘criminal element’ who are clearly taking advantage... the much larger under-class living outside of the state’s purview provides the ‘sea’ in which the more criminal element swims. "

Mary Riddell: The Underclass Lashes Out
"London's rioters are the products of a crumbling nation, and an indifferent political class that has turned its back on them."
posted by TheophileEscargot at 4:33 AM on August 9, 2011 [9 favorites]


Some people have noticed the emergency committee is called cobra and made jokes about silly names.

COBRA is Cabinet Office Briefing Room A. That's all.


Oh, fer Chrissakes, if you believe that is really all, you really have no experience whatsoever with public organisations in Europe or the US, because anybody who has has tales of politicians and PR people bending over themselves to come up with such silly acronyms as COBRA. I'm ready to bet 20:1 that this emergency committee meets in whichever briefing room is available at the time, but this acronym was simply too cute not to use it.
posted by Skeptic at 4:35 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


The BNP is now out leafletting in my area. I just got a piece of shit through the letterbox headed "We Want Our Country Back".
posted by essexjan at 4:38 AM on August 9, 2011


I'm ready to bet 20:1 that this emergency committee meets in whichever briefing room is available at the time, but this acronym was simply too cute not to use it.
I'll take that bet.
posted by fullerine at 4:42 AM on August 9, 2011


Skeptic - it was the media who started calling it Cobra. It is still, officially, the Cabinet Office Emergency Committee without an acronym.

See here for a bit more info.
posted by Hugh Routley at 4:45 AM on August 9, 2011


That's the way - claim it's all about how we deprive the poor.

I don't think anybody has done that. In fact, some of the leftier MeFites have gone out of their way to disclaim that.

There is only a limited amount of money in any society.

Funnily enough, Thatcher and her epigones always claimed the opposite, namely that, if the cake got bigger, everybody could get a larger piece of cake. And this is not entirely misguided either. But what has been left by the wayside is the notion that the better-off also benefit disproportionately from public services. It isn't just the NHS and Social Security. As the Third World demonstrates every day, it's a lot more difficult to run a profitable business without decent infrastructure, a functioning justice system, reasonable regulation and, yes, some degree of social justice. Because the rich have much more to lose than the poor.

If whole pans of economy depend on a barrage of advertising aiming to convince people that they need stuff, even when they can't afford it, it is not entirely surprising that at some moment the least scrupulous elements decide to serve themselves, especially when the flow of easy credit that used to finance those splurges becomes suddenly unavailable.

I'm certainly not going to defend thugs and looters, but some introspection would also be welcome.
posted by Skeptic at 4:54 AM on August 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Spoke too soon

Breaking News
A 26-year-old man shot in a car in Croydon last night has died in hospital, Scotland Yard says.

posted by fullerine at 5:01 AM on August 9, 2011


Skeptic - it was the media who started calling it Cobra. It is still, officially, the Cabinet Office Emergency Committee without an acronym.

That, if anything, proves my point. Whether it was a journalist, a politician or a spin doctor who first came up with COBRA rather than COEC (which could have provoked a few smiles) or COBR is pretty much irrelevant, isn't it? Especially considering how tenuous the lines separating those three occupations seem to be...
posted by Skeptic at 5:02 AM on August 9, 2011


Skeptic - fair point.

Again, seriously: would controlling micro-credit and credit for poorer people (e.g. sub-prime lending such as Wonga.com) help to stabilise and improve prospects for the kids stealing TVs last night? AND/OR should this be really tightened up so that predatory lending that leaves mothers paying for the last-couch-but-this-one be eliminated?

Previously, there was a pretty unrestricted supply of the kinds of credit that the poorest can access, from leg-breakers up to really hostile mortgages. That has all gone away, leaving a new range or abusive replacements - new leg-breakers, "debt management" companies consolidating your debts into one easy repayment, wonga.com, quickquid.com etc. etc.
posted by Hugh Routley at 5:05 AM on August 9, 2011


Hugh I'm afraid that there is no quick fix. Nothing else than a deep societal shift can remedy that. However, throughout the Western world, there appears to be a growing consensus, both among the right and left, that the consumerist society has reached its limits. In my opinion, both sides, however, need to be more consequent in their conclusions.
posted by Skeptic at 5:10 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I spent years interviewing folks in deprived bits of Hackney and Liverpool for TV documentaries and current affairs, and in some case living with them too, and 'poor' is really relative. I don't think I met anyone (who wasn't mentally ill) who didn't have a TV, fridge, clothes, enough to eat, and (if they were male) money for fags/booze. Plus free health care. The deprivation in these places is almost entirely social and geographic.

In East London there is -- or was ten years ago anyway -- a lot of nostalgia for the days of the Krays and other gangsters because locals feel completely unprotected by the cops and there's a feeling that the old bankrobber types at least looked after their own.

The honest answer to this shit is boring, boring stuff like fostering strong communities, improving schools and youth programs, and finding a way to bring the kids back into the fold via strong male role models.
posted by unSane at 5:19 AM on August 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


"1.12pm: Hackney town hall has been evacuated due to riot risk in London Fields, a popular gang hotspot, Jasmine Coleman reports."

"1.15pm: James Walsh writes that in Camberwell, south London, staff at local organisations and businesses have sent people home and a fire has been spotted near a McDonald's restaurant. There is some looting, and some people are hiding out in a local hairdresser's."

How long before the title of the Guardian's live updates page for today is changed from Riots day three aftermath to Riots day four?
posted by nthdegx at 5:21 AM on August 9, 2011


Everyone keeps alluding to the idea that a "deep societal shift" will fix things. But no-one says what. Or should we just give up on this discussion and keep making snarky comments about David Cameron?

Loads of sarcasm, snark, insults and attacks. But no one seems to want to actually say what to change - apart from complaining upthread that we don't spend enough money on poor people.

Yes - some (not all) of the programmes that make a big difference to the worst off are being cut - they cost a few millions at a time and affect a small number of people and the cuts are impacting huge chunks of spending and millions of people

The cuts are affecting the minor programmes the most because the pressure before the election was to state that health and education wouldn't be cut. All three major parties gave that assurance, so you'll notice none of the parties are actually discussing cutting health instead of job-training-and-socialisation schemes for the least capable inner-city boys.

So, even if we get richer as a society through economic growth, there's still only a certain amount of money available. We can't live on the national credit card forever.

What do YOU cut if you want to pay the UK's bills? How do YOU reform society to make inequality a thing of the past? Or shall we just carry on snarking and insulting anyone who has a different opinon?
posted by Hugh Routley at 5:24 AM on August 9, 2011


IMO, predatory lending should be really restricted. At the same time, we should set far stricter limits on advertising. Scandinavian-style bans on children's advertising should be just the start. This is always going to be a very hard sell (heh), especially since it directly hits the interests of large media organisations, and can also raise questions of freedom of speech. But the barrage of relentless BS which we are submitted to day after day, from cradle to grave, has really gone too far.

And what unSane said
posted by Skeptic at 5:26 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hugh, I'm at work, I don't really have the time to detail my ideas, and it is my conviction that it is indeed hard. I'm not British and my concern isn't just about the UK, anyway. I don't think that these riots are specifically related to the recent cuts, anyway. There were similar riots in France even before the crisis. The whole matter of how to manage deficit and debt is a different debate, and not a very different one, although it is my conviction that a more progressive taxation (and one with less loopholes for the very wealthy) plays an important role in both debates.

This said, it was David Cameron himself (OK, his spin doctors) who came up with the "Big Society". Maybe he should also start fleshing out what that actually means (pardon my snark).
posted by Skeptic at 5:33 AM on August 9, 2011


Skeptic - (Thanks for an actual answer - much higher standard of conversation than some of the idiots who've been reflexively been snarking and insulting on this thread).

So: what do you think about the argument that credit can help poor people the most (e.g. buying a sofa across 4 years, new-business loans that don't require a house as collateral etc.).

Is it collateral damage in a fight against predatory lending? Or should we really tightly restrict things to allow some lending to the poor (i.e. "good" predatory lending) while stopping people getting wonga.com loans (which wonga.com would say are *also* "good" loans - although the evidence is not so clear)

(also, what UnSane said too - thanks for a constructive addition to a discussion.)
posted by Hugh Routley at 5:34 AM on August 9, 2011


"and not an easier one", sorry
posted by Skeptic at 5:34 AM on August 9, 2011


what do you think about the argument that credit can help poor people the most

Credit ultimately has to be paid back, with interest. While investment microcredits can be useful for poor people, I don't think that consumption credit is anything but harmful in most cases. This is also why I have been quite critical of the recent Third World microcredit fad: ultimately, this can easily degenerate into good old-fashioned loan sharking.
posted by Skeptic at 5:38 AM on August 9, 2011


Skeptic - Fair Enough - I should get back to updating our Business Continuity policy and procedures checklist myself. :-)
posted by Hugh Routley at 5:38 AM on August 9, 2011


Loads of sarcasm, snark, insults and attacks. But no one seems to want to actually say what to change - apart from complaining upthread that we don't spend enough money on poor people.

Creating a metropolitan police force that wasn't murderous, racist, unnaccountable and openly corrupt would be a start.
posted by dng at 5:41 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't think I met anyone (who wasn't mentally ill) who didn't have a TV, fridge, clothes, enough to eat, and (if they were male) money for fags/booze.

Owning a fridge doesn't mean you're not poor.
posted by empath at 5:49 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Hugh Routley:
Everyone keeps alluding to the idea that a "deep societal shift" will fix things. But no-one says what.

This is a complex, multi-dimensional problem, but there are things that could be done on various dimensions.

1. Short term. Tell the Metropolitan Press Police Office to stop reflexively spouting easily-exposed lies every time there's a Mark Duggan/Ian Tomlinson/Juan de Menezes type death. It's almost impossible for the older members of the community to counteract wild rumours when the initial official line is so often a blatant lie too.

2. Medium term. Reverse the VAT rise which hits the poor and harms growth. Replace it with a Land Value Tax. Stop talking about lowering corporation tax and the top rate of income tax. You can't force austerity on the poor while rewarding the rich indefinitely without something breaking in society.

Reopen the closed magistrates' courts, and stop cutting police numbers.

3. Long term. Reopen the closed community centres. Reverse the education cuts and the university fees. Yes, the worst of the looters are incorrigible lifestyle career criminals. But they're only able to operate so openly because they blend with a much larger crowd, who could be kept off the streets if they had more to do and more to lose.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 5:53 AM on August 9, 2011 [21 favorites]


I didn't say they weren't poor. But poverty is relative. People are far poorer in physical terms in many rural parts of North America, especially the southern US.

The poor will always be with you.

Magic wand solutions like 'eliminating poverty' or 'deep societal shift' are bound to fail.

Achievable solutions like providing opportunities, improving schools, redesigning housing, funding community organizations, reforming the Met completely etc are what it takes.
posted by unSane at 5:55 AM on August 9, 2011


Creating a metropolitan police force that wasn't murderous, racist, unnaccountable and openly corrupt would be a start.

Unhelpful hyperbole aside (the cops were the ones who were getting bricks lobbed at them yesterday, after all) I agree it is time to dismantle the Met completely. Cops need to be drawn from local communities and accountable to local communities in a way which transcends the window-dressing of local police committees.
posted by unSane at 5:57 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


London rioters: 'Showing the rich we do what we want'. This is classic class warfare. Hugh upthread asks what do you propose?
It would be a good start if the ruling elite admitted the current model was broken.
Chasm widens between UK workers and financial elite
A recent ICM poll suggests that 72 percent of the public believe high pay makes the UK a grossly unequal place to live, and 73 percent say they have no faith in government to stop the galloping away of high earners.
Don't hear the politicians talking much about this.
From 2010 Unequal Britain: richest 10% are now 100 times better off than the poorest.
It is all linked; Want to avoid financial crises? Then reduce inequality, says the IMF.
This is only the start.
posted by adamvasco at 6:14 AM on August 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Cops need to be drawn from local communities and accountable to local communities in a way which transcends the window-dressing of local police committees.

Uhmm, I'm a bit doubtful about this. I've lived in a city (Brussels) organised, like London, in boroughs quite independent from each other, and where each borough used to have its own independent police force. The result was really disastrous policing with even Keystone Kop cases of squads from neighbouring boroughs converging towards the same robbery and shooting at each other in the dark while the robbers ran away, and rampant nepotism and corruption. These forces were ultimately merged in a nationwide reorganisation in the 90s. In other words: do you really want a Chelsea and Kensington police force and a Tottenham police force totally independent from each other (and separately funded!)?

The Met was a great idea, well ahead of its time, and long envied across the world. Its execution appears to have been botched lately and it may need a branch-and-root reform. Dismantling, not so much.
posted by Skeptic at 6:15 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


This said, it was David Cameron himself (OK, his spin doctors) who came up with the "Big Society". Maybe he should also start fleshing out what that actually means (pardon my snark).

It's working perfectly - folks are working together to help themselves. He should be proud that it's taken off so well!
posted by longbaugh at 6:16 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


(wow - way higher standard of discussion now, just because I asked for it? Maybe I should go ask the rioters to stop: using my magic powers! :-) Thanks everyone)

TheophileEscargot - some huge answers here. Thanks. On your numbers:

1. Hell yes. While senior management of the Met act more and more politically correct, the street-level officers seem to act more and more like a gang. I have no idea what is going wrong inside the police - the perception is that the real modern crime is "insufficient cringe"

2. A complex answer to the tax situation. Something for me to think about. Thanks.

2-and-a-bit: Shutting the courts has hurt me personally as I've had to wait extra months to get to court. It's painful at the moment for anyone trying to use the courts so I agree they've been as crude as possible with the re-organisation - not increasing county court provision while eliminating magistrate courtrooms. I get the feeling the court system is being very deliberately obtuse to make things as hard as possible.

As for Police numbers - they *haven't dropped yet*. The internal consultations are ongoing and the first rounds of enforced retirements are starting soon. The sobering thought is that because the cuts can't hit the big spends in the government budget they are including 25% off the £36Bn law-and-order budget. Let's see if that's discussed in Parliament later.

3. Closed community centres - serious question: why does this need to be provided by the state? Isn't it better for local people to form communities? (There's always a church/mosque/gurdwara/local hall/working mens club/pub-back-room to meet in) - but you need the organisation to come from within, not from above - surely?
posted by Hugh Routley at 6:22 AM on August 9, 2011


So what's your solution, Hugh? Because flooding the streets with police to terrorize the scum into submission because force is the only language their kind understands, etc., etc., etc. is not exactly cheap. And saying that they just need to become more virtuous is a slogan, not a solution. How do you make people more virtuous? Is your proposal to just admit that a certain amount of constant violence will be the plight of the urban poor, the way the US has done? You might want to come and visit and take a look at how that turns out.

I was listening to the BBC in the wee hours of the morning, as I often do when I can't sleep, and they had an interview with the guy who made the The Interrupters movie, which is about a violence-prevention program in Chicago which employs former gang-bangers to intervene in conflicts and convince people to pursue non-violent solutions. I guess he's in the UK doing publicity. They asked him if there were any parallels between what's going on in the UK and the violence he talks about on the South Side of Chicago, and he said there were not a lot of parallels, but he could think of two things.

One was that in both places, there's a deep distrust of the police and a feeling on the part of people in the community that the police are not really there to protect them. And the other is that in both places there are a lot of young people who don't feel like they're part of the social contract. He said that, much more than absolute poverty, is what causes people to reject the rule of law. And I think that point is really important. When people don't feel like they have a voice in making society's rules, and they don't feel like society's rules are designed to protect and promote their interests, then they often don't feel like they have to follow society's rules. Instead they substitute alternative codes of conduct, which can be really dangerous, problematic codes. I'm not saying that they are right to do that: it is utterly clear that the rioters here and the small-scale gang-bangers in Chicago are profoundly hurting themselves and their communities. But they're following the codes of groups that make them feel included and valued, rather than ones which make them feel like permanent outsiders.

And I don't think there's any easy way to make people feel like they're included in the social contract. To do that, you have to include them in the social contract. That means talking to them, not just about them, to determine what their needs are. It means thinking hard about what needs to be done to make it easier for people to get jobs and start businesses and otherwise do the things that make people feel like they have a stake in society. It means making it clear to the police force that they need to treat young black men like part of the community, not like predators from which the community has to be protected. None of that stuff is easy, nor is it automatically achieved by throwing money at the problem. But the alternatives are bound to be a disaster.

The sad thing is that everything I've seen in the British media suggests that the society is going to go in the other direction: it's going to stigmatize and ostracize young inner-city men, especially young inner-city black men. I'm a couple of thousand miles away, and I could be wrong about that, though. I really hope I am.
posted by craichead at 6:24 AM on August 9, 2011 [25 favorites]


The Met was a great idea, well ahead of its time, and long envied across the world. Its execution appears to have been botched lately and it may need a branch-and-root reform. Dismantling, not so much.

I've spent SO long with the Met, I have to disagree. There is a fundamentally flawed notion in bringing in cops from other areas, housing them in barracks, and expecting them to be able to gain the trust of the local community. Some do, but most don't. It's not just the rioters who don't have a stake in the local community -- the cops don't either.. They are, to a large extent, strangers in a strange land, who socialize only with each other, drink only in a few cop pubs, and regard the outside world as a vat of criminality.

I lived in London for a decade and I *never* met a cop socially.

This is entirely due to the way the Met is set up.

Clearly there are organizational challenges with providing more community-based policing but the Met is a totally broken model.
posted by unSane at 6:34 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I lived in London for a decade and I *never* met a cop socially

Pretty sure this is going to be the case for the vast majority of the cohort here on MetaFilter that lives in any big city.

In fact I don't think any of your complaints are London specific.
posted by JPD at 6:38 AM on August 9, 2011


Hugh Routley: Closed community centres - serious question: why does this need to be provided by the state? Isn't it better for local people to form communities? (There's always a church/mosque/gurdwara/local hall/working mens club/pub-back-room to meet in) - but you need the organisation to come from within, not from above - surely?
Sure, these kinds of things used to be provided by the voluntary and charity sectors (read: churches). Along with education, of course. They were brought under state control because charities were often financially stretched, and the results were ramshackle, uncoordinated, unfair, and uneven. Now the state doesn't want to pay for them any more, but the churches that may once have provided these things are not the overwhelming presences in urban communities that they once were. And they're hardly likely to come back, no matter what the utopian nostalgists in the Red Tory movement might think. So who has the time, the resources, the energy, and the moral authority to establish and maintain these community institutions, if not the state?
posted by Sonny Jim at 6:44 AM on August 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


3. Closed community centres - serious question: why does this need to be provided by the state?

This is pretty much what the state is for.
posted by unSane at 6:56 AM on August 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


adamvasco: It's worth noting, though, that when those girls being interviewed talk about "rich people", they are talking about local shopowners. It's quite Brave New World-ish: they have been given so little understanding of the world that they don't have any sense of how it works, and see small businessmen as the élite.

Which, from one point of view, is kind of great if you are the élite, but I don't think an abreaction on this scale - on the scale where it threatens to pull in the Ledbury as well as Foot Locker - was expected.
posted by running order squabble fest at 6:57 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was watching a great documentary on British reggae, and there were more than a few musicians that said something like "we watched our parents try and assimilate into the British culture, with limited success. So we went our own way - embracing Jamaican and African roots, creating our own culture, having our own music and style."

In "Londonstani" by Gautam Malkani, a teacher asks the young men - who are choosing the street over school - why they're not interested in being part of society, and what it would take to get them involved. They don't answer him; in fact, they think the question is ridiculous.

There is no easy answer as to how a country re-enfranchises people who feel disaffected. It may not be possible in a single generation. It may never be possible. I honestly don't know.
posted by dubold at 6:58 AM on August 9, 2011


Very serious development - looting of shops has spread to Aberdeen.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:59 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Guardian have switched to their Day 4 live blog.
posted by bright cold day at 7:02 AM on August 9, 2011


There is no easy answer as to how a country re-enfranchises people who feel disaffected. It may not be possible in a single generation. It may never be possible. I honestly don't know.

Indeed... it's entirely possible that this is a systemic feature of urban capitalism. And basically we have to put up with it if we want our Foot Lockers and Mickey D's.
posted by unSane at 7:05 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Boris abandons a press conference in Clapham following tough perfectly reasonably questioning.

It seems clear at this point that the only plan for this evening is: more police.
posted by nthdegx at 7:12 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


They are, to a large extent, strangers in a strange land, who socialize only with each other, drink only in a few cop pubs, and regard the outside world as a vat of criminality.

This also happened to the borough cops of Brussels. With the aggravating circumstance that they didn't just despise outsiders, but even the cops of other boroughs. They were also, as a rule, far too much to the service of the mayor of each borough. "Having a stake in the community" can also turn really ugly: AFAIK as disliked as the LAPD is, it isn't nearly as despised by most Angelenos as the independent police force of the wealthy enclave of Beverly Hills.
posted by Skeptic at 7:13 AM on August 9, 2011


Unborked link, sorry, to the Boris statement (and it is a statement/public meeting rather than a press conference).
posted by nthdegx at 7:14 AM on August 9, 2011


It seems clear at this point that the only plan for this evening is: more police.

And rubber bullets, supposedly, for the first time outside Northern Ireland.
posted by dng at 7:15 AM on August 9, 2011


"And rubber bullets, supposedly, for the first time outside Northern Ireland.

I hear plenty of conversation about it, but no police confirmation yet. Source?
posted by nthdegx at 7:15 AM on August 9, 2011


The Guardian's live blog has confirmed that the use of plastic bullets will happen: "If we need to, we will do so," says Steven Kavanaugh of the Met.
posted by Kitteh at 7:19 AM on August 9, 2011


Police have disclosed that live baton rounds – non-lethal plastic bullets – may be deployed tonight. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Kavanagh of the Metropolitan police told our crime correspondent, Sandra Laville: "If we need to, we will do so." He said 525 people have been arrested since rioting began on Saturday, and about 100 have been charged.

Non-lethal baton rounds? Nice to see the technology / training is improving.
posted by GeckoDundee at 7:20 AM on August 9, 2011


Thanks.
posted by nthdegx at 7:21 AM on August 9, 2011


That's worrying. Rubber bullets aka 'less lethal ammunition' have killed people here in NI, and that is with police used to deploying them. I hope nobody is killed.
posted by knapah at 7:24 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Boris is currently on BBC News wielding the mightly Excalibrush with which he will sweep away street violence. God bless him.
posted by longbaugh at 7:24 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


God bless him better he was thrown in a barrel of piss.
posted by adamvasco at 7:27 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


That's worrying. Rubber bullets aka 'less lethal ammunition' have killed people here in NI, and that is with police used to deploying them. I hope nobody is killed.

Yeah, I mean if these things are used will this make the situation better (i.e. disperse the rioters) or worse (i.e. make them even more violent)?
posted by ob at 7:28 AM on August 9, 2011


Fired directly at people, they can kill. Fired into the ground, they can bounce up (as they're designed to do) and kill short people / kids / folks who're bending over, etc. Untrained and inexperienced police using them are going to cause serious injuries at least.
posted by GeckoDundee at 7:30 AM on August 9, 2011


Well it never seemed to help here. I expect if they're used we might see just how prevalent firearms are amongst youth in London.
posted by knapah at 7:33 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


With regards to having borough-level police forces in London: a few weeks ago I had my bag nicked from a pub in Islington. A couple of days later, the bag and some of the contents (including things with my name and address on them) was found in Hackney and handed into a police station. Despite coppers in both boroughs having my contact details, their databases don't talk to each other. So it was only when I turned up to the station in Hackney to collect the bag that they found out it was stolen property - when I told them. Aparently, they have to do a manual search of each borough's crime reports - which fair do's, don't bother for my bag which I left under a pub chair - but really, you don't have a better system?

Doesn't fill me with much hope that a borough-level force would work in London.

Still something needs to done about The Met though, it doesn't represent the communities where it operates, people don't trust it as a organisation, and people don't feel it will keep them safe. It's not working.
posted by Helga-woo at 7:34 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Would this be Boris, erstwhile member of the Bullingdon Club?
posted by Kiwi at 7:34 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I think (hope?) the statements of police re: rubber bullets are meant to be a deterrent to those thinking of coming out tonight.

Problem is, the police have already had their bluff called pretty comprehensively ...
posted by bright cold day at 7:34 AM on August 9, 2011


Twitter feed of another one of those poor marginalized rioters who just wants a job
posted by shii at 7:35 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


If there are serious injuries or deaths as a result this will create further unrest. It's a very difficult situation, these aren't people demonstrating, they can charge and disappear in no time.
posted by ob at 7:35 AM on August 9, 2011


Great pictures of Boris under a mixture of microphone booms and a lime green yard brush.
posted by vbfg at 7:37 AM on August 9, 2011


It's escalation, that also smells a bit desperate. I'm thinking that it's even more unwieldy to deploy the rubber bullet squads, then the general plods/riot plods. There's no guarantee that it will work, as the rioters are very mobile.

There was a headline that basically said, many police are coming down from Manchester. It wouldn't surprise me if many rioters went over to Manchester in response ...
posted by carter at 7:39 AM on August 9, 2011


re unSane's comment upthread: "providing opportunities, improving schools, redesigning housing, funding community organizations, reforming the Met completely" strike me as being a profound societal shift.

The danger here is that the immediate reaction to the disorder will become the sole attempt at a solution, as if all that was needed was a stronger police presence and a reassertion of the state monopoly on violence. That's pretty much what happened in the US in response to the civil disorders of the 1960's: the backlash was accepted as the solution.

The comments from leaders about "mindless violence" and "feral youth" are strong indications they are going to use the backlash to resist any attempt to address a policy of intentionally increasing inequality by upward transfer of wealth.
posted by warbaby at 7:40 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Riot shield as tea tray in Camden last night, this is the best pic I've seen so far.
posted by dabitch at 7:40 AM on August 9, 2011 [11 favorites]


running order squabble fest to this level of society the shop keepers are the rich. They have employment, they are probably on the housing ladder, maybe have a car - they have a future, even if it isn't up there with the banking, private jet set. If you are able to go to a restaurant with a table cloth you are rich. They don't care, the riot is on, its fun, it will end in tears, it normally does. There will be 16,000 police in London tonight, with potentially lethal weapons.
posted by adamvasco at 7:44 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Problem is, the police have already had their bluff called pretty comprehensively ..."

And their tame response has had 24-hour coverage for three days in a row on UK rolling news. If there's an alternative to escalation at this point: what is it? Don't get me wrong, I'm not necessarily calling for rubber bullets, army on the streets or any other specific measures -- I'm not an expert. In fact, one thing that has consistently annoyed me over the past three days are hawkish ex-police chiefs being interviewed saying people like me that called the policing of the G8 protests heavy-handed now have to sleep in the nests we made: that the police are deliberately standing back as a result of prior criticism.

Bullshit.

A few pushy anarchists at the front of an otherwise peaceful demo with everyone standing in pretty much the same place (making kettling easy) is not the same as what appears to be a sort of guerilla-rioting and looting -- which appears to have no cause. Despite the shooting of Mark Duggan -- no cause. I haven't heard the name Mark Duggan from a single "protester".

That's not to say there aren't legitimate causes to address (later): urban poverty and youth disenfranchisement among them. I think my record on those issues as long-term concerns of mine is pretty good. But the fact remains: when people get violent en masse, society's law-keepers' options become extremely limited. And in the face of violence, my well of sympathy runs dry pretty swiftly.

During the G8 protests, police *were* heavy-handed with protestors. But I didn't have an issue with a policeman giving someone a bop on the arm with a baton if that person was trying to shove a piece of metal in their face. I didn't then, and I don't now. It looks more like police are happy to get stuck in when it's completely safe for them to do so, but don't fancy it when the opposition looks a bit tasty. And because of that, we're facing night 4 of violence and are discussing rubber bullets and worse.

Shit.
posted by nthdegx at 7:50 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I should add that I agree with and support unSanes observations. I just see doing small sensible things as being beyond the reach of policy at this point.

With the importation of police, London is now at the stage where the Seattle WTO disturbances turned into a full-fledged police riot. When they brought in the King County Sheriff's deputies, that's when it became a full-scale attack on civilians, many of whom were local residents.
posted by warbaby at 7:50 AM on August 9, 2011


photoshoplooter
posted by nthdegx at 7:56 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Skeptic: I'll say this first: these rioters are plunderers and thugs. They are not rioting because they are "oppressed", they are rioting because: a) they can; and
b) they'll gladly take that wide-screen TV, thank you very much.


Respectfully Skeptic, I'd ask you to consider that the rioting that you are experienceing , as with the rioting we have experiences in the U.S. over the years and the rioting we saw during Arab spring is kind of an emergent property that occurrs when society creates a hugly underserved populace combned with an excess of money pouring into a higher economic class, in both your and our case that would be the Bankers.

I completely agree with you that a large number of rioters aren't stealing that television and thinking "For Social Justice!" But I also agree so very much with a poster upthread that quoted a piece expressing that if the looters had a decent place to go home to and a future to really look forward to , if they really had a better stake in society a lot of potential thugs would just wouldn't take the risk for a pair of sneakers of some GNC vitamins. But as things stand now - apparently a lot of these people think thet they have little to lose.

I'm not apologising for thugs and thieves. I'm just saying that unless we accept all of our responsibilities to all parts of society , riots and disruptions will probably be an increasing fact of life in both our countries. I am so sorry that you all are going through this kind of crap. People are getting hurt. We really need to ask ourselves "why" rather than just accept the nice pre-packaged soundbites that our ruling classses seem to ready to feed us.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:06 AM on August 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


"Under the 1886 Act, the Metropolitan Police Authority will be liable to pay compensation to those whose property has been damaged, destroyed or stolen in the rioting within London borders, but claims have to be made within 14 days after the day when the damage, destruction or theft occurred." - Guardian.
posted by nthdegx at 8:06 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


craichead - the way to start a good comment doesn't include a wild insult at the start.

That said, the rest of what you've said does contribute to this discussion.

"The habit of virtue" is a notion invented by Aristotle that people are not naturally good or evil but rather are given good habits by the society (specifically the people they grow up with obviously). They habitually act in a "good" way, because that's the way their fathers and mothers and relatives and friends acted when they were little - and so those are the habits they've copied into adulthood. It's not a slogan - its a shorthand description of how societies pass on their concepts and culture (with a small c) to the next generation.

Your average "white middle class" kid doesn't vandalise things not because he is somehow magically genetically superior (of course), it's because he doesn't see others doing it, doesn't get told it's fighting "the man", doesn't get told it's big and clever, doesn't see the older boys doing it for fun, doesn't get informed it's important to have more of your tag than the other gangs', and so on. His "habit of virtue" is simply different to the "habit of virtue" of the kids where I used to live in Tottenham.

The example you give of the former gang-banger trying to change people's habits and expectations is exactly what I'd propose would help. Older locals in these communities need to be given the approval and authority of those outside - including funding - to help push the feckless mothers and missing fathers who raise yet another generation of asshole shitheads who end up working as drug lookouts for £50 because they've thrown away every chance handed to them by the state. Yes London schools are pretty poor, but there are shit schools in every town in England - and London gets waaaay more money than the rest of the UK. (Unlike the US, funding is generally the inverse of the tax take in the UK - poor areas get much more money than rich ones - the current Tory proposals are drawing a huge amount of flak because they're looking to change that somewhat).

So:

My proposals (and I've got loads of course):

Stop running up the national debt first - we are losing £43 BILLION POUNDS just paying the interest on the debts the last government ran up. That *means* short-term cuts. That's not a right-wing or left-wing thing, just paying the bills we have run up. We can't spend more than we give in taxes.

Cut the state funding of Local Council centres and bureacratic organisations and put the same money (i.e no cuts overall) into "entreprenurial philanthropy" as has been developed in the last decade or so by groups like the national lottery money distribution boards (I don't know their proper name) or privately by Bill Gates, Warren Buffet etc. You apply for a short or long-term funding from a (limited, governmnental bureacratic) group (a.ka. a Quango) who measure you by results. Some stuff has hard-to-measure results, but overall it's better than simply creating long-term money sinks that have never done anything *measurably* good. This isn't Labour-style "targets", but creating "business cases" measured on a case-by-case basis. Some of those will fail - and that's a good thing. Some will include these groups who have a real impact keeping the kids from becoming criminals - and they'll get way more funding to improve things. Right now, local councils spend their discretionary budgets based on too much politics with no accountability.

Keep the social safety net going (the huge budget spends) - it's a pure social good to have done what we've done since the second world war. Who knows, maybe I'll need it one day. Maybe you will. That said - a council house shouldn't be subsidised housing for life - more of a temporary place (even if that's "long-term temporary" until you die of old age) to live while you get on your feet. There's a woman across the road from my parents who has just "inherited" a council house from her parents as the fourth generation to live there. She has a 3 bed house, drives her brand new Merc to go to work and pays £300 a month in rent (about half the local . That's deeply wrong.

Streamline the government layers bullshit - from the current (where I live) parish, town, district, county, national and EU government organisations to County/Unitary and National. Everyone involved shuffles their teflon shoulders to pass the buck up, down and around to everyone else. I know I used to. Less bureacracy and way more accountability at the County/Unitary level is the idea here - and that means a return of the GLC (Greater London Council). Move as much power down from the EU and National level to the single local layer, and make local councillors important and a serious electoral competition rather than the "local party worthies" that tend to be elected at the moment. Yes - that means abandoning the EU mess even though I'm personally a europhile.

TheophileEscargot makes a good point about taxation above - I'm going to have a good think about this. Taxation hasn't really changed in a long time, so I'm not sure it's a cause of much that's new in my lifetime - we could spend a lot of time on it and change nothing. It's always been a knee-jerk reaction of mine to increase taxes on the rich - but the hard truth is that the rich can leave. I want a job, so the best thing to do is create a level playing field - perhaps an Estonian style flat-rate tax (everyone pays a standard rate on everything they earn, no exceptions, no tax-breaks, no loopholes). I haven't thought about this very much. Certainly I don't want the situation where the stockbroker pays a smaller percentage of their income than their cleaner does (by using capital gains tax breaks).

Then on to the thorny issue of culture. The end of the last government finally began to do this right, by insisting that we create and maintain a common basis to a UK culture. A melting-pot approach rather than multiple separate cultures sharing geography. Don't get me wrong, I'm not advocating nazi-style homogenaity here. There are, however, large chunks of our cities that do not share the same basic values as the majority. They have brought ideas with them or have created ideas over the last few decades that are incompatible with our settled, tolerant, multi-faith, multi-ethnic life in the UK in the 21st Century. I haven't a clue how to fix this. Every idea I have has severe side-effects or consequences that are worse than the solution. Some people question why this matters - but in riposte I would use the examples of the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda and so on as places where multi-culturalism has been tried. Extreme cases, but as any muslim in the Parisian banlieus (sp?) would tell you, two separate and incompatible cultures results in resentment, disadvantage and ultimately, violence. We have to avoid ghettoisation of the UK.

I have a million ideas and I've been writing this for far too long. Over to you.
posted by Hugh Routley at 8:26 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


(Thanks for an actual answer - much higher standard of conversation than some of the idiots who've been reflexively been snarking and insulting on this thread)

Do not do this. Be the conversation you wish to see and all that, but you pretty much need to choose between shitting on the community and being a part of it. This topic's contentious enough, and emotions high enough, without extra shit-flinging wrapped up in it.
posted by cortex at 8:30 AM on August 9, 2011 [17 favorites]


The end of the last government finally began to do this right, by insisting that we create and maintain a common basis to a UK culture. A melting-pot approach rather than multiple separate cultures sharing geography.

This is not only a pipe dream, but crap. One of the huge virtues of Canada is that ethnic identity and national identity are not tied to each other. You can be a proud Canadian and proudly Chinese (or whatever) at the same time. People identify as _NATIONAL_IDENTITY_ when there is something about _NATION_ when they feel proud to be part of. Until then, good luck.
posted by unSane at 8:31 AM on August 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


COBRA is Cabinet Office Briefing Room A. That's all.

So disappointing
posted by Poet_Lariat at 8:36 AM on August 9, 2011


shii: Apparently that particular Twitter account is a fake and has been deleted.
posted by adrianhon at 8:37 AM on August 9, 2011


Christ, I've never heard Johnson before. That guy has the charisma of a kumquat. Actually I think a kumquat has more charm, upon further reflection.
posted by symbioid at 8:43 AM on August 9, 2011


Graham Linehan's response to Boris, on Twitter: "I guess London won't be electing any more PG Wodehouse characters as Mayor again any time soon."

I think Boris is just trying to work out how the rioting justifies the government cutting his taxes in the next budget. That's the really important issue for him: paying less tax.
posted by Grangousier at 8:46 AM on August 9, 2011


Rocketing up the Amazon charts
posted by vbfg at 8:46 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


In Focus (successor to The Big Picture) covers the riots.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 8:48 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


unSane - but that's exactly my point. A person can be Canadian and *also* Chinese. But they are Canadian - they join in with Canadian society and life. We are talking here about people who simply do not identify at all with Britain - they just live here, probably from birth. They are XXXXXX (name your culture) and want that to be all of their identity. That is very dangerous for a million reasons, not least ghettoisation and ethnic cleansing. I personally am ethnically Irish, am proud of that and want to retain my culture. But that doesn't mean I expect a Gaelic-first exception to be made for my Tax Return, because I live here, I'm part of Britain and I'm British. To use the US habit of naming ethnic groups - I'm Irish British, just like my colleague is Indian British and the guy sitting across from me is Afro-Caribbean British. All of us are proud of our parentage and our unique contributions *and* we are also part of British society.

That's the point of melting-pot rather than multi-cultural attitudes - or am I using the terms wrong?
posted by Hugh Routley at 8:49 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Cheers, Horace. If I could favorite that twice...
posted by nthdegx at 8:57 AM on August 9, 2011


Respectfully Skeptic, I'd ask you to consider that the rioting that you are experienceing , as with the rioting we have experiences in the U.S. over the years and the rioting we saw during Arab spring is kind of an emergent property that occurrs when society creates a hugly underserved populace

Well, first of all, I'm not experiencing this rioting myself: wrong side of the Channel. But anyway, I wouldn't conflate things. The protests in Tunisia and Egypt (which actually entailed very little actual violent rioting, and more often than not by counter-protestors, if not even police) were, at least at first, protests of the over-educated and under-employed. Similarly, the generally polite protests in Spain are a sort of hipster revolution, carried mainly by almost tediously earnest children of the middle classes, not quite unlike Monty Python's "People Liberation Front of Judea", and often with several higher education degrees under their belts. They certainly have material concerns, but are far more preoccupied with the general governance of their countries. Even in Greece, where there has been more violence, the outlook was different, more like the earlier student fee protests in Britain than the current riots.

The London riots, like those of the French banlieue and similar US riots before, are a different beast altogether. There's much more violence, but above all there's looting. The participants are not acting in the public interest, not even pretending to do so. For sure, they may also be more "political" sources to their rage, mostly concerning racism, but they certainly do not aim to improve anybody's lot but their own, and let off some steam in the process. They are also much less educated. Growing inequality may make both types of protests more common, but they should not be mistaken with each other.
posted by Skeptic at 8:57 AM on August 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Graham Linehan's response to Boris, on Twitter: "I guess London won't be electing any more PG Wodehouse characters as Mayor again any time soon."

Rang a very distant bell for me. From Calvin Trillin in "The New Yorker" (April 14, 2008) :"Johnson, I was told by Ian Hislop, the editor of Private Eye, plays to “a stereotype of the bumbling P. G. Wodehouse sort of toff that people find attractive.” Even Ken Livingstone sometimes says, usually just before he says that Johnson is not the sort of person you’d want to put in charge of a large city, “Boris is charming.” "
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:58 AM on August 9, 2011


Canada is a multi-cultural society, not a melting pot society.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:58 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


a council house shouldn't be subsidised housing for life

Council housing isn't subsidised - it currently earns revenue for the treasury. If you want stable communities full of good role models, you don't want people moving out of them the minute they get stable employment, either.
posted by Abiezer at 9:03 AM on August 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


I'm really impressed by this riot clean-up crowd.
posted by Anything at 9:03 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Supplemental to cortex, on preview: Please stop beginning your comments by patting people's heads or ticking them off for fitting in or not fitting in with your model of how this conversation should go, Hugh Routley. This isn't a third grade civics classroom, and you are not its teacher.

Symbioid: Johnson's interesting. He's extremely charming in person, but has also cultivated the impression of being a bluff, slightly bewildered, above-it-all toff. A sort of Woosterish figure who, while clearly not of the people, has their interests at heart in the way that more nakedly political politicians don't. In that sense, he's a knowing throwback to the days of the MacMillanesque civic-minded aristocrat. Smart marks like him from his time as presenter of the satirical topical quiz show Have I Got News for You, and elected him as sort of a joke.

That bluster conceals a very intelligent and ambitious man, again as far as one can tell. But it's hard for him to code-switch in front of the electorate, and this sort of situation doesn't really play to the strengths of his public persona. Also problematic is his and David Cameron's membership of the Bullingdon Club, mentioned above. The Bullingdon is pretty famous for its acts of drunken vandalism, and I imagine that is going to come up.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:03 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


"Please stop beginning your comments by patting people's heads or ticking them off for fitting in or not fitting in with your model of how this conversation should go, Hugh Routley."

This at the beginning of the comment. Thank you. Some much-needed light relief.
posted by nthdegx at 9:12 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Boris is charming in small doses but was regarded as a drunken joke around London before he was mayor. 'Bonkers' Boris was one of the nicer things people called him.
posted by unSane at 9:13 AM on August 9, 2011


as with the rioting we have experiences in the U.S. over the years and the rioting we saw during Arab spring is kind of an emergent property that occurrs when society creates a hugly underserved populace combned with an excess of money pouring into a higher economic class, in both your and our case that would be the Bankers.

???
posted by clavdivs at 9:15 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


running order squabble fest - and you are one of the people I am sick and tired of trying to honestly join a conversation only to face a knee jerk sarcastic, silly or plain insulting throwaway response.

I guess it offends you because it hits close to home. If I have to berate people to get a better standard of discourse, I'll do it because people like you seem to think you can fuck about in a thread and it'll magically take your serious comments thoughtfully when you want to.

Examples of your flippancy, sarcasm etc.:
"The Enlightenment! Why didn't I think of that? 18th century solutions for 21st century problems.
posted by running order squabble fest at 8:29 AM on August 7 [2 favorites +] [!] "
Thanks for the thoughtful and constructive response there.

Your squabble with Anigbrowl in this thread - as it seems only people involved in a situation may understand a situation - no one outside could EVER have anything constructive to add about London OBVIOUSLY - you say one thing about having a conversation then spend your time attacking the person, not the ideas.

It would be awesome if you could post a few more comments in a row, Hugh. That should ensure quiet streets tonight.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:58 AM on August 9 [+] [!]
Again, thanks for the constructive conversation. Asshole.
posted by Hugh Routley at 9:16 AM on August 9, 2011


Via Ben Goldacre: Truly terrifying, disturbing new scenes from London today. [NSFW.]
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:19 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Take it to Meta, fer gawd's sake.
posted by unSane at 9:20 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Folks, take it to email or go to Metatalk if you really need to have a public discussion about this. My note is a "please cut it out" from the management, continuing to argue about it is not cutting it out.
posted by cortex at 9:21 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


No idea about the racial dynamics of London, but based on what happened in Vancouer, kids will be kids. After a certain critical mass is achieved, it becomes acceptable to break windows and loot, and no doubt camera phones and social networks add fuel to the fire.

Watching on television, the Vancouver riots really brought back memories of high school for me (growing up in the 70s and 80s in a small city in Canada). There was always an undercurrent of menace and violence in high school, with a lot of fighting.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:21 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Hugh Routley, this is said to you with all due respect, if you're going to hang about MetaFilter and 'join in the conversations', I humbly suggest you also start checking out the MetaTalk section a little more. You tend to dominate and moderate threads you're involved in, this isn't the first, and on preview what unSane just said.
posted by infini at 9:21 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well this is all going well.

And for those who still think Boris is just an aimiable fool, remember how he helped his mate to try and beat a journalist up.
posted by ciderwoman at 9:21 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Graham Linehan's response to Boris, on Twitter: "I guess London won't be electing any more PG Wodehouse characters as Mayor again any time soon."

I remember many of the people who voted for Boris, saying at the time that they voted for him for a laugh. They sounded just like the girls in this video.
posted by catchingsignals at 9:21 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Via Ben Goldacre: Truly terrifying, disturbing new scenes from London today. [NSFW.]

I am definitely liking those. But what are the guys with the snake carrying in the undoctored photograph? It seems an odd pose.
posted by Jehan at 9:23 AM on August 9, 2011


Independent record labels fear ruinous loss of stock following the Sony warehouse fire.
posted by essexjan at 9:26 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


"BREAKING: The Independent Police Complaints Commission has just announced that there is no evidence that Mark Duggan opened fire at police officers before he was shot dead, according to ballistic test results, reports the Press Association."
posted by catchingsignals at 9:31 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


However...

The handgun was found to have a "bulleted cartridge" in the magazine, which is being subject to further tests.
posted by BobbyVan at 9:40 AM on August 9, 2011


Among the Movers and Shakers in Sports and Leisure this week at Amazon.co.uk: Rucanor Aluminium Baseball Bat (up 5144%), Midwest Adult Slugger Wood Bat (up 3505%), Military Police Telescopic Tonfa 21" cosh (up 5010%). Get yours while stocks last! [Via @BizWeekDesign.]
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:40 AM on August 9, 2011


Get yours while stocks last!

Wot, no Clash CDs?
posted by carter at 9:42 AM on August 9, 2011


This all looks to be starting up yet again. Yeesh.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:43 AM on August 9, 2011


Not in NW6 it doesn't appear to be. There are so many police on the street it's unreal, and as a result certainly no more groups of kids hanging around. Where are you Lord_Pall?
posted by ciderwoman at 9:45 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well, looks like the Met are not only corrupt, institutionally racist and hate peaceful protest - now it also turns out that they are unable to effectively police London. I wish I was surprised.

Regarding the rioters, here's the fateful formula (IMHO):

Idiots
+ crap education system
+ media and culture that turns morons into role-models and is contemptuous of hard work
+ ever widening gap between the rich and the poor
+ entirely understandable loss of respect for and trust in the police
= London riots
posted by dickasso at 9:46 AM on August 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm in San Fran nowadays, but I lived in Acton and Cambridge for a few years, so I'm taking an active interest.

The Guardian Liveblog is talking about a few car fires being put out, and some police activity already.
posted by Lord_Pall at 9:46 AM on August 9, 2011


Went for a run, trying to get some of the adrenaline out. A fleet of armoured vehicles roared past on Kennington Road, sirens blaring, presumably on their way to Brixton. Strong sense that, for better or worse, the rest of us - suits, managers, shopkeepers, web designers, street sweepers, librarians, stall holders, anyone who's trying to get by - have to be on the same side as them. Struck by a sense of community with pretty much everyone on the street, and by the size of the betrayal of trust that the Met's attitude to the public has been. But we do need them, and when this is over, hopefully we can remind them that they need us just as much.

(Sorry if that's a bit pompous. Can't deflate it at all.)
posted by Grangousier at 9:46 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


carter: Wot, no Clash CDs?
Ah, here we go. Movers and shakers, MP3 downloads. The Smiths, "Panic," up 3721%.
posted by Sonny Jim at 9:47 AM on August 9, 2011


Thanks BobbyVan, they've updated since my comment, let's quote the whole thing:
"My colleague Vikram Dodd writes about the Independent Police Complaints Commission's initial ballistics results on the shooting of Mark Duggan, which triggered Saturday's initial riots in Tottenham.

The results show:

• The bullet lodged in the police radio is a "jacketed round". This is a police issue bullet and, while it is still subject to DNA analysis, it is consistent with having been fired from a Metropolitan police Heckler and Koch MP5 submachine gun.

• The firearm found at the scene was a converted BBM "Bruni" self-loading pistol. This is not a replica; the scientist considers it to be a firearm for the purposes of the Firearms Act and a prohibited weapon and is therefore illegal.

• The handgun was found to have a "bulleted cartridge" in the magazine, which is being subject to further tests.

• At this stage there is no evidence that the handgun found at the scene was fired during the incident. The FSS has told the IPCC that it may not be possible to say for certain; however further tests are being carried out in an attempt to establish this."
posted by catchingsignals at 9:51 AM on August 9, 2011


Heartwarming nickname for the clean-up volunteers: "Riot Wombles".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 9:52 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


(The very convoy I mentioned are pictured on the Guardian Blog - 5:42. There's a thing. It's like being in history, so it is.)
posted by Grangousier at 9:53 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


That just means that it was a cartridge with a bullet, BobbyVan, as opposed to a blank cartridge - the gun being a blank-firing starting pistol, most likely - the BBM Bruni .380 "olympic", I imagine - that had been converted to take bulleted ammunition. It doesn't have any bearing on whether the gun was fired, although it does mean that it was an illegal firearm. Metropolitan armed police rules of engagement allow for firing first if there is a credible threat to life, though - there might be issues around the reporting of it or the information released, but whether or not it was fired is not in itself a sure indicator of malpractice. More important than whether or not it was fired was whether it was in his hand when he was shot.

At this point, though - if we assume that the mobs are not at this point constituted entirely from the hairdressers of Tottenham - I don't think the particulars of the Duggan case will have much bearing on what happens now.
posted by running order squabble fest at 9:54 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


+ crap education system
+ media and culture that turns morons into role-models and is contemptuous of hard work
+ ever widening gap between the rich and the poor
+ entirely understandable loss of respect for and trust in the police
= London riots


They're not just in London... and pretty soon, by that formula, they're not just going to be in Britain much longer, either.
posted by scody at 9:54 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Movers and shakers, MP3 downloads. The Smiths, "Panic," up 3721%.

That's interesting, actually. Also there is The Special's Ghost Town, which was #1 at the time of some other riots a good long time ago, during those other Tories. Still relevant. Classic tune.
posted by carter at 9:56 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


That a police bullet ended up lodged in a police radio is, in and by itself, rather worrying. At best, an armed cop shot at least one bullet in a direction it definitely wasn't supposed to go. At worst, it was a bumbled attempt at a cover up.
posted by Skeptic at 9:58 AM on August 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Quiet in NW5 right now.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 9:58 AM on August 9, 2011


Lambeth shopkeepers on the Cut and Lower Marsh were told by police to close up and go home at about 3.30. Street is shuttered now. Local Sainsbury's full of panic buyers. All the Brita filters had already sold to people more panic-stricken than me.
posted by Pallas Athena at 10:08 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Stop running up the national debt first - we are losing £43 BILLION POUNDS just paying the interest on the debts the last government ran up. That *means* short-term cuts. That's not a right-wing or left-wing thing, just paying the bills we have run up. We can't spend more than we give in taxes.

Given we spent ~£850Bn bailing out the banks, plus the interest we have had to pay against borrowing for that, then paying the 'bills we have run up' might seem a little unbalanced, its more like we are having to see massive cuts across all our communities in order to socialise the costs of someone else's failure. The profit accrued, in the majority, to a much narrower echelon of society than will bear the losses. Effectively, we are paying the bills someone else has run up.

Cut the state funding of Local Council centres and bureacratic organisations and put the same money (i.e no cuts overall) into "entreprenurial philanthropy" as has been developed in the last decade or so by groups like the national lottery money distribution boards (I don't know their proper name) or privately by Bill Gates, Warren Buffet etc. You apply for a short or long-term funding from a (limited, governmnental bureacratic) group (a.ka. a Quango) who measure you by results. Some stuff has hard-to-measure results, but overall it's better than simply creating long-term money sinks that have never done anything *measurably* good.

So any benefits achieved are not easy to measure, but let's do something else, not proven, also difficult to measure, because that's what they do in the US. Alternatively, why don't we make more effort to be like other countries which have considerably less of the social problems of the US, for example Scandinavia, and develop initiatives that give more young people a meaningful stake in society. At the same time why not take into account the huge amount of evidence that not having huge income disparities has on social unrest and do something to bring executive pay back into line with lower earners.
posted by biffa at 10:11 AM on August 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


Quiet in NW5 right now.

Yes, lots of shops shuttered on Kentish Town Road and up Highgate Road when I was there earlier. Council was telling local businesses to shut up early.

Vanloads of plod heading south though.
posted by ComfySofa at 10:23 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pretty clear reports of disturbances in Salford and Manchester.
posted by Jehan at 10:27 AM on August 9, 2011


Crouch End shops closing early.

Dear God, if the rioting spreads to Crouch End it really is all over.
posted by unSane at 10:28 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jehan: "Pretty clear reports of disturbances in Salford and Manchester."

Yeah, described as "minor" by GM Police.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 10:31 AM on August 9, 2011


"Crouch End, a nice suburb in north London" seems like odd editorialising in the Guardian live feed.
posted by carbide at 10:33 AM on August 9, 2011


Crouch End shops closing early.

Dear God, if the rioting spreads to Crouch End it really is all over.


this doesn't indicate that rioting is likely to occur in Crouch End. People are spooked. They want to be at home, shopkeepers and customers alike.
posted by Bwithh at 10:36 AM on August 9, 2011


"Crouch End, a nice suburb in north London" seems like odd editorialising in the Guardian live feed.

Nah, the Grauniad clearly just misspelt "niec".
posted by cmonkey at 10:36 AM on August 9, 2011


Not if you've ever been to Crouch End.
posted by unSane at 10:36 AM on August 9, 2011


(Although I was once witness to a MASSIVE pub fight at the Queens' in Crouch End, from under a table).
posted by unSane at 10:38 AM on August 9, 2011


Crouch End
posted by BobbyVan at 10:39 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Holloway Road all boarded or closed up this evening. There's a big shopping district (M&S, Waitrose, Selby, Argos, clothes & mobile phone retailers) that has so far been untouched by the riots. Hope it stays that way.
posted by bright cold day at 10:39 AM on August 9, 2011


"boarded up" is not "untouched"
posted by telstar at 10:41 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Good point.
posted by bright cold day at 10:42 AM on August 9, 2011


@BobbyVan I think Stephen King just liked the funny British name of Crouch End
posted by Bwithh at 10:43 AM on August 9, 2011


Signs of life in Lambeth: the Old and Young Vic theatres are both playing tonight, and the kebab shop where all the police always go is still open.
posted by Pallas Athena at 10:47 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


from KokuRyu:

No idea about the racial dynamics of London, but based on what happened in Vancouer, kids will be kids. After a certain critical mass is achieved, it becomes acceptable to break windows and loot, and no doubt camera phones and social networks add fuel to the fire.

there's been strangely little discussion in the media coverage I've seen about the "vandal's high" (to quote Douglas Coupland) that can spread in any mob - whether its a rich crowd of sports fans (like in Vancouver) or an underclass crowd of hoodies - especially perhaps with youngsters.
posted by Bwithh at 10:48 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Effectively, we are paying the bills someone else has run up.

At the risk of wandering offtopic, Biffa, are you suggesting a windfall tax on banks and/or energy companies, or indeed higher taxation for the very high earners in the financial sector? Only that seems to be relatively unlikely, especially given that there is talk ofcutting the current 50% tax rate for earnings over £150,000 to 45%, to avoid sending out the wrong signals to wealth generators.

The National Lottery Distribution fund is actually already funding community centres through the state - 12% of the revenues from lottery sales goes to the state as lottery tax. 28% goes to the National Lottery Distribution ("Good Causes") fund. That's not a huge amount in the greater scheme of things, unfortunately - I've heard £15 billion-£20 billion+ over the 17-year life of the lottery. Then there's the suggestion that this has also reduced people's discretionary spending on charities. So... that's about £1-1.5 billion a year, optimistically. There's not a huge amount, structurally, to cover not just what it is currently covering but also pick up the rest.

Having said which, maybe high earners might celebrate the lightening of their tax load by buying a shedload of lottery tickets? It seems a slightly inefficient lever, though.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:50 AM on August 9, 2011


Shepherds bush Westfield where i work has really cranked up security. Fences, police dogs, vans the works. Atmosphere was stilted but Still normal looking.

On the downside, now home by Clapham North, most shops are shut (and most have their metal shutters down) except for the pubs where you could imagine it was a nice Sunday afternoon. I did see some "youths" jogging around and I hate saying it but I don't like it. Wish I saw more police presence here too considering Clapham Junction yesterday.
posted by like_neon at 10:50 AM on August 9, 2011


maybe high earners might celebrate the lightening of their tax load by buying a shedload of lottery tickets?

Considering that a lottery is basically a tax on the less well-off (or at least on the statistically illiterate), I don't think so.
posted by Skeptic at 10:55 AM on August 9, 2011


I think we're naturally conflating three things:

1 Young men will resort to violence when they can use it to get what they want or just for fun. This has always been the case. Someone above cited the Bullingdon Club - rich young men with every opportunity smash things up for fun. Right now it might be young Afro-Caribbean men. At other times it's been young white Protestant men (the Apprentice riots), or young Viking men, or young soccer-supporting men, or young Saxon men, or indeed young Policemen in uniform putting the boot in. London will see other young men using violence to get stuff and have fun in the future. It's not a race thing. It is a human, natural thing. Civilisation is about taming these propensities (or, more cynically, channelling them at the enemy. But I digress.)

It is not ignoring social problems to say "young men can be violent, sometimes just because they're young men. However, this must stop now." Left or right, doesn't matter. We can all say "this is wrong".

2 Every group who has ever resorted to violence has attempted to morally justified it,. Sure, the rioters may say "it's because of the Government". Doesn't mean that's true. Doesn't mean they're lying, either: they might just be wrong. Doesn't mean that you can morally justify it.

We can't take the statements of the rioters as to why they are rioting as true. Rioting is a both a complex problem (why so few riots in the 1930s at a time of greater poverty?) and a very simple one (it's always young men, they're always drunk.)

We can identify reasons why we think they are rioting, and we can discuss them. But we have to do this without a moral dimension. We must say things like "they have been raised in a culture where violence is normal and of high status" without saying "so these people are bad people" but while also saying "but this violence is a bad thing."

This is difficult, and I don't think we're going to manage it until all this is over. The host of PhD theses we'll have in five years' time will shed more light, maybe. But we can still condemn while seeking to understand what happened here, and we are not forced to accept the narrative of the rioters (or indeed of the Police, liars as they are, or the Government.)

3 Riots, despite what I've written above, are not random events. They have causative factors, even if we can argue over what they are. It is the case that we have problems in the UK of young people who have failed to get an education, who have failed to become part of prosperous society, who failed to find a productive job during the biggest consumer boom in the richest, biggest city in one of the richest countries on Earth. It is the case that one particular segment of young men is rioting, not every one. It is not random.

So something is wrong, and we should try to understand it. But we can and should still condemn. All these things are necessary.
posted by alasdair at 10:57 AM on August 9, 2011 [19 favorites]


American NPR guy @acarvin is tweeting that BBC has reported that some of those arrested during riots and looting include "university students, graphic designer, someone who just joined the army."
posted by Bwithh at 10:58 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Its interesting to see all the stories emerging from this.
I was amused by this story of looters attacking diners at the 2-Michelin-star Ledbury, including the image of the kitchen staff coming out with knives.
posted by vacapinta at 10:58 AM on August 9, 2011


there's been strangely little discussion in the media coverage I've seen about the "vandal's high" (to quote Douglas Coupland) that can spread in any mob - whether its a rich crowd of sports fans (like in Vancouver) or an underclass crowd of hoodies - especially perhaps with youngsters.
posted by Bwithh at 10:48 AM on August 9 [+] [!]


oh wait, here we go: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-14463452
posted by Bwithh at 11:01 AM on August 9, 2011


Doug Saunders, the Globe and Mail's Europe correspondent, makes a few good points: London police overwhelmed in explosion of violence by futureless youth:

Whether the thousands of rioters actually did express disillusionment – some did say they were angry at police or the world, but many appeared gleeful or greedy – it is clear that most had nothing else to do with themselves, and no reason to fear or feel responsible for the consequences of their actions.

This is a chronic problem in Britain, which has a “lost generation” of young high-school dropouts far larger than most other Western countries.

One European Union study this year found that 17 per cent of Britain’s youth are classified as “NEETs” – for Not in Employment, Education or Training, in other words high-school dropouts with no prospects of employment – the fourth-highest percentage in the European Union. There are 600,000 people under 25 in Britain who have never had a day of work.

posted by KokuRyu at 11:04 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


My 2-year-old son had a tantrum that lasted for 45 minutes this morning. I think it's important to consider that many of the rioters are children and probably do not have the mental capacity (at times) to understand exactly what they are doing.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:06 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


urgh
posted by Bwithh at 11:09 AM on August 9, 2011


It's all so eerie. I got on the bus and went to work. We did our usual office stuff, meetings, flurry, deadlines - while the helicopters circled. And the whole time there's a hysterical media feed of 'incident', escalating, diminishing, escalating and so on pouring out of the net. We had the choice to come home a bit early, and so I got the bus from Fleet Street where tourists were doing their thing and shops were glinting and staff were gossiping, and the world was just turning. Passed Liverpool Street and it all got weirdly quiet. Shops shuttered through Shoreditch, along Hackney road. Police cars with sirens - but no 'incident'. I'm back home and the windows are flung open to a gorgeous August evening - still the sirens are shrieking...but nothing's happening. Hackney is full of Welsh and Geordie police, but nothing is happening.

It's dizzying. I don't know how I feel tonight. Everything is focussed on the moment but nothing is happening. I've got a weird sense of what the Blitz must have been like.
posted by freya_lamb at 11:12 AM on August 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


3 Riots, despite what I've written above, are not random events. They have causative factors, even if we can argue over what they are. It is the case that we have problems in the UK of young people who have failed to get an education, who have failed to become part of prosperous society, who failed to find a productive job during the biggest consumer boom in the richest, biggest city in one of the richest countries on Earth. It is the case that one particular segment of young men is rioting, not every one. It is not random.

It is the case that we have problems in the UK of young people whose schools failed them, who were racially discriminated against, lost their jobs after the biggest financial crash since 1929, etc etc.

Way to show off your prejudices.
posted by knapah at 11:13 AM on August 9, 2011


Crouch End

Look, it was being rebuilt after the Blitz and all the ceiling heights accidentally got marked in inches instead of feet, all right?
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 11:15 AM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


alasdair: "We can't take the statements of the rioters as to why they are rioting as true. Rioting is a both a complex problem (why so few riots in the 1930s at a time of greater poverty?)

Probably because in the 30s there was a strong working class that was organized against capital that would fight for their rights under the banner of "striking"? Just a thought. I admit to not know enough about the UK labour history, especially in the 30s. I only know a bit about US labor history. So I'm basically just hazarding a guess on this. Still it was a way for disaffected groups to fight against a system that brought them down. Now that Conservatives like Thatcher destroyed the Unions (or sufficiently weakened them) and the Labour party continued to sell them out in third way politics there is no organized voice. Add into that mix the increasing attempt at capitalism to create desire for things, and now you have a potent mix. GIMME GIMME GIMME.

Capitalism reaps what it sows. I am not justifying this one bit. I admit I'm skeptical of the rioters claims to some political consciousness. But I do think there is a social element, regardless if they're aware of it.
posted by symbioid at 11:16 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


"Have some respect for an old West Indian Negro, and stop accusing me of being a rioter."
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:19 AM on August 9, 2011 [14 favorites]


"ATTENTION RESIDENTS! [...] If you see any trouble please sound your car horn."

(via Neal Mann)
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:22 AM on August 9, 2011


Searching on Twitter for any London place name at the moment (Tulse Hill, Kentish Town) reveals lots of swirling viral rumours about 'heard stuff will kick off soon' but nothing actually happening.

Hopefully these rumours will also prevent the rioters from generating critical mass at any one place.
posted by memebake at 11:23 AM on August 9, 2011


Heh, fake Twitter accounts and messages might be one way to go.
posted by carter at 11:25 AM on August 9, 2011


Probably because in the 30s there was a strong working class that was organized against capital that would fight for their rights under the banner of "striking"?

Ha ha. There were plenty of unions in the years immediately before and after the Great War, and plenty of riots. There were also plenty of riots in the 30s -- Cable Street, the Tithe War (an amazing example of a rural riot).
posted by unSane at 11:26 AM on August 9, 2011


It is the case that we have problems in the UK of young people whose schools failed them, who were racially discriminated against, lost their jobs after the biggest financial crash since 1929, etc etc.


Do we actually have clear information on the racial composition of the rioters, at this point? The Tottenham riots started out in the black community, but do we actually have a proper picture of how the crowds are composed and vary from area to area now that it's gone so far past that? It might in a sense be easier if all the problems were specifically located in a single community (and one which is possibly pre-Enlightenment, depending on who you talk to), but is that clearly the case? How about in the regions?
posted by running order squabble fest at 11:29 AM on August 9, 2011


Stylenoir and Viceland with frontline reports.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 11:29 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


At the risk of wandering offtopic, Biffa, are you suggesting a windfall tax on banks and/or energy companies, or indeed higher taxation for the very high earners in the financial sector? Only that seems to be relatively unlikely, especially given that there is talk of cutting the current 50% tax rate for earnings over £150,000 to 45%, to avoid sending out the wrong signals to wealth generators.

I would have no problem with all three of those. But I was actually advocating legislation to bring executive pay under control.

I would suggest that higher taxes has to be an essential element of bringing down debt, and that there is only so much that austerity will do. I think it is ludicrous that someone earning £40k has had tax cuts for two years running, while much lower earners have faced higher tax burdens. Tax breaks also remain the case above that figure, as income tax gets converted to NI, effectively giving people over the NI limit (about £55k IIRC) money back while everyone else gets it in the neck. Are we likely to see an about face and some tax increases, probably not, but that doesn't mean its wrong it just means the country is being run for the better off by the better off.

The energy companies can certainly afford more windfall taxes as appropriate. I have little doubt that any of them will pull out if some of their profits are siphoned off.
posted by biffa at 11:36 AM on August 9, 2011


running order squabble fest, the London rioters are largely young and black. There are white and Asian youths involved too though in much smaller numbers.
posted by tigrefacile at 11:39 AM on August 9, 2011


"Asian" = South Asian, usually in Britain (for the benefit of our US readers)
posted by Bwithh at 11:42 AM on August 9, 2011


Eyewitness Mohammed Shafique on BBC claims "pitched battles" in centre of Manchester involving "2000 youths".
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 11:43 AM on August 9, 2011


You do have to watch the twitter scare stories. Friend was in Crystal palace park this evening with her child and a load of other mothers and their kids, al very idyllic, when she got a message telling her to watch out for Crystal Palace park as it was all kicking off there with gangs running wild. Needless to say unless they were very well disguised there was no sign of this.

Being careful is the first choice, obviously, but not getting caught up in twitter fear is also worth bearing in mind.
posted by ciderwoman at 11:49 AM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Planking the riot.
posted by cortex at 11:54 AM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Another stupid rumour that flew around Brighton today was that "London Road" had been shut down by police due to riots. Turned out people had confused reports about London Road in Croydon, London, with reports about London Road, Brighton. "My friend/daughter/cousin said that according to Facebook..." is such an annoying phrase.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 11:57 AM on August 9, 2011


One thing I keep seeing in news reports is really bugging me. There are so many mentions of 'feral children' running amok, waiting for a chance to go destroy things. The rioters are described as young, sometimes barely teens. They're registered in local school systems, they have families, right? We're not talking about some teenage orphan army from a modern Dickens Dystopia, are we?

How the hell do so many kids fall clean through the cracks like that? Sounds like one symptom of an even bigger problem, if the society they live in won't even engage them - or their families - enough to allow them a place in it.
posted by cmyk at 11:59 AM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The end of the last government finally began to do this right, by insisting that we create and maintain a common basis to a UK culture. A melting-pot approach rather than multiple separate cultures sharing geography.

England (and Britain) has been a multi-cultural society for centuries, some places more than others, obviously, thanks to colonialism. You can't run a global empire and expect homogeneity.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:00 PM on August 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


Let's face it, we all knew some kids at school that did some mad stuff. This is like all of them suddenly doing it at the same time. Not to excuse it but man, these are kids.

Plus of course if you're poor and underprivileged you're probably more likely to. Anyway hope it all stops tonight and we can look forward to trying to sort out all the issues here like a civilised society.
posted by iotic at 12:03 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Very, very, not good.

@PaulLewis: 100 white men, 30s-40s, sprinting along Hertford Rd. Shouts of "Get the Pakis."
posted by titus-g at 12:11 PM on August 9, 2011


It's all so eerie.
Yes. There were rumours flying around at work today, so much so that Communications had to put out an email to all staff denying that anything was about to take place in this (non)-city. It was eerily calm on the way home tonight, save one police car dashing down the V10 towards Bletchley. No kids on the streets in the theatre district or around Iceland. Unheard of. Just an eerie, deserted calm. Now we've got twitter reports of police deployed to the rougher estates around here; 60 hooded youths on Queensway; a blurry twitpic of police in riot gear somewhere in Bletchley, apparently. Oh great.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:12 PM on August 9, 2011


His more detailed writeup on the guardian blog sounds even worse. Drunk white vigilantes.
posted by Lord_Pall at 12:13 PM on August 9, 2011


"Have some respect for an old West Indian Negro, and stop accusing me of being a rioter."

God, it's like watching the BBC Jody McIntyre interview all over again.
posted by catchingsignals at 12:14 PM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


I lived in London for a decade and I *never* met a cop socially.

There aren't that many police, it's a job with a lot of shift ork and overtime, and it's a job with a lot of exposure to a lot of unpleasant stuff. The analogue from my social life would be the junior doctors I know, who tend to socialise amongstthemselves where they can't give the black humour that abounds in such sircumstances a free reign, and where people understand that they can't realiably show up for social events and whatnot.

Also, this is MeFi for chrissakes. People routinelydescribe police as an "armed occupation force", "facists", and so on. Not exactly a social set conducive to hanging out *with*.

I'd add that as a Kiwi who has lived in the UK a couple of times I was surprised by how casually and pervasively violent a society it feels by comparison. The first time I lived there as a kid was during the early 80s, and my dad got the new guy in town warning from his workmates to "stay at home, because Celtic were visiting", for example. The second time it was amazing how much casual violence was part of pub life; punch-ups were absolutely the norm.

It's not just a "poor" or "working-class" thing, either - the rise of "lad culture" is very much about the middle-class adopting a weekend yob pose of aping what's been portrayed as working-class violence as a matter of cool.
posted by rodgerd at 12:15 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


This is the first time in my life I'm grateful that Bradford has practically no shops of any kind.
posted by vbfg at 12:16 PM on August 9, 2011


His more detailed writeup on the guardian blog sounds even worse. Drunk white vigilantes.

I eagerly await the calls for complex social explanations for rioting by poor white thugs that the same cadre of MeFites can tirelessly use to excuse rioting by poor non-white thugs.
posted by rodgerd at 12:17 PM on August 9, 2011


the rise of "lad culture" is very much about the middle-class adopting a weekend yob pose of aping what's been portrayed as working-class violence as a matter of cool.

Being part of the British middle class, this trend seems to have entirely passed me by.
posted by Summer at 12:20 PM on August 9, 2011


This is the first time in my life I'm grateful that Bradford has practically no shops of any kind.

You have a hole! Maybe some ironic looters can break in and build some shops.
posted by Jehan at 12:21 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


From the LRB blog:

Tariq Ali: Throughout Europe, the distinguishing features that once separated centre-left from centre-right, conservatives from social democrats, have disappeared. The sameness of official politics dispossesses the less privileged segments of the electorate, the majority.

James Meek: As we watched, one of the figures reached into the pocket of his hoodie and lifted – just enough to show – a hand gun, spreading panic among the larger group.
The trouble subsided as quickly as it began and the participants dispersed before the police arrived. Throughout the episode, a young, casually dressed, thoughtful-looking white couple sat at a table outside a wine bar, watching and sipping white wine.


Jon Day: A young woman with a red bandana tied round her head carried a green recycling box filled with bottles to throw. Cars were set on fire along the length of the road, and every so often their tyres would explode. Thick black smoke blotted out the sun. A man carrying a charred rocking horse ran up and clowned around for the phalanx of photographers and cameramen that stood between the riot police and a large group of teenagers.
posted by Busy Old Fool at 12:22 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was surprised by how casually and pervasively violent a society it feels by comparison

Yeah, I emigrated from the UK to Canada 10 years ago and every time I go back I'm shocked at the level of tension and violence, especially in London, but elsewhere too. A friend of mine is about to move to London from Canada and I was trying to explain why I felt like I did about the UK -- then the riots happened, and I had to say -- that.
posted by unSane at 12:24 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes. There were rumours flying around at work today, so much so that Communications had to put out an email to all staff denying that anything was about to take place in this (non)-city. It was eerily calm on the way home tonight, save one police car dashing down the V10 towards Bletchley. No kids on the streets in the theatre district or around Iceland. Unheard of. Just an eerie, deserted calm. Now we've got twitter reports of police deployed to the rougher estates around here; 60 hooded youths on Queensway; a blurry twitpic of police in riot gear somewhere in Bletchley, apparently. Oh great.

Apparently the Met is shipping in support from thirty different forces, one wonders how well a town like MK would be able to deal with any trouble - how many of the Buckinghamshire force will have been drafted in to London? They would seem a prime candidate as a town/county to contribute. Is there a danger that some of the towns which don't really qualify as London suburbs will be denuded of sufficient cover?

Having said that, if a town like MK kicks off then it would be a major concern - low unemployment, fairly strong economically. I would have thought there were likelier candidates.
posted by biffa at 12:25 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


How the fuck do you not know who Darcus Howe is? BBC News is turning into Sky ffs.
posted by fullerine at 12:25 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


When I lived there, Aylesbury used to kick off most Saturday nights so I would say there's every chance of some of the smaller market towns seeing disturbances.
posted by unSane at 12:27 PM on August 9, 2011


cmyk - I'm not sure how to answer that, if you're really asking. Yes, as a whole, children are registered in local school systems and they have families. There is a problem with exclusions from schools which disproportionately hits young black boys - but I see here that only 6000 children across the UK were excluded last year. About 1 in ten households in the UK are single parent families.

I haven't looked into this at all so what follows is only my recollection but I seem to recall that 'feral' as an adjective for children used to be a dog whistle type description used in the harrumphing section of our national press to describe children who are undervalued, undersupervised, underprivileged and sometimes pettily criminal. The phrase really took wings once the Chief Executive of Barnardo's used it - perhaps unadvisedly - to describe standard British attitudes to children. Bit of a shame because I think he was making a good point
posted by calico at 12:28 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


When I lived there, Aylesbury used to kick off most Saturday nights so I would say there's every chance of some of the smaller market towns seeing disturbances.

I do not think Saturday night yobs and rioting yobs are one and the same.
posted by Summer at 12:32 PM on August 9, 2011


Agreed, biffa. We'll see how it goes. Fingers crossed. It did occur to me that the mob might be heading to Ikea in Bletchley, but then they'd have to assemble their own loot. Awkward.
posted by Sonny Jim at 12:33 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


The streets around Chingford are very, very quiet. I went to my running group tonight, and my gym had decided to close early, as it did yesterday. It's half a mile from Chingford Mount. As our group set off running down the road, a passing police car slowed to take a closer look, perhaps thinking we were a 'mob', but they gave us a smile and a wave when they quickly realised we were just a bunch of middle-aged women trying to jog and breathe at the same time.

Driving home after the run, I could see a pall of smoke which looked to be in the Enfield/Ponders End area. All the shops were closed, except the Chinese takeaway.
posted by essexjan at 12:37 PM on August 9, 2011


Hmm. Maybe it's because I'm so horribly middle class, or maybe it's just my generally Pollyanna-ish nature, but I do not recognise this casually and pervasively violent country you are telling me I live in. I think seeing that conditions that may have led to unrest existed in London - I agree they did - and suggesting that we all spend our Saturdays punching seven bells out of each other are two different things.
posted by calico at 12:38 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


There's an IKEA in Bletchley now? Wow. We abandoned a trip to the North London one when I was living in MK after it took us an hour to get to Luton. Progress!
posted by biffa at 12:40 PM on August 9, 2011


rodgerd: "I eagerly await the calls for complex social explanations for rioting by poor white thugs that the same cadre of MeFites can tirelessly use to excuse rioting by poor non-white thugs."

Yet again it seems like people are reading exactly half of every comment.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 12:40 PM on August 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


calico - yeah, I am genuinely wondering about this; blame my spacey verbal flailing on utter American cluelessness. That article is a good place to start from, so thank you for linking it.
posted by cmyk at 12:41 PM on August 9, 2011


I'd add that as a Kiwi who has lived in the UK a couple of times I was surprised by how casually and pervasively violent a society it feels by comparison. Rogerd

I would say, as a Kiwi that lives in London, that I have found this city to be less violent than Auckland. People are more likely to laugh things off and take a joke than punch you in the face. There is more organised crime and professional criminals. But hey. There's also 8 times as many people.

I love this city and look forward to the rioting and looting calming down and I hope that the causes of this unrest are addressed in a sensible fashion and that it is not taken as an opportunity by the ruling class to punish London's poor.

Peace.
posted by aychedee at 12:41 PM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Remember this distinction: When protesters loot some stores in London, that is wanton criminality. When American bankers loot the entire economy, that is just normal business.
posted by adamvasco at 12:51 PM on August 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Ghost Town is a prophecy that sounds like an aftermath. The ghost town it describes, gutted by recession, is the terrain before a riot ("people getting angry") but you sense it will be as bad or worse after the anger has erupted. Hence the song's circularity: it begins as it ends, with a spectral wail that could be either a cold wind or distant sirens. When the riots did break out, the Specials found the experience frightening rather than vindicating.

...What's happening now isn't a protest or, as Darcus Howe put it, an "insurrection" – it's a nervous breakdown. The motor isn't a political cause but a mood. Politics is in the background, in the pervasive frustration and anxiety of an alienated underclass: record levels of youth unemployment, widening inequality, social services (especially youth services) slashed to the bone, the Education Maintenance Allowance scrapped, a damaged relationship between the police and the community, and collapsing faith in a seemingly indifferent political class. But the immediate outcome makes the lives of residents – many of whom are every bit as deprived as the rioters – even worse than they were last week and opens the door to an authoritarian response.

...A riot is neither a solution nor an unforeseen calamity but a problem brought to the surface: a manifestation of social angst and official failure. As the global economy shudders, that kind of angst is not a localised phenomenon and this will not be the only explosion.
posted by scody at 1:01 PM on August 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


adamvasco, that little bit of pithy pseudo-wisdom is missing a big point. This is not just "loot(ing) some stores in London". We're talking about people being attacked, cars, buses and buildings set on fire and people's lives being destroyed. I won't even get into the "normal business" part of it.
posted by inmediasres at 1:01 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


naw. It's when you steal 50 cent your a thief, if you steal 50 million, your a partner.

BBC just had MP Chuka Umunna on. Good take on the sitution, if one can be taken.
posted by clavdivs at 1:02 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Driving home after the run, I could see a pall of smoke which looked to be in the Enfield/Ponders End area.

That's from the remains of the Sony Centre in Enfield's Innova Park. It's been visible from my office all day - pretty horrible reminder of last night.
posted by ZsigE at 1:03 PM on August 9, 2011


More and more hints about police using more "robust" tactics. Seems like they'd do it if they can feel confident about public support for such measures. Worryingly seems like they're probably gonna get it. Mob rule going both ways.
posted by like_neon at 1:16 PM on August 9, 2011


Mob rule going both ways.

Yep. My Facebook page is becoming more and more depressing as people who I considered to be intelligent go down the 'let's get the water cannons out' route.
posted by Summer at 1:21 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Yeah like_neon, I was wondering about that, I would guess at this stage, with three nights with a loss of control the police will be looking for anything that can be sold as a win, and with all those extra officers pulled in from the surrounding forces. Cameron will be looking for something that makes it look like he has come back into the country and taken control and got a win. So someone is going to get their head kicked in. TSG is going to be out in force looking to corner a big gang so TV can show footage of plod steaming in.
posted by biffa at 1:23 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Big Society = Clockwork Orange + 28 Days Later
posted by KokuRyu at 1:23 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I lived in London for a decade and I *never* met a cop socially.

The only Met copper I know socially lives in Reading.
posted by Helga-woo at 1:25 PM on August 9, 2011


Big Society = Compassionate Conservatism
posted by Omon Ra at 1:25 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


inmediasres I see you drank the koolaid. When disfunctional societies get too stressed they EXPLODE.
I refer you again Tariq Ali who was linked upthread.
posted by adamvasco at 1:26 PM on August 9, 2011


http://twitpic.com/63j8ia
posted by veedubya at 1:29 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


About that Sony fire, Gilles Peterson tweeted that it had destroyed pretty much all of the stock (vinyl and CD) for many independent music labels (for example, Warp.)
posted by pascal at 1:29 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Weather report looks like rain coming to London around Thursday. Can't come soon enough and I can't imagine this continuing to Thursday. At any rate hopefully that will make the rats scurry home to play with their newly stolen XBoxes.
posted by like_neon at 1:31 PM on August 9, 2011


The streets of NW5 are deserted. All I can hear are the fans in our computers and the occasional car driving past. This is weird.
posted by ArmyOfKittens at 1:33 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


From the #manchesterriot hashtag, seems to be some spotty stuff in Manchester.

So as far as london goes, is this over? Or once the police presence goes back to normal, does it come back?
posted by Lord_Pall at 1:35 PM on August 9, 2011


It's like the Guardian will have to start a new live blog: FUCK ALL HAPPENS IN LONDON - DAY ONE.
posted by bright cold day at 1:36 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I will, of course, come to regret typing that out loud.
posted by bright cold day at 1:36 PM on August 9, 2011


Or is it all kicking off in Manchester and Birmingham largely because half their police are in the capital?
posted by ciderwoman at 1:42 PM on August 9, 2011


And adam vasco, I would guess you're an apologist? I'd like to point you to the people who live here in less than ideal circumstances and are NOT beating each other with bricks and stealing iPhones because they can.

I actually live here, and I don't like seeing my neighborhoods trashed and my supermarkets closed because people are too frightened to go about with life.
posted by inmediasres at 1:43 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


pascal - It's taken out all the stock of indie film distributors as well. Pretty sure that means DVDs not actual film stock though.
posted by pmcp at 1:45 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


After the last few days, I'll be more than happy to have a boring liveblog to read if it means things start getting back to normal.
posted by ZsigE at 1:52 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


British Stocking Up on Baseball Bats for Some Reason
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:55 PM on August 9, 2011


About that Sony fire, Gilles Peterson tweeted that it had destroyed pretty much all of the stock (vinyl and CD) for many independent music labels (for example, Warp.)


The Quietus
says it's labels distributed by PIAS. They link to a post on Drowned In Sound that lists the labels who lost stock. 20 suggestions of albums to buy to support those labels.
posted by dubold at 1:56 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how many mp3s went up in flames?
posted by unSane at 1:58 PM on August 9, 2011


BBC reports that tomorrow's Independent will be leading with "we will fight fire with fire" and confirming that the police do have the option to use plastic bullets. Here's hoping that the mere threat of using them is enough, especially as it's primarily greed driven, rather than an organised cause.
posted by like_neon at 2:05 PM on August 9, 2011


going through reports and news and pictures, but it appears arson is a very effective tactic for the rioters.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:07 PM on August 9, 2011


I just can't get over how many of them are teenagers. It's a broken record by now but seriously, what the he'll is going on with the parents?
posted by like_neon at 2:07 PM on August 9, 2011


This picture from the infocus set is interesting -- are the police doing an on-the-spot mugshot to enter into facial recognition software, or something?
posted by Rumple at 2:09 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder if the Spurs game (for which I have tickets) will go ahead on Saturday. I thought it'd surely be canceled but I saw yesterday that Spurs were saying it was still going to happen. I suppose they'll wait and see what happens over the next few days, but I'm sure some people will just be scared to go even if they do still play.
posted by Put the kettle on at 2:12 PM on August 9, 2011


Guardian's Paul Lewis: I think it is important to dampen down some of the speculation circulating about our reports and tweets on vigilantes in Enfield.

It is always a tough balance to get the tone right, and it is important to stress, again, there is no evidence of racial disturbance here.

My colleague Mustafa Khalili and I reported what we saw and it was an incident that left us both shaken. We described it as a minor skirmish.

That's what it is was. It seemed pertinent to mention what some of the men were saying, as it seemed different to anything we've seen in the last four days, but some seem to be taking that out of context. There were no racist chants.

posted by Bwithh at 2:14 PM on August 9, 2011


This picture from the infocus set is interesting -- are the police doing an on-the-spot mugshot to enter into facial recognition software, or something?

It's also interesting that, according to the photo, it takes six police officers to apprehend one "looter".
posted by KokuRyu at 2:14 PM on August 9, 2011


"The postponements offered a dramatic reminder of the pressures on Mr. Cameron and his colleagues to guarantee a peaceful environment for the 2012 Summer Olympic Games.

That $15 billion extravaganza will have its centerpiece in a sprawling vista of new stadiums and an athletes’ village that lie only miles from the neighborhoods where much of the violence in the last three days has taken place."

Inequality has its limits, we are, by nature, social animals.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:18 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I wonder how many mp3s went up in flames?

Sure it's an anachronism but indie labels like quite likely to be shifting a lot of vinyl.
posted by pmcp at 2:19 PM on August 9, 2011


Disgusting ...

London Rioters Assist Injured Man, Then Rob Him.
posted by ericb at 2:21 PM on August 9, 2011


running order squabble fest, the London rioters are largely young and black. There are white and Asian youths involved too though in much smaller numbers.
posted by tigrefacile at 11:39 AM on August 9 [+] [!]


Is there any confirmation of this?

All the videos and photos for London and elsewhere I've seen so far suggest a real mix of black, white and S. Asian, with no indication that blacks are predominant.
posted by Bwithh at 2:21 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


With regards to the Enfield vigilantes, a couple of my friends are out there and posting updates on Facebook. Here's one of them:
...they're co-operating with the local police (and cheering them on) and are not looking for trouble (just staying on guard). Keep up the good work, and stay safe.

On the other hand, there appears to be a group of white racists running about the Enfield area, looking a lot like the looters from earlier nights. I haven't seen them cause any trouble yet, and there are plenty of police in the area in case things kick off.
Other friends seem to be rather more cautious - I think there's a lot of worry about the group being essentially hijacked by the BNP (who do have a small but noticeable presence around here).
posted by ZsigE at 2:21 PM on August 9, 2011


Biometric data collection of visa applicants by the British government.
posted by Scram at 2:22 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


pascal: "About that Sony fire, Gilles Peterson tweeted that it had destroyed pretty much all of the stock (vinyl and CD) for many independent music labels (for example, Warp.)"

Fuck not warp...

also - does this mean they won't be able to get dubstep to riot to?
posted by symbioid at 2:22 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


A friend of mine in Southall just emailed me that the Sikh Temple is surrounded by a cordon of a couple of hundred Sikh men, guarding it.
posted by essexjan at 2:23 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Jonathan Freedland || The Guardian: The Year We Realised Our Democratically Leaders Can No Longer Protect Us -- "The financial crisis, phone hacking and now riots. Where once we may have felt rage, now we can feel only impotence."
posted by ericb at 2:23 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Also, an astonishing update from the BBC text feed: "People are following us around with bags, asking where the riots are. There is no doubt that there is a great deal of opportunism going on here tonight in Manchester."
posted by ZsigE at 2:24 PM on August 9, 2011


Been listening to BBC Radio Manchester. The Metrolink trams aren't running for the rest of the night into and out of the city center (possibly stranding hundreds of Coventry fans up in Bury for the game tonight), police seemingly totally outrun cat-and-mouse style, kids reported to be as young as 9 and 10 involved.

People on the phone, live, reporting looters walking past with stolen goods; just a moment ago a woman was reported as trying on her new sneakers before popping them into her new bag.
posted by mdonley at 2:25 PM on August 9, 2011


All the videos and photos for London and elsewhere I've seen so far suggest a real mix of black, white and S. Asian, with no indication that blacks are predominant.

Who Are The Rioters? Young Men From Poor Areas ... But That's Not The Full Story -- "The crowds involved in violence and looting are drawn from a complex mix of social and racial backgrounds."
posted by ericb at 2:25 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


The eery relative calm in London makes me wonder if the increased numbers and threat of plastic bullets was "all" it took? If the looters are made of delinquent kids, is it that they've realised they've gotten away with as much as they could and now the fun's over (and now it's the turn for other cities)? Teenagers in particular being the masters of pushing boundaries.

Or maybe I should just shut up and relish this while I can.
posted by like_neon at 2:26 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


London Riots And UK Unrest: Fourth Night Live Updates (The Guardian).
posted by ericb at 2:29 PM on August 9, 2011


Fingers crossed they'll cancel the Tottenham game, Put the kettle on, I think we've all suffered enough.
posted by ciderwoman at 2:32 PM on August 9, 2011


Al Jazeera, "Rioting for Justice in London":

Seymour also explained that after many of the 333 deaths in police custody between 1998 and 2010 in Britain, "Large, peaceful protests in response [to the in-custody deaths] were more or less ignored" and not a single officer has been prosecuted.
posted by yeloson at 2:33 PM on August 9, 2011


Citizen Cameras Capture More London Looters Than Cops.
posted by ericb at 2:33 PM on August 9, 2011


Youth sets Miss Selfridge on fire (Channel 4)
posted by Acey at 2:33 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


With A Show Of Force And Prayer, London Fights Back Against Looters.

www.riotcleanup.co.uk
posted by ericb at 2:36 PM on August 9, 2011


I've just come home to Brixton from Hatton Garden, where it was supposed to kick of tonight.

It wasn't ever going to kick off. Ex-Russian soldiers and police bussed down from Manchester put paid to that.

Most of London is dead quiet tonight.The "riots" have peaked. Londoners have zero tolerance for this shit now now and tomorrow cities like Birmingham and Manchester will feel the same way.

And I watch the 10 o'clock news and people are dying in droves in Somalia. Frankly, as electrical stores are looted for tvs in the name of social justice it shows the looters and rioters for what they are: petty thugs destroying shops in their neighbourhoods because they can.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:38 PM on August 9, 2011


Thanks for the interesting links ericb, mild relief from a fourth night of this, spent the day hearing about friends and relatives awful nights, and tonight/this afternoon watching towns closer to me have disturbances/riots, and living in the town centre I'm jumping everytime there's a shout or a crash outside.
posted by ellieBOA at 2:42 PM on August 9, 2011


Al Jazeera, "Rioting for Justice in London":

Seymour also explained that after many of the 333 deaths in police custody between 1998 and 2010 in Britain, "Large, peaceful protests in response [to the in-custody deaths] were more or less ignored" and not a single officer has been prosecuted.
posted by yeloson at 2:33 PM on August 9 [+] [!]


Read the original Guardian article that the AJ article links to for this number. It's more complicated than the way the AJ article / Seymour seems to frame it , which might be taken to imply there were 333 Duggan equivalents (leaving aside the fact that there has not been any clear conclusions to the very recent Duggan case, mind you) in that period.
posted by Bwithh at 2:44 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Riots Were A Long Time Coming For Black Britons -- "What's even sadder, however, is that I -- as a black British female -- am not surprised. Neither are my other black British friends who I have spoken to who now reside in the US. This has been a long time coming. It's even why some left in the first place."
posted by ericb at 2:50 PM on August 9, 2011


"It's striking that the targets have not been town halls or, say, Tory HQ – stormed by students last November – but branches of Dixons, Boots and Carphone Warehouse. If they are making a political statement, it is that politics does not matter." (via ericb's link above)

In many ways I find chain retail stores to be a very valid target for NEETs to loot and destroy. They are part of larger corporations which tend to suck money out of local communities and channel it into a few hands at the top. They also represent the global framework of labor and capital and are, as such, proxies for shame, desire, anger, etc.

I find it extremely simplistic and even a little sad to see these youths dismissed with scorn and derision. Much of the violence seems directed at the material, at the inhuman, at wealth. The anger of rioters seems more directed at an abstract notion of a system or society than at individuals or even certain groups. This suggests that this group is still available to be reasoned with, could potentially be appeased or soothed with implementation of the proper policy, but once the violence turns from the inhuman to the human... then it will be simply chaos.
posted by Shit Parade at 2:52 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Martin Fletcher, NBC News correspondent: Riots Reveal London's Two Disparate Worlds.
posted by ericb at 2:52 PM on August 9, 2011


Much of the violence seems directed at the material, at the inhuman, at wealth. The anger of rioters seems more directed at an abstract notion of a system or society than at individuals or even certain groups.

Is that really what you see, or does that just fit your thesis? Because all I'm seeing is looting. I wish I was seeing what you are, but I'm not.
posted by ciderwoman at 2:56 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


Much of the violence seems directed at the material, at the inhuman, at wealth

Mostly because they wanted trainers and TVs.

Nice try though.
posted by unSane at 2:56 PM on August 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


"It's striking that the targets have not been town halls or, say, Tory HQ – stormed by students last November – but branches of Dixons, Boots and Carphone Warehouse.

One of Martin Fletcher's observations (as per above):
"A final thought. One reporter pointed out that in Clapham where the shopping area had been picked clean, the only shop left unlooted and untouched was the book shop."
posted by ericb at 2:59 PM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Out of respect for literature, no doubt.
posted by unSane at 3:01 PM on August 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


What about the arson? Burning things down doesn't get you "stuff" it actually destroys the wealth for everyone, if anything it makes things _more_ expensive. Again, dismissing these rioters as unthoughtful youth who only want "stuff" is a gross over simplification to the point of actually misunderstanding what is happening.

People (on both sides) are obviously angry, trying to understand instead of lash out would be the first step.
posted by Shit Parade at 3:03 PM on August 9, 2011


The only thing to denounce about the violence is that it is poorly aimed. The rioters should be arrested and sentenced to study how to engage in a proper political protest.
posted by AlsoMike at 3:04 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Many of my Facebook friends are saying that the rioting is "society's fault", which it might be, but these same people aren't really expressing disgust at the actions of the rioters themselves (they had the same reaction to the Vancouver rioters).
posted by KokuRyu at 3:04 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, I see the armchair revolutionaries are out. Hi.
posted by unSane at 3:05 PM on August 9, 2011


The front page of the i tomorrow is a bit strong. (via Nick Sutton, who has images from most of the UK front (and back) pages on his twitpic stream right now.
posted by IanMorr at 3:09 PM on August 9, 2011


The Telegraph - Anarchy Spreads

Sounds like something I'd have on toast
posted by bright cold day at 3:12 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I see simple anger. Not anger at anything in particular, but life in general (feel free to speculate on the source of this anger). "This place is shit, you're shit, I'm shit, fuck all this shit, who gives a fuck I hate everything and that's just how it is right?"

It is fucking depressing.
posted by molecicco at 3:13 PM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


What's the word in Liverpool this evening?
posted by ericthegardener at 3:14 PM on August 9, 2011


London Rioters Assist Injured Man, Then Rob Him

Here in the States, HMOs have been doing that for years.
posted by Poet_Lariat at 3:17 PM on August 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Much of the violence seems directed at the material, at the inhuman, at wealth

Mostly because they wanted trainers and TVs.


How far apart are these perspectives? Could it be that many of these are people who are pissed off that they are at the dog end of society, that they can not see any route to being even reasonably well off and affording the things that they see every day as being markers of affluence and being accessible by others? The riot changes the rules for acceptable behaviour withi their social group and offers a short cut to getting stuff that would otherwise be difficult to get. Add in some anger about being marginalised, on top of being regularly harassed by police, and no doubt lots of other factors.

I'm well aware all this is trying to explain a complex set of circumstances, but understanding is the key to prevention, it does not represent justification. It's too simplisitic to say its just people wanting tv's, people want tv's all the time, why did they all decide to smash their way into Curry's this week, when they have not done it before?
posted by biffa at 3:22 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Oh, I see the armchair revolutionaries are out. Hi.

Absolutely. The Armchair Brigade is badly under-resourced.
posted by AlsoMike at 3:23 PM on August 9, 2011


So if you look at the video in the comments here you'll see what was going on in this part of town at about midnight-1am last night.

I really can't tell you how marginal this part of the world is to most people's thinking about London - so much so that even the Met has neglected to mention the quite violent and damaging events in Woolwich down the road in its Update and advice for businesses. Really no one spends any time thinking about anywhere to the east of Greenwich.

So you're sure, are you, that the motivations of the people looting electronics, clothing and sportswear shops at an unattended retail park, across a main road from any residential area, in a forgotten area of London where there was no one to witness what they were doing was "violence [...] directed at the material, at the inhuman, at wealth"? And the clothes hangers and shoe boxes that were left every where - these were all part of the master plan? I'm positive that there are political and economic factors at work here, but I'm equally positive that neither you nor I know what the motivations of the people doing this were. We can all agree that lashing out is bad, but I think by now if there was a statement to be sent to us someone may have made it more clearly.
posted by calico at 3:29 PM on August 9, 2011


why did they all decide to smash their way into Curry's this week, when they have not done it before?

The 'rioters' are not one homogenous group of people. Some are angry and want to fight the police, some are opportunists who realise they can get a 42 inch flatscreen with no possibility of getting caught. Who knows who else is in there and what they're doing it for.

(Man overheard on train "I mean, why the fuck did they loot Primark?")

Camila Batmanghelidjh seems to know what she's talking about
posted by memebake at 3:32 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


> why so few riots in the 1930s at a time of greater poverty?

> in the 30s there was a strong working class that was organized against capital that would fight for their rights under the banner of "striking"?

1930s_riots_by_year 15 total, 10 started as strikes.

In my (US, public) schooling, history was the revolutionary & civil wars, WWI and WWII. 1812? Barbary pirates? Not important. Riots happened in the 30's but it was that "nothin' to see here" time between the Great Wars so all I know is the Joads drove around in some dust and were hungry.
posted by morganw at 3:42 PM on August 9, 2011


why did they all decide to smash their way into Curry's this week, when they have not done it before?

Because it was hot, and something went off in Tottenham.
posted by unSane at 3:43 PM on August 9, 2011


Those Wikipedia lists of riots are massive underestimates. They leave out loads that I know about.
posted by unSane at 3:46 PM on August 9, 2011


Footage apparently showing looters exiting Foot Asylum in Manchester's Arndale Centre
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:48 PM on August 9, 2011


You know, insulting rioters, thinking of them in terms and concepts one normally reserves for animals will only convince rioters to engage with more hostility and abandon, and could ultimately culminate not in fires and rock throwing but with them going from neighborhood to neighborhood dragging people unto the streets and beating them to death.
posted by Shit Parade at 3:50 PM on August 9, 2011


Camila Batmanghelidjh seems to know what she's talking about

Her surname is like someone mentioning Batman, then having an aneurism. Which, given the context of widespread lawlessness and failures of conventional policing, is entirely appropriate.
posted by him at 3:51 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


You know, insulting rioters, thinking of them in terms and concepts one normally reserves for animals will only convince rioters to engage with more hostility and abandon, and could ultimately culminate not in fires and rock throwing but with them going from neighborhood to neighborhood dragging people unto the streets and beating them to death.

I think your theory of causality is a bit off.
posted by unSane at 3:53 PM on August 9, 2011


Footage apparently showing looters exiting Foot Asylum in Manchester's Arndale Centre

All else aside, what's with the overwhelming downvotes on that? Some sort of Stop Snitchin' thing? People trying to express dislike for the content of the video rather than the video itself?
posted by cortex at 3:54 PM on August 9, 2011


Probably the latter, cortex, you see that on all kinds of YouTube videos with content people don't seem to like.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 3:57 PM on August 9, 2011


Seriously, SP, if you think that the rioters are being insulted here, I strongly suggest you don't venture out into the wider internet, let alone the streets of London.

You are suggesting that the unlawfulness that has taken place across the country is because people are tired of materialism and are attacking its symbols when all many people can see is acquisitiveness and vandalism. Maybe you have the secret of seeing into people's minds or whether you're on better BBM networks than the rest of us, but if not then maybe you should rethink your position.
posted by calico at 4:05 PM on August 9, 2011


They are part of larger corporations which tend to suck money out of local communities and channel it into a few hands at the top. They also represent the global framework of labor and capital and are, as such, proxies for shame, desire, anger, etc.

Perhaps more pertinently, they have trainers, mobile phones and flat-screen tellies.
posted by holgate at 4:06 PM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]



You know, insulting rioters, thinking of them in terms and concepts one normally reserves for animals will only convince rioters to engage with more hostility and abandon, and could ultimately culminate not in fires and rock throwing but with them going from neighborhood to neighborhood dragging people unto the streets and beating them to death.

I think your theory of causality is a bit off.


All I'm saying is when you give people less and less options, treat them more uniformly, monolithically, and less as people and more as animals, as that thinking begins to pervade not just words but actions, and as those actions engender wider policies and systems these dismissed and marginalized people will, eventually, react, and react violently, and if the solution is to come down harder in hopes of "taming" them it will only make the stakes higher and reactions more vicious.

I would be more grateful that these rioters, by and large, are not targeting individuals, residencies, are not, so far (and in general), being violent towards other humans. It is, in some sense, an offering for peace and negotiation, but thinking of it instead as the first step towards a wider and bloodier class warfare will only make it a self-fulfilling prophecy.
posted by Shit Parade at 4:08 PM on August 9, 2011


It is, in some sense, an offering for peace and negotiation

Whatever you're smoking, I want none of it.
posted by unSane at 4:14 PM on August 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Alert from the AP:

LONDON (AP) — British far-right group leader says 1,000 members are taking to the streets to deter rioters.
posted by CunningLinguist at 4:20 PM on August 9, 2011


oh I know I am deep into SOMEONE IS WRONG ON THE INTERNET territory here but I'm going to give this another go. I hope your home is peaceful tonight, as mine is, and no one is burning anything down. Please consider these incidents and whether they fit into your worldview, SP:

Injured boy mugged by people posing as helpers

Independent shop owned by one family for 144 years burned to the ground

Passers-by mugged for their bicycles

(you'll have to read down a bit for that last one)
posted by calico at 4:21 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Zygmunt Bauman on the issue of looting:
For defective consumers, those contemporary have-nots, non-shopping is the jarring and festering stigma of a life un-fulfilled – and of own nonentity and good-for-nothingness. Not just the absence of pleasure: absence of human dignity. Of life meaning. Ultimately, of humanity and any other ground for self-respect and respect of the others around.
Do we prefer that the poor endure their suffering in a noble and dignified way, so that we can appreciate their suffering in all of its tragic beauty and feel charitable?
posted by AlsoMike at 4:25 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]



It is, in some sense, an offering for peace and negotiation

Whatever you're smoking, I want none of it.
posted by unSane at 4:14 PM on August 9


This exchange is a good example actually. So I am presenting a point which is alien, backwards from the norm, perhaps even offensive, it is a POV very much "other" and the reaction is to suggest I am a drug addict, or an armchair revolutionary, or some other such nonsense, but I am certainly not engaged as another thoughtful, reasonable human being with aspirations very close perhaps even identical to yours. Treat people this way long enough, systemically, give them no outlet for their views, tell them to go home be quiet and put up with whatever those in charge say they ought to put up with and who can be surprised that rioting occurs?

And my views are not incredibly radical or singular, people have been saying for quite some time that the global finance system is breaking, that forced austerity on the bottom fifth, that increasing gaps in wealth and power with seemingly no consequences is going to beget violence and violence is has begotten, it seems odd that people will then dismiss the violence as enacted by a few hoodlums who need to be taught a lesson in civility -- those who would be teaching these civil lessons are the authority the rioters are rebelling against.
posted by Shit Parade at 4:25 PM on August 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Follow up to: Independent shop owned by one family for 144 years burned to the ground

BBC are reporting:
A 21-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the large fire which took hold of Reeves Furniture store, in Croydon, on Monday.
Police say he was was arrested on suspicion of arson with intent to endanger life.


Thank heavens for the heavy rain predicted in Manchester and Liverpool in the next few hours.
posted by 92_elements at 4:26 PM on August 9, 2011


The only thing to denounce about the violence is that it is poorly aimed. The rioters should be arrested and sentenced to study how to engage in a proper political protest.

You mean the kind where you get kettled, imprisoned on trumped up charges long enough to wait out the event, and ignored by the world's media except for a dismissive mention on page A12 and a call for more police and surveillance? That kind of protest?

This won't be the last riot. Once enough people believe they have nothing to aspire to and no legitimate way to change their situation, they are just gasoline waiting for a match.
posted by emjaybee at 4:27 PM on August 9, 2011 [10 favorites]



Injured boy mugged by people posing as helpers

Independent shop owned by one family for 144 years burned to the ground

Passers-by mugged for their bicycles


London riots: resident left fighting for life after challenging arsonists

An elderly man suffered life-threatening injuries when he was attacked by rioters after he tried to extinguish a fire they had started in a bin, it is understood.

posted by Anything at 4:27 PM on August 9, 2011


In yet another example of the cosy relationship between the police and the news media...

...journalists for Sangat TV (a Sikh channel) give a policeman a lift to help him catch a looter.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 4:28 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


1) Thank god for cell phones (and their cameras)

2)London isn't Los Angeles - people don't generally travel 15 miles to get to entry-level jobs in retail.

Is this true? 15 miles seems like nothing but I guess if the infrastructure sucks it equals a long commute.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:39 PM on August 9, 2011


We reap what we sow.
posted by madamjujujive at 4:39 PM on August 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


You mean the kind where you get kettled, imprisoned on trumped up charges long enough to wait out the event, and ignored by the world's media except for a dismissive mention on page A12 and a call for more police and surveillance? That kind of protest?

Yes, I agree that our current tactics have failed. That means we will need more time for study. And comfortable arm chairs.
posted by AlsoMike at 4:39 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


An elderly man suffered life-threatening injuries when he was attacked by rioters after he tried to extinguish a fire they had started in a bin, it is understood.
Wow. Is that the usual standard of the Telegraph? Because seriously, if you say "it is understood" in the headline, does that mean you can just make shit up?
posted by craichead at 4:42 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It is, in some sense, an offering for peace and negotiation

The fact that there are obvious socioeconomic and political dimensions to the devestating and indefensible conditions leading up to these riots does not, in and of itself, mean that these riots therefore have a progressive or radical political consciousness.

Looting and muggings aren't a "peace offering" to the local communities where burned-out shops and apartment buildings mean that more working-class people just lost their jobs and homes. And they are most certainly not a "peace offering" to the police, to the state, or to the filthy rich who have created this global horror show over the past couple of decades, and who will predicatably respond with draconian measures that will further devastate the same communities who have already been suffering. Thatcher didn't invest in schools and job training and community centers after the 1981 riots; she invested in riot gear that came in handy during the miners strikes three years later.

If there is to be any meaningful political awareness coming from this -- and more importantly, any meaningful hope for an actual political movement for social justice -- then we must adjust our theories to fit the facts (uncomfortable ones included), not twist the facts to fit our pet theories.
posted by scody at 4:45 PM on August 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


craichead, try reading the link, which cites an eyewitness.
posted by Anything at 4:48 PM on August 9, 2011


No one has been able to divine what the riots were "about", beyond a chance for increasingly powerful street gangs to play hell, and grab a quantity of merchandise.

Comment abhors banality and the smashed windows and fires that consumed a few London streets have had to be awarded deeper significance. London's Burning, cried the headlines. It was anarchy, yob rule. The increasingly tabloid BBC compared Croydon with Belfast's Falls Road, taunting the government to bring in troops, so as to make it seem weak for not doing so. The parallel drawn between a fractured Irish community and London's suburban opportunists was hyperbole and media hysteria.

Reporters who have covered England's history of street disturbances recite the familiar grievances: poor housing, sink schools, drugs, weapons, gangs. While these phenomena may explain many forms of crime, my attendance at some of these occasions made me aware of the sheer momentum of a mob sensing a licence for an orgy of destructive mischief. It is sheer urban machismo.

posted by KokuRyu at 4:48 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Treat people this way long enough, systemically, give them no outlet for their views, tell them to go home be quiet and put up with whatever those in charge say they ought to put up with and who can be surprised that rioting occurs?

No-one has told you to shut up. Feel free to riot if you must though.
posted by unSane at 4:50 PM on August 9, 2011


As revolutionaries, we cannot condone attacks on working people, on the innocent. Burning out shops with homes above them, people's transport to work, muggings and the like are an attack on our own and should be resisted as strongly as any other measure from government "austerity" politics, to price-gouging landlords, to bosses intent on stealing our labour. Tonight and for as long as it takes, people should band together to defend themselves when such violence threatens homes and communities.
posted by scody at 4:52 PM on August 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


15 miles seems like nothing but I guess if the infrastructure sucks it equals a long commute.

Can't really speak for London or LA, but when I was living in Phoenix, 15 miles on public transportation was easily an hour each direction, if not more.
posted by hippybear at 4:52 PM on August 9, 2011


craichead, try reading the link, which cites an eyewitness.
Well, yeah, it cites "Jim," who arrived at the scene after the attack and "only found out later that they had jumped him." But Jim doesn't say the guy was elderly. Jim says that he had gray hair, and the article says that his age is unknown. Jim also doesn't say that his injuries are life-threatening. The only mention of his condition is:
Commander Simon Foy, of Scotland Yard, said: ''It was quite a grave assault and his condition is causing us some concern.''
Even given British understatement, I don't think you can take from that that the guy's injuries are life-threatening.

It's a poorly-sourced article with a totally dishonest headline. But it's sensationalistic! And inflammatory!
posted by craichead at 4:54 PM on August 9, 2011


my attendance at some of these occasions made me aware of the sheer momentum of a mob sensing a licence for an orgy of destructive mischief. It is sheer urban machismo.

Having been in the middle of one of these things myself a couple of times, I almost agree with this, but the machismo part makes it sound like it is an exclusively male province, which it isn't. In the middle of the Mayday riot in 2001, which I photographed, a group of kids surrounded me and threatened to take away my (very expensive) camera. I just walked away from them as fast as I could and they decided not to pursue me, but the point was they included a couple of girls, and I've seen a bunch of women both in the pix of these disturbances and also tweeting about it with approval.

So I don't think it's just machismo. But it is something pretty atavistic.
posted by unSane at 4:55 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


They appear to have unilaterally declared martial law over on the Telegraph liveblog:
00.38 We're going to wrap things up for the evening here. To recap: the deployment of 16,000 troops around London seems to have fended off a repeat of the violence in the capital
posted by Bwithh at 5:03 PM on August 9, 2011


here's a view from New York: Unarmed Officers on London’s Front Lines
posted by Bwithh at 5:09 PM on August 9, 2011


So I don't think it's just machismo. But it is something pretty atavistic.

This sort of attitude or behaviour reminds me a lot of my 12 and 13-year-old peers back in the mid-80s. Brutality was a part of life.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:15 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


It's a pity that the quality of discussion belched out via the national press won't match that which I have found here at metafilter.

The way in which this will be manipulated/re-packaged for the masses makes me shudder.
posted by noella at 5:16 PM on August 9, 2011


"Injured boy mugged by people posing as helpers" (as per headline posted above) in infamous youtube clip identified as Malaysian student out to buy some food
posted by Bwithh at 5:35 PM on August 9, 2011


Comment abhors banality and the smashed windows and fires that consumed a few London streets have had to be awarded deeper significance...


Any attitudes or opinions which suggest attempts to understand the rioting as foolish or pointless are irresponsible and dangerous.

It is very hand-wavy, reactive, unthinking, and too easily accepted by the lazy and uncritical among us. These are the sort of attitudes which ensure we continue policies which make life worse and worse for the vast majority.

Class lines are being drawn and oddly it seems more and more that the "middle" class is throwing their lot in with the wealthy few; a wealthy few who almost certainly have no interest in improving conditions for anyone besides their own even if that comes at the cost of everyone else.
posted by Shit Parade at 5:35 PM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Yes, I agree that our current tactics have failed. That means we will need more time for study. And comfortable arm chairs.

What are you getting at? Putting a riot into context isn't the same as condoning it, or shrugging it off. Violence can be explicable and still wrong.

As a person who has absolutely no power to affect British government policies, like most of us here, I am perfectly aware that I'm just a random opinionator on the internet. Condemn away, but unless you're someone who can do something yourself (in which case I assume you'd be doing it), you're just as much an armchair philosopher as anyone else.
posted by emjaybee at 5:37 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Live Sikh community tv channel stream from Birmingham
posted by carter at 5:50 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Class lines are being drawn and oddly it seems more and more that the "middle" class is throwing their lot in with the wealthy few

Again, you are twisting the facts to fit your theory. Exactly how are "class lines being drawn" when a Malaysian student is injured and the people who stop to pretend to help him do so in order to mug him? How are "class lines being being drawn" when a lot of working-class people now don't have jobs to go to, because the corner shop/carpet store/salon/boutique where they worked (and the apartments above them) have been destroyed? And what's "odd" about working people not wanting their homes, workplaces, and neighborhoods burnt down and not wanting to be robbed and/or physically assaulted?

If you seriously believe that the working and middle classes are the moral equivalent of the Rupert Murdochs of the world because they would prefer to hang on to what little they have rather than let it be destroyed in a riot, then everything you claim to know about class warfare and revolutionary politics is transparently nothing but posturing.

The Duggan family, by the way, doesn't support the riots. Are they sellouts, too?

I will repeat the quote from above: "As revolutionaries, we cannot condone attacks on working people, on the innocent. Burning out shops with homes above them, people's transport to work, muggings and the like are an attack on our own and should be resisted as strongly as any other measure from government 'austerity' politics, to price-gouging landlords, to bosses intent on stealing our labour. Tonight and for as long as it takes, people should band together to defend themselves when such violence threatens homes and communities."
posted by scody at 5:51 PM on August 9, 2011 [12 favorites]


Exactly how are "class lines being drawn" when a Malaysian student is injured and the people who stop to pretend to help him do so in order to mug him?

I don't know about Shit Parade, but here's my concern.

There are a couple ways the government could react after this clears up.

They could put more money into social services and assisting the unemployed find jobs and learn skills.

Or they could crack down with more authoritarian policies. More surveillance. Stricter laws. More bothering random people on the street with searches and seizures.

It's easy to come out in support of the poor Malaysian student, because, let's face it, that was a dick move by a bunch of fucking assholes. But I'm wary of putting all the blame on the rioters, because that's going to be interpreted as support for more of the policies that cause the vast inequality in the first place. It's not just about judging individuals and the mob in this situation, it's also about how your views are interpreted by those who can make better policy.
posted by formless at 6:03 PM on August 9, 2011 [3 favorites]


I think, though, that it's not that hard to carve out a middle ground that acknowledges the social causes of the riots without making the rioters into a revolutionary vanguard or suggesting that people who object to riots are suffering from false consciousness.
posted by craichead at 6:07 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


What are you getting at? Putting a riot into context isn't the same as condoning it, or shrugging it off.

OK - to me, the main problem with the violence is that its self-inflicted, it's a blind outburst that mostly hurts the working class. The problem is rushing into action without thinking, so what is needed now more than ever is to analyze, plan and organize. In all sincerity, armchair philosophers are exactly what's needed.

The middle class is right to demand order. But what should that order be - the status quo? Or a disciplined, organized political movement? The left should demand the latter.
posted by AlsoMike at 6:13 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


that revolutionary quote is fairly silly, not like anarchists get to decide how the shit goes down once the social contract is gone.

The riots are an opportunity for the middle class to reach out and assuage the very real fears of those worse off then them; to, through action, manifest that they too share the contemporary pain of current economic realities. Instead the affluent come up as clean up crews, call for violence to stop by seemingly any means necessary, want more police, want more security, condemn (through the media) whole-heartily these rioters as feral thugs who need to be put down or put back into their cages -- those with political power, political capital and will seem uninterested in actually trying to find a peaceful solution. Seems like it is moving towards class warfare between the have-nots and have-littles while the have-everythingelse write out the simple narrative for the reasonable middle to go along with.
posted by Shit Parade at 6:16 PM on August 9, 2011


This thread is way too long to make sure this hasn't been posted already, so if it has, apologies...

Speech by Brave Hackney Woman Against London Rioters/ Looters [SUBTITLED]
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:20 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


There are a couple ways the government could react after this clears up.

They could put more money into social services and assisting the unemployed find jobs and learn skills.

Or they could crack down with more authoritarian policies. More surveillance. Stricter laws. More bothering random people on the street with searches and seizures.


The government (and their lapdog press) were already doing quite a wonderful job of portraying our currently rioting underclass as a pack of dole fraud malingering scum just prior to this kicking off. So, I imagine your second suggestion might be closer to the reality of what lies ahead.
posted by noella at 6:33 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thatcher's legacy.
posted by noella at 6:37 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


OK - to me, the main problem with the violence is that its self-inflicted, it's a blind outburst that mostly hurts the working class.

So were the MLK riots. And almost every other riot that has ever happened. Riots are not thoughtful action.
posted by empath at 6:44 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'm trying to articulate my issues with your approach, Shit Parade.

You seem to think of the middle class as a category. The middle class is this thing, and it should express solidarity with the lumpen proletariat or underclass or whatever you want to call the rioters. But middle class people are people. They aren't a category of Marxist analysis. They're actual people who have spent the last two nights looking at maps of flashpoints and measuring the distance to their homes and their friends' and relatives' homes and hoping they'll stay safe, wondering whether their workplaces will be burned down, wondering whether it will be safe to go to work tomorrow. They're not freaked out in some ideological fashion. They're freaked out because riots are scary and destructive.

People in London have a right to be scared and angry. What has happened to their city is scary and infuriating. You can acknowledge that without denying the social and economic causes of the riots or wanting a stupid Thatcherite law-and-order response.
posted by craichead at 6:53 PM on August 9, 2011 [7 favorites]


Thatcher's legacy.

Nah. Thatcher's legacy's all grown up, and these are its kids.

Some friends were talking today about how they felt that under Blair and the New Labour project, the old 'working class', already hollowed out by the Thatcher decade, was gradually dismantled as a sociopolitical entity and replaced by a sweepingly inclusive middle-class and 'the underclass', which is something else entirely. I think there's something to that argument, which starts with 'tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime', gets put through the Daily Mail moral outrage wringer once in power, and ends up with ubiquitous CCTV and the ASBO, all running alongside the initial Cool Britannia bollocks.

(This clip from John Prescott's BBC documentary on the modern class system is pretty telling.)
posted by holgate at 7:00 PM on August 9, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thatcher's legacy.

If you believe that the current round of cuts is part of the cause, then this is still the long slow unfolding of the real estate/mortgage/CDO/recession/post-2009/debt crisis.

So you can blame some Florida, Las Vegas and California realtors with orange tans for this. And the banks, of course.
posted by carter at 7:08 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


So you can blame some Florida, Las Vegas and California realtors with orange tans for this.

ORANGIST!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:10 PM on August 9, 2011 [6 favorites]


The UK just has too many kids who don't give a fuck about anything, or anyone.
posted by Flashman at 7:13 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Flapjax - yeah that amazing clip was posted, way upthread but it certainly deserves to be rebroadcast. It's a shame though that somebody thought she needed subtitles; shame somebody then didn't even manage to transcribe her correctly.
posted by Flashman at 7:18 PM on August 9, 2011


Orangist?

Moi?
posted by carter at 7:19 PM on August 9, 2011


Let's leave Mr Silk out of this.
posted by noella at 7:22 PM on August 9, 2011


The latest on the Liverpool riots.
posted by triggerfinger at 7:26 PM on August 9, 2011


New York Times: London Riots Put Spotlight on Troubled, Unemployed Youths in Britain

I fully acknowledge these riots are terrifying, out of control, and must stop.

And then what do you do? Do you write off an entire generation, imprison a million unemployed youth? How much culpability do you assign a 15 year old rioter? A 12 or 10 year old one? They are, to some extent, a product of the society which raised them.

I'm arguing against the complicit attitude of condemnation, an attitude which seems to believe an increase in security and a return to the status quo is the best course of action. How many does that story have to repeat, how many times can that story be repeated?

Does anyone want to try and point out where austerity is working? Not Greece, not Spain, not the US. But some how the politics continue to slide towards the corporatist's and fiscal conservative's agenda. Deep social cuts, no new taxes, reimburse the wealthiest .01%, let money speak, break up peaceful assemblies, threaten intimidate or marginalize those who speak out or against these trends, and anything -- anything which destabilize the current global economic order (the "markets") is quickly and harshly dealt with while the vast majority of our media endlessly repeats the wisdom of this action. And certainly do not, do not ever advocate for violence because it won't solve any sort of problem except of course when the state employs violence to ensure the status quo will continue.
posted by Shit Parade at 8:12 PM on August 9, 2011 [13 favorites]


Why does so much of this seem to come straight out of Karl Marx?
posted by hippybear at 8:23 PM on August 9, 2011


Ugh. I was listening to an interview on NPR with some official in London, first he said, "Well, obviously we're trying to reach out and create a better relationship between the police and the young people in the streets." And then not a few moments later, he says something like, "Well you know there are all these other young people who are well-behaved, and we of course want spend our time reaching out to them, instead of wasting our time on criminals." So yeah, way to reach out to the disenfranchised.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:45 PM on August 9, 2011


...an attitude which seems to believe an increase in security and a return to the status quo is the best course of action.

The worst part is that the status quo no longer really exists. There's this myth that the kind of opportunities that existed a generation ago still exist now. Change is happening, but for the young and poor standing still translates to ever increasing poverty.
posted by Deathalicious at 8:48 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


I was searching something altogether unrelated today, and came upon an early passage in an article mostly about Michel Foucault's brief investigation of the Iranian Revolution that seems appropriate to post here, given the ongoing back-and-forth about the political content of the riots or its absence therefrom. The author is introducing Foucault's work on psychiatry, sexuality, etc., and his nearly life-long refusal to engage in conventional political activism:
He was perhaps the first thinker to identify the perversity of the kind of progressive thinking that expects the oppressed to conform to a preconceived model of resistance or revolt. According to the progressive norm, genuine victims of injustice will be ennobled by adversities, strengthened by misery and purified by suffering. They will bear witness to their authenticity by playing a starring role in the good old drama of democratic resistance to oppression. And they will gratify their patrons by bringing new vigor and militancy to the part, and perhaps a dash of cathartic revolutionary violence, not to mention unimpeachable moral authority. If Foucault had a mission in life, it was to discredit the progressive model of the perfect rebel.
I'm not posting this because I have anything particularly Foucauldian to contribute here, or because I have any reason to agree with the author's initial proposition there that Foucault was first in this or other regards. However, I think the words themselves in this summary are apt for today's context. There is something greatly perverse, both in those who refuse to accept a social context and causality for the rioting, and in those who accept it but complain about the rioters' lack of political objective and their apparently indiscriminate criminality.

All violence is deplorable, all actions that produce trauma and suffering are deplorable, but they are no less deplorable when monopolized by the state. Many of these neighbourhoods, and London as a conglomerated urban region, and Britain as a liberal society (and indeed the North American communities and societies I'm much more personally familiar with), were all deeply broken before the riots came and smashed up the place. There has been a temporary redistribution of individual suffering to folks whose jobs and businesses had helped them escape up until now how badly things have gone and circumstances have become for so many others, including for those (as was the case with many of the young participants in the Vancouver riots here in Canada a few months ago) who appear at least superficially to enjoy a great many material privileges.

The traumas, the violence, and the long-term disruptions this is going to cause to so many people are heartbreaking, and I would never seek to discount that. But at the same time, to complain that the rioters are missing an imagined political mark in targeting local businesses rather than symbols of the police, the state and the financial elite, or in engaging in selfish, self-gratifying behaviour, is to deny our collective complicity and collective responsibilities in the direction, contradictions and failures of our communities and societies. As several others have already voiced in this thread, I also fear that this is simply the first of many conflagrations. But it's not simply a matter of austerity policies, elite enrichment and class war; we're facing twin bankruptcies: of an economic system and resource base that after centuries of near-constant expansion is reaching the end of its rope, and of the ideologies that might have once promised us hope of a way out of this crisis.

We need to get over our shock that the disenfranchised didn't emerge with song and red (or black) banners and storm the engines of government and lending. What good would that have done, when our own confidence in either's capacity to secure a future for our children has already been so completely liquidated (and we're the ones with jobs and studentships and reasonable future prospects or at least are fooling ourselves for the time being into thinking so)? Today, the prospect of storming a bank or police station or parliament presents as futile a gesture as looting a mobile phone or luxury purse. Moreover, if we continue to judge the rioters' actions by their lack of a legible or ascribable political programme, we haven't got a clue or a hope of avoiding further and much more damaging unrest and revanchist state responses in the months and years and decades ahead.

There is no political programme promising to fix what's wrong for those without, nor indeed for those of us on the bleeding and rapidly receding lower edge of relative affluence and privilege: certainly not the past-age ideas of social liberalism and working-class organization (let alone revolutionary Marxism or whatever other 19th or 20th century radicalism we might make the mistake of trying to resuscitate); nor the politics of personal responsibility that have almost completely monopolized today's mainstream politics, policies and delivered services; nor the muddled politics of student movements and anti-poverty activism and the rump that remains of the old anti-glob coalitions; nor the relatively marginal facilities and services and grants (these paltry survivors of countless previous rounds of cuts, rationalizations, efficiencies, fee hikes, and private partnerships) being excised in austerity programmes whether in the UK, the US, or here where I sit in Toronto.

In Egypt, the favoured malexplanatory touchstone of so many commentators, an incredibly diverse and committed movement of citizens shut down the state, stared and fought down its police, forced out the old regime, and are now watching powerlessly as the old order gets reconstituted through the Army's emergency government into something slightly less ruthless but no more hopeful than the politics and the government and the socio-economic arrangements that preceded it. Because life, the economy, and everything else must eventually go on, and literally throwing the scoundrels out of office appears no more effective in the contemporary context than the old black humour we take with us to the voting booths in our affluent democracies.

Simply advocating a return to more substantial wealth sharing and redistribution appears to be a losing proposition when the engine producing that wealth is creaking and almost out of fuel. Of course every cut is worth fighting, but we also need to raise our gaze to the far more frightening storm that is approaching. If something more than another temporary, bandaged postponement emerges to offer a solution to the fundamental brokenness of both our local socio-economic orders and of the global political economy as a whole, it's likely that most of us, stuck so far inside existing systems of privilege and responsibility, are going to require an awful long time and experience an awful lot of trouble and trauma before we recognize it as such. While I myself have probably been too prescriptive here (it's an awfully hard temptation to resist), admitting that we don't completely understand (literally, politically, morally) what has happened in London would probably be an important first step in preparing ourselves to recognize and respond to whatever opportunities may appear as options to at least begin to mitigate the greater crises that are coming.

Shorter, run-on sentence version: Handwringing gets us nowhere; it only matters that the riots lack recognizable political motivation because it points to a broader absence of political programmes and honest solutions to economies that are hopelessly unsustainable both locally and globally; we're all implicated and need to spend much more time working on ways out of an economic crunch that's only superficially about these various levels and crises of debt (whether household, corporate or national) and much more fundamentally about having run out of great pools of unexploited labour, resources and markets to articulate into our international economy in a way that pushes wealth up to those of us privileged to hold positions in the system even just marginally better than those further down the chains of exploitation, and that funds the institutions necessary to secure order and opportunities for all of us. Relying on polemnics is incredibly unhelpful.
posted by waterunderground at 8:54 PM on August 9, 2011 [23 favorites]


Guardian's Zoe Williams has some thoughtful commentary on the consumer psychology of the looting.
posted by Bwithh at 9:25 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


Have a good look at deregulated laissez faire capitalism from below. This is how black/underground economies work. It also demonstrates how capitalism isn't a social program.

The riots throw some light (not much and not for long) on a ruling class that can wield power but can't govern.

I think the most interesting aspect is how the rioters have no political goals whatsoever. A lot of the inferring of political motive is projection onto a blank screen. This isn't about politics, it's about power; a rare opportunity to exert power over those who are usually more powerful.

A lot of impulse crime is about revenge for slights, humiliations and powerlessness. It's a role reversal.

There will be a handful of reporters and researchers who will get into the rioters circles and bring back some unexpected things. I keep thinking about Among the Thugs because I read it a month ago and what it talks about: the group sense when something is going to "go off;" the exhilaration of the breakdown of order; and the smash and grab tactics that are systematic, practiced and disciplined.
posted by warbaby at 9:32 PM on August 9, 2011 [10 favorites]


Paul Lewis of the Guardian is tweeting that the vandalism and looting in Gloucester is looking very premeditated and planned.

for other reports, this would seem to include setting fire to Gloucester's public library.
posted by Bwithh at 9:38 PM on August 9, 2011


Contagion is a big worry. Is this associated with mid-east unrest? With Oslo? With Greece?

There's a lot of upset people in an increasingly globalized and networked world. Unrest might be easily transmitted.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:45 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Does anyone want to try and point out where austerity is working? Not Greece, not Spain, not the US. But some how the politics continue to slide towards the corporatist's and fiscal conservative's agenda. Deep social cuts, no new taxes, reimburse the wealthiest .01%, let money speak, break up peaceful assemblies, threaten intimidate or marginalize those who speak out or against these trends, and anything -- anything which destabilize the current global economic order (the "markets") is quickly and harshly dealt with while the vast majority of our media endlessly repeats the wisdom of this action. And certainly do not, do not ever advocate for violence because it won't solve any sort of problem except of course when the state employs violence to ensure the status quo will continue.

I would not argue that austerity is anything but a violent, destructive, destabilizing, and -- frankly -- criminal method by which to further pick the pockets of the vast majority of humanity in order to continue to enrich a tiny minority of superwealthy at the top, and that around the world we could use a revolution or ten to help get things back on the right track.

What I am arguing is that crews of disenfranchised kids looting sneakers do not represent some sort of political vanguard in a revolutionary movement against global corporatism. This isn't Tahrir or even Madison. I hope, fervently, that such a movement indeed emerges sooner rather than later, and represents broad numbers of people actually organizing consciously and fearlessly to fight back as hard and as long as possible for their own social, economic, and political interests, and that the upper .01% that have ruined billions of lives eventually have their fucking teeth kicked down their fucking throats (either figuratively or literally). But what we've seen for the past several days isn't (yet) it.
posted by scody at 9:46 PM on August 9, 2011 [5 favorites]


Unrest might be easily transmitted.

For whatever it's worth, I agree with this. Look what happening (and is still happening) in the Arab world. The sustained looting and rioting all over London is probably a result of the ability to connect and plan via social media. Vancouver was the same thing, just on a smaller scale.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:14 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


Manchester: "One young bystander said the violence was because young people felt they had no voice. 'Things are really hard at the moment; there is a lot of frustration and tension. This is our way of making a point in as direct as way as possible. People don't believe the government anymore since the Iraq war. Now, because of the internet, they are able to think for themselves. This is a response to their frustration.'"
posted by warbaby at 11:05 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


2 interesting quotes from the articles linked above:

from The Guardian - "Many of the people involved are likely to have been from low-income, high-unemployment estates, and many, if not most, do not have much of a legitimate future. There is a social question to be asked about young people with nothing to lose."

from The NYT - In a low-income housing complex in Hackney on Monday, an elderly woman was hospitalized after a riot in which as many as 300 people rampaged, setting fire to cars and looting stores. Two priests, one in full robes, were brought in by the police to persuade rioters to allow an ambulance to take her to safety. “We need to get these people out,” one of the priests was heard telling a police officer. But as soon as the ambulance left, officers abandoned the neighborhood and looters struck up in earnest once more.

Later, when one young man, kicking a trash can into the street nearby, was asked why he was rioting, he just shrugged.

posted by mannequito at 11:06 PM on August 9, 2011


"Senior police sources told the Guardian on Tuesday that for the first three nights of trouble officers in London were told to stand by, watch and wait rather than actively seek to arrest rioters and looters"

- a strategy not without consequences, in my opinion.

"The sustained looting and rioting all over London..."

It is neither sustained, nor all over London. It is highly sporadic, and in specific pockets. With their exception of Oxford Street, where I assume the allure of retail proved too much (and many young Londoners would be used to travelling to), there is a near 1:1 correlation to the locations of riots and London's poorest areas. As one lady in Hackney told me it's crazy that people are smashing up their own communities. My hunch is that she's right, and that the people rioting in Hackney are from Hackney, and the people rioting in Clapham are from Clapham.

Having seen footage of some of the looting in Manchester yesterday evening, I'd go further again. I think there are several different phenomena occurring at once, all exploiting the reality of a thinly-spread police force. The looting in Manchester seemed more calculated and less frenzied or angry. And do we think it's the same people kicking in the windows of Footlooker as are committing cases of large scale arson? My hunch is that no, it's not.

Anyway, at the last count I saw police had made the order of 500 arrests in London following events so far: a number that, I must admit, impresses me. In many cases I gather these are follow-up rather than on the spot arrests. I imagine that, in addition to the presence of a supposed 16,000 policemen (including police from Glasgow used to dealing with Rangers - Celtic matches), has shown people that there *are* consequences to their actions and this explains a quieter night in London. I hope and expect looters in Nottingham, Birmingham and Manchester will work this out rather more quickly. It seems to me that police tactics in these cities have been rather more hands-on from the get go.

Still, it's worrying to hear Boris say he's not interested, at this point, in the economic and societal causes of this discontent. If you've got a job, or you're in college, or have any prospects at all, I don't think throwing a bottle at a policeman or following a group of youths into a raided mobile phone shop is something you do. As I said, I don't think 99% of the people *have* a specific cause, but that is not to say that there isn't a cause.
posted by nthdegx at 11:09 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


...and until that cause is addressed, I can see this happening every summer.
posted by nthdegx at 11:11 PM on August 9, 2011


No shame, no limits: Has the behaviour of the mob destroyed the idea of British civility for ever?
posted by homunculus at 11:30 PM on August 9, 2011 [2 favorites]


inmediastres
You accuse me of being an apologist.
I understand you are concerned about the welfare of yourself and your neighbours. But are you really surprised by what has happened?. I'm not and you shouldn't be if you were aware of the present disintegration of society. (thanks mjjj).
The anarchists who have my support from my armchair put out this statement.
Riots take on a life of their own and this one is not all that serious in terms of death and injury.
Historically Riot is not all that unusual in London.
What is perhaps even less surprising is that the short term operators of politicians and media have rushed to blame the riots on ‘sheer criminality’. The same cry from the defenders of the status quo has echoed down the centuries after every riot in London.
Riot is a living beast which takes on a life of its own where people loose their sense of responsibility in the mass.
posted by adamvasco at 11:54 PM on August 9, 2011 [1 favorite]


No shame, no limits: Has the behaviour of the mob destroyed the idea of British civility for ever?

It has been clear for a long time that parts of the population are more or less indecent in public interaction. My experience living in some poor urban areas is that public life is marked by young people who daily threaten or insult members of outgroups. This seems minor when compared to the criminality of recent events, but it is an aspect of the same sociopathic culture. I think that whatever the cause, many will know that it is far from being new or unusual.
posted by Jehan at 11:59 PM on August 9, 2011


What is perhaps even less surprising is that the short term operators of politicians and media have rushed to blame the riots on ‘sheer criminality’. The same cry from the defenders of the status quo has echoed down the centuries after every riot in London.

Same thing happened here less than two months ago.

btw, as this thread approaches 1200 comments I don't have the time to go all the way through it - but has anyone noted the prescience of J.G. Ballard's 2006 novel Kingdom Come?
posted by mannequito at 12:07 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It just occurred to me (and I haven't thought this through much at all, so this may be going nowhere...) : is this specifically a problem with urban England? As far as I know, there have been no disturbances in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow etc. (and fingers crossed there won't be) Could it be in part that their civil society is more secure with their stronger national/regional identity? or something?
posted by Bwithh at 12:08 AM on August 10, 2011


We're pretty used to 'clamp down on them' vs 'look at the causes' debates here in the UK.

There is a sense of panic in London, among the people I've seen on the street and on the trains, which is 'how can this be stopped?' and 'where will the next fire be?'. People in that sort of mood don't react that well to the 'look at the causes' argument, even if they're not of the 'clamp down on them' persuasion. (see this thread).

So all of the messages from the politicians at the moment are aimed at getting it stopped: 'you will be treated as criminals', 'we can trace the bbm messages', 'there's gonna be police everywhere' etc. Seems to have worked for last night (in London) at least.

Even though the tories are the tories, when this calms down I think they will be smart enough to look at the causes to some extent. Cameron himself was widely mocked for his 'Hug a Hoodie' speech a few years ago. But that speech shows that most of the political spectrum now has a better understanding of crime than they did 20 years ago.

The underlying social problems are very hard to solve. But despite this, crime has been falling steadily accross the UK for years, despite public perceptions to the contrary. Something to bear in mind when people say all this was inevitable and waiting to happen etc.
posted by memebake at 12:31 AM on August 10, 2011 [5 favorites]


I don't have the ability to be eloquent at this point, and I've always been of the mind that, if someone else has said it better than I could, just quote them, so here's some Langston Hughes for you:
What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?
posted by tzikeh at 12:41 AM on August 10, 2011 [11 favorites]


Bit of light relief nicked from elsewhere (in the spirit of the times) - it's kicking off in Polperro!
posted by Abiezer at 12:59 AM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


"it's kicking off in Polperro!"

That bird needs swift justice. I've also seen sightings reported in Truro, Aberdeen, Bournemouth and Bognor Regis: all, remarkably, captured on video.
posted by nthdegx at 1:52 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


As far as I know, there have been no disturbances in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow etc.

Nah, there *was* rioting in Glasgow, but it was on Friday night and no-one noticed.
posted by daveje at 1:52 AM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


it's crazy that people are smashing up their own communities. My hunch is that she's right, and that the people rioting in Hackney are from Hackney, and the people rioting in Clapham are from Clapham
What do the "communities" of Hackney and Clapham offer these kids which makes it crazy to loot and damage them? I'm pretty sure that lovely well-spoken blonde woman who's Florists was smashed up doesn't consider herself part of the same community as the "feral kids"
posted by fullerine at 2:56 AM on August 10, 2011


As riots sweep several British cities, the U.S. State Department is cautioning Americans in the U.K. to avoid areas of civil unrest, monitor local media reports and not engage in any debates that might turn violent.
posted by infini at 3:18 AM on August 10, 2011


Manchester criminologist (and leftist) Phil Edwards:
What we’ve got at the moment isn’t a protest movement, or even a wave of riots; if anything, it’s a particularly long and broad wave of looting. And looting isn’t a political act – but it sends a definite political message. It says, I’m not going to wait any longer; I’m not going to wait for next month or next year when I could have what I want now. It says, I’m not going to play by the rules of your system; I don’t know what’s going to happen next, but right now I’m having it. It says, I’m not going to live in your world any longer; I don’t know where I’m going to be next week, but right now I’m just going to do what I want.

and then, quoting another blog:
People from poorer, more deprived areas and backgrounds are rioting for different, shifting motivations, but they are doing so because they do not have enough invested in what the state can offer them to outweigh the benefits of that rioting. That is, the state has temporarily failed, because a significant group of people in London have decided it is just not worth living within its jurisdiction.

He goes on to offer a "ghost of a positive note" that speaks to scody's point, above, about whether or not this is a sign of some incipient political protest.
posted by col_pogo at 3:26 AM on August 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


A link given upthread has this thought:

Nobody in England likes to talk about race. Londoners prefer to pretend or perhaps they really believe -- that the city is a melting pot, where everyone lives side by side in peace and harmony. They often chide America for they consider to be America's intense obsession with the topic, not realizing that it is America's willingness to talk about race that may account for the fact that it is home to many of the most successful black people in the western world.

I've stayed away from this topic in this thread because I felt it inappropriate to bring up and irrelevant, being as it was just personal observations and experiences in London and other parts of the UK. However, now I think its time this aspect should be highlighted, for its so pervasive and permeates all aspects of daily life that its not even realized and noticed by the majority of the people in the local context.

An example is this link to a report submitted to Sitra, a govt funded Finnish innovation organization by a well known London based thinktank called Demos, from page 31 of the PDF report published only as far back as 2006 is this section heading and its final paragraph:

3.1 From coolie to creative

These are all examples of India moving up the value chain and increasingly taking control of the creative elements of developing new technologies, over and above the ‘coolie’ tasks epitomised by manufacturing, call-centres and contract research. While the more mundane, lower value services have fuelled Indian economic growth and . In the next ten years we can expect India to increasingly move from ‘coolie to creative’.


This would be no different than a report on the opportunities in Africa issued using the 'n' word. Yet this is common across industries in London and people don't think twice about using it in casual conversation, regardless of who may be present. I can't count the number of times I've been referred to as 'black' as in 'well you're black and bla bla' because black is also used commonly to refer to any non white, including asians and south asians. Being referred to as a coolie goes completely unnoticed and nobody bothered to give me a response on its formal usage in this regard.

As I'd said in a very early comment, the problems are systemic and historical. Is it any wonder the coolies have gotten creative in order to be taken seriously?
posted by infini at 3:47 AM on August 10, 2011


Regarding the composition of the riots - another Guardian article.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:06 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sorry, skipping to the end of the thread just now, but have we all seen this?

I spent last night watching the Manchester footage - a city I lived in and adored for five years of my life, one which feels more like my home than the place I lived until I was 18. And then I got off my bus in Ealing and saw a row of shops - small businesses - boarded up like a condemned street.
posted by mippy at 4:07 AM on August 10, 2011


Also - the majority of rioters in Manchester and Salford were white, and it's a very ethnically diverse city.

"been referred to as 'black' as in 'well you're black and bla bla' because black is also used commonly to refer to any non white, including asians and south asians."

In the UK, I find 'black' means Afro-Caribbean/African/mixed-race and 'Asian' means those from India/Pakistan/Bangladesh (possibly because we have more South Asian than E.Asian immigration here.)
posted by mippy at 4:09 AM on August 10, 2011


In Birmingham, three men defending shops were killed when they were hit by a car.
The victims, who were aged between 20 and 31, were part of a group of men who had gathered in the local area to protect shops used by all sections of the local community ...

Several cars then drove past the group which was guarding local stores ... and the occupants shouted abuse before one vehicle returned and mounted the pavement at "tremendous speed" and hit the men, throwing them into the air.

According to witnesses, the car, containing up to four men, then sped off.
posted by unSane at 4:20 AM on August 10, 2011


Also - the majority of rioters in Manchester and Salford were white, and it's a very ethnically diverse city.

The London rioters seem to be more ethnically diverse than first imagined, as well - although the popular dialog may respond to that by blaming "chavs", which doesn't really move the solutions discussion very far along.
posted by running order squabble fest at 4:23 AM on August 10, 2011


"These kids are from a deprived area - they aren't going to end up as millionaires. But they could end up with enough money to have a car and an annual holiday and a family and maybe even a nice home."

The thing is, one of the Manchester rioters was quoted as saying that they took away the EMA (a grant given to post-16 students to help them into further education), university fees are now 9k per year (and this is as true for the college down the road or the 'community college' as the elite universities) and they'll never own a car or a home. I earn above average for a Londoner and I honestly don't think I'll ever be able to own a home myself - it's less likely for those who left school with few qualifications, who struggle with reading, who speak English as a second language, or come from a socially/intellectually deprived background.

I grew up in a poor area, one near Manchester but suffering high unemployment, racial tension - many people I went to school with had babies early and there is an awful lot of recreational drug use- and I had parents who could not afford to pay for me to live in London, where jobs were. I have a chronic health condition which at times has affected my employability, and I moved to London mainly to find a job - which involved having to sleep on a sofa in a friend's house until money came through to get sorted out. I've been on the dole and I know what it's like not to be able to go to all these great things a few miles away because you have no money to get a coffee or an ice-cream when it seems like everyone else can; being told that the DHSS will not pay for me to travel to an interview so I must find the £6 for a travel card out of the £30 I have left to live off after paying my rent and utility bills. (And it is possible to be knocked back from minimum wage jobs if you're seen to be 'overqualified'.) But I had the advantages of being white, educated, able to fit into a professional environment and use the correct register and wear the appropriate clothing (and indeed know what this is); friends who could help me move cities, or give me leads on jobs; being interested and focused instead of disenfranchised.
posted by mippy at 4:41 AM on August 10, 2011 [12 favorites]


"These kids are from a deprived area - they aren't going to end up as millionaires. But they could end up with enough money to have a car and an annual holiday and a family and maybe even a nice home."

I don't earn enough to get all these things, and probably never will. How a person without a honking big education could possibly get them, I can't imagine.
posted by tel3path at 4:43 AM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Here's an excerpt from the best thing I've read yet about all this.
I said elsewhere that I'd often wondered what happened to the 13 to 20% of kids who walk away from school with no qualifications and very limited numeracy and literacy skills ... Each year's 13 to 20% largely end up on benefits or in jail or in the grey area between the two, claiming what benefits they can and supplementing that income with criminal activity. This is not a recent development; those kids at the bottom have always been there ... These kids often have virtually no social skills. By that I mean they literally cannot sit in a room and hold a conversation with someone other than those in their peer group. That doesn't matter. They don't have the skills to fill in a job application form, they have nothing to put on it if they did, so no one is going to sit them in a room and give them an interview, unless that someone is in a blue uniform, and they are recording the interview.

... We kick up to twenty percent of our kids out of school illiterate, innumerate and socially dysfunctional, then we import people to the lowgrade jobs those kids cannot do, so the immigrants can pay taxes to pay the benefits that just about keep that underclass quiet. The last government merely consolidated the neglect of the previous ones. All governments of all hues since the seventies have failed to address this problem; the only difference between them is the narrative they have fed their respective voters about it ...

They are not part of the society the people reading this belong to. Rioting last night gave them a sense of power and control, over the police, and over their neighbours ... What these riots - which aren't demonstrations, but parties got out of hand, with fires and prizes - is the degree of alienation from their own communities, their inability to acknowledge that they are part of any community. They also don't see themselves as angry or even oppressed, because they cannot look beyond the circumstances they are in and the peer pressures around them. And it is about bad parenting, to the extent that when the 13 to 20% become parents they have no aspirations or responsibilities for their children to inherit. That won't change if you treat merely them as victims, and enhance their sense of entitlement to trainers and TVs, nor if you treat them merely as criminals and process them through a judicial system that encourages recidivism.
posted by unSane at 4:48 AM on August 10, 2011 [24 favorites]


The deaths in Birmingham have created a really sombre atmosphere here and there is a distinct chance of race riots to come. I live in a predominantly Asian area and there has always been some tension between the Afro Caribbean community (who are largely being accused of looting) and the Pakistani/Bangladeshi community who generally run all the small businesses.

There's talk of looters planning to rob mosques, and added to the fact that Ramadam means there are a lot of people out on the streets in the small hours of the morning there's lots of opportunity for conflict.

Neighbours are talking about patrolling the area tonight, I don't like where this might be heading.
posted by brilliantmistake at 4:51 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ugh, that could make everything up to now look like a picnic.
posted by unSane at 4:56 AM on August 10, 2011


There's an update on the Guardian Live Blog which i think is pretty much on the money regarding Brum -

http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/blog/2011/aug/10/manchester-riots-uk-disorder-day-four-live#block-53

As it says I think the huge problem last night was looters being displaced from the city centre by the crazily huge police presence and attacking 'weak' targets out in the inner city
posted by brilliantmistake at 5:11 AM on August 10, 2011


It just occurred to me (and I haven't thought this through much at all, so this may be going nowhere...) : is this specifically a problem with urban England? As far as I know, there have been no disturbances in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow etc. (and fingers crossed there won't be) Could it be in part that their civil society is more secure with their stronger national/regional identity? or something?

All of these places are urban. Glasgow is bigger than Manchester, and has a lot of deprivation problems itself. I can't speak for the others, but maybe Belfast's kids have had enough of civil unrest over their lifetimes.
posted by mippy at 5:28 AM on August 10, 2011


'I'll keep looting until get caught'
posted by unSane at 5:33 AM on August 10, 2011


On the plus side, it is nice to see the chavs and the yardies cooperating for once.
posted by Flashman at 5:40 AM on August 10, 2011


One witness's walk down Walworth Road.

Excellent post - apologies if it was linked above and I missed it.
posted by Grangousier at 5:47 AM on August 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


but maybe Belfast's kids have had enough of civil unrest over their lifetimes.
Or maybe they don't have as much pent-up anger and frustration, because they've already done their annual rioting thing for the summer.
posted by craichead at 5:48 AM on August 10, 2011


"What do the "communities" of Hackney and Clapham offer these kids which makes it crazy to loot and damage them? I'm pretty sure that lovely well-spoken blonde woman who's Florists was smashed up doesn't consider herself part of the same community as the "feral kids""

I think you're putting words into other people's mouths here. The point was merely where the rioters are from. And in any case it was a black lady with a Caribbean accent -- I'd estimate in her early 60s -- that I was talking to.
posted by nthdegx at 5:50 AM on August 10, 2011


"I was there when resentment was sparked in Toxteth. But then, as now, the main thing in the kids' minds wasn't anger, but fun"
posted by Grangousier at 6:09 AM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Was the poor police response because of the News of the World scandal aftermath?
posted by empath at 6:11 AM on August 10, 2011


Alleged looter walks into lamp-post after court appearance.

I sure hope we can enter the public ridicule phase of this soon.
posted by unSane at 6:34 AM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


4. ‘Classic’ crowd psychology is currently used as the theoretical basis for public order training in
England and Wales. This theoretical position is outdated, unsustainable scientifically and it is
critical that training is updated to reflect contemporary theory and evidence.

from Crowd Psychology & Public Order Policing: An Overview of Scientific Theory and Evidence. (PDF)

It's turgidly written and probably best read out loud in a high Oxonian blither, but it makes sense.
posted by warbaby at 6:45 AM on August 10, 2011



Alleged looter walks into lamp-post after court appearance.

I sure hope we can enter the public ridicule phase of this soon.
posted by unSane at 2:34 PM on August 10 [+] [!]


Priceless. Less hilarious is the fact that this guy works in a primary school.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 6:47 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Someone just drove past our window with the Vengaboys' 'We're Going To Ibiza' blaring out. Truly we're in society's final days.
posted by emmtee at 6:50 AM on August 10, 2011 [7 favorites]


Worked in a primary school.
posted by Grangousier at 6:51 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Not alleged either, guilty, he was leaving court but awaits sentencing from a higher court.
posted by biffa at 7:11 AM on August 10, 2011


more street politics: "All of this is these people have to sacrifice their environment to be heard"
posted by eustatic at 7:35 AM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Trying to stop shit like this once it's happening is like trying to stop weather. The root causes go way way back.

so-called order breaks down when a critical mass of individuals collectively no longer see the point in it. is the stupid violence inherent in a street riot justified? no. But neither is the cynical system that inspires the stupidity? cynicism kills the social contract.

a relevant Clash tune called Kingston Advice
posted by philip-random at 8:31 AM on August 10, 2011


I think Vengaboys is as good a sign as any that we're hitting the public ridicule phase.
posted by mannequito at 9:16 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Darcus Howe and Richard Seymour interviewed on Democracy Now.
posted by homunculus at 9:35 AM on August 10, 2011


UK riot tracker: find out how much risk you face by postcode.
posted by MuffinMan at 9:37 AM on August 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


The real creeping scary part comes when the people and gov't forget your city is on fire, has a higher crime rate then Baghdad and 2 civil rights leaders murdered in their homes in one week and the media sleeps. The media is not your friend, you are a consumer or a victum or a perp. Little else perseption wise. sorry to side track but when I read stuff like:

As I'd said in a very early comment, the problems are systemic and historical. Is it any wonder the coolies have gotten creative in order to be taken seriously?

it has no meaning. I understand it and it is good scholastics but it is a dangerous thing to employ when people are acting all riot like, they don't want to hear solutions for the most unless it is immediate

hang in there manchester.
posted by clavdivs at 9:56 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


It just occurred to me (and I haven't thought this through much at all, so this may be going nowhere...) : is this specifically a problem with urban England? As far as I know, there have been no disturbances in Belfast, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Glasgow etc. (and fingers crossed there won't be) Could it be in part that their civil society is more secure with their stronger national/regional identity? or something?
posted by Bwithh at 12:08 AM on August 10 [+] [!]


just read that the Scottish Nationalist Party is complaining about media coverage of riots as being in UK and Britain. They're saying that is entirely an English problem and there's no unrest in Scotland and Scotland shouldn't have to suffer unfair reputational damage because of the way the media reports the story
posted by Bwithh at 9:57 AM on August 10, 2011


Telegraph is saying that the BBC is establishing a policy of referring to the disturbances as "England riots" rather than "UK riots" after complaints from viewers in non-England parts of the UK (go to end of article)
posted by Bwithh at 10:24 AM on August 10, 2011


Let's do something nice for Ashraf Haziq

this is a worthy idea that needs a bit more organization and development, especially with regards to credibility issues.

still, I just chipped in a couple of quid.
posted by Bwithh at 10:30 AM on August 10, 2011


In case you said "wha?" at Bwithh's link, I present: What's the difference between England, Great Britain, the British Isles, and the United Kingdom?
posted by desjardins at 10:57 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting tweets by the creator of the 'Supporting the Met Police against the London rioters' group...
posted by shiny shoes at 11:03 AM on August 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


London Riots - Manchester Riot Police Beat Teenagers On Bikes
posted by BobbyVan at 11:30 AM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Link text is title of video... not my own words...
posted by BobbyVan at 11:31 AM on August 10, 2011


Well, of course the Scottish have been able to successfully distance themselves from the oiks in Westminster who have made a hobby of stigmatising the poor, so that might have something to do with them not rioting.
posted by Summer at 11:31 AM on August 10, 2011


Slate's Anne Applebaum has some thoughtful commentary about the riots
posted by Bwithh at 12:28 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The welfare state really has left a generation of young people feeling both dependent on government handouts and entitled to more.

I know she explicitly doesn't examine this, but it's tired and unworthy even of repetition. Read Charles Booth if you want to know what London looked like before the welfare state. Many people were horrifically poor before the existence of social security and extreme poverty really wasn't the incentive to "better yourself" that we imagine. Any dependency on state handouts—such words are overflowing in ideology—is that necessary to stave off the excesses of poverty we know would otherwise occur. Levels of social security payments are typically so low for young people without children that those who live on such payments alone barely scrape by. It is hard to describe £60 a week and a poky flat in a council estate as "entitled", and causes of the desire for "more" really need to be sought elsewhere.
posted by Jehan at 1:22 PM on August 10, 2011 [17 favorites]


London Riots - Manchester Riot Police Beat Teenagers On Bikes

This is what is troubling about calling the rioters "scum" and calls for more "law and order." Is the antithesis of rioting a boot to the face?
posted by KokuRyu at 1:26 PM on August 10, 2011


Clear up begins in Clapham after riot: A massive clean-up operation is getting under way in areas affected by the riots across England. Twitter and Facebook users are harnessing the power of social networking to co-ordinate operations.
posted by homunculus at 1:36 PM on August 10, 2011


That Applebaum piece is terrific. I'll quote the closing paragraph:
Then again, there was looting in London following the Great Fire of 1666, and, despite the mythology, there was looting in London during the wartime Blitz. Go back and read Dickens: Criminals, both immigrant and "native" British, have taken advantage of opportunities to loot in London during more peaceful times, too. A peculiar confluence of circumstances—a mob angry about a police murder, a sudden bout of warm weather, an unprepared police force distracted by scandal, and, yes, the astonishingly widespread availability of BlackBerry smartphones among the underprivileged—might have allowed them to do so again. Beware of sweeping political generalizations in the wake of these riots. We don't know whether we have just witnessed a "new" phenomenon, or a more mobile and technically adept version of a very old one.
posted by BobbyVan at 1:56 PM on August 10, 2011 [6 favorites]


Read Charles Booth if you want to know what London looked like before the welfare state.

Read Henry Mayhew if you want to know what London looked like well before the welfare state. This 2003 post reminded me that Mayhew's 1851 (last volume 1861) opus, "London Labor and the London Poor," is available online: Volume 1 (including chapters on THE STREET-FOLK and OF THE CRIES, ROUNDS, AND DAYS OF COSTERMONGERS); Volume 2; Volume 3; and the extra volume, "A Cyclopedia of the Conditions and Earnings of Those That Will Work, Those That Cannot Work, And Those That Will Not Work. Those That Will Not Work. Comprising. Prostitutes. Swindlers. Thieves. Beggars. ... With Introductory Essay on the Agencies at Present in Operation in the Metropolis for the Suppression of Vice and Crime."
posted by MonkeyToes at 2:11 PM on August 10, 2011 [4 favorites]


The Guardian's reporting that around 200 white men have been throwing bottles at the police and chanting EDL slogans in Eltham before being dispersed. It looks very much like they've come out for a fight, found a distinct lack of rampaging black youths and started on whoever's to hand.
posted by emmtee at 2:50 PM on August 10, 2011


Yes, the EDL were apparently "protecting" an area last night, and got drunk and shouty to the point where local police resources had to be diverted to keeping an eye on them.

It's actually very kind of them. The riots were being eagerly spun as a race war by the right wing, and it's good to get a little reminder of what the D in EDL actually stands for. And indeed the specific parameters of the E.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:04 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


Jehan: It is hard to describe £60 a week and a poky flat in a council estate as "entitled"

I've been thinking about this A LOT over the past few days, when watching the riots in various English cities. I've just come off the dole after approx 2 years; for most of that time I was hunting for bog-standard office jobs – all of which I was turned down for thanks to being "overqualified" – and it strikes me that if I – with a degree, and with almost 15 years professional experience as a journalist – can't land a job, then what hope for the kids who never even made it to the end of their high school education?

Also, having spent that couple of years on the dole, I'll say that living on sixty quid a week is a fucking grind. There's plenty said about how people on benefits "have it easy" because they don't have to work, but I'll tell you: I'd rather have a minimum wage job than have to scrabble about to find an extra couple of quid to put in the electricity meter the day before the dole money comes in. Without a doubt, the past couple of years have been the most trying and testing of my life.
posted by Len at 3:04 PM on August 10, 2011 [21 favorites]


Are London looters unloading on Craigslist?
"If you're looking for an outlet to serve your bulk iPhone shopping needs, London's Craigslist can't help you just this minute. The case of 40 16GB iPhone 4's that popped up on the embattled city's section of the Internet's classified yesterday — following the third night of riots — has been 'flagged for removal' and is no longer on the site."
posted by ericb at 3:25 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


I'd rather have a minimum wage job than have to scrabble about to find an extra couple of quid to put in the electricity meter the day before the dole money comes in. Without a doubt, the past couple of years have been the most trying and testing of my life.

Been there Len - Hang in there and good on you for being persistent! Amazing how being poor for a bit puts a whole new perspective on so many things, isn't it?
posted by Poet_Lariat at 3:31 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


London riots: the limits of Left and Right - a brilliant analysis.
posted by AlsoMike at 3:32 PM on August 10, 2011 [15 favorites]


From AlsoMike's link:

Do these anecdotes and qualitative impressions mean that it isn't about class, that it isn't about capitalism? Not quite. But Marxists need to remember the Hegelian distinction between 'in itself' and 'for itself'. In themselves, these riots may indeed be about inequality: the concentration of wealth and power may simply have become too unwieldy, regardless of what the rioters think is going on. But for themselves, they are about power, hedonism, consumption and sovereignty of the ego.

This is a useful way of thinking about it. Thanks for posting this.
posted by scody at 3:47 PM on August 10, 2011 [3 favorites]


Been there Len - Hang in there and good on you for being persistent! Amazing how being poor for a bit puts a whole new perspective on so many things, isn't it?

I lost my government job a year and a half ago. While I've managed to avoid going on benefits (and I don't actually qualify for benefits, anyway), it's been tough, and, like len said, a fucking grind.

I also live in the equivalent of a "housing estate" to save on rent. While most of the families are dual-parent families, the amount of fucking ignorance here is astounding.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:48 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


FYI: if you don't have it and don't have any strong prospects of seeing it in the future, the cost of a pair of shoes ($100 / £60) is more money than you have or will ever hope to see. Forget about the flat screen TV - only millionaires have those.

Does that put the gulf between a street kid and the old couple that owns the corner store (and just scrape by) one has no options and the other is hanging by a thread. Plus, the street kids have little or no impulse control. For them, a smash and grab is about the limit of their imagination as far as windfalls go.

The rich are not like us, nor are the destitute.
posted by warbaby at 4:09 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


put the gulf into perspective, I meant.
posted by warbaby at 4:11 PM on August 10, 2011


A brave and wise Hackney woman speaks out to those who are looting, thieving, and burning. Kudos!
posted by Vibrissae at 4:37 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


from the rumour mill: the drugs trade dimension to the riots?
posted by Bwithh at 5:04 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


One common element is taking place, everyone involved wants to protect what they have and what they work for and what they can achieve.

That is the turning point.
posted by clavdivs at 6:15 PM on August 10, 2011


More about Sean Boscott, the racist ass trying to erase his online history after his pro-police Facebook group got a mention from Cameron.
posted by mediareport at 8:28 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


if you don't have it and don't have any strong prospects of seeing it in the future, the cost of a pair of shoes ($100 / £60) is more money than you have or will ever hope to see.

I don't see it that way. These are kids who do have it, to some degree: there have been interviews with scally gobshites who admitted that they could probably afford the stuff they're looting for their own personal use. I tend to believe them. They're just getting early upgrades.

I don't know if you've ever been in a crap English town in December, but the ubiquitous chain retailers that heave with people buying Christmas presents for their kids are the same ones that were the targets over the past few days: JD Sports, Currys, Comet, even bloody Argos, and they were too daft to remember that Argos keeps all of its stuff stacked in brown cardboard boxes in the back warehouse. Kids on council estates do get XBoxes and Nikes and BlackBerrys that their families will either save up to buy, or more likely these days, pay off at high interest rates over the next year. The clichéd line is 'oh, but it's worth it to see their faces on the morning'; the more cynical reading is that it's worth it to avoid the backlash.

That was what underpinned my first comment: these are people who oh-so-very deeply understand the 'value' of stuff made out of plastic in SE Asia and sold at high markups, because that defines the limits of their economic world. What's beyond those limits -- and represents real economic power -- is much less tangible.
posted by holgate at 9:58 PM on August 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


These riots reflect a society run on greed and looting
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 10:27 PM on August 10, 2011


2 opinion pieces from the leading mainstream left-wing political magazine, The New Statesman, arguing against blaming the riots on austerity cuts:

Leader: It is too simplistic to blame the coalition’s cuts for these riots

Three open goals for Labour
posted by Bwithh at 11:14 PM on August 10, 2011


mentioned in one of the NS posts, here's the Gove vs Harman Newsnight debate - a great piece of political TV
posted by Bwithh at 11:24 PM on August 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


Look, I'm a lefty; I believe in redistribution. I believe in the politics of the street. But to me that means Tiananmen Square; not some kids smashing in HMV. This is bullshit.

Link goes to a good piece in the Guardian which adequately expresses my own confusion about the whole thing. I'm still surprised at the amount of conviction displayed by people giving explanations for how this mass display of anomie can have occurred. I think we'd be better for it if we could just agree to admit that we don't know why always, that it's all right to be bewildered for a while until we have time to find out what is best to do. By 'we' I mean people, not just the British.

Meanwhile, over here in SE London, there seems to be (by which I mean nothing more than I've seen a couple of remarks on Twitter) confusion and dismay that all of the news networks seem to have pretty much ignored the devastation visited on Woolwich - pictures of the aftermath here while spending a lot of time paying attention to the EDL/BNP trouble-making in Eltham. News agencies' knowledge about Eltham and what was going on their would be more convincing if a) they knew how to pronounce it (Elt'am) and b) they didn't think it was near Enfield.

And just to tie together 'we really don't know what happened' and 'but we do know that it happened in SE London too': 19 year-old girl accused of looting Charlton retail park lives in a detached house with tennis court in Orpington and has taken 4 A-levels including (oh the irony) classical civilisation
posted by calico at 12:27 AM on August 11, 2011 [4 favorites]


Meanwhile, over here in SE London, there seems to be (by which I mean nothing more than I've seen a couple of remarks on Twitter) confusion and dismay that all of the news networks seem to have pretty much ignored the devastation visited on Woolwich - pictures of the aftermath here while spending a lot of time paying attention to the EDL/BNP trouble-making in Eltham. News agencies' knowledge about Eltham and what was going on their would be more convincing if a) they knew how to pronounce it (Elt'am) and b) they didn't think it was near Enfield.

not excusing them, but it's almost like London is so huge that even the news media can't get to grips with all its geography...
posted by Bwithh at 12:31 AM on August 11, 2011


But even if they don't have an A-Z, they can look it up on Google Maps. It's just laziness.
posted by Grangousier at 1:44 AM on August 11, 2011


Just had a look at Sean Boscott's group - under a comment where he says his Facebook account was hacked and racist comments in his name (posted in July, apparently) is the following message of support:

"Jake Fletcher: you people who are saying hes a racist wheres your proof and for the majority of you FUCK OFF BACK TO YOUR OWN COUNTRY YOU ARE NO LONGER WELCOME HERE."

I'll book that flight to Sweden now, then. I'm sure they'll remember me after 1200 years.
posted by mippy at 1:56 AM on August 11, 2011


I think we'd be better for it if we could just agree to admit that we don't know why always, that it's all right to be bewildered for a while until we have time to find out what is best to do. By 'we' I mean people, not just the British.

Oh yes and I'd love to extend that wish to the foreign (ie. non-uk) press, media, correspondents, experts, commenters... I've been witnessing such a feast of stretched ideological interpretations, all round, left and right and center, pushed onto the events before even trying to tell the facts and stories about those events. For the left it's all about capitalism and social inequalities, for the right it's all the fault of multiculturalism or bad parenting, and off they go with comparisons with the Paris banlieues or riots and protests in other parts of Europe about the cuts. Which may apply in part or not but really, why force comparisons before even telling the stories?

Meanwhile, I've been following this on twitter and reading the latest links posted here, like that Motown blog, the Applebaum piece on Slate, the similar latest commentary in the Guardian (thanks to everyone for posting this stuff!) and getting a different picture, or rather, getting more interested in just listening to the stories rather than trying to force a political interpretation on events. "Anecdotes do more work than structural analysis, at least for the time being." (thanks for posting that too, great read!) It's so true, the anecdotes are so insightful, in a simple straightforward way, of getting to read what it was really like for people who were there, what was going on, and all in a way that makes me feel more and more put off by any all-encompassing "this is WHY it's happened" grand theory of the riots.

I know very well that it can be difficult to let go of that temptation of pushing our own ideological biases onto events, and of course I understand the media needs commentary, the papers need to come out with editorials on any event even it's still unfolding, the tvs need to have experts offering analysis, but really, it's so much better to get to listen to the stories (as well as different views and opinions) directly from witnesses first... In this, twitter and blogs - and media who have made good use of them, like the Guardian liveblog - have been amazing. This thread included. Just wanted to say thanks basically and how it's been another very useful source.
posted by bitteschoen at 2:40 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Britain reminded that Melanie Phillips is not well
posted by Grangousier at 2:44 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


London teenagers interviewed about the impact of cuts-driven youth club closures at the end of July: there's nothing for them to do, they're bored, and "there'll be riots."

But oh no, says the government, none of this has anything to do with the cuts because some civil servants haven't lost their jobs just yet.
posted by rory at 2:54 AM on August 11, 2011


London teenagers interviewed about the impact of cuts-driven youth club closures at the end of July: there's nothing for them to do, they're bored, and "there'll be riots."

But oh no, says the government, none of this has anything to do with the cuts because some civil servants haven't lost their jobs just yet.


the right's argument is not just that national austerity measures are only starting to be implemented (there is some truth to this - for instance, major planned cuts (20%) to police forces (civil servants who have a most direct impact on street-level law and order) funding nationwide had not yet been implemented by the time of the riots (of course these cuts are now likely to be reconsidered)). it's also that, from the Tories' perspective, Labour councils like Haringey are badly financially managed and are also choosing to cut some services too much at the expense of others which are being protected too much (so e.g. more youth clubs could have been saved if the cuts had been spread around more to e.g. minority community programs (which weren't given cuts but presumably had more local political support and patronage behind them than the youth clubs)) and trimming highly paid council leadership positions . See this Telegraph piece from March

Here's Haringey Council's rebuttal of the Telegraph piece which they view as error-strewn
posted by Bwithh at 3:34 AM on August 11, 2011


David Cameron addressing the House right now - it's streaming on BBC News.
posted by mippy at 3:37 AM on August 11, 2011


mippy: while I get the point you're trying to make, I'd suggest that reposting a long list of offensive racist jokes into MetaFilter probably isn't the wisest move all around.
posted by hippybear at 4:32 AM on August 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


There is hope for this country. But we must stop looking upwards for it. The politicians are the ones leading the charge into the gutter.

David Cameron was entirely right when he said: “It is a complete lack of responsibility in parts of our society, people allowed to think that the world owes them something, that their rights outweigh their responsibilities, and that their actions do not have consequences.”
.

- An open letter to David Cameron's Parents

posted by rubyrudy at 4:39 AM on August 11, 2011 [6 favorites]


Austerity and Anarchy: Budget Cuts and Social Unrest in Europe, 1919-2009: Does fiscal consolidation lead to social unrest? From the end of the Weimar Republic in Germany in the 1930s to anti-government demonstrations in Greece in 2010-11, austerity has tended to go hand in hand with politically motivated violence and social instability. In this paper, we assemble cross-country evidence for the period 1919 to the present, and examine the extent to which societies become unstable after budget cuts. The results show a clear positive correlation between fiscal retrenchment and instability. We test if the relationship simply reflects economic downturns, and conclude that this is not the key factor. We also analyse interactions with various economic and political variables. While autocracies and democracies show a broadly similar responses to budget cuts, countries with more constraints on the executive are less likely to see unrest as a result of austerity measures. Growing media penetration does not lead to a stronger effect of cut-backs on the level of unrest. (PDF)

Shorter version: austerity measures increase social chaos, not just rise/fall in economic growth. Authoritarian societies show greater instability (more brittle.) It's not the media's fault.

My take: The political message of austerity is rulers increase relative deprivation in hard times and at the street, nobody is fooled.

Our betters: We're all in this together. (You feral criminal scum.)
Mick Farren and the Deviants: Let's loot the supermarket again
Everybody else: Hey! that's my bike!
posted by warbaby at 5:53 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


hippybear - quite right, I'll flag it myself as we can't delete/.
posted by mippy at 6:14 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Woot! is hawking a computer monitor today, and offering it as if it were looted (for the lulz, apparently). Pretty tasteless and offensive in my book, and I'd predict that they end up doing some PR damage control before the day is out.
posted by BobbyVan at 6:15 AM on August 11, 2011


Here's a taste of the Woot! pitch...
So what’s it gonna be? Let’s make a deal, mate. Everything must go, pa’tic’ly as them sirens’re gettin’ closer by the minute. I’m sorta what they call a motivated seller. Buy now before me and Gez ‘ave to do a runner.

posted by BobbyVan at 6:17 AM on August 11, 2011


Yeah, nixed the big copy/paste. If you want to link to the pile of racist jokes posted by the racist dickbag, that's fine, but dropping 'em in thread was probably not the way to go.
posted by cortex at 7:13 AM on August 11, 2011


10 competing explanations for the riots
posted by Busy Old Fool at 7:34 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Rob Manuel (of b3ta fame) was in the famous 'brooms' pic, and has written an interesting post about taking part in post-riot cleanup vs. media use of that particular image.
posted by jack_mo at 8:44 AM on August 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Great article there jack_mo worth it just for the phrase "a turnip in their dominion".
posted by pmcp at 8:55 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


BobbyVan, was Dick Van Dyke involved in the riots? Reminded me of this (NB - people from York speak like Sean Bean off of Game of Thrones.)
posted by mippy at 9:39 AM on August 11, 2011


"a turnip in their dominion".

Is that the new "bustle in your hedgerow"?
posted by scody at 9:40 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


MetaFilter: Everyone wants you as a turnip in their dominion.

yeah thats a really interesting piece. I saw the broom pic and wondered what was going on.
posted by memebake at 10:08 AM on August 11, 2011


(NB - people from York speak like Sean Bean off of Game of Thrones.)

Nope, people from Sheffield speak like Sean Bean off of Game of Thrones...

I've often thought that they should make a part for John Prescott, he'd look great with a turkey leg in his mouth shouting obscenities at the Lannisters or whatever.
posted by pmcp at 10:10 AM on August 11, 2011


Busy Old Fool: "10 competing explanations for the riots"

If only just one of these could be Right, then everything could be Sorted Out.
posted by mkb at 10:17 AM on August 11, 2011


Busy Old Fool: "10 competing explanations for the riots"

That's an excellent link, except I don't see them as competing explanations. Thus is the so-called modern world once again revealed to be complex. Here's a quick summary:

Welfare dependence: "a perverted social ethos, which elevates personal freedom to an absolute, and denies the underclass the discipline - tough love - which alone might enable some of its members to escape from the swamp of dependency in which they live"

Social exclusion: "established community is perceived to provide nothing... It's not one occasional attack on dignity, it's a repeated humiliation

Lack of fathers: "Like the overwhelming majority of youth offenders behind bars, these gang members have one thing in common: no father at home."

Spending cuts: "If you're making massive cuts, there's always the potential for this sort of revolt against that."

Weak policing: the impact of the fall-out from criticism of policing during the G20 protests in London in 2009. Some commentators have suggested officers might be afraid of taking on the rioters directly for fear of legal action.

Racism: "Too many black men have been killed by the police. Too many black men and women have been treated like criminals when they're not.

Gangsta rap and culture: "the pernicious culture of hatred around rap music, which glorifies violence and loathing of authority (especially the police but including parents), exalts trashy materialism and raves about drugs"

Consumerism: "These are shopping riots, characterised by their consumer choices,"

Opportunism: "As more and more people became embroiled in the riots, others have been tempted to join them, confident that one unexceptional individual in a sea of hundreds is unlikely to be caught or to face retribution,"

Technology and social networking: "Social media and other methods have been used to organise these levels of greed and criminality,"

To which I would like to add my own eleventh explanation (not competing, contributing), which is based on observations made whilst traveling/living in the UK back in the 90s. You just can't get enough good strong marijuana on that island, and even when you do stumble upon it, some idiot cuts it with roughly nine parts tobacco. Seriously, if when the violence started the powers that be had rolled out tons of free ganga (preferably in pre-rolled joint form), you can't tell me there would not have been a whole lotta calming mitigation going on.

And if the ganga fails, then go for the Ecstasy reserves. But only the clean stuff, nothing cut with speed.

Another Clash tune
posted by philip-random at 10:52 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


You remember this video? Tentatively: good news. (I won't throw the word scum around willy-nilly, but in his case, I'm happy to resort to scumbag).
posted by nthdegx at 12:09 PM on August 11, 2011


London Riots an explanation not an excuse
posted by ericthegardener at 12:52 PM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


The moral decay of our society is as bad at the top as the bottom
posted by Anything at 1:08 PM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hoo-boy! Next up for blame: violent video games?

From British Prime Minister David Cameron's statement to the House of Commons:
"[E]veryone watching these horrific actions will be stuck by how they were organised via social media.

Free flow of information can be used for good. But it can also be used for ill.

And when people are using social media for violence we need to stop them.

So we are working with the Police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality."
How can rioters be banned from social media?
posted by ericb at 1:10 PM on August 11, 2011


Just had a look at Sean Boscott's group - under a comment where he says his Facebook account was hacked and racist comments in his name (posted in July, apparently) is the following message of support:

"Jake Fletcher: you people who are saying hes a racist wheres your proof and for the majority of you FUCK OFF BACK TO YOUR OWN COUNTRY YOU ARE NO LONGER WELCOME HERE."


Notably, Boscott is ultimately derived from Bosquet and is a French Huguenot name which probably came into use in the UK as a result of Huguenot refugees fleeing to the UK to escape religious persecution. Someone should tell him it's probably safe to go back now and that he's welcome to fuck off.
posted by biffa at 1:11 PM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


Facial recognition in use after riots
"Facial recognition technology being considered for London's 2012 Games is getting a workout in the wake of Britain's riots, a senior police chief told The Associated Press on Thursday, with officers feeding photographs of suspects through Scotland Yard's newly updated face-matching program."
posted by ericb at 1:26 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


How the London riots showed us two sides of social networking
"The role of social media, in particular Twitter, has come under scrutiny once more in the wake of widespread rioting across the UK. Social networking has certainly been influential, but not always in the ways people expect."
posted by ericb at 1:30 PM on August 11, 2011


"You cannot rouse the animal in man then expect it to be put aside at a moment's notice."
Russell Brand chimes in and makes a few good points including:
These young people have no sense of community because they haven't been given one. They have no stake in society because Cameron's mentor Margaret Thatcher told us there's no such thing.
and
How should we describe the actions of the city bankers who brought our economy to its knees in 2010? Altruistic? Mindful? Kind? But then again, they do wear suits, so they deserve to be bailed out, perhaps that's why not one of them has been imprisoned. And they got away with a lot more than a few fucking pairs of trainers.
I am getting to like Mr Brand more and more which surprises me.
posted by adamvasco at 1:33 PM on August 11, 2011 [13 favorites]


Bloody hell, Peter Oborne! What, between that piece (Anything's link above) and Charles Moore's recent article in which he concedes that maybe there is something to this whole 'perhaps unfettered capitalism as the ultimate good isn't all that smart' thing, well...

Wouldn't it be really wonderful if this wretched summer could give us something beyond burnt buildings and hacked phones? If we could wrest a calmer, more deliberative politics out this mess...I will be thinking about how best to use this enthusiasm for civic matters that has come upon me.
posted by calico at 1:43 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


London Riots an explanation not an excuse

I gotta say, that moved me. Fuck yeah! Anger is an energy.
posted by philip-random at 2:20 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Interesting social media timeline of London riots. Apologies if it has already been posted.
posted by Elmore at 2:22 PM on August 11, 2011


Thanks calico, that Charles Moore (Eton/Cambridge educated tory supporter and former editor of the Daily telegraph) piece is pretty interesting. I'll link it again:
I'm starting to think that the Left might actually be right

(minor spoiler: he still doesn't like the left due to its 'blind faith in the state' but he concedes they've got some good points about the problems of free-market capitalism)
posted by memebake at 2:39 PM on August 11, 2011


Bloody hell, Peter Oborne!

this is pretty much in line with what Oborne's been saying for a while see e.g. Triumph of the Political Class<>/em> (scroll down for summaries in the reviews)
posted by Bwithh at 2:40 PM on August 11, 2011


More on Boscott.
posted by Elmore at 2:50 PM on August 11, 2011


Yes, Oborne wrote that scathing article about the Chipping Norton set & Cameron's links to it recently as well. This is partly what made me think about whether we'd be able to move towards a more open politics: I think between MP's expenses, the failure of the economy, phone hacking (and its exposure of a fairly seamy network of unspoken power) and now the riots the public is in less of a mood to accept politicians doing anything but for the reason that they think it is the right thing to do. The degree of centralisation of power that has taken place has not been great for the UK, and I hope that politicians feel more free to follow their consciences. Not explaining this very well!

(I myself have made great strides in moving away from tribalism; just yesterday I even followed a Tory on twitter. Please don't tell anyone)
posted by calico at 3:01 PM on August 11, 2011 [3 favorites]


Tariq Jahan is amazing
posted by Bwithh at 3:03 PM on August 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


Keep Aaron Cutting
posted by Grangousier at 3:07 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kenan Malik - Five Quick Points About the Riots
posted by Grangousier at 3:11 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Pretty amazing that Cameron and May are openly placing all of the blame on the police. The Met must be under a lot of pressure right now, with a bunch of its leadership out of the picture.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:40 PM on August 11, 2011


As England Burns, Education Is a Victim, Too
posted by homunculus at 5:01 PM on August 11, 2011


68-year old dies after being assaulted as he tried to stamp out Ealing fire. Heartbreaking.
posted by 4eyes at 5:18 PM on August 11, 2011


DJ /rupture blog post with some thoughts on the riots, plus an update on his favorite record shop:
Brixton Riot Never Quiet
comments are worth reading too
posted by mannequito at 5:35 PM on August 11, 2011


Well, you must admit that however much we get used to the idea that the government don't give a toss, the duck house was taking the piss in a way that's hard to put out of the average person's mind. And then when it turns out that the government, police, and press are all in it together to see what they can loot off a dead teenager, well, there's cynicism, and there's the feeling that despite yourself they've gotten you to be just that much more dead inside, that much more like them.

Sure it's not a revolution, they're just acting out the values they were brought up with. As above, so below.

The villainy you teach me I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction.
posted by tel3path at 6:04 PM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]


in response to the DJ rupture blog post:

The relationship between the black community and the police in London was only one factor in the riot events, and which faded as the events morphed quickly away from the political demonstration-turned-riot in the earliest stage. But even if we focus only on the black community-police relationship, it's more complicated than simple comparisons to the black community-police dynamic in the LA riots in 1992 or the Brixton riots in 1981 might suggest.

The relationship between the London black community and the police was *much* worse in 1981 than today - though obviously there are problems today too. The black community was much more marginalized and the Metropolitan police was routinely, openly racist to an extent unthinkable today (this is not to say that institutional and/or conscious racism doesn't exist in the Met today).

Duggan was shot during the course of an Operation Trident deployment (there were clearly screwups with this incident by the police, and possibly there was a corrupt coverup, but it's too early to come to conclusions). An unusually well-funded and well-manned specialist command of the Metropolitan police force, Operation Trident was originally set up in response to demands by the black community leadership in London - the demands addressed a perceived (institutionally racist) deficiencies of police attention and effort given to black-on-black crime, especially gun crime, often related to the drugs trade. Operation Trident was set up, after a long campaign by black community leaders, to make the Met *less* institutionally racist by giving special levels of resources and attention to black-on-black gun crime. The independent advisory board of Operation Trident is led by black community leaders, and has been regarded as triumph for black community activism in London

links:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2007/apr/12/akickintheteeth
http://brooklynnorth.blogspot.com/2011_04_01_archive.html (Scroll down)
http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/nov/22/operation-trident-cuts-threat-backlash
posted by Bwithh at 6:09 PM on August 11, 2011 [5 favorites]


The riots, by a 12 year old.
posted by Infinite Jest at 5:17 AM on August 12, 2011 [3 favorites]


I don't know what he's basing it on, but Darcus Howe, in an interview with Democracy Now, said that Operation Trident has been a recent victim of the collapse of the Met's leadership and morale - he suggests that the shooting of Mark Duggan was a rushed and botched job aimed at raising the profile of the directors of Trident in the run-up to the appointment of a new commissioner.

This may or may not be nonsense, but Howe may not be a bad index of what people in the upper percentiles of pissed are thinking in the black community...
posted by running order squabble fest at 7:50 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Kenan Malik: Moral Poverty and the Riots
posted by Grangousier at 8:51 AM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


interesting interview with a more thoughtful sounding Boris Johnson
posted by memebake at 10:24 AM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


I bet Dave can't decide which is more humiliating, being seen as less fair than the Met or less competent than Boris Johnson.
posted by fullerine at 10:56 AM on August 12, 2011


aaaaaand some Italian reporter has asked Alan Moore his opinion
(scroll down for English translation)
posted by Bwithh at 12:48 PM on August 12, 2011 [2 favorites]


looting round up of British sense of humour from the New York Times
posted by Bwithh at 12:54 PM on August 12, 2011


Just in case anyone put any store by the drug drought idea, it would seem the big cocaine haul actually happened two months ago, but has ony been anounced to the press due to the arrests taking place in the last week. Such a haul would have effected the city of London rather than the dealers of Tottenham, one would think ; )
posted by asok at 4:23 PM on August 12, 2011 [1 favorite]


Looters apologise to communities for causing two days of visits by politicians
‘We have to accept that we were not prepared for the consequences of our actions,’ said a senior looter in Ealing, west London. ‘I took the decision to kick in the windows of my local Comet and help myself to a couple of MacBook Airs in good faith, but I might have done things differently if I had known this would lead to Boris ‘the Mayor’ Johnson descending on the neighbourhood within hours, spreading chaos and confusion and terrorising local businesspeople in Latin.’
posted by memebake at 1:54 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


Historian David Starkey decides to inject some witless racism into the coverage.
posted by Grangousier at 2:55 AM on August 13, 2011


There's a longer, 10-minute extract of David Starkey on Newsnight here.

Self-link, banned: I finally wrote a long, dull blog entry on the riots in context.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 4:01 AM on August 13, 2011


That Starkey link is wholly upsetting. The problem is that "Whites are acting Black" !?!?! The problem is that whites now use a Jamaican-influenced patois and that's how they're learning to be "gangsters" !?!? That's why so many people here youths speaking and feel like they're in a foreign country?

This man is a historian, and he is unaware that (a) England (among other "white" European nations) has experienced rioting throughout it's history, even before significant "non-white" immigration, and that (b) accents, especially in England, vary wildly according to location, class, and more importantly, time. Listen to radio from the early 20th century, or films (American or British). Working class, upper class, you just don't hear those sorts of accents among people under the age of 80. And I imagine the inter-generational accent-shift was even more noticeable before the advent of recorded sound.
posted by molecicco at 5:00 AM on August 13, 2011


The more I think about it the more is suggests a colonialist Toryism, untouched by the last sixty years: Blacks are animalistic, therefore if Whites behave animalistically, then they must have been corrupted by their contact with Blacks, which can be demonstrated by the fact that they are speaking in a "black" way.

Astounding. Very telling that he references Enoch Powell at one point, someone else who existed in an academic fantasy-land, wholly detached from reality, on whom complex reality suddenly came crashing in.

Starkey is one of those historians to whom only kings and the occasional queen matter in the least, and only the interesting ones, to boot. Consequently he's spent the last twenty years making the same television programmes about Henry VIII and Elizabeth I over and over again.

One would hope that from a professional point of view he's made a terrible mistake.
posted by Grangousier at 5:28 AM on August 13, 2011 [6 favorites]


It's hard to interpret the lack of anyone being charged with riot, only violent disorder showing up in the court reports. See here for the hair-splitting difference between the two charges: the presence of less or more than twelve people involved in the disorder.

A legal formalist would argue that this is proof the police only arrested people who they caught alone or in small groups (less than twelve), trapped inside of looted stores, passed out drunk, fell down and couldn't get up, stranded in mobility chairs with rundown batteries, etc.

A legal realist would argue that the police are lying about the facts and the courts are making arbitrary rulings for political purposes: "Out of the 1.7m cases heard in magistrates courts last year, only 3.5% were remanded to jail. These figures from this week show a rate of 50-60%."

stats here at the Guardian and here at the BBC

There is no support whatsoever for Cameron's idiotic claims made to Parliament that there was massive involvement of known criminals.
posted by warbaby at 8:37 AM on August 13, 2011


That Alan Moore comment is a succinct summary of how I feel about this. I'm also reading a summary of Baudrillard, and that seems to presage a lot of what we're seeing in world news.
posted by codacorolla at 8:50 AM on August 13, 2011 [1 favorite]


That Alan Moore comment is a succinct summary of how I feel about this.

From that Alan Moore interview:

It’s the kind of predictable social meltdown that will inevitably happen if governments shy from confronting the banks and corporations that are actually responsible for our current economic circumstances, and instead insist upon stripping even basic social amenities from an underclass that represents society’s most vulnerable, least educated and often most volatile constituents; people who have no stake in society and who therefore feel that they have nothing to lose.

Alan Moore knows the score ...
posted by philip-random at 10:37 AM on August 13, 2011


David Starkey: Racist Cant
[W]hat’s most shocking is that the quality of our history teaching has become so debased, and the basic standard of our historical knowledge is so poor that Starkey can arrive unprepared and behave like a lazy undergraduate trying to derail a tutorial because they haven’t done their homework ... And that tactic was followed almost to the letter by David Starkey last night. I’m not saying he’s lazy. He might be incredibly hard working but rather dim.
posted by Grangousier at