Thoughts on the UK riots
The rioting began Saturday after a peaceful protest in Tottenham over the shooting of Mark Duggan by the Metropolitan Police. In a matter of hours and over three nights, the rioting spiraled out of control across London and to other parts of Britain.
As those arrested were hauled into court today, it became clear that the perpetrators were not all disaffected youth, but teachers, leisure center workers, college students, construction workers, and an 11-year-old boy. While many wanted to turn it into a racial issue, footage of the looting proves that blacks, whites, Asians and all colors in between were involved.
We've seen this in America, too – the LA riots after the Rodney King verdict and the looting after Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. In the midst of desperation and rage, people were looting stores and stealing television sets. Why? Because there is an element of society that will take advantage of the situation for personal gain.
There is extreme poverty in England, simmering racial tension and austerity measures have cut deeply into public spending and education. There is definitely a reason to protest, but these riots made a wide turn from being about deprivation and police brutality to opportunistic thievery and destruction with no thought of the consequences. As these people were looting stores, many run by their neighbors, there was obviously no consideration given to the fact that these small shop owners are also struggling to make ends meet.
A video of jazz singer and activist Pauline Pearce yelling at rioters on a street in Hackney pretty much sums it up: "If you're fighting for a cause, then fight for a fucking cause. Because we're not all gathering together and fighting for a cause, we're running out of Foot Locker and thieving shoes." You can watch the video below.