Monday, August 08, 2011

London's Burning

London calling to the faraway towns
Now that war is declared-and battle come down
London calling to the underworld
Come out of the cupboard, all you boys and girls
- "London Calling" by The Clash
The boys and girls have emerged. It's insane over there right now:
The rioting and looting that convulsed poorer sections of London over the weekend spread Monday to at least eight new districts in the metropolitan area and broke out for the first time in Britain’s second-largest city, Birmingham, in what was developing into the worst outbreak of social unrest in Britain in 25 years.

By early Tuesday, unrest was also reported by the police in two other major cities, Liverpool and Bristol, and an enormous fire was consuming a large warehouse in the Enfield section of London.

Prime Minister David Cameron, apparently caught off guard while on vacation with his family in Tuscany, reversed an earlier decision not to cut short his holiday in the face of plunging world financial markets and boarded a plane for home to lead a cabinet-level meeting on Tuesday to deal with the turmoil.

The tragedy here is to the shopowners whose businesses have been looted and torched, the workers who won't be able to go back to work in the ashen shells, the inevitable loss of life I expect we'll hear about soon. Lives ruined by asshole rioters taking advantage of a bad situation and making it worse.

On the other hand, what sparked this massive convulsion of rioting?

This started on Saturday after the protest about a police shooting of a man called Mark Duggan. People were upset with the shooting but the rioting was unneccessary but not surprising as things have been brewing for months.

The areas of the original riots are areas most affected by cuts to services. Young people have seen their benefits cut, they have seen this conservative government remove funds they need to get to school and college, they have seen a 75% cut in services which were used to find them employment and they have been treated with disregard and contempt both by government and by a media who has written most of them off. But that was three nights ago.

Since then we have had opportunists destroying the livelihoods of hard working people in the area they live. Real small businesses and peoples houses have been destroyed and those people have lost everything. The people who have done this don't care because they have nothing in their lives be it parents or authority figures who they really respect.

They cannot respect the police.

They may not follow things closely but they do know that the police had been taking money from newspapers and that the top two policemen in London have resigned. They know the police think of them as scum and they think the same of the police. This is the police who got away with killing an unarmed man in an underground station after lying about it, who have been seen on video assualting people and getting away with it and on thursday shot and killed another member of the public. They know that the IPCC (the Independent Police Complaints Committee) is a toothless useless group and the CPS (Crown Prosecution Service) have been seen to be reluctant to prosecute police for their crimes. What reason would they have for respecting that?

They cannot respect the politicians.

Local MP's can try their best but the people who made the decision to cut their services, to call them layabouts, and restrict their chances to change their circumstances have no link to the community they live in. They have seen politicians sent to prison for claiming expenses. They have a conservative government and the cabinet consists mainly of millionaires who's main policy is to enrich their banker backers in the city and give tax breaks to their friends which is paid for on the backs of the poor. Why would they respect them?

Eerily reminiscent of the LA riots two decades ago. And there's unrest in Israel as well -- only it's not violent:

Add up the estimates of 300,000 in Tel Aviv and 30,000 in Jerusalem and more elsewhere and you come to this startling idea: one out of every 20 Israelis was on the streets demanding a better country Saturday night – the equivalent of three million people in France, four million in Egypt, 15 million in the United States. And those comparisons themselves shatter, because, as Ma’ariv’s NRG site reported, the police couldn’t possibly keep track of the crowd that broke down gates and overflowed into alleys and side streets. Or as a police source told the paper: “This is the biggest demonstration we’ve ever, ever faced. We’re seeing hundreds of cars that have simply been left on the Ayalon Freeway and people are walking to the demonstration.” And that’s besides the people who couldn’t get on the overpacked trains to Tel Aviv.

You know, I honestly do think something is happening here. I honestly do think that people have discovered something in themselves and in the faces next to them that they thought they’d lost, that they were sure they’d merely dreamed and gotten over in the morning while trying to get to work. I think that any reporting of what’s happening in Israel that doesn’t include the shocked reborn ebullience of the crowd has missed something. I’ve been in many angry demonstrations, more than I can count or remember. I can’t remember being in a crowd of people so happy.
You think it can't happen here? With austerity on the menu in the U.S., and the inability to TAX THE RICH due to the teabagger/Norquist/Club for Growth takeover of the GOP, something's got to give. Since I'm skeptical that the Tea Party Downgrade will lead to changing any tea-brains, I expect inchoate rage to rear up before long.

Not the good kind of protest. Not now.

Not at this time of mounting global unrest.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...