Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Riots

It's impossible to get a clear picture of who is rioting and why.  It does seem as though a lot of what's gone on in the past few nights, around London and in other places, has indeed been "mindless" - or at least pointless.  And even if there has been some kind of point, that's been undermined by opportunistic looting and misdirected vandalism.  BUT I don't believe the trouble was initially mindless, and I think we ought to remember that in many parts of the country, young people and their families are consistently let down by "the system": schools, social services, housing services, the police, our judicial and penal institutions, and at the heart of it all central government.  In Haringey, the council has not managed to protect front-line services from the budget cuts enforced by Westminster, and of course the most vulnerable people are the worst affected.  I've seen first-hand how the police often treat people (particularly, but not only, young black men) in this part of London, and I've no doubt that many of the expressed grievances are legitimate, even if the mode of expression is questionable.  This is not a defence of looting or arson or violence against people - just a suggestion that the media ought to be looking into causes rather than indulging in the all-too-easy pursuit of demonising young people and sensationalising the story.  Thinking people need to ask questions and talk about how our society can better support young people and address their concerns so that they don't feel the need to start riots.

Here are some links that seem pertinent:

(informed youths vs uninformed politician)

(teenagers organising themselves peacefully and engaging in the political process - to no avail)

(note the first comment, which typifies the kind of dismissive attitude that leads to young people becoming enraged)