Nobody within earshot of a radio or television, or with internet access or the day's newspaper has escaped the horrid scenes all over the UK over the past few days. It's like scenes from a post-apocalyptic cultural breakdown and the end of all civilisation. Only this isn't a novel or a movie, it's what's actually happening to people in their homes and on their streets.
It started with a protest on August 6th. It was a peaceful protest, people demanding more information, and in doing so were perfectly within their rights to do so, I might add. What followed has nothing to do with Mark Duggan or his family. Four nights or rioting, looting and arson. Four nights, four lives lost, millions worth of damage caused and thousands of people waking up to a world that somehow doesn't feel safe anymore. People have had their property destroyed, looted and burnt down to nothing. Why?
The "Hug A Hoodie" -movement seems to think this is all society's fault for not providing enough funding to create more activities for youths. For not providing more funding to support an educational system that can keep the kids in school, see them through further education and see them become productive members of the workforce. For "marginalising the poor". Basically, this is the proletariat rising up to The Man and getting their own back, right?
Wrong. This is nothing but a bunch of opportunistic little ball bags seeing that the police is unable to do anything other than wait for them to get close enough to use their batons on them. And being the little cowardly shits that these looters are, they're not going to chance getting that close. They are throwing anything deemed fit enough to do some damage at the police, covering their faces while doing so, and then running away to set another car on fire or to destroy someone else's livelihood. These masked vandals representing the country's "poor" were wearing several hundred pound's worth of clothing and filming their criminal activities on smart phones worth easily £200 if not more. These are the same people who supposedly are living on £2.20 per week. Is anyone else seeing the gaping hole in the logic there?
The police have finally been sanctioned by David Cameron to use water cannons and plastic bullets to deal with these thugs on the streets of the UK. In his statement Cameron said "We will do whatever is necessary. Nothing is off the table." And the hoodie huggers were up in arms yet again, treating this as some sort of a watershed moment which is about to ring in a new age of totalitarian police state in the UK, where the police force will randomly gun people down on a whim and douse them with water cannons whenever the mood takes them. Because that's what's going to happen, right?
Wrong. The only thing that is going to happen is that these rioters will realise there is a consequence to your actions. If you choose to break the law, you will face the consequences. If you have proved your lower than average IQ by posting photos of yourself on Facebook or Twitter posing with your loot, you deserve a plastic bullet to somewhere it really hurts. And you deserve to go to jail. The courts are sitting in through the night to deal with the ones that have been arrested and I'm sure they'll continue to do so to make sure all those responsible will be brought to justice.
These events will be analysed to death in the coming weeks, months and years. There will be those who refuse to place any blame on the actual perpetrators of this hideous vandalism and violence and choose to blame the society and surroundings of these thugs for making them what they are. These people know what they're doing is wrong. They wouldn't cover their faces otherwise. There's no point in saying that they don't know any better because the society has let them down. Okay, fair enough, let's say the society has let you down and you feel as if your government is marginalising you, pushing you aside, brushing you under the carpet, and you finally decide to rise up and protest. What would be your first port of call? The government buildings? The police station? The social welfare offices? Something symbolic, surely, to hammer home the point of who you feel has let you down. So I guess the poor, marginalised people of London, Birmingham, Liverpool and other cities are angry with HMV, Tesco, several jewellers and sports retailers.
There is no political, sociological, economical agenda to these acts of destruction. They are malicious, evil and opportunistic acts with no other purpose than maximising the damage and filling their own pockets with as much free stuff and possible. This is no social commentary that will be in the coming years analysed and seen as a turning point in the UK history. This is a small minority of mindless cowards hell bent on causing as much trouble as possible because they've been swept up in a mob mentality. Sheep following sheep.
I want to say one thing, though. In amidst all this there are stories emerging which are going some way in restoring my faith in humanity. Communities working together to protect their streets and their properties. People showing up to the thankless task of cleaning up the streets just because they want to help. And below, the photo that had me in tears of hope while watching the live coverage on BBC: a couple serving tea to the police officers securing their street. I will focus on that.