Monday, August 8, 2011

The London riots sparked off by the killing of Mark Duggan flag up deep hatred under the surface in Britain’s communities, but it’s not an Arab Spring

Dear All

I remember the night that Princess Diana died; you knew watching the television coverage that you were witnessing an event of significance taking place.

At the weekend, I watched the London rioting taking place on the television and again I had the feeling that this was an event of significance.

It was the anger of the people bubbling to the surface, the trigger being the killing of Mark Duggan was shot dead by police in Tottenham.

An inquiry is going to take place and politicians from all parties have condemned the rioting.

Home Secretary Theresa May is meeting senior police officers following a second night of violence in London.

Is the Britain’s Arab Spring?

Not yet, but it is a sign of the tensions that are very much under the surface of Britain, Labour MP David Lammy says he doesn’t recognise this as the Tottenham he knows but is the real Tottenham.

People are nearly at a tipping point.

More than 100 people were arrested and 35 officers injured in two nights of rioting and looting.

Some people were rioting because of the death of Mark Duggan but others were doing so to loot shops and set them on fire.

The peaceful protest in Tottenham on Saturday over the fatal shooting by police of 29-year-old Mark Duggan was quickly followed by violence.

That violence spread on Sunday night to Enfield, Walthamstow and Brixton.

May, who had been in contact with other senior politicians and senior police officers while overseas, is meeting Acting Metropolitan Police (Met) Commissioner Tim Godwin and other officers on Monday afternoon.

Earlier on Monday the home secretary said:

"Last night, police officers again put themselves in harm's way to protect Londoners and their property. Londoners have made clear that there are no excuses for violence, and I call on all members of local communities to work constructively with the police to help them bring these criminals to justice."

A spokesman for Prime Minister David Cameron, who is on holiday in Italy, said:

"We are very clear that those responsible for that violence and looting will be made to face the consequences for their actions."

And the violence isn’t just the usual stone throwing, on Sunday night three officers were hurt when a vehicle hit them as they tried to make an arrest in Chingford Mount, north London.
Clashes later broke out in Enfield, north London, where shop windows were smashed and a police car damaged.

Up to 200 youths looted shops and charged police in Coldharbour Lane and the High Street in Brixton, south London.

Nick Clegg unsurprisingly said the violence had "absolutely nothing to do with the death of Mark Duggan".

And the family of Mark Dugan said they wanted it to stop and didn’t want it done in his name.

The Met said it had dealt with several incidents of "copycat criminal activity" across London on Sunday night:

These included:

More than 30 youths vandalised and looted shops in Walthamstow, east London
Fifty youths gathered in Oxford Circus, central London, and threw objects at shops
A police vehicle was attacked in Islington, north London
A shop on the King's Road in Chelsea was damaged
A Tesco store in Ponders End was attacked and looted

Metropolitan Police Commander Adrian Hanstock said:

"This is not groups of people acting on behalf of communities or with any consent. This is individuals who are actually attacking communities, businesses, properties and houses and actually causing a huge amount of upset and criminality."

Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London and Chair of the Metropolitan Police Authority said:

"Obviously there are people in this city, sadly, who are intent on violence, who are looking for the opportunity to steal and set fire to buildings and create a sense of mayhem, whether they're anarchists or part of organised gangs or just feral youth, frankly, who fancy a new pair of trainers."

This is a symptom of the tensions that exist in Britain today, and things are going to get worse as more people become unemployed, businesses close and credit dries up, add to that lack of social and economic opportunities for the poorest.

We are heading into a difficult time were politicians don’t represent the views of the people who elect them and are apart.

Politicians and the people have been detached for some time particularly in the inner cities of Britain.

The reason Labour MP David Lammy doesn’t recognise this Tottenham is because he isn’t doing enough on behalf of the people.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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