Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Editorial: What really triggered the riots

Getting back at the truth

London and other cities and towns around the United Kingdom have experienced a whole series of community destruction efforts through riots, lootings, arson and deaths much of which brings into stark focus the city that will host the Olympics in 2012.

For all the indignation, revulsion and disgust at the spate of criminality meted out with impunity by those who in the confusion have found opportunity to satisfy a baser anti-social inclination we may miss some essential truths about these events.

We must with all sincerity condemn the violence and destruction of life and property whilst working to bring those culprits to book because a society cannot thrive on this kind of lawlessness.

The tinder box effect

However, one cannot fail to notice the tinder-box effect of the original trigger for what happened afterwards. Riots do not just happen out of vacuum, they are usually the whirlwind harvests of sowing to the wind.

This sordid tale started when some police unit after a somewhat notorious person an alleged drug-dealer and gang member decided to accost him as he rode as passenger in a mini-cab on the streets of London.

There surely might have been other places where this man might have been apprehended without much altercation but whoever put this plan together thought the risks of a problem would be minimised if they engaged him fully armed with the risk of endangering the life of the mini-cab driver all in the name of law enforcement.

We have now been informed that the person to be apprehended might have been armed but there is no indication that he tried to defend himself and every suggestion that the negotiation tactic the police adopted was to shoot first and then ask questions later.

What triggers riots

There will be many questions to ask and the first answers should have been given to the family of Mark Duggan [1], explaining in full detail, with all consideration, sympathy and definitely promptly what transpired between the police and the 29-year old father of 4.

Before they undertook that serious responsibility the consequences of their actions had already lit a slow fuse towards discontent, vigils, demonstrations, public unrest and riots.

Like many other riots before, it takes the basic semblance of the abuse of police power and the unresponsiveness of the police to the gravity of the situation to set things off and the rest becomes history. In others, it has been race or religious tensions and sometimes acts of the government where that are disconnected from their electorate.

Simmering societal issues

In our advanced societies we maintain an uneasy calm in the midst of simmering tensions of societal breakdown that just requires that last straw to break the laden camel’s back. As most as politicians and their ilk continue to suggest that other city riots were unconnected copy-cat activities we continue to live in the untruth of the structural breakdown in first the discipline culture and then the sense responsibility certain of our citizenry might have towards their communities.

The fact is, this can happen in any Western country so easily when the somewhat disenfranchised sense injustice and indifference by the actions of those we trust to uphold the law.

The fact the riots spread to other major cities around the United Kingdom simply belies similarities with the concerns of the immediately affected community which was only 26 years ago the centre of another major riot, the Broadwater Farm riot [2] which again were triggered originally by police interaction that lead to the death of a member of the public.

Some hard facts

The fundamental thread that links all these riots can be summed up in one basic statement – “They who think they have no stake in society will not suddenly assume the responsibility of protecting their communities.”

However, in a boxed-list of opinions towards the bottom of an article on the Daily Mail Online, certain prominent figures expressed their views [3] and those simply encapsulate the whole reason for this anarchy that needs to be addressed root-and-branch because setting in motion the wheels of punishment for crime without reviewing the causes of crime will just leave our society a worse off place.

Sources

[1] The death of Mark Duggan - Wikipedia

[2] 1985 Broadwater Farm riot

[3] Daily mail Online | Rudderless Met crippled by liberalism

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