London riots. Everyone has heard about them, and some people have even sent notes to see if I am okay. I figure it is time to share some thoughts on what has been happening.
First, I am fine. My area was not hit by any serious damage or disruption, just a lot of precaution when things started to get really out of hand around day 3.
To the police - kudos. The police have taken some serious flack from people in the media. I think that this is a serious mistake. In Canada, it feels like we quite regularly have inquiries into police force and families who speak out about loved ones who have been beaten or have died in custody. It is a very sad and touchy subject, but it rarely escalates into another police incident and definitely not to the scale that the London police had to deal with. Also, they are being accused of not being prepared to deal with the outbreak of unrest. To this I say; How could they??? Who, in their right mind, could have predicted that a small protest about one person shot by police would lead to a riot. And then that this riot would spread, not outwards, but to random pockets of violence and destruction scattered around London and surrounding cities? I honestly do not believe that this reaction could have been foreseen and props to the police for quickly mobilising the big guns to try and stomp out the flame. The police presence by the third day, when things were really out of hand, was immense.
To the perpetrators of crime - shame on you! This was a total act of opportunism. The majority of the damage was senseless with no forethought and no agenda other than greed. These were not people out to prove a point other than how they can behave like cattle or like children following the crowd (which, sadly, some were).
Finally, to the country - what is going on?? During my stay in London there have been several protests and demonstrations and I have yet to see one that goes smoothly or peacefully. This is a problem! I have heard of the issues of concern - tuition fees, etc - and the protesters generally have good points that they are trying to bring to the public eye, but I do not understand why they cannot do this peacefully. I realize that there are a lot of underlying issues with the riots - low wages, lack of opportunity for advancement, etc - but I think that the inability to hold a peaceful protest or demonstration is quite scary. Why do they think they will only be heard through violence and destruction?
I am sure there will be many theories put forward about who or what is to blame for the riots. I just hope that there is some learning that comes from this to address deeper issues in this society and, hopefully, save this sort of damage from occurring again. Also, that they can stop the culture of fear that has sprung up in the last week where everyone seems to be on edge just waiting for unrest to break out.