Britain Ablaze Over What Exactly?

Santander Smashed Up Near Victoria Square in Birmingham (Taken by myself)

Last week I was doing work experience on the Strand and staying in North London, where they’re rioting. This week I’m in Birmingham and there are more riots. Next week I’m in Leeds doing work experience and I’m fairly sure there will be rioting.

Now normally I would say I was right: I do attract trouble but as I’m not that self centered I’d say that the motivations behind the riots are unclear.

Why riot?

Conflicting reports seem to blame racial tensions (both the far-right and the ethnic minorities seem to be rioting and looting simultaneously), ‘feckless yobs’ and a whole host of ne’do wells.

Cllr Mike Whitby said that ‘This is not about race or about social cohesion. This is people taking advantage of fragility in society.

‘Till 4pm Birmingham was at its best. This was not a philosophical crusade, its an act of criminality. We must be clear that this is a minority of people and Birmingham is a peaceful city’.

I don’t know why people rioted. I doubt it was to do with Mark Duggen and police brutality. I doubt it has anything to do with the economy or the coalition and their unpopular policies. However, I’m not about to dismiss them as thugs looking for free stuff and the chance to set things on fire.

Because Britain is a stable democracy sometimes it seems like people think we don’t do ‘uncivilised’ things like rioting and those who do are simply the dregs of society.

Leader of Birmingham City Council Mike Whitby Outside Carphone Warehouse (09/08/11 12pm) (My photo)

During the student protests in December, the protesters were regarded at best as the product of ‘a few bad seeds’ and at worst as an example of how ‘feral’ modern students were as if we as a social class were hard wired to misbehave.

Instead of simply dismissing this as an example of what happens when these people aren’t kept in ‘check’ maybe we should examine why they did what they did.

They may not have any further reaching ambitions than acquiring a new flatscreen television but their methods of acquiring one says a lot more about society than it does about them.

If you want an example of how they’ve been demonised probably further than they’re crimes deserve just look at twitter and facebook. What they did was wrong and stupid no doubt but the frankly bordeline hysterical reaction to them is an overreaction. This is not an atrocity. Saying ‘prison is too good for them’ is a tad OTT. They’re looting shops, not ritualistically slaughtering puppies.

Published by

Caroline Mortimer @CJMortimer

Freelance journalist.

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