Unless you’ve been avoiding the news you can’t have failed to notice that an infection is plaguing my home and neighbouring cities. Blackberry phones in the hands of people who can’t resist seeing cracked glass and soaring fires acted as a mode of transmission; the original contagion was a report that police had shot a man who did not threaten to use a gun he carried. Ironically, family of said man do not condone the zombies on the streets.
Thankfully, I haven’t seen any devastation first hand, but what I’ve witnessed on the media has astounded me. Much of the carnage is only a considerable walk or short bus/tube ride away, and it’s not infeasible that I’ll hear sirens away from the television tonight.
I’d like to echo most peoples thoughts on this: I have no sympathy whatsoever for the looters. I don’t know what their motives are, and I frankly don’t care. I just don’t see how putting peoples lives at risk and ruining businesses solves anything. If a possible trigger is economic woe, this is an even more stupid thing to be doing. While I’m willing to admit that at least some perpetrators are victims of social deprivation, the life of those on the bottom rung is not comparable to those who rose up for the Arab Spring, for example. When you see pictures of people grinning beside the booty they’ve amassed, it’s hard to think of anything but greed. Strength in numbers has allowed all the cockroaches to come out at once. There are positive, more productive, ways of dealing with a set of low numbered cards life gives.
I hope the police act similarly to the way they unfairly treated many student protesters earlier this year because what we’ve witnessed over the last few days absolutely requires police to behave brutish. If they don’t act now – but I’m sure they will – the broomsticks people brought out to help clean the debris on streets won’t be used at the brush end over the coming days.
On the positive side, it was delightful to see people coming out to help rub antiseptic cream on the wounded city. Seeing those people, from all walks of life, reminds me that London is great, and so are its citizens. The majority of them.
Going to back worry, I’m fearful about how the annual Notting Hill Carnival might play out in a few weeks, not to mention the Olympic games here next year. Is there something that can be done that can prevent scenes like we’ve seen? If we see, as with the students, that there are many rioters from a well-off background, it’s hard to blame anything but a lack of IQ, ambition and some sort of desire to be seen as a rebel. Even if most are from deprived communities, I still cannot support reckless destruction, but it might show that something needs addressing.
I really hope that all this mayhem ends soon and that it doesn’t spiral into something more volatile.