#Londonriots – what is happening?

I am scared. Of course I am scared. Living in Greater London, Beckenham, having a family, I watch the riots in London with worry. Luckily those people, kids to be precise are after materialistic values, want to bring down shops and loot businesses. Luckily, they don’t go after households and people. Yet.

The Guardian tried to put it into context and suggested the riots are due to social inequality. The gap between rich and poor is widening in the British society, more so since the Tories got into power.

Whilst trying to avoid a political discussion, I haven’t seen anything like it in my 10 years in the UK. I like living in this country, I enjoy living in my little community on the edge of London. We are multicultural, we all live happily together, and we are good citizens. At least I like to think so.

Riots in London, Monday 8th of August 2011Now, there was this incident where an alleged drug dealer got shot by police on Thursday which then triggered the first riot in Tottenham at the weekend. But this was just the excuse for mainly youngsters, e.g. kids the age of 15 and under, to organise themselves across the capital to loot and steal from companies and ultimately the public.

This disorder couldn’t be controlled by the police. I ask myself why? Is it because of them being scared of getting into trouble again like after the G20 summit clashes with protesters? Or is it political after all? Why weren’t water cannons or armoured vehicles dispatched until Monday?

I wonder sometimes, how this could all happen in London? A city that since 7/7 grew so much closer together that it almost forms a 7 million community. The kids that were interviewed on TV talk about taxes they claim back, and that it is fun to loot. Where is that coming from? They don’t pay taxes. Where are their guardians, mothers and fathers that don’t seem to miss them at home?

Croydon, Reeves Corner, on fire, Monday 8th of AugustAllegedly baseball bat sales at Amazon went up 5,000 %. I cannot verify it but I am not surprised if it was true. Today, Tuesday, everyone seemed to abandon work around 4pm at the latest to get home to their loved ones. Most shops closed, people bought bread and milk, stocked up on food, and gassed their cars. The citizens of London were preparing for the worst, to flee, to lock themselves up and to fight back. And they would. And they were ready to stand up and beat the kids up. But nothing has happened so far. Thank Buddha.

By time of writing riots are mainly in Manchester and Birmingham. London seems quiet. Too quiet almost. The odd helicopter flying above our house. Are they waiting for a later time? Is it over? Did Cameron’s speech to take harder measures make them think? Did the police arrest more people? Did the public identify more people on the Catchalooter site?

Maybe they wait a few days and come back more organised. Maybe their parents took them in. Who knows. Nobody to be honest. But the public is glad things are seeming to get back to normal, and we don’t have to fear for our safety. But it leaves a bitter taste, like the burned down 100 year old furniture business in Croydon. Why? It just doesn’t make sense.

What makes sense is the community spirit. People gather on Twitter to see what is happening in their area. People getting together to support each other. They met early Tuesday before work to clean up the riots. How fantastic is that?

If nothing else comes out of it, it is the strengthened community spirit. The feeling you are not alone. However, I suppose the rioters must have a similar feeling on their end. A community spirit, a success of causing havoc in London.

But one side is on the side of the law, the other one isn’t. The behaviour is unacceptable, the ideas behind it are not funny, there are no excuses. There are a few fun sites, like this one using photoshop.

Just as I finish this post, there are people of the public on TV patrolling Enfield, taking on the looters. And, they will win.

But violence will spark more violence, and if this was the end of a few days of unrest, then maybe we need to look into a long term solution. What can we do in order to prevent this from happening again?

Stay safe. Watch out for your friends & neighbours.

Love and Kindness,
Volker