These are not race riots: Though they began, on Saturday afternoon, with a small protest in Tottenham, north London, over the shooting of a dark-skinned man by police under suspicious circumstances, they quickly became a much wider and less purposeful explosion of youth criminality.
Tottenham was the site of the terrible Broadwater Farm riot of 1985, which also began with a protest over a police shooting – but that was another London, deeply divided along racial lines, with a furious and socially excluded Caribbean community battling an all-white and explicitly racist police force. This week, by contrast, both the rioters and the police are multicoloured.
Nor are these explicitly political riots: There is no message, no motive, no cause, no slogan. Efforts by some opposition politicians to link these events to Prime Minister David Cameron’s spending cuts have been met with incredulity in the affected neighbourhoods, where those cuts have not yet had any municipal effect.”
while i’m at it, the globe’s doug saunders managed to come across as a complete fucking idiot today, declaring the above and then suggesting it’s due to the youth of britain being some kind of “lost generation”. to paraphrase my friend toni, every lower-classes revolt in history has started as a bread riot, and if you don’t think the looting that’s going on is a consumer-culture equivalent of that you have blinders on. not that it’s justifiable, blah blah blah.
my point isn’t that, though. it’s that our reporters have to be willing to confront facts like the widening wealth gap in the west before we can trust them at all. as it stands, it kind of looks like doug stayed in his hotel room and made a couple phone calls. he certainly didn’t think very hard about anything except the most immediate set of cuts, which is a pretty deliberate way of ignoring actual social causes that might have led to these riots, and he definitely didn’t talk to anyone who told him anything different than he already thought.
i remember during the vancouver riots being really, really pissed off that everyone i saw on tv who was doing Hard-Hitting On-Location Journalisms was just basically saying the behaviour was “disgusting” and just talking to annoyed-looking passersby without ever saying a single word to the people actually rioting, all of which would have been helpful in the weeks following when jim chu tried to pin it on opportunistic political anarchists, because we could have pointed to the tapes of drunk guys screaming about the canucks losing and gone “actually it was that.”
i was pissed off then. imagine how mad i am at doug saunders now that he hasn’t done the legwork when it actually matters.