After five days with the constant sound of police sirens lamenting in the background, the dust of London’s riots has almost settled. But the debate over why this happened has continued at a furious pace, with a range of views that stem from anger to understanding. Here are just some of the things citizens of Hackney and Croydon are saying online:
“In a society that chooses not to respect you, participating in a riot can appear like an act of rebellion and a response to a complex series of problems: giving the police a hard time for once, and adopting the stereotypes of recklessness, criminality and brutality with which you are so often labelled.
However, a riot destroys what little we have in terms of our community assets, it also places the rioters, as well as bystanders at great risk.
We have not pretended that you are ‘outsiders’ but have spoken to you as members of our community, who we want to remain in our community. Please do not let your anger blind you to the madness that is rioting.”
“We have been delighted by the response of the community in coming back to bring the real character of Hackney to the fore.”
“The question that’s being asked on Twitter, Facebook and among friends tonight is: are these people rioters or looters? That is, are their grievances genuine (and is their behaviour a genuine expression of their grievances?), or are they just opportunistic, turning against their own communities, making life harder for those who are already struggling? “
“Whatever the motivation, there is little that can justify the actions that have spread fear among citizens of Hackney and destroyed livelihoods for innocent bystanders. But knowing the problem helps in finding the solution.”
“Now? The unions are dying, Labour has detached itself from the poor and Cameron’s Big Society means funding cuts to publicly funded social organisations.”
“There’s no doubt that the gentrification of this area has not benefited everyone. And as benefits are cut and job opportunities fail to materialise and the cost of everything goes up, I can see how boredom and frustration can turn into rioting. Because at times it must seem that there is nothing else to do. Of course, I’m not condoning it. But in retrospect, it’s not surprising.”
“Once the dust has settled, and order has been restored there needs to be some careful analysis of why this happened. The reasons for the riots are deep rooted and multifaceted. People aren’t born looters, thugs or muggers. Something has gone dreadfully wrong.
What is quite stark to me is if these rioters feel they haven’t got a future, then they would also feel they haven’t got anything to lose. This leads one to conclude the problem is inequality
One can argue that rising youth unemployment and the ever-increasing cost of further education and the closure of youth clubs do not help the situation.”