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Tuesday, August 09, 2011

London rioting: why?

Most news articles on these riots leave the spark that set the fire buried near the bottom, as if it didn't matter. The police shot and killed a 29 year old black man and the complaints authority is investigating; but the lines between which we must read are clear. The issue is a racist and heavy-handed police and the local reaction where ethnic minorities are concentrated.

London has a (proud?) history of working class rebellion to harsh government policies. The last great riots I remember being against Thatcher's poll tax in the 1980s, but there have been many other smaller scale spontaneous incidents or demonstrations that turn ugly and result in rioting. Such social combustion is almost unknown in this country and so we must observe this English phenomenon through the media and their images which do not answer our first question: why?

There has been little interest with the media in getting to the heart of this and even less now the rioting has spread and the question changes from why did the police shoot that guy in the first place to why are they still rioting. With a complaints authority investigation underway it must be tempting for the media to sideline that aspect and focus on the pictures of flames, destruction and violence.

The Guardian:

A row has broken out between police and the body charged with investigating them over who let down the family of Mark Duggan by failing to keep them informed of what had happened to him.

The family of Duggan, shot dead by police on Thursday, said they were angered by the lack of information they received, and that their upset stoked tensions immediately before Saturday's riot in Tottenham.

The circumstances surrounding the death are being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Saturday's riots followed the family's long wait outside Tottenham police station to see a senior officer.

Cerfontyne pinned this error on the Met, saying the force waited too long before telling the IPCC the family wanted to see them. "I am also aware that Mr Duggan's family were unhappy at waiting at the police station for such a long time," her statement continued.

"The IPCC was contacted by the MPS [Metropolitan police service] at 8.30pm on Saturday evening. We were told that Mr Duggan's partner had been there and wanted answers to a variety of questions, but that she had now left."

The Met handled this poorly at the start by the looks of it and that is why it escalated from a family situation into a community situation. But without any witnesses to the shooting coming forward to the media only the Police involved really know how it went down.

The little we know about the circumstances are via the Police, so that is also prone to their spin. For example yesterday it was reported that a shot was also fired at Police during the incident, leaving one to believe that Duggan - or a criminal gang accomplice - had opened fire on the officers. But today a different story:

Doubts have emerged over whether Mark Duggan, whose death at the hands of police sparked the weekend's Tottenham riots, was killed during an exchange of fire .

The Guardian understands that initial ballistics tests on a bullet, found lodged in a police radio worn by an officer during Thursday's incident, suggested it was police issue – and therefore had not been fired by Duggan.
Initial reports from the IPCC were that during an apparent exchange of fire police officers from C019 fired two shots and Duggan died at the scene. The suggestion was that officers could have come under fire from a minicab carrying Duggan. Much of this assumption came from the fact that a bullet had lodged in a police radio worn by an officer at the scene – raising speculation he might have been fired at from the vehicle. A non-police issue handgun was also recovered at the scene where Duggan was shot dead in Ferry Road.

The latest developments come as one community organiser suggested the handgun recovered was found in a sock and therefore not ready for use. It is likely to fuel anger on the streets of Tottenham and elsewhere in London if it provides evidence that officers were not under attack at the time they opened fire on Duggan.

The IPCC said on Sunday: "We await further forensic analysis to enable us to have a fuller and more comprehensive account of what shots were discharged, the sequence of events and what exactly happened. In the meantime we would request people are patient while we seek to find answers to the questions raised by this incident."

The Guardian obviously has contacts in the Met or Coroner's office to have got that ballistics information.

The sad thing is the cause - the Duggan killing - will only receive a fraction of the time and money spent on the reviews, reports and investigations of what followed. It is almost certain the UK government will be more interested in how to contain rioting than how to prevent it happening by focusing on the cause.


At 9/8/11 2:16 pm, Blogger merlene said...

This incident has triggered the proverbial 'hair on the camels back'.
It's like there is a destructive virus going around the globe and all humpty dumpty's men cannot put humpty back together again?
Beam me up Scotty, i'm outta here!

At 9/8/11 3:41 pm, Blogger Rangi said...

Typical pig lies. Looks like the locals knew it, and that's what made them go nuts.

At 9/8/11 4:22 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get up to Tottenham Hale and ask about Duggan and his mates. He was no innocent!

At 9/8/11 5:00 pm, Blogger Cole MacGrath said...

Well I wanna know when teh UN is gonna declare a no fly zone over england. The Libyan riots began when armed islamofascists torched 3 police stations in Bengazi, the legitimate government went to arrest the perps and protect the citizens at which time france england & amerika aka fukUS decided this was a good excuse to grab Libya's swet crude n call a no fly zone. Fundies in Hama, Syria shot over 100 members of syrian law enforcement and threw them in a mass grave when the authorities went in after those perps who have ben shown on youtube n even the beeb carrying ak47's, teh fukUS mob started on the warpath again.
Why is it different in Libya and Syria? Neither of them have a deliberate policy of 4-5% structural unemployment the way england (& NZ) has. When a society deliberately excludes a chunk of it's population it must expect ructions such as this.
Theswe kids are subjected to exactly the same consumerist marketing as everyone else in London, but they know there is no chance of them ever being able to 'earn' the money to buy the latest consumerist shit, so they have decided to help themselves - this is 'shocking' or 'surprising' - why?

Are they meant to just doff their caps to everyone else and 'accept their lot?'

Anyone who imagines this can't happen in NZ is in for a eye-opener. Youf joblessness (18-25) is running at well over 40% in many NZ communities keep that up for long and these kids will be forced to help themse The exclusion and isolation of youthful sub-groups is becoming extreme.
That so many of our police are foreign imports (non-citizens to boot) tells us that laws are most likely to favour the few. High unemployment & shortage of local woodentop recruits can only mean many kiwis don't support NZ laws.

At 9/8/11 5:27 pm, Blogger countryboy said...

I owned a business in a marginalized area and so have had on-going associations with the local police . I was surprised to learn two things . One , with the exception of one policeman , no other cop knew of or understood a thing about the concept of the neo liberal regime under which we must endure . Secondly , the police must uphold the laws of the Status Quo . That's to say if we , us NZ/Aotearoa'ns stop taking an interest in maintaining our hard won democracy , all manner of greedy , deviant fuckwits can come along and lie their way into making decisions for us , in this case the awful National Government . The Government can then pass laws , no matter how seemingly non-commonsensical , anti-humanist and pro-corporate bias they might be , the police have no choice but to enforce them . In short . The NZ police ( And I suspect the UK police also ) have their hands tied behind their backs and it's up to us [sic] to change the Status Quo . If you want to change the way the police use their omni-force MAKE AN INFORMED VOTE ! Make our politicians do their well paid fucking jobs ! Otherwise London might come calling !

At 9/8/11 6:02 pm, Blogger dave said...

The cops shot the wrong man, Murdoch got away.

At 9/8/11 7:33 pm, Blogger Josh said...

how about the fact that a 16 YO got the bash in front of those waiting for answers?

At 10/8/11 6:08 am, Blogger libertyscott said...

I guess all those white chavs stealing trainers, watches, etc and just firebombing cafes and the like are all making a political statement. Ealing isn't anywhere near where Duggan was, neither is Salford or Birmingham, where many rioters were chav scum.

Duggan had a firearm on him, one that was capable of being fired. His brother had been killed, and was a known celebrator of gangster culture. The IPCC is investigating it all thoroughly.

However, what's more concerning is the parasitical culture of celebrating destruction, theft and not caring about the people who are hurt in the way. People destroying the communities they live in, or the sight of a gang robbing an injured young boy. However, screw the migrants from Asia, Africa or eastern Europe who came to the UK with nothing and have a work ethic - find justification for amoral thugs who have shown themselves to be only interested in living off the effort of others.

You could always come over and see for yourself, and tell the people who have shut their businesses hours early that the focus should be on the IPCC inquiry, not protecting peaceful tax-paying residents.

At 10/8/11 7:17 am, Blogger Global Conscience said...

I find this articl;e typical sit on my couch, hand on my dick journalism that bloggers do. Cameron slater is king dick puller. Truth is never in his articles and now I find Tumeke is following.
The riots are purely criminal activities in disguise. People are fed up with the rich and global corporates ripping them off and are grabbing restitution when they can. This is the real look of global free trade.
No matter how hard younwork, not everyone can be wealthy. End of story. The Murdochs won't let others wrest their power away. So we need another way.

At 10/8/11 9:37 am, Blogger Fern said...

Ooh, those lovely holidays in foreign parts:

At 10/8/11 9:48 am, Blogger Arto said...

Yep, the final straw has broken the camel's back and the thousands of disaffected, unemployed youth have risen up. The result isn't good is it?


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