Over the last few days, I have been glued, like many others, to the rolling news channels covering the disorder in London, and that has shown signs of spreading in cities across the country.
These sights have been shocking, the actions are hard to fathom. How do you explain the actions of the mob? And should you try to rationalise their actions?
I will not try to explain or rationalise these acts, other than to say it appears from the outside that what was originally a legitimate protest over the death of Mark Duggan has been hijacked by lawless mobs, with a new-found confidence that the police are no threat to their activities. Social networks have helped them organise in a way that has caught the police by surprise. They may not be aware of the consequences of the actions, or they may simply just not care.
When seeing these pictures and events, I am reminded about a conversation held in the film American History X, where they are discussing the reasoning behind the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles.
“Calling a riot an irrational expression of rage, that’s such a cop out. It’s opportunism at it’s worse, it’s a bunch of people grabbing any excuse they can find to go and loot a store, nothing more. The fact that these people ripped off the stores in their own communities all that reflects is the degree in which these people have absolutely no respect for the law at all and certainly no concept of community or civic responsibility”.
I do think this does describe the perpetrators of these awful scenes. Why else would they produce a leaflet that gives instructions on how to avoid arrest for their criminal acts.
We should not let genuine concerns about racism within the police force, important issues around the death of Mark Duggan, and poverty and poor life chances of many within these communities become the justification of such acts. These important issues need to be resolved, and they will only be resolved by bringing the communities together and working together to drive real change.
Violence has solved nothing in the past. Violence will solve nothing in the future.