The language of riots

1. BBC World reported yesterday that the police had announced “that Mark Duggan had not fired the first shot”. This is linguistically correct. But since apparently all shots fired were from police guns, the negation is midleading.

2. Young people have now occasionally been interviewed – and given space to speak – on tv. They are not talking about deprivation, bad parenting or cutbacks. They repeatedly say it is about the police: police corruption and unfair treatment. Since I can’t link to the tv news here, …:

One 18-year-old man told the Independent, “Police know what they should have done, they should have come to speak to the community themselves. They don’t care. You don’t get no opportunities around here,” he went on. “The police stop you because you’re black. They stop you because you’re wearing a hood.”

One story on London24 headlines it tonight:

London riots: Police stop and search blamed for tension that sparked Tottenham riots

A 51-year-old builder named as Danny, who lives on the Chesnut Estate in Tottenham, said: “It was triggered by the police really. They terrorise the boys in the area for no obvious reasons. They stop them and search them, it’s bullying really. You see them upset. ‘What the police man just scold me about?’.”

3. The Guardian reports police commander Adrian Hanstock saying: “Last night’s peaceful demonstration was hijacked by a small number of criminal elements, who used that for their own gain.”

Sounds suspiciously similar to the language used by Assad, Mubarak et al. Leaders will be leaders.


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