Posts tagged ‘uk riots’

10 August 2011

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.

10 August 2011

London vs. Moscow

I can’t stop the “imagine this is Russia” thing going through my head. The police are announcing they will act “robustly”, including bringing in water cannons and rubber bullets; police officers all over the city questioning young people about what/who they know; possibility of night curfew being brought in; apparently 333 deaths in police custody since 1998 and not one police officer convicted.

And very very little talk in major news media of exclusions, inequality, racism, cutbacks, etc. Instead, lots of individualising/personalising talk instead about “bad parenting”.

Imagine this was Russia. What would the UK media be reporting? Strong hand tactics of the police. Soviet-style clamp down. Medvedev (or more likely: Putin) rolling back democracy – no-one listening to citizens voice their greivances and/or a generation disenfranchised by the nation’s anti-democratic policies, thus they have turned to violence as the only way of being heard.


9 August 2011

London civil unrest

A lot of words flying around in the “mainstream media” to describe the events in London over the last three days. “Anarchists” being my favourite misnomer (Sky News). “UK riots” has become the key phrase to google, recalling the classic CDA comparison: “10 rioters shot in vilent clash” vs. “Police shoot 10 demonstrators dead during peaceful march”.

It seems the news media and commentariat have forgotten the concerns which have been voiced since the Conservatives and LibDems came to power and started making their radical cutbacks to social services, including but not limited to closing many youth centres before the summer.

And, of course, the widespread corruption in the police which has been receiving major coverage during the Murdoch case – and would unsurprisingly fire up existing tensions between police and local residents.

These cutbacks and revelations,  added to long-standing (institutionalised) social inequalities, are not serving to increase “community cohesion” in today’s UK.

Context and comment here: Nina PowerGavin Knight; Stafford Scott.

Update (see Penny Red):

In one NBC report, a young man in Tottenham was asked if rioting really achieved anything:

“Yes,” said the young man. “You wouldn’t be talking to me now if we didn’t riot, would you?”

“Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you.”

Eavesdropping from among the onlookers, I looked around. A dozen TV crews and newspaper reporters interviewing the young men everywhere ‘’’

There are communities all over the country that nobody paid attention to unless there had recently been a riot or a murdered child. Well, they’re paying attention now.

(…thanks to miriyam aouragh on mediantho for the motivation to write… she recommends:

The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better for Everyone“. By Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett)

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