(Photo source: The Daily Telegraph)
As everyone can see, there has been growing and multiplying violent sentiment in London, or more specifically, neighborhoods and areas around London. It all started, allegedly, after the killing of a man named Mark Duggan. After riots started in Tottenham in northern London, the violence spread to other areas, with fire and looting a-plenty. Now, there are many opinions about what’s been going on, and every side has validity. Here are the basic sentiments that I’ve observed.
1. Rioters’ opinion
Here’s the main opinion of the rioters that has become steeped in confusion and disarray. While there has been connections to the riots in the 1980’s, the economic instability, the racial inequality and repeated police violence, the main opinion of the rioters seems hard to pin down. There definitely is a portion of the rioters who have a political and historical defense to why they’re responding to the riots, but that’s just the thing—it’s a minority. Will we be able to directly figure out if there’s a common thread between all of the rioters? Probably not. But, there’s merit in the thought that the swiftness of the reaction of these rioters may have a more deeper meaning than throwing a Molotov cocktail through the neighbor’s business.
2. Criticism within the rioters
Not all rioters have been blinded by the adrenaline of the riot. As portrayed in the quickly-famous video of a woman condemning the actions of the rioters, the feeling of lawlessness and reckless behavior becomes bitter in those who see the wider, and more global impact, of these riots. The woman in the video tells the rioters, “If you’re gonna fight for a cause, fight for a fucking cause.” As the rationality of these fiery uproars seems to dwindle as the structure of the movement becomes harder and harder to define, some protesters themselves are doubting the effectiveness and the goals.
3. Opinion of critique by outsiders
It’s easy to critique the seemingly mindless building-burning and store-looting of these citizens who were, before, regular people. The fact that this happened in London, a metropolis of Western ideals, and so far from the easily-separated conflicts in Egypt, Libya and other places during the Arab Spring, may be why these riots have caused such strong responses to external people. Is it only a minority of people who really have a reason to riot? Maybe. But a more stirring question is: why has it happened here, and where will it be next?
4. Opinion of support by outsiders
In a blog post, a British journalist criticizes the outsider’s initial jump to denounce the actions of the rioters. She describes the history and growing tension between the haves and the have-nots in London and all of the UK, in an eloquent manner that makes you think that there very well may be a deeper emotion behind these actions.
Is it just the minority of people who are aware of the political and historical tension that have a real reason to fight in this conflict? Is it ignorant to assume that only a minority of people are aware of the greater issues within and beyond these communities? Or are the rioters just simply looking for a mindless excuse to riot?
These questions are difficult to answer. And personally, I will admit that I don’t feel comfortable making any sweeping conclusions about the riots, because honestly, I don’t know enough of the extensive nature of political unrest in the UK, particularly in London. London has become notorious for the past half-century to have heavy tensions between police, citizens, the upper class, the middle class, African-Americans, whites, Asians. Does this riot have underlying themes? Of course it does. The real question will end up asking how big of an effect these riots will have, and only time will tell that. Regardless of the effects, it can be widely agreed that this “European Spring” may spark questions, doubts and critique of our modern societies that may very well need to be sparked.