London riots: the phenomenon that we all fail to understand

It is funny how soon after my post on everything to love about London I should write about everything that is wrong with the city. Yes, I do have to admit that ‘everything that is wrong’ is a bit of an over statement but you understand that the poetics of this piece will not quite work without it.
Maybe not everything is wrong with The City but certainly quite a lot has gone downhill in the last few days. It all started with the shooting of a Tottenham criminal and his family standing in fron of the police building demanding answers. Fair enough. Certain people managed to interpret that as a free ticket to vandalism and unprovoked violence and went ahead setting buildings on fire, thrashing and stealing from local shops. Still managable.
What the police – what nobody for that matter – didn’t expect was the snowball effect of the events in Tottenham. In the next two nights the brainless violence, the looting, and the fires took on monsterous dimensions and spread over to several other areas including Enfield and Woodgreen.
Why do I mention these two areas? Because my house is right in between of them. Other areas affected were Hackney, Brixton (close to where I work! and on the opposite end of town,) Clapham, Peckham, Deptford, Woolwich, etc. The unrest even reached Central London and good old Oxford Street again. This is the 2nd time the shops on Oxford Street (main, biggest shopping street in London) are being thrashed in the space of a few months. The 1st time was either the student protest or the protest against the budget cuts. Which one is irrelevant.
I feel sorry for the insurance companies that are mounting up huge claims because of a bunch of brainless, greedy and violent teenagers. I feel sorry for the police who are pushed to their limits and are exposed to unnecessary risk non-stop for the last 3 days. I feel sorry for the innocent bystanders, people trying to make their way to work or back home, or the innocent shop owners who have lost their livelihoods and in some cases businesses that have been in the family for generations. People have lost their homes because some…there is really no words describing it…has decided that it is OK, even cool to set local shops on fire while people are in the flats above. Can someone explain to me what is the logic, the reasoning behind such brutal acts of violence?! What makes it OK to rob injured children, what makes it OK to thrash cars with people sitting in them, what makes it OK to break into shops, take what does not belong to you, re-sell it on the next corner and pose and smile for the photographers while doing so?! What EXACTLY makes you cool?
The London public has been appaled, people are scared and angry, people are ashamed and disappointed in their fellow citizens but most of all people just fail to understand why this is happening. The acts of the last three nights defeat any logic and are beyond reason. As for me – it really doesn’t make sense to me and it makes me angry because it is really NOT FAIR on the innocent victims of this madness.
It is not fun having to walk back home at night while constantly worrying whether the teenagers walking by will hurt you. It is also not very exciting to see several police vans and cars turn the corner of the street where you live. And there is nothing cool about seeing the police crowded around a house a few hundred meters away from your front door.
I don’t remember ever staying up late at night to watch the news and the latest developments feeling slightly unnerved. I actually went to bed and had to get up to ask what was happening as I could hear the police sirens in the distance as well as some odd thumping. Who know’s what that was! I must admit that it was uncomfortable.
Let’s see what today brings.


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