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Monday, 8 August 2011

London is burning

Today I spent nearly an hour on Skype, re-assuring my parents that I was fine, my home had not been burnt down around me, and I hadn't actually seen any of the madness that is running through the British capital like a cancer.

I spent most of last night following several twitter streams - mainly because the incidents happening weren't being reported in the mainstream media - and trying to figure out what was rumor and what was actually taken place. When the craziness hit Chingford Mount I went and packed a small bag with a few odds & ends, in case they came down this end; considering the number of buildings being torched, and the fact I live over a shop, I'd rather have it and not need it than the other way round.

Watching the news tonight, the cancer has spread. Croyden has blossomed with Rudyard Kipling's Red Flower, Clapham is being looted,Camden is reported as having started up; Birmingham has had trouble. The list of places under siege is long, and disheartening.

I've watched a few talking heads on the news, trying to claim the situation is caused by deprivation. No, it isn't.  There is deprivation throughout parts of London, and anyone who thinks there isn't needs to educate themselves - but people who are desperate for work don't travel to different areas, in carefully co-ordinated groups, and target specific stores for looting and burning. They also tend to be over a certain age; and watching the footage makes it very clear that the average darling destroying someone's home, car or business is probably still in school.
I have to wonder what these kids would feel if it was their home, their family car, their family business. Would they still laugh while the glass shatters?

The London fire brigade has been attempting to deal with hundreds of emergency calls. A look at their website shows that yesterday, 3 different firetrucks had to be pulled from service after being attacked. Nice. That's a pretty deliberate way of attacking and crippling public services. Bear in mind the average firefighter doesn't even have the riot shields, horses and dogs and police service does; these men and women put their lives on the line daily, with minimal pay - and get thanked by having wage cuts, budget cuts and half the bloody pavement thrown their way.

I've heard person after person and read tweet after tweet wanting to know why the police aren't acting when shops are being looted and cars set alight. They've been criticized for not acting more aggressively.
The police concerned have probably been on duty for 3 solid days & nights. They've been pelted by bricks, bottles, and everything else the mob could pick up and throw. As soon as they move into an area, the mob moves somewhere else and starts all over again. And as soon as police in the UK do act aggressively, they are crucified in the media and on public forums. The cops aren't saints, and there are the unfortunate few that misuse their position and abuse their power - but no matter what they do right now, they can't win.
Whoever organised this has known exactly how to stretch the resources of an organisation that has already been crippled by political cost-cutting and targeted by the media; and people - you can't have it both ways. Either you want a strong police force, capable of dealing with extreme situations, or you want a bunch of PC puppets that dance when you pull the strings. The police need to be accountable; cutting them off at the knees results in this: London, burning.

If this continues much longer, the government is going to need to look at martial law and possibly bringing the army in; in a large number of countries (including most democracies) this would already have happened. The only reason I can see for this not having happened yet is an attempt at keeping the injury count down. Eventually, someone will die; when that happens all bets are off. There are groups forming to try to protect neighbourhoods and areas; what happens when they meet one of the mobs with a hothead who is not focused on getting the latest plasma t.v. out the store window?
What happens when someone decides that blood is pretty on the pavement?

My question is: Who is the group behind this? This is too well-organised to be random kids going off; this is a group who is using these kids - knowing that mobs spread and grow organically - they generate their own awful life and culture and sick sense of power - for their own ends. They have a reason, and a purpose, and I'd say as nobody has died yet they still have control to a point.
I'm pretty sure they haven't dirtied their hands or got their mugs on CCTV by actually taking part - but they are calling the shots, deciding the areas to get hit, and the targets to loot. Anything else is pretty much icing of the cake.

London is burning. It's only a matter of time before London is bleeding as well. To the people who arranged this; who are leading a bunch of foolish children like some Pied Piper of Arson and Hate - you reap what you sow. When this harvest comes home to you, will you still be having fun?