Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: London's Burning

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  • Rich Lock,

    It is really rather hard to imagine that these are the same places.

    I've missed a couple of riots in London by strolling off at the end of a protest march for a pint ten minutes before everything kicked off.

    The weirdest thing was being a couple of streets away and having absolutely no idea anything was happening until we got home that evening and saw it on the news. This was before the mobile phone changed from a yuppie's tool for yuppie tools and became ubiquitous.

    it would take about 15 million coppers to contain it. We actually have about 150,000.

    I've read something that suggests the police are having trouble containing this because it's opportunistic rather than organised - it flares up semi-spontaneously and randomly. They can't focus their resources because they don't know where it's going to happen.

    I suspect things may get worse as people start to realise this and become emboldened.

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Russell Brown,

    There are few things more dangerous to a society than a populace with nothing left to lose.

    Sadly true. This is starting to become like L.A. 92, but with far less of the racial element. I think what everyone agrees on is that the relevant issues can no longer be swept under the carpet. Not even the gated bankster elites can run away from this.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Scott Gamble,

    Having said that, the politest police I’ve ever come across by a long way were consistently the London police

    And as I’ve said, the last time I was in Melbourne there were a lot of Police on the streets of the CBD after the AFL Grand Final. But that presence was actually pretty low-key, well-signalled and organised and while there was the usual amount of publicly pissed nonsense nobody seemed to be looking for a fight.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Kumara Republic, in reply to Tom Semmens,

    "...When you look at the figures for deaths in police custody (at least 333 since 1998 and not a single conviction of any police officer for any of them), then the IPCC and the courts are seen by many, quite reasonably, to be protecting the police rather than the people..."

    All the more so when the Met's top brass got caught taking bribes from the Spews of the World.

    And as I've said, the last time I was in Melbourne there were a lot of Police on the streets of the CBD after the AFL Grand Final. But that presence was actually pretty low-key and everyone was pleasantly chilled out.

    This brings to mind an earlier post by Robyn about John Birmingham's "Leviathan: The Unauthorised History of Sydney".

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 5445 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    It’s really easy to be an armchair general in the class war when the frontline is twelve thousand miles away and it's not your neighbourhood getting torched.

    But the point that this is a creation of social circumstances is an important one. In functioning societies, this sort of widespread rioting is not a regular occurrence (because, well, functioning.) What the rioters are doing is, obviously, wrong. But the circumstances that created a large group of young, angry, totally disenfranchised people - people who riot because they don't have jobs, let alone a future - are equally wrong. It's absolutely an issue of class and poverty and the last few years of economic fuck-ups, and if we're going to have a conversation beyond "how terribly shocking, those awful young people" then we're going to have to talk about those things. That's not "being an armchair general", that's talking politics.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • Katie R, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    It doesn't help that "talking politics" here is blaming Boris Johnson and "Call me Dave" Cameron for not coming home earlier and how these riots are going to affect London's Olympic reputation as was the theme of BBC Newsnight over here.

    Brighton. UK • Since Aug 2011 • 6 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    All the more so when the Met’s top brass got caught taking bribes from the Spews of the World.

    It does seem reasonable to assume that disgraceful behavior at the Met has undermined faith in the police -- although I'm not sure #hackgate is uppermost in the minds of the people on the streets,

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kumara Republic,

    Sadly true. This is starting to become like L.A. 92, but with far less of the racial element.

    Yes, in fact the races involved seem to be local, which makes it much more like Godwin times. Coupled with a massive double dip recession (which in the old days was called a depression, IMHO), it's quite scary.

    Also, as Russell honestly notes, quite exciting. People realizing that their potential to cause damage can lead to real social change is empowering to them. That's if that is the outcome, of course. It could lead to them simply feeling the exhilaration of massive scale violence, something that can easily go the wrong way fast.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to BenWilson,

    Also, as Russell honestly notes, quite exciting. People realizing that their potential to cause damage can lead to real social change is empowering to them. That’s if that is the outcome, of course. It could lead to them simply feeling the exhilaration of massive scale violence, something that can easily go the wrong way fast.

    I think it’s mostly the latter. The sheer adrenalin rush of being even an observer in a full-scale riot is a very powerful thing. Some of them may feel shame when they get up in the morning and see what they’ve wrought.

    Also, the sheer fuckwittedness of Julian Assange’s tweets in the past few hours – demanding to know why the BBC hasn’t “interviewed any of the London protesters” when they did so in Egypt and Syria – has been something of an indictment of his thought processes.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to BenWilson,

    as Russell honestly notes, quite exciting. People realizing that their potential to cause damage can lead to real social change is empowering to them.

    I suspect most of those involved aren't considering anything beyond the enormous rush. And the possibility of getting some new trainers.

    As well as missing a couple of riots, I've also been caught up in a couple. I haven't really got the right words to describe the crowd dynamics and volatile atmosphere, but the punch-in-the-gut adrenaline ride you experience as a participant, even an unwilling and involuntary one.....

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Rich Lock,

    As well as missing a couple of riots, I’ve also been caught up in a couple. I haven’t really got the right words to describe the crowd dynamics and volatile atmosphere, but the punch-in-the-gut adrenaline ride you experience as a participant, even an unwilling and involuntary one…..

    Snap ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 22850 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It does seem reasonable to assume that disgraceful behavior at the Met has undermined faith in the police – although I’m not sure #hackgate is uppermost in the minds of the people on the streets,

    Quite - and, honestly, perhaps I should take my own advice and STFU but I'm not entirely convinced that this is entirely about "young, angry, totally disenfranchised people" either. And, no, I don't really give a flaming rodent's anus where David Cameron is, or what political damage he might sustain as opposed to people whose livelihoods and safety are directly in harm's way. Right now.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Scott Gamble,

    Having said that, the politest police I've ever come across by a long way were consistently the London police

    In my personal experience there are "Bad Apples" in every Police Force.
    British Police, in general seem to have less of those and, again, in general, tend to consider themselves part of the same society as the General Public.
    This has not been my experience here. At almost every turn I have found the Police to consider the General Public as their enemy.
    Let's hope we have no Copy Cat reaction here, it would be very messy.

    Also, the sheer fuckwittedness of Julian Assange’s tweets in the past few hours – demanding to know why the BBC hasn’t “interviewed any of the London protesters” when they did so in Egypt and Syria –

    I think his point is more "Well you weren't on the side of the "Authorities" in the Middle East because you didn't share their World View, this is different because...?"

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Thanks Russel for picking up that comment by Ally Fogg on Nina Power's story - I agree with Heather Gaye we should plaster that over Auckand. Here's another more poetic take from the US youth worker Micheal Meade ( he works with US street gangs)
    " If the fires that innately burn inside youths are not intentionally and lovingly added to the hearth of community, they will burn down the structures of culture, just to feel the warmth"

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Katie R,

    I’m not entirely convinced that this is entirely about “young, angry, totally disenfranchised people” either.

    We could go with "people suck, especially rioters", if it makes you feel better?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2105 posts Report Reply

  • vangam, in reply to Scott Gamble,

    The majority were from natural causes, with nearly three-quarters relating to drug or alcohol abuse.

    How exactly does one die in custody from alcohol/drug abuse?

    Rangiora • Since Jun 2007 • 103 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    We could go with “people suck, especially rioters”, if it makes you feel better?

    You know what, I'm not going to feel anything but dread until I hear from half a dozen friends that they (and their families) are safe.

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 12370 posts Report Reply

  • Rich Lock, in reply to vangam,

    How exactly does one die in custody from alcohol/drug abuse?

    By throwing up in their own throat in an unmonitored cell and suffocating on it.

    Does that answer your question?

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston, in reply to Russell Brown,

    As well as missing a couple of riots, I’ve also been caught up in a couple. I haven’t really got the right words to describe the crowd dynamics and volatile atmosphere, but the punch-in-the-gut adrenaline ride you experience as a participant, even an unwilling and involuntary one….

    Me too -
    I was born in Croydon and raised in Brixton and Upper Norwood.
    I wonder if that "punch-in-the-gut adrenaline ride" also has a primal sense of power in it. The darker edge of the England of my boyhood was best described by the NZ poet Peter Bland talking of his upbringing in working class England
    "I taste the damp recurring thought / of being bred to expect so little"
    After years of being bred to expect so little - getting seriously pissed off seems an authentic response.

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Some of them may feel shame when they get up in the morning and see what they’ve wrought.

    I've had policemen describe exactly the same thing to me.

    How exactly does one die in custody from alcohol/drug abuse?

    Presumably from stuff taken just before being apprehended, and no one checking whether the person lapsing into unconsciousness is actually in very bad shape. They could just be an annoying drunk sleeping it off.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    By throwing up in their own throat in an unmonitored cell and suffocating on it.

    Or overdose (alcohol poisoning or otherwise).

    The deaths in custody thing reminds me of Australia, where hundreds of Aborigine men have died and not a single conviction has been found. What's the situation like in NZ? I feel like I should know that...

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

  • Jeremy Andrew,

    I heard that Gadaffi has warned Cameron not to harm the freedom fighters that just want regime change

    Hamiltron - City of the F… • Since Nov 2006 • 900 posts Report Reply

  • Jean Hughes, in reply to vangam,

    How exactly does one die in custody from alcohol/drug abuse?

    By a lack of care by the custodians. Ie you are locked up without your present condition not being noted and monitored. So bad, but obviously a regualr occurence.

    These riots seem so similar to ones started in Brixton so many years ago. I was living on Clapham then, and naturally it spread there. As all have said above the exhilaration especially after months of Red Squad intimidation was overwhelming. I remember we joked, yes joked, about there being no electrical plugs in stock all over London. (Appliances were sold without plugs in them days).
    Britian was in a similar poor economic state, and the weather was very hot and humid then too, a combination that is explosive for those with no control over either.

    Mangere • Since Nov 2006 • 89 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Richard Aston,

    I wonder if that "punch-in-the-gut adrenaline ride" also has a primal sense of power in it.

    Of course. Adrenaline is nature's fight-or-flight wonder drug. I've not been in a riot, but have experienced being punch-drunk. It's extremely powerful, and it's no wonder that soldiers miss it when they're taken off active duty, indeed finding it so powerful that it's hard to find any meaning in their lives when they're not terrified. It can make you feel superhuman.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10657 posts Report Reply

  • George Darroch,

    Birmingham, Liverpool now.

    West Midlands Police have confirmed that a police station in Holyhead Road in Handsworth, is on fire. #birminghamriots

    Damn.

    ETA, Leeds.
    ETA2: Manchester.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report Reply

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