Arguments, discussion, theories are still raging over the summer’s riots. All manner of reasons have been put forward as to why it happened. It happened because what started off as a stream became a flood and floods cause a lot of damage. One of the problems about Facebook, Twitter, etc., is that news soon spreads and it seems to offer an open invitation for hoodies, thugs, criminals, and even a whole host of normally law-abiding people to join in the looting and mayhem. And, even as it must have come as a great shock to many, it was hardly a new phenomenon.
Evidently it is said anti-police sentiment was a major factor in the riots. What, for example, does one make of this?
Daniel – Was on holiday abroad when he started receiving viral messages about the unrest, including images of burning police cars in Tottenham. "As soon as I saw that, I was happy, like. For some reason I just wanted to be there. I actually wanted to burn the cars," he said.” What I've been through my whole life, police have caused hell for me... now was my opportunity to get revenge.” Interviewed on the BBC's Newsnight, he said the government had made it hard to get jobs, cut people's benefits, and made university unaffordable. "We thought, 'Okay, you want to financially hurt us?' We'll financially hurt you by burning down buildings. "That was the best three days of my life." Note, financially hurt as he was he could still afford to be on holiday abroad and he doesn’t say how the police made his life hell. And how burning down buildings affected the government is anybody’s guess.
A week ago Athens and Thessaloniki had more anti-police riots, the excuse this time as in previous years, being the third anniversary of the death of a teenager shot by a policeman. Once again private property was vandalised. Suspects arrested were between the age of 18 and 33
In England the riots were characterised by widespread looting and arson attacks on both businesses and homes.
The time Prime Minister David Cameron said the unrest had been driven by criminality and devoid of political meaning. “This was not political protest, or a riot about politics, it was common or garden thieving, robbing and looting,” Mr Cameron told the House of Commons.
Many of those interviewed admitted they had been involved in stealing, saying that a perceived suspension of normal rules presented them with an opportunity to acquire goods, often describing the riots as a chance to obtain "free stuff". As someone commented, if the looting was about poverty then chickens, baby foods, bedding, and basic stuff should have been stolen not flat screen television sets.
But is there anything new about this? Paris has seen mainly student riots, Los Angeles over police brutality. In April 1981 riots broke out in Brixton, shops were looted and burned, arrests were made, people injured. In July the trouble broke out in the London suburb of Southall where mainly Asian youths committed arson and pelted the police with petrol bombs. Worst of all, In Toxteth, Liverpool the trouble continued for nearly two weeks, and there was many a riot in the UK in previous centuries over one grievance or another. No, it most certainly is not a new phenomenon.