London Riots: How I See ThingsPosted: August 9, 2011
I am a Journalist, and yes I’m watching the riots. But I’m not in London and the only information I have is what I’m gleaning off BBC News 24, Sky News and the online world. Nevertheless, I’m aware I have “an audience” both here and on Twitter and wanted to share my thoughts for anyone who wanted to read them. I also hope this post will collate and represent some of the news you may have missed.
Tonight is the third night in a row of rioting in London and the police appear to have little to no control over the situation. Buildings are on fire, businesses are being destroyed and looted. Violence is breaking out.
One of the major debates is whether the budget cuts have anything to do with the current rioting. The argument from some, such as Ken Livingstone is because the government have cut funding for youth work, it makes youngsters more likely to resort to crime, looting and joining in the riots. Others say this is political points scoring of the worst kind.
On the subject of the young, this is not a case of the media bashing teenagers. Although some media outlets have been prone to doing this in the past, in this case all the evidence points to teenagers and young people causing much of the trouble. We are now in the 3rd evening of rioting and many have forgotten how this even started. It began with the police shooting 24 year old Mark Duggan during an attempted arrest in Tottenham. Tragic though those events may have been (full details are not known yet. Latest here), what has happened since that day is grossly disproportionate.
Not only does the media footage prove it’s predominantly the young who are guilty of these crimes, but the shops being looted are often associated with younger people. Trendy clothes stores, fast food restaurants (there’s even been reports of youngsters making their own food in Mcdonalds) and sports shops have all been targeted.
As events have progressed this evening there have been calls for water cannons to be used and the army to be brought in. While this may have been unnecessary at 5pm, it is now gone midnight and it seems obvious to me the police have lost control of the situation. But, according to the Daily Telegraph, there are no water cannons in England, they are all in Northern Ireland.
Twitter and BBM (Blackberry Messenger) have both been used to organise rioters. Twitter has also been an incredible, up to date source of information for what is happening on the ground. Here’s one incredible piece of information I found through the popular social networking site.
Of course in times of high drama such as these, there will always be people exaggerating stories. One person even said they were “ashamed to be human” today, which I regard as an extreme case of hyperbole. Sadly some of my friends are talking about going to London tomorrow to capture events on film. The world’s media are in London doing that job, stay at home and give the police space to make arrests and clean up. You’re not a BBC reporter, you’re a kid with a camera.
As the world looks on and my American friends quite rightly tweet, “What on earth is going on ever there?!?!?” things are getting worse and worse even as I type this. This is bad, really bad. I’m sad to say I will most likely wake up tomorrow morning to news of many casualties.
Entire buildings have been burned down. These riots are devastating entire communities in London. At a time of severe economic turbulence, London rioters are just making difficult times impossible for many people. As apartments and flats are set on fire, some families are being forced to move out of London, effective immediately.
Time and time again the words from reporters are “I can’t see any police here”. The media are reporting from places the police either don’t dare to enter, or for whatever reason can’t get there. One of the most shocking stories of the evening so far was (as reported by Sky News) a youth(s?) entered an elderly lady’s house, dressed in black and stood over her bed staring at her. She woke up, obviously terrified and the person left. Such intimidation is outrageous and inexcusable.
The latest news is parts of Clapham Junction are being evacuated. No amount of police training can prepare officers for what they are facing right now. A popular Twitter hastag is #prayforlondon . The God of the Bible is alive and well, he cares about what is going on. He is a God of justice and we should pray that people are bought to justice and victims are comforted. Don’t just tweet #prayforlondon because it’s trendy. Don’t tweet it to make yourself look good Do it. Prayer works.
As soon as I hit ‘publish’ more news will flood in and some of the above may become out of date, so I may write a follow up in the morning. But for now, this is the most up to date news I have access to. Those in London, even experienced journalists are saying: “I’ve never seen anything like this”. The police hierarchy keep saying “we will bring these people to justice”, and I’d like to believe them. But there appear to be hundreds (possibly thousands) of people causing trouble. Many are wearing hoods or even balaclavas to hide their identity.
Apologies for any grammar or spelling errors. This has been written in a hurry. Goodnight.