It's well before dark here (sun sets at 8.30-9.00) and the grocery stores have shut exactly at 6 o'clock. It's nothing to do with a religious holiday, or a royal function. No, that might actually be fun. It's to do with looters. Looters, for the past three days, have damaged already disadvantaged areas across London, and, now, sadly, other cities in England. -their goal? Well, it's to grab as much loot as possible and destroy property in the process.
Until yesterday, both PM Cameron and London Mayor Johnson were on holiday. It took them a day, or so, to figure out that they should probably get the fuck back the capital and sort shit out. Johnson, for what it is worth, gave an informal speech to residents in Clapham Junction. He was met with both derision and brooms:
|Brooms not Bombs!|
The complaint is that there has not been enough police support in areas most affected by the looters. People whom I've spoken with have said that they'd like to see more drastic tactics like water cannons and rubber bullets being used. I mean, heck, the cops engage in nasty tactics like kettling on student protestors. Why don't they use such means on folk intent to do real harm?
In Kingsland Road, Dalston, up to the Stoke Newington High Street, Kurdish-Turkish shopkeepers, their friends and family members stood along the pavement and in the streets in front of their businesses in order to ward off potential looters.
|It's a family affair.|
In Croydon, a city south of here, a 144-year-old furniture business, House of Reeves, was burnt to the ground by arsonists. The 80-year-old owner, Maurice Reeves, had this to say: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2011/aug/09/london-riots-croydon-reeves-video
This man has more dignity and composure than I'm sure I'll ever have, never mind that I'll not be standing in front of almost 150 years of my family history burnt to a crisp to be interviewed for the Guardian on how I feel about such things ever in my life.
Looting has spread to the cities of Birmingham and Manchester, to name a couple. Last night, in Birmingham, three young men, NOT looters, were mowed down by a vehicle purposely targeting them. Their crime was trying to protect the neighborhood in which they lived from being damaged by punk-thugs. Today on the news, the father of one of the young men called for peace, but is it enough? The men happened to be Muslim. This whole mess of trouble began with the shooting death of Mark Duggan, a known drug dealer, who was Black. Will violence begin to fall along racial lines? Will it shift from nicking flat-screen TVs and trainers to mobbing those who don't share one's skin color?
Today, the local supermarkets resumed normal business hours. I went down to the Cooperative Supermarket where I shop in order to fill the empty fridge at home. While waiting to pay for groceries, I asked the clerk how late they'd be open tonight. "10 o'clock", she said. Then I asked at what time they'd closed the prior day. "We had to stay open until five," she told me none to happily. "The other Cooperative was robbed down the road. And we didn't want to come in at all, but they just don't care about us."
"They just don't care about us" could be the general refrain of people living in hard hit areas. Where were the police on the first night of violence? Why were shopkeepers having to defend the their own property, vigilante-style, or risk being attacked and robbed?
Everything seems to be back to "normal". Which means that those who feel it's their right to steal from shops still feel that way, they've now no chance to be a part of a coordinated effort to act on said feelings. There's no chance, that is, until something else happens to trigger unrest, aggression, and wanton looting.