It’s a sad, shameful day when you turn on the TV and open up Twitter to see your country and your capital city being ripped apart by violence, but that is the situation that people in England have woken up to today.
We all know the extent of the riots and the damage done in London over the last few days, but it seems that no-one can quite understand why violence on this scale has erupted in London and sporadically in other British cities.
There is no apparent cause unifying rioters in London, unlike other scenes of violence seen over the last year. The London Riots started after the police shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham, but I refuse to believe that the murder of one man has triggered this surge of opportunistic crime.
It’s absolutely right that the public demand answers after the police shoot a man, but the abhorrent crimes that we have all witnessed can never be justified, and the perpetrators must be punished accordingly.
How can this violence be explained?
Many people will have different explanations for the crime, but this is my personal view. I believe that today’s youth have been let down by successive governments, creating a youth which has uncertain prospects for the future. Economic crisis, inflated prices and rising unemployment frustrates a youth which has seen wealth in their country but now know that the ability to make a decent living in the future is now much harder. This has created a generation that has contempt for a government which has targeted them specifically by raising university tuition fees to extortionate level.
This is by no means justification for the crimes committed. Burning homes, businesses, attacking people will never be right. I’m by no means a pacifist. I understood the reasons for violence towards banks during the anti-cuts protests but I don’t understand the violence sweeping our country at the moment.
Despite the shameful behaviour of a not so small minority of people, a glimmer of hope for community spirit has been shown by the people of London. Today, people have been out in force trying to clean up streets affected by violence. But I think some damage caused will be irreparable, including to relations between police and ethnic minority groups.
Once this situation has been dealt with, Britain needs to seriously consider the social issues that lead to this level of violence and how we can restructure our society and governance for a brighter future.
I hope tonight sees a restoration of peace in London and other affected places, and I’ll finish this post with a quote from the great Martin Luther King:
“A riot is the voice of the unheard.”