(@Tymonk took this picture at Hackney Central at 5pm today)
I woke up this morning to a bbm message from a teammate from my football team warning me that Stokey was next. Then I received a broadcast that Hackney would be next.
What did this mean? It means that on day 3 of the London riots, first Tottenham, then Enfield and Brixton, now Hackney and other areas, my neighbourhood was next. She knows this because people she knows have been sending out broadcasts and rallying people to cause chaos across London. And she was right. As I headed home from work today around 5pm all of the shops on my high road were closed and there were police lingering around.
I don’t know why people are surprised by the riots. Don’t get me wrong – they are scary and violent and mostly unexpected. The Tottenham riot was shocking and happened following a peaceful protest. However, the ones that followed in Enfield and Brixton – and the now copy-cat crimes taking place all over London – this shouldn’t have come as a surprise at all.
While many people on the streets are youth, it’s not just youth (and in some cases it actually little kids!). It’s not just certain races or ethnicities and it’s not just specific areas. And there isn’t just one root cause. In fact most of it is for no reason at all. Boredom. Curiousity. Peer pressure. A cheap thrill.
Many media outlets and individuals across social media platforms condemn the rioting and try to prescribe the rioters’ motivation and in many instances unknowingly reveal one of the root causes of the unrest. This is the divisions within communities. (Sidenote: some of the things people have said on Twitter have been appauling – racist and inciting violence in many cases).
The violence and damage which is now widespread is horrible, pointless and going to cost the communities loads. While containing the situations and arresting as many people as possible may make the streets temporarily a bit safer, the same underlying socio-economic divisions will remain.
There are very strong ‘us and them’ sentiments going around. And while there is a difference between rioters and non-rioters, like certain values and a moral compass, the people who are destroying our communities, our neighbourhoods, our high streets are also part of our community. We share bus routes and sidewalks, we share GP surgeries and MPs.
While throwing petrol bombs and looting shops has never achieved anything, neither has ignoring a problem. It always find a way of resurfacing.
As this chaos will undoubtedly continue over the next little while, please all take care x