On the 29th July, The Guardian posted an article questioning whether cuts to local youth services would lead to an increase in violent youth crime and gang culture. They interviewed a teenager from Wood Green who said, “The youth club was just a place we could all go and have fun, at least we had somewhere to go. Now we walk down the streets, we get pulled over by police. There is nothing here for us.” Ironically Wood Green was one of the areas affected by the violence and disorder on the streets of London this weekend as tensions erupted after what started as a peaceful protest of the shooting of Mark Duggan, 29, by police on Thursday turned into youths (and I refuse to call them protesters) looting and burning buildings and clashing with riot police.
The reason I refuse to call these people protesters is that they were fighting without a cause. It would be naive to say that everyone out there was protesting against the police alone, rather it was an outburst of anger, one that has been bubbling underneath the surface in communities like Tottenham for a while now. What started as a vigil for Duggan was hijacked by local gangs who took advantage of the situation to destroy their community and go looting. As well as burning shops, they destroyed many homes. It has also led to copycat lootings in other areas of London by those who have seized the opportunity to engage in random lawless activity.
It is this violence and destruction in their own community, to their own neighbours, that has shocked people the most. But can our society, with its growing social inequality, massive cuts to community and youth services, cuts to education grants etc really be surprised when the people worst affected strike back. I would suggest that, as Aaron said, these people feel they have nothing. There are no opportunities for them in their communities and so they don’t really feel their communities are their own.
I would say to Mr Cameron: come back early from your holiday and take a long hard look at what is happening to our society. Look what happens when you slash youth budgets by up to 75%, when you take away EMAs and let the rich dodge their taxes at the expense of the poor. Your budget cuts haven’t done a thing to help our economy but they have already damaged our society. It’s time to show the people in this country that they have something to look forward to. That you haven’t forgotten about them. As I said earlier, this isn’t a protest just about the way the Metropolitan Police have been acting lately, this is what happens when the rich shut out the poor. Especially in times of economic turmoil when the rich close ranks and protect themselves at the expense of the rest of society, they may just find that the poor will come and break those walls down.
The pictures in this article have been kindly *borrowed* from Vice. Check out the original post here