Wednesday, 10 August 2011


"The more there are riots, the more repressive action will take place, and the more we face the danger of a right-wing takeover and eventually a fascist society."
                                              - Martin Luther King

"Create a society that values material things above all else. Strip it of industry. Raise taxes for the poor and reduce them for the rich and for corporations. Prop up failed financial institutions with public money. Ask for more tax, while vastly reducing public services. Put adverts everywhere, regardless of people's ability to afford the things they advertise. Allow the cost of food and housing to eclipse people's ability to pay for them. Light blue touch paper." 
                                              Andrew Maxwell, comedian
"They can't use my music to advertise for Coca Cola / they can't use my music to advertise for Motorola / they can't use my music to advertise for anything / I guess that's reason the industry won't let me in / refuse to be a product or a brand I'm a human / refuse to contribute to the gangsta illusion."
Lowkey, rapper
Like most of the people we know we are shocked by the events of the last few days, however we are not surprised. As Youth Workers of 25+ years of working with socially excluded young people in our inner cities we were expecting and dreading this, Ultimately the Police shutting the door to a grieving family with unanswered questions about their son's death by Police in Tottenham was all that was needed to spark anger. We dont need to debate if this is an excuse, nothing can excuse oppression turning in on itself like this, however the initial cause is clear and we should have learnt the lesson of the riots of the eighties when ignoring deaths in custody and use of 'Sus' laws (updated and spun as preventing terrorism and community safety rather than routine harrassment of sections of our society)  lead to exactly the same situation (Minus the Blackberry and hoodie)

Unlike the 80's riots this whole situation has however gone 'viral' and could be compared to a mass psychotic episode in our young people and the wider 'underclass'. The destruction of communities and damage done to relationships between the public at large and young people is almost like a mass act of self harm. The obscene materialism and gross gaps between the rich and poor in our society has finally exploded. We want to add our voice to oppose the mass media reaction that has been vengeful, unfair and grossly biased. Calls to bring in the Army (er, we sent them all to Afghanistan, do you think martial law and death camps are a good idea too?) 'clean the streets of scum' (Daily Express 10/8/11) and other reactionary views make me feel almost as angry as the 'rioters'. Those calling for harsher penalties for offenders fail to spot that a lot of the rioters are not covering their faces, they don't care about consequences, they realise the material obsessed culture does not care about them, think of them as scum, and will work hard to ensure they and their children are destined to be excluded from success and achievement for generations. These reactions will only fuel future conflict. 

We have repeatedly called for more youth workers and services to young people, but obviously the problem is significantly bigger than this; however anyone calling on harsh treatment for young people needs to ask themselves what exactly have they done to make a difference and make a connection to excluded young people? We want to say a lot more, but for now here are some comments we would like to highlight from Twitter that chime with us

Fraudster politicians forgiven, bankers who broke the economy rewarded, boy who steals trainers evicted with his family

Audience member on BBC3 Youth Question Time

"The established community is perceived to provide nothing... It's not one occasional attack on dignity, it's a repeated humiliation, being continuously dispossessed in a society rich with possession".
Kids Company charity founder Camila Batmanghelidjh in The Independant

We failed to stop our youth killing each other, we stopped caring about them and thought we could just malign them as 'chavs' 'gangmembers' etc and its ended up with this. We need to take a long hard look at ourselves. Dont trust anybody who says this is just about criminality; this is revolt and we have to start caring about the youth of this country and stop blaming them or its going to get much worse.
This is like a horrible form of community self harm.
Blessed Love Studios on Twitter  ( ) 9/8/11

Twitter 9/8/11

Misguided and frustrated, yes! Mindless thugs, no! Who is it that taught these youth to love material things so

If you hadn't ignored the music these kids make and listened to for the last 10 years you'd know exactly how they think.

Make no mistake, this is youth in revolt, they called the rioters in the 80's criminal, and they are doing it again

we failed to address yp's killing each other, they are now turning on the rest of soc, lets take a long hard look at ourselves

Our youth club/studio in SE5 got no funding we kept scores of angry youths of the street, but no 1 wanted 2 know

Number Crunching: Cost of UK Bank Bail Out: £850m Cost of UK Riots £20m approx. Of course lives have been tragically lost in the Riots, but how many more lives are at risk by cuts to UK services including the Police?
"I did see the riots coming and the government should have seen it coming, too. Jobs are hard to get and, when they do become available, youths don't get the jobs. There is nothing to do, they are closing youth clubs so the streets are just crazy. They are full of people who have no ambitions, or have ambitions but can't fulfil them."

18-year-old Chavez Campbell, who predicted the riots in an interview in The Independant a week before it all kicked off :

At some point after the dinner, the group walked through Oxford when one (thought to be Fergusson, though exact recollections differ) threw a plant pot through the window of a restaurant.
The burglar alarm was activated and police descended with sniffer dogs. Six of the group were collared and spent the night at Cowley police station before being released without charge.
"David Cameron was one of the four people who escaped," a witness says. "If it wasn't for his foresight, he'd have spent a night in the clink.

Recollections of the infamous Bullingdon Club whose members include David Cameron and Boris Johnson.

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