Guest post: White riot
Posted on August 12, 2011
This is a guest post by Polly
I’m often behind a trend, so it came as no surprise at about half past eight in the evening on Tuesday, to find out that I’d just witnessed the complete breakdown of western civilization as we know it, without even realising. AKA the Manchester riot
I’d spotted the shops were closed in the centre of town at just before 7 when I got there, but apart from that it looked like a normal rush hour, and it was only when I got home that I was informed via various people who weren’t actually there that Market Street was in the grip of criminal mobs. Well Miss Selfridge was on fire actually – there goes my chance of getting a vintage inspired maxi dress.
Actually it wasn’t, as I found out today when I went and looked for myself. A fire had been set in the corner of the building where Miss Selfridge is, and obviously fairly rapidly extinguished by the lack of damage to the rest of the facade. And various shops had windows smashed and were looted. The man on the till in M&S told me all the drinks racks had been pulled over. And amazingly those responsible, or at least some of them had already been sentenced in courts sitting all night. When quite recently savage cuts in the courts service had been announced.
Yes Britain is in the grip of lawlessness, and we must all panic and freak out. Everywhere mobs of vigilantes are rushing towards town centres, demanding to be able to clean them up. And quite often, if my readings of social media are typical, complaining bitterly that the council has already done it. I couldn’t help wondering, cynic that I am, if any of these frustrated cleansers of their towns would then bother to go and clean up say, a litter strewn bit of waste ground elsewhere, or do some other volunteering for their community. Or if they are only motivated by the possibility of appearing in the press wearing a t shirt saying ‘looters are scum’.
And inevitably the politicians are jumping on the riot bandwagon. Ed Milliband visited Manchester, as if we hadn’t suffered enough from teens nicking the overpriced trainers from Foot Asylum. Closely followed by Theresa May. David Cameron has announced that he backs the use of water cannon and rubber bullets.
And they’re not the only ones, there are allegations that far right groups are hijacking the situation for their own ends – namely trying to use them to incite racial hatred. It is also claimed that the founder of a facebook anti riot group with a million followers is a hardcore racist.
The constant rhetoric labelling those involved as ‘scum’ is also seriously starting to grate. While I don’t doubt that some of those taking part didn’t give a shit about who/what they damaged, the Manchester Evening News reports that a homeless man has been convicted for stealing doughnuts. Really? Lock this menace to society up straight away…
I don’t want to minimise in any way the fact that some people have been very seriously affected by the events of the past few days, from those who have lost homes and businesses, to the death of three men in Birmingham. But I am also beginning to feel that hype and complete overreaction has taken over. And that the effects of that may be more far more serious than outbreaks of sporadic violence, which have happened before, and will happen again.