Behind The London Fires

by Dan Rather on July 29, 2011

Picture of Fires in London during the Riots in the Streets

Fires in London

It doesn’t stop bothering me, what would have been the cause behind the London fires. The 3 day fires were totally unimaginable and the locals of the area also believed that they had never since anything like that since the blitz during World War II where so many fires raged in London so intensely at one time. It all started with a riot in the working-class, multiracial borough of Tottenham in North London on Saturday, August 6th sparked by peaceful protests against the police shooting of a man from a notorious local estate. By the early hours of Tuesday, August the 9th Britain’s capital was in chaos businesses were being torched, homes weren’t even spared and widespread looting took place. The police were fighting a losing battle in trying to stop the violence from spreading. Liverpool, Manchester and Birmingham weren’t far behind; within three days, the London crisis was a national one.

Six thousand police took to the streets. They made more than two hundred arrests overnight, bringing the total to more than four hundred and fifty since the rioting kicked off. The common factor seemed to be that each incident involved high streets attractive to gangs of looters. Any notion that the violence would remain a small, localized eruption of anger over an isolated incident, confined to an area with plenty of social problems, poverty and disengagement, was brutally was dispelled as the rioters, communicating through BlackBerry messaging and Twitter accounts moved from borough to borough, from inner-city Peckham to suburban Croydon. There, a 26 year old man was found alive in a car with a gunshot wound. He later died in hospital. This was the most extensive rioting Londoners have seen in a generation surpassing the scope of the huge race riots that paralyzed the city in the 1980’s.

The escalation all started on Monday in Hackney, a poor, ethnically diverse borough with low homeownership, high welfare dependency and large housing estates –just perfect for tension, according to previous experience. Its main shopping street became a battleground between police and rioters who smashed into boarded up shops to escape with whatever they could carry, with clothes and sneakers being a particular target.

In the above section we have seen how spread it was. The question I would like to ask is a scary one but simple. What is the reason behind the riots? Will it happen again? and are we prepared? The leaders debated whether the riots were the latest, inevitable result of social exclusion and government spending cuts.

What remains a mystery is what the real cause behind the riots was. These riots for sure were not political as there was no message, no motive, no cause, and no slogan. Efforts by some opposition politicians to link these events to Prime Minister David Cameron’s spending cuts have now yet had any municipal effect. They are neither race riots, even though they began on Saturday afternoon, with a small protest in Tottenham, North London, over the shooting of a dark skinned man by police under suspicious circumstances, they quickly became a much wider and less purposeful explosion of youth criminality. Whatever really led to the riots still remains a mystery.

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