New Internationalist

From Brixton to Tottenham, inequality lies at the heart of the riots

On Thursday evening, Mark Duggan was shot dead by police officers in Tottenham.  The IPCC immediately announced they would investigate; unusual for an organisation known for its inefficiency. The media were told that a non-police issue firearm had been recovered from the scene, and that one of the police officers had been injured.  Later reports revealed a bullet found lodged in a police radio.

In the aftermath of Tottenham's riots

Photo by Christophe Maximin under a CC license.

But it turned out that it was in fact a police bullet lodged in that radio.  Presumably, ‘friendly fire’.  The recovered firearm was in a sock.   Mark Duggan didn’t fire a single shot.  Another man executed at the hands of the police, and more misinformation from the IPCC.

On Saturday night, I was eating dinner at a friend’s house when news of clashes with police in Tottenham filtered through.  Twitter was our main news source, and phone calls confirmed that riot police were being deployed in the area.  Earlier that evening, the family of Mr. Duggan and local residents had protested outside Tottenham police station.  Two days had passed, and they had received no explanation for his death.  In similar fashion, their demonstration and demands for answers were ignored.

More people gathered, and frustration grew.  Days earlier, Haringey council had announced the closing of eight out of the 13 youth clubs in the borough.  Now, a man had been shot dead in the street, and no-one seemed to care.

This is the context we are told to ignore.  These riots have nothing to do with the death of Mark Duggan.  These riots have nothing to do with rising unemployment.  These riots have nothing to do with the cuts to education and youth centres.  Simply mindless violence, we are told.

When I arrived in Tottenham, I could see a huge fire at the other end of the main road.  Police officers had cordoned off a large area, and were being occasionally pelted with bricks and bottles in side streets. Fires were drifting dangerously close to nearby homes.  It was we who directed fire engines when they arrived. When challenged on this, a police officer told us he was “here to protect the police”, not local residents. After all, this was Tottenham, not Westminster. 

As the night progressed, another police car was set alight.  The attention of the crowd turned to looting, and as I drove away, I saw scores of people walking in and out of JD Sports, piles of clothes in their hand.  Did I sympathise with the people who saw their homes or corner shops damaged, yes.  Did I sympathise with JD Sports, no.

If it is a question of where my solidarity lies, and the options are M&S and Footlocker versus young people in the streets, then for me there is only one answer.  The following evening, Brixton erupted in similar disturbances.  Footlocker, which is located roughly 150 metres away from Brixton police station, was the first to be raided.  For the first 25 minutes of looting, the police did nothing.

When they finally moved into action on Sunday night, people were not kettled, as in the student demonstrations, but forced further down the High Street. Looting continued with  M&S, Vodafone, H&M and McDonalds all getting their windows smashed. 

I received a torrent of abuse online for expressing support for the riots.  I expect Martin Luther King got the same abuse when he said “A riot is the language of the unheard” as did Bob Marley for singing “That’s why we gonna be burning and looting tonight…” .

I’m sorry, but my solidarity does not lie with corporations making millions and their fully-insured smashed windows, it lies with human beings who lose their lives and their families.

Further down Effra Road, crowds began to pour into Currys.  Riot police with weapons attempted to push people away from the Tulse Hill end of Effra Road, but were forced to retreat towards Brixton under a hail of paving stones.  Three polices vans sped away.  For over an hour, a constant stream of plasma screens and other electronic goods were carried out of Currys.  There was nothing the police could do.

However, if they want the rioting to stop, there is something extremely simple the police can do:  stop killing people.

Of course random looting is not going to end police injustice. That would take far more organisation. But until justice is done, the language of the unheard will continue to be spoken.

Many are blaming the violence on criminal thugs. But it’s inequality and decades of oppression in under-privileged communities that lies at the heart of this. The causes of the riots are being swept under the rugs looted from Carpetright.

As long as police persist in seeing themselves as above the law, young people will carry on taking the law into their own hands. 

A longer version of this comment piece can be read at Jody McIntyre’s blog Life on Wheels.

Comments on From Brixton to Tottenham, inequality lies at the heart of the riots

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  1. #1 RC 08 Aug 11

    You are an idiot, how can you justify carrying a gun as being ok? along with smashing up businesses?

    people like you are the reason for this mindless violence and unrest.

  2. #3 ciderpunx 08 Aug 11

    Please keep your comments respectful, folks.

  3. #4 faceless 08 Aug 11

    Good article, thanks Jody. I'm in complete agreement about the reasons for the rioting and also in not caring a toss about the corporations.

  4. #5 Gasman 08 Aug 11

    You are no Martin Luther King!

  5. #6 matt milton 08 Aug 11

    ’I received a torrent of abuse online for expressing support for the riots. I expect Martin Luther King got the same abuse when he said “A riot is the language of the unheard”


    really, comparing yourself to Martin Luther King, even if that wasn't quite your intention, does make you seem incredibly self-important. and a bit of a joke.

    while I can totally understand the urge to physically confront police after a local miscarraige of justice, to call what happened in Brixton last night ’riots’ is an insult to the 1980s riots. Kids last night did not attack Footlocker because they are anti-corporate; they smashed their way in because they wanted to nab some expensive trainers for themselves. They broke into Currys to get some tellies. I'd be amazed if my upstairs neighbour (a thick-as-two-short-planks twat who thinks he's Jay Z) who took part in the looting last night has ever even heard of Mark Duggan. Read the Tweets. Look at the photos. Kids on school holidays, doing some Ghetto Shopping.

  6. #7 Sana 08 Aug 11

    Great article! To the fool that commented, Get an education and read the article again, at which point has jody said he condones carrying a gun or smashing windows??? He sympathises and understands the anger of the youths, although they may not be reacting in the best way, thy know no better. And if it wasn't for police brutality, education and youthcentre cuts, capitalism, consumerism and poverty, then this would not be happening!

  7. #8 notmyname 08 Aug 11

    I read the other day, i.e. in parts of Brent the police was enforcing no-go areas for groups of more than two. Then last week the police execute a black man in Tottenham. What we have here is a simple thing. The government wants to cut the spendings, social services, etc. The only way to achieve this is twofold: ’Big society’ for the rich, let them do what they want without interfering. And ’Big racist shit’ for the poor, curfews, police murder, blatant lies and all this. That is the reality for UK. And unless the whole system is teared appart this will continue.

  8. #9 swiss 08 Aug 11

    So first you blame the police for being oppressive and now you blame them for *not kettling?* Make your mind up. Your journalism is wonderfully incompetent.

    FYI, MLK was a peace-loving man who would be turning in your grave if he could see what you wrote.

  9. #10 Frank Enderby 08 Aug 11

    So, you are aligning yourself with Martin Luther King - I think you have some distance to go on that. You are solid with the criminals looting sportswear and phones, and not with the corporations who are insured - so, victimless crime, then? Well, no, because premiums, yours and mine, will rise as a result. You really think that these youths are striking a noble blow against oppression by torching homes and stealing tracksuits? I've just listened on the radio to a woman who's lost her home and all her possessions - I'm sure you'll be able to convince her that it was justified. And, yes, the police made a huge error, it would seem - though I note that you conveniently omit the fact that the victim was carrying a gun. You say this would all stop if the police stopped killing people. OK - how many people have the police killed in, say, the last five years, compared to the numbers of young men killed by their peers?

  10. #11 gideon2000uk 08 Aug 11

    Understanding the causes of violence does not legitimate, justify or excuse behaviour that is destructive of the legitimate interests of others.

    The building that was burned on Saturday housed 20 families, who are now homeless. The shops that were smashed employ workers whose jobs will be on the line if these businesses go bust.

    Politics, properly conceived, is about finding a way for us to live in peace with people who have radically different ideas about how to live good lives. Violence is therefor the anti-thesis of politics, because it destroys peace and can never be the basis of a life lived together with others. Solidarity ought to be at the heart of the kind of socialist equality you seem to favour, which is conceived in its broadest sense, rather than in the ugly, friend-enemy politics that you advocate.

    Pitting individuals in communities against each other, and endangering their lives, is repugnant, because it harms people’s chances of living a good life, in peace. This is the promise of politics. It is a promise that you ignore at your peril.

  11. #12 alex potts 08 Aug 11

    one of the only mainstream media reports to use information not just from the cops but from someone on the ground and involved in the initial peaceful protests...

    and some interesting interviews with Tottenham youth from a week ago...

  12. #13 Gasman 08 Aug 11

    In your contempt for the corporate world you have overlooked the fact they have insurance but that will not help the local people that will lose their jobs. Nice going, trash your local area, destroy jobs and livelihoods and then complain.

  13. #14 Warzski 08 Aug 11

    This article is extremely flawed And biassed. You do not take into account the implications for local residents losing the homes, jobs, cars, increase in inequality...

    A female friend of mine was robbed at knife point by those who you seem to be defending.

  14. #15 grownup 08 Aug 11

    Offensive article. The IPCC is independent and criticizes the police when mistakes are made. The courts are independent and policemen get prosecuted sometimes. We have a lot of freedom in this country, but people like you, and these protestors, are ruining it.

  15. #16 Owen 08 Aug 11

    Who are the unheard here? The angry masked thugs burning down houses, or the scared children forced out of their homes? There's no justification for this, even with the social conditions we live in.

  16. #17 Daniel Earwicker 08 Aug 11

    You imagine that when they've looted all the ’major corporations’ across the whole country, the looters will suddenly turn back into decent civil people, and set up their own ecologically sound worker's collective to sell us organic mung bean soup from within the wreckage of a Starbuck's.

    YOU may make the distinction between ’good’ cornershops and ’bad’ corporate chains. Why do you expect a thousand stupid hoodies to possess the right political theories to make that distinction, or to be remotely interested when you start trying to quote chapter and verse at them?

    They're not going to give a shit! They just want to grab stuff from shops. They have no wider theory behind what they're doing.

    Even if they did agree, do you think before they smash up a McDonalds, they'll research whether it's one of the 30% or so in the UK that are run as a franchise, owned by a local entrepreneur?

    People mistreated by the police have a legitimate complaint. But what does that have to do with gangs of kids stealing trainers? Nothing at all. They're just thieves being opportunistic, and the victims are ALL going to be local people, many of whom will have just managed to lift themselves off the economic ground floor, only to see it all smashed.

    Ultimately the corporations could cut their losses and withdraw, the power companies could switch off the juice. What's left behind? A wreckage, with the looters themselves far worse off than before. Nowhere to recharge the Blackberry, for starters.

    Ah well. If only there was some way for looters to destroy only the businesses and services that YOU depend on, so you get what you deserve for idiotically, gleefully wishing this nightmare on the rest of us.

  17. #18 adnanchowdhury 08 Aug 11

    Totally hear what you're saying. And sorry to hear about The Independent severing ties with you, their loss. You're a talented writer! I'm a student and have just started blogging - wrote my own piece on Tottenham, care to have a read and let me know what you think? http://adnanchowdhury.wordpres​;​m/

  18. #19 ca 08 Aug 11

    An eye for an eye will make both of us blind.

  19. #20 damienrg30 08 Aug 11

    I received a torrent of abuse online for expressing support for the riots. I expect Martin Luther King got the same abuse when he said “A riot is the language of the unheard” as did Bob Marley for singing “That’s why we gonna be burning and looting tonight…”

    GET A GRIP!!!

    you had a point till you wrote this, you are a clown! you cant compare the civil rights movement to what is happening today.

    i agree people are being supressed, i agree the police are corrupt executioners.

    you have a chip on your shoulder!

  20. #21 LomaM 08 Aug 11

    With all due respect, a lot of what you have stated as fact is either unproved or unsubstantiated as yet; we will have to see what IPCC says tomorrow. Yes, a lot of the media sites are reporting on the possibly police bullet - using disclaiming words such as ’understood to be’ - a sneaky way of asserting a non-fact whilst legally covering your bum. Reports were rife that Mr Duggan was pinned to the ground and executed with point blank shots to the head as well - this have been stated now by the IPCC as ’categorically untrue.’ Regards Mr Duggan, we will all have to wait and see. There are also claims all over the internet that Mr Duggan was a drug dealer and a rapist; his photos show a sneering man making a gun symbol with his hand into the camera. You could easily twist all that to condemn him as well. I'm just saying.

    However - it has been stated that he was shot during an ’attempted arrest’ suggesting that he did retaliate in some way that would provoke police action.

    The thing is - these riots, that you are defending, have no real link to Mr Duggan - they are the actions of the bored and uneducated. How can you defend a riot that meant independent businesses and working class people lost their homes? I could defend these riots if they gad specifically targeted banks, for example; however, sports, electronics and jewellery shops, carpet shops, McDonalds and clothes shops are not your typical political target. A lot of people are saying that it's the poverty and frustration boiling up here, which it is - but not in the right way or for the right motives.

    ’I received a torrent of abuse online for expressing support for the riots. I expect Martin Luther King got the same abuse when he said “A riot is the language of the unheard” as did Bob Marley for singing “That’s why we gonna be burning and looting tonight…” .
    I’m sorry, but my solidarity does not lie with corporations making millions and their fully-insured smashed windows, it lies with human beings who lose their lives and their
    families. ’ - what about those human beings who lost their livelihoods and their homes? Plenty of independent companies got targeted. Comparing these riots to riots over race and civil rights is like comparing Jedward to Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - yes, they both make music, but they're galaxies apart. This is almost insulting in its naivety.

    People can bleat on all they like about circumstance crushing people, it's bull imo. I have overcome an alcoholic mother, 25 years of abuse, times spent in a homeless shelter, depression, suicide and an eating disorder, and now run my own business. Oh, and I have a black mother and lived in one of the most BNP-heavy arreas in the Midlands. I finished school despite a terrible home life, I fought to find a place in the world. Yes, inherent racism exists, but it exists partly because minorities insist on perpetuating it. We have inherent racism against all ethnicities, whites included; we have to get on with, not smash stuff up because the opportunity has arisen. We have a black president in the US, for heaven's sake - the time has well and truly been and gone for the kind of racism that holds back an entire race. We do not live in a country where there are no schools, no benefits, no job centres, no prospects. I could understand your view more if we did, but we don't.

    At the end of the day, we all have the power and some opportunity in this country to make a go of things; poverty does contribute to lack of education but it in no way excuses dropping out of school to become an aggressive ’gangsta’, hanging around the streets, intimidating people because you're bored. Sorry if I sound middle-class or -gasp- bourgeouis, but COME ON! Trying to defend these riots is a joke.

  21. #22 Ross 08 Aug 11

    ’ When challenged on this, a police officer told us he was “here to protect the police”, not local residents. ’

    A blatantly made up quote.

  22. #23 boris 08 Aug 11

    Jody, they are burning down their own communities. High Street shops are only a tiny part of it, it's mainly local shops and local people's homes. I don't think that's very clever, do you?

  23. #24 serendipity 08 Aug 11

    An excellent article. Gobsmacking ignorance does run rife through some of the comments made here but (Jody does state the young man had a gun in a sock and he certainly doesn't compare himself to Bob Marley or MLK!) this is all still going on right now throughout London and Birmingham and probably more cities by tomorrow morning. Views are still shaping beyond the simple jerking of knees. I've just come back from cycling around North london and visiting the 'riot' sites and it is terrible to see so many privately run businesses burned out and I heard the report from the woman on 5 live who had her whole home destroyed in a fire last night but, things are just not straight forward. An article like this definitely opens up the debate to the wider issues that are going on. Well done to New Internationalist for getting such a compelling new voice on the blog pages.

  24. #25 PieNMashFilms 08 Aug 11

    A brave article Jody.

    4wardeveruk, leading the charge against unlawful deaths in Police custody asked Pie and Mash Films to document their memorial event for those who have unlawfully died in police custody. The documentary ‘4Ward Forever The Heroes’ is available for free viewing online. The core roots of the problems that erupted in Tottenham need to be addressed - Before anything can move forward the police MUST provide answers to the questions surrounding the shooting of Mark Duggan and to the families of over 1000 victims who have died in UK custody in the last 30 yrs. Most of these families are still grieving and seeking justice.
    4Ward Forever the Heroes (60mins FREE docu):
    Includes representatives from:
    4ward Ever UK:
    Bishop Jonathan Blake 'When no-one's watching':
    And the family campaigns for the victims:
    Award winning film director Bill Maloney (brought up in Brixton,and Peckham) states: ’BLACK & WHITE MUST UNITE AGAINST ALL FORMS OF ABUSE’

  25. #26 Hanmertime 08 Aug 11

    I live on just off the Effra road and saw the riots you describe. As well as large multinationals, a small cafe was smashed and ransacked. It is run by a small family. Where does you sympathy lie there?

    Later individuals started fighting each other for the goods that had been stolen.

    Also stolen items were being loaded into cars. It appeared, though I can not verify this, that there was an organised criminal process to the stealing. This was not people taking what they don't have, but criminals taking it to make more money.

    A satement like, the police can stop killing people is a gross simplification. I know some policeman, they are good people doing a job that they believe helps society. They are not individually evil, but when faced with danger, it is hard to judge split second reactions in those scenarios.

    We need to reverse cuts to youth services, we need higher taxes to fund programmes that reduce inequality. We need poor people to vote in higher numbers to create better pressure for this.

    However this sort of organised looting has harmed, small family businesses, it has terrified local residents and it has harmed good policeman. It is not right and should condemned, and understood, but not justified.

  26. #27 Christalmighty 08 Aug 11

    Dear oh dear Sana.

    ’Great article! To the fool that commented, Get an education and read the article again, at which point has jody said he condones carrying a gun or smashing windows??? He sympathises and understands the anger of the youths, although they may not be reacting in the best way, thy know no better.’

    Aww well bless them for behaving this way. We'll spend millions of pounds putting it right but it's ok they were a teeny weeny bit frustrated, It's ok though as long as they have freedom to vent their anger then that's alright.

    ’And if it wasn't for police brutality, education and youthcentre cuts, capitalism, consumerism and poverty, then this would not be happening!’

    The most ridiculous statement I've read in some time....

  27. #28 bob 08 Aug 11

    I hear The Independent dumped you for this article. Good for them.

  28. #29 Danglingman 08 Aug 11

    How old are you, Jody McIntyre? You sound like an angry, uninformed and shallow adolescent...not so much the language of the unheard as the deafening voice that has nothing to say.
    I think the Independent was quite right to drop you, and I sincerely hope NI does too.

  29. #30 vknfuj 08 Aug 11

    Genuinely curious; does any form of personal choice or responsibility come into your deluded framework of values?

    There are legitimate issues to be raised about the chronically disaffected communities at the heart of this, and how the system continually lets them down, and the growing economic inequality between rich and poor areas.

    But why do some stooges on the left find it so hard to condemn the burning small-time business that are the livelihoods of ordinary folk? Why do they find it so hard to condemn being made homeless because of senseless riots? These -choices-, for that is what they are, agitate every grievance that everyone has mentioned. How is this not plainly fucking obvious? I don't care how many corporate windows and shops are burned down, but if the alternate has to be local family-run business, then this is mindless.

    Essentially, the dichotomy of ’corporate businesses being destroyed v. rioters’ is a fairy tale. It does not correspond to reality.

  30. #31 markshep 08 Aug 11

    Thank you for this piece. My comments:

    1. Typo in first sentence - ’dead in by police’ should be ’dead by police’.
    2. It's not unusual for the IPCC to announce an investigation into a *fatal* shooting by police immediately because they're duty bound to do so.
    3. On the facts (and more credible rumours) that have surfaced so far there seems to be a strong case to made for Mark Duggan having not fired a shot. But to categorically say that he hasn't fired a single shot is slightly overstating the case (although I agree that it appears, at this time, that that's probably true).
    4. I totally, fully, absolutely, 100% agree that there is clearly a link between the political backdrop of the elite fucking the poor and the explosion of public disorder - to deny it would be ludicrous.
    5. However the rioters who are attacking small businesses and even torching residential buildings are being t**ts - if you're going to rebel against the system DON'T TARGET YOUR PEERS AND COMMUNITY.

  31. #32 a tax payer 08 Aug 11

    Message to all the rioters .......... . u wanna be big men and fight to the death , well get your sorry little arses on the next plane to Afghanistan and stand alongside real men , they're called soldiers ..and they are fighting a war.. unlike you bunch of pathetic wastes of space !!!!! copied from a friend please repost if you agree

  32. #33 sheila tait 08 Aug 11

    what about the kids that are killing each other , this riot is not about the police killing someone who was carrying a gun himself, its a generation if shit, human rights, there is too much focus on human bloody rights in this country, is pure mindless violence, a youngman was shot in west norwood, another one shot tonight in croyden during the riot by another youth, we need to come down hard on these youths,

  33. #34 Whichwaydidhego 08 Aug 11

    'Kids on school holidays, doing some Ghetto Shopping' - you said it, Matt Milton! Don't even start to justify this criminality any other way, Mr McIntyre - it's ugly of you.

  34. #35 jj45 08 Aug 11

    it seems to me as though you are seeing this in very black and white terms. police = wrong therefore riotters = right. that is a very simplistic and naive view of the world to be honest. in reality there exists shades of grey which your article in no way captures. all the evidence available is suggesting that police were very much in the wrong in the treatment of Mark Duggan that lead to his death. so yes, in this situation, the police were very much in the wrong. also the peaceful protesters in the following days in tottenham were very much in the right. However this is where your logic seems to break down. Your logic seems to fall apart at this point. You seem to then conclude that since the rioters are not police they are therefore in the right. You do not have to chose to ally yourself with either the police or the rioters. It is possible to condemn both without losing any credibility. You say that if the police want the rioting to stop they should ’stop killing people’. From what i have gathered from twitter and the news they have not actually killed anyone since the rioting began. This is in no way a defense of the police's previous, just an observation that your recommendation is completely pointless and ineffectual at this point in time.
    You also seem to imply that the shops being looted somehow deserve what is happening to them merely because they are businesses who make money. Clearly in your eyes this has placed them in the category of 'the wrong'. However a number of the businesses looted have been owned by local people and were their sole sources of income. Therefore it does not seem that those rioting are making the same subtle, politcally motivated distinctions as you do. Even if the larger businesses are automatically 'wrong' it seems that as someone who i presume is a strong supporter of rights and justice you would not advocate destruction of property and robbery, whoever the victim?
    I would like to know which side of this wrong/right divide the citizens who have done nothing but speak out against the riots are?

  35. #36 Mischka 09 Aug 11

    But what about the Mom and Pop shops who carry minimum insurance (that the insurance will find a way out of covering, btw). A lot of the smaller cities and neighborhoods still rely on those local business owners, and those looters and rioters (many of them NOT LOCAL) are depriving the locals of their access to their own neighborhood shops and services, much less getting their homes on fire (which hopefully all insurance has been paid). Not to mention all the hard working employees that don't have JOBS to come back to in the morning, while we're in a global recession and it's so easy to get laid off, to boot!

    There IS no excuse for rioting. There IS an excuse for protesting, for getting the word out, for taking officials for task for not taking care of business and protecting citizens, which is what the family of the victim tried to do. Rioting is the act of the careless, stupid and lazy in a ill-wrought attempt at social equalizing. And you are mentally lazy for being in support of it. Sure, the smarter ones of the rioters will jumble some words about taking back society for the poor to excuse themselves for rioting - where were these self-righteous a$$holes canvassing streets for petition signatures for a overhaul to the police dept or to recall local officials? Where were these self-made martyrs for liberty starting help groups for youth or working with local businesses to support job training? Oh, that's right. Probably on their couches, sleeping until mummy calls them for din-din, and then Billy Bob calls them to tell them, ’Oh, we're gonna screw the police!’ so he tells mummy he's going out to hang with the boys for the night.

    These guys didn't work for anything, and that's why they have no respect for anything else anyone else has worked for. That's why they're going into neighborhoods where they have no investment in having to live there, and setting them on fire. Get a grip, stop getting excited about the fire and violence (because you obviously are), and start expecting everyone to contribute the greater cause - NOT DESTROY IT!

  36. #37 Rick MG 09 Aug 11

    I have to disagree with you Jody. The majority of rioters are not doing it for Mark Duggan or because their dreams are crushed by an indifferent elitist system. The majority of rioters are torching cars and looting shops for the thrills and giggles.

    Yes, authorities have a case to answer for the shooting of Duggan, but please don't romanticise the rioters as freedom fighters. Most of them are thugs and hooligans who have no excuses.

  37. #38 Andy G 09 Aug 11

    ’These riots have nothing to do with rising unemployment’ - Yea so let's smash up shops and businesses, that will create more jobs won't it?

    How you can say any of these ’riots’ apart from maybe Tottenham have anything to do with making a point about something is beyond me. You do as others have pointed out seem to live in a World where everything is black and white. You also seem to have trouble believing that there will always be a minority of people in any society that are basically horrible people, have absolutely no interest in politics and are just out for themselves. Surely when you see people behave in this manner, you can disassociate it from your other valid points about the police, communities etc... I think by writing this article you are actually totally undermining your view points as the majority (and I mean 95%+) of normal, honest, logically thinking people are just going to think you are an idiot (just look at the comments). Call me cynical but it is almost like you have just written this to get a rise out of people, and couldn't really give a toss about the real matters at hand. (Just because you have a lot of comments on an article does not make you a good journalist FYI)

    There have been some other valid points raised by the more sensible comments here, are you going to address any of them? Or just hide behind your keyboard and completely illogical apologist views?

  38. #39 dan c 09 Aug 11

    It is refreshing to read these ideas. sure jody gets a little carried away but i haven't heard anyone else commenting on the riots in such an honest way. all the others giving their opinions in the media are just towing the line. even the ones that dare to mention the timing of cuts to youth services (last month), the severe poverty i those areas, the constant police harassment, the hopelessness, then go on to repeat the mantras of condemning criminality and rioting being evil. people don't just riot because they're bored. the risks are too high (serious violence from the riot cops, long prison sentences, etc). they riot when they are angry and hopeless, and as jody says voiceless.
    also jody is the youngest commentator discussing the riots i've seen in the media by around 20 years.
    last night the BBC trawled out expert on inner city youth culture Edwina Curry for her thoughts. when will someone ask the some youths themselves why they're doing what they're doing

    BTW the guardians video from last 2 weeks ago of youths saying cuts to their services will result in riots here is being totally ignored now by the guardian in their blogs and everywhere

  39. #40 KatC 09 Aug 11

    I agree that this rioting is partially the response of people who feel unheard which leads to frustration; howevever, the statement, ’if they want the rioting to stop, there is something extremely simple the police can do: stop killing people’ is far too simplistic. There was the killing of Mark Duggan but that does not explain the rioting that has continued two days on. There has been no continued killings yet the rioting has continued.

    We need think about how to support the voice of the people who feel unheard; however, it needs to be linked to developing awareness and concern for the community as well and understanding rather than just the concerns of individual needs and desires.

    To differentiate between JD sports and people's homes shows lack of understanding of how businesses whether large or small are as necessary in a community as homes - without businesses there would be no jobs and thus no money to put food on the table, and cloth the people in the home.

  40. #41 Andy G 09 Aug 11

    Dan C - I haven't seen one shred of footage of a looter explaining that their actions are in protest or as a result of any of those things you just mentioned.

    Please can you post one here.


  41. #43 serendipity 09 Aug 11

    ’These riots have nothing to do with the death of Mark Duggan. These riots have nothing to do with rising unemployment. These riots have nothing to do with the cuts to education and youth centres. Simply mindless violence, we are told.’ ... Well, for all the criticism up here, I think this blog has lasted through the night and into the morning as being one of the most insightful. The media and blogosphere (and many commenters up here) have missed the point entirely... The 'rioters', of course, are not being political in anyway at all and the robbing and looting of small businesses is reprehensible but what happened last night IS political, it is the result of rubbish politics, the result of young people being presented with hopeless futures... We are all guilty here. How did we let the future generations of out country get to feel so deeply maligned, so utterly disconnected?

    I am sick of older people giving their opinions. Sick of this myopic and knee jerk condemnation without any deeper searching. Because it is us, the older generations, who have let this happen. You have no idea what it is to be a teenager in Hackney, Brixton, Enfield, Peckham etc. Until you do, then you have no right to make judgements. And in case you wonder how I can comment, I have worked in those areas with that age group for over 20 years. We are crippling our youth (but for the very rich) emotionally, psychologically, economically, destroying any chance of aspiration. Look at the world through their eyes, it's a very dire world we have made for them.

    ’But it’s inequality and decades of oppression in under-privileged communities that lies at the heart of this.’ Jody McIntyre, all power to you!

  42. #44 Andy G 09 Aug 11

    Hello serendipity

    Fair play if you have worked with ’these kids’ for twenty years, you but why can't you just accept the fact that in all walks of life you will get sociopathic arseholes. It is nothing to do with their background, a certain percentage of people are just going to turn out like this (i.e. no morals). Many of them may manage to hide it due to having a more privileged background, and they may be the ones who end up backstabbing, cheating and taking back handers in the business or political world. Others who have a less privileged background... well I guess they end up becoming more stereotypical criminals, or doing stuff like this.

    I also think that you have to factor in that kids, let's say those under 18 for arguments sake, which it looked like most of these looters are, are by their very nature a volatile bunch. I come from a fairly good working/middle class area and went to a good state school, but I could name about 30 kids in my year alone who would have smashed the shit out of things around my town, just for a laugh. They weren't rebelling against anything, they had no motives. There was plenty to do around my town for kids, they were just arseholes. To me a lot of this just seems like that but on a much wider scale. Maybe I am wrong but I really can't see how having a ’bleak future’ ahead of you is an excuse for causing wide scale carnage.

    Anyway all of that is fairly irrelevant and just opinion. I note not one of the supporters of this article has managed to answer some basic questions posed by the critics. I will give you another one:

    You say ’We are crippling our youth (but for the very rich) emotionally, psychologically, economically, destroying any chance of aspiration’

    If this is the case why are they destroying property, businesses, and therefore future job prospects, aspirations, and economy in their own communities? It only takes a basic level education at the most to realise that this makes no sense, on any level. Why are they doing it then? You cannot say it is because of those reasons you have stated. Sorry, that is a fact, but I await your argument against this with bated breath

  43. #45 Robin Tudge 09 Aug 11

    But the violence isn't born of this over-riding sense of inequality or injustice, it's unplaced entitlement. Technology has enabled this uprising of youth to reach a tipping point, and for all hell to break loose, because this is what these guys think is fun. They're not robbing, burning and terrorizing to serve any greater purpose of making some epic social comment, they're doing it because it's macho, it's fun, it profits them and builds kudos. Now maybe there are better ways of channelling energy that communities and the state could enable, somehow, maybe, but there's always been deprivation, and it's been way, way worse historically yet we've not seen this before - none of these kids are malnourished, none of them is wearing rags, they're all compelled to go to school i.e. education is provided up to 16 at least. They coordinate their actions through mobiles and Blackberries and loot with cars and scooters....there is anything but any material defiency blighting their lives, only somehow the macho nihilism of adolescence has become acutely, violently focused on violence and self-gain with absolutely no expectation of any consequences or wherewithal of taking any responsibility for their actions.
    They're too immature to be making some grand point about social injustice, they're burning down the neighbourhoods and expecting others to come in and do it all up - the quintessential throwing of toys out the pram.

  44. #46 Andy G 09 Aug 11

    Spot on Robin. There seems to be little argument for people in agreement with this article. Most notably from the author himself.

  45. #47 Maz 09 Aug 11

    RC, you must have your belly full and maybe for you there is nothing wrong with the society now a days! Poor people could be wiped off in a powerfull cleaning that would only be good ’for everyone’. Capitalism is a dead end, keep polishing the shareholders arses and supporting the free market and privatization and waste yourself but don't call names like ’idiot’ to people who have their horizons well expanded. Like many, I also have better things to do than dedicating my life to a constant greed and chase for possessions that only make me happy until the new one is out... lol

  46. #48 Maz 09 Aug 11

    Frank Enderby, Martin Luther King strived to inspire people, as so Bob Marley. I'm sure both of them would be more than happy if we were all ’aligned’ with them. It's not something out of our league or even rocket science. It's life. Everyone dies but not everyone gets to live, at least in our society. Normal and rational beings would harmonize instead of marginalize.

  47. #49 Andy G 09 Aug 11

    Maz please tell me that was an ironic post.

    ’I also have better things to do than dedicating my life to a constant greed and chase for possessions that only make me happy until the new one is out... lol’

    You don't think people looting iMacs, Flat screen TV's and Play-stations is fuelled by a greed and chasing of possessions?!

    I realise you didn't mention the riots in your post but seeing as you are commentating on an article which is heavily about that subject it is hard not to take your comments in that context.

  48. #50 Jack 09 Aug 11

    ’I’m sorry, but my solidarity does not lie with corporations making millions and their fully-insured smashed windows, it lies with human beings who lose their lives and their families.’

    You are a massive douche. What about the people who work in those shops? Do you think them? They are struggling to bring up families in tough times. What about the family owned furniture business that was burned down. 15 employees. None of them have the same security of those working in Dixon's but cannot come into work today and might not be able to put food on the table.

    You are a very bitter man who is on the wrong side of the true division in society. Not one between rich and poor, but one between those that subscribe to the Social Contract and those that feel only feel entitlement and that society owes them something.

  49. #51 RyanB 09 Aug 11

    UK Government and monarchy lost all legitimacy
    The Citizens of Britain had enough – “Queen and PM must go”
    Popular uprisings in Britain has begun, and like everywhere in the world, the first response of the government is to try and crush the revolt by force. In the case of the UK, using horses, helicopters, riot police and other aggressive methods.
    Crushing democracy is unacceptable – the Queen and Cameron has lost all legitimacy and must go!
    Everyone wakes up asking “WHY?” after witnessing London, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Liverpool and all other major metropolitan areas being flooded with anarchy.
    Here is WHY:
    Besides being a respectless society that is out of touch with the need of poorer communities, raising VAT to unacceptable levels of 20% and being a brutal police state discriminating against foreigners, africans and muslims, we have triggered something far more sensitive through our own example.
    The government has led by example. Not too long ago, we have all heard the experts who think they rule the world barking out orders that “Mubarak must go” – “Ben Ali must go” – “Gaddafi must go” when these leaders tried to restore order in their countries.
    We have then moved to the point of demonstrating to our citizens that we as a society has NO values and NO respect by bombing schools, hospitals, television stations etc. in Libya to join ruthless rebels in overthrowing a government trying to restore peace and order.
    The old saying “what goes around comes around” has certainly not failed Britain!
    The very same “winds of change” is now blowing in Britain, these winds of change we thought would enable us to colonise more places in the modern day and age through our ruthless behaviour and false media. Now, the same tools used across the globe like twitter and other technologies are being used in Britain to support popular uprisings.
    Forget all the “WHY’s” – what is next?
    A one world government is on the horizon – and it’s time for the queen and the government to pack their bags and GO – yes, GO to wherever they suggested Mubarrak and Gaddafi should go..
    Britain finally has a real opportunity to be free from the oppressors who ruled for so long with an iron fist covered in satin!
    Revolution is here to stay..
    The revolution started with Tottenham and Brixton standing up against POLICE BRUTALITY, and quickly spread to Croydon, Clapham, Barking, East Ham, Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester and developed into total anarchy.

  50. #52 rjb 09 Aug 11​ uk-news/52940/shop-owners-​disgust-rioters-tear-totte​ nham-landmarks
    This could also be the newsagent run by the Pakistani family,the corner shop run by the Bengali family or the butcher shop run by generations of Lon...don cockneys.
    Do any apologists for this behaviour believe these hooligans are doing it tougher, than working poor or unemployed in the '30's Depression (no rioting on this scale back then,or not at least purely to grab consumer goods, rather than food)

  51. #53 Graham 09 Aug 11

    I thought this was an interesting piece on the riots, not least because it's so different from the standard knee jerk responses that I read in some many places (including here).

    ’I will not condemn, and I will not align myself with the state in opposition to those on the streets, because I too am on the streets. But where am I.’

  52. #54 foot in mouth locker 09 Aug 11

    ’If it is a question of where my solidarity lies, and the options are M&S and Footlocker versus young people in the streets, then for me there is only one answer. ’

    Footlocker is a large employer recruiting largely young people with little discrimination,

    You are misguided

  53. #55 i-remember-mlk 09 Aug 11

    >> you had a point till you wrote this, you are a clown! you cant compare >> the civil rights movement to what is happening today.

    You can't?

    ’Widespread looting devastated blocks of West Side [of Chicago] shops during the riots after the killing of Martin Luther King Jr. Looting also broke out in the Woodlawn neighborhood, on the South Side.’,0,4609945.story

  54. #56 oneoflokis 09 Aug 11

    Dear Jody: well said. Could we please have address of your current Twitter account as the ’Independent’ appear to have removed the old one? (Commiserations.)

  55. #57 chrisinnyc 09 Aug 11

    Gender-related question for you. What's your take on why women and teen girls arent' rioting in the same numbers as men and teen boys? Presumably they suffer the same hardship and inequality (actually, reliably, more so) than their male counterparts. I have to admit that when I see people doing something and it's mostly men, I see a gender issue at hand, and in this case, I resent the destructive violence.

  56. #58 momento 09 Aug 11

    ’But it turned out that it was in fact a police bullet lodged in that radio. Presumably, ‘friendly fire’. The recovered firearm was in a sock. Mark Duggan didn’t fire a single shot. Another man executed at the hands of the police, and more misinformation from the IPCC.’

    With respect to the above quote: can you tell me where you're getting this information from? Has ANY of the above been confirmed? Is a gun apparently concealed in a sock any less lethal than one that isn't? Since when does Police Officers opening fire on an armed man constitute an execution? The only person who seems to be spouting unsubstantiated misinformation in this event is you.

    You write about 'Police Injustice' yet where is the justice in mindless thuggery, looting and destruction of property and people's livelihoods? You also state, ’Many are blaming the violence on criminal thugs.’ Well, yes, being as they're responsible for destroying established family businesses and causing people to barricade themselves in their own homes.

    Martin Luther King would not only be turning in his grave at what was happening but he'd also be laughing at the simplistic ineptitude of your article.

  57. #59 Joe 09 Aug 11

    I'm as liberal as anybody and I'm all for looking into the reasons why these people are rioting rather than labelling them as mindless working class immigrant thugs, but to support it seems a step too far. You seem to be overlooking that it's not just 'corporations' that are being hurt here.

  58. #60 winston 09 Aug 11

    'Another man executed at the hands of the police, and more misinformation from the IPCC.'

    You have no proof of this. Nobody does yet.

    You used you twitter account to incite violence.

    You are an irresponsible, self important, vain, cowardly idiot.

  59. #61 rodcastlex 09 Aug 11

    i think the article 'fell over' for me when king was quoted out of context. Martin L King also said .. ’The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility’

  60. #62 Clive 10 Aug 11

    Disband the Police - then there would be 'no crime'.

  61. #63 Jack Cassidy 10 Aug 11

    ’ The kinds of draconian cuts are causing many people to lose hope.
    Faisal Islam- And you connect that with some of the scenes we're seeing out of London?
    Joseph Stiglitz- Very Much so.’

    Sometimes it takes an outside view to show us where the problems lie. The cuts to youth centres and community action groups have left kids bored and disaffected, with no hope of employment in the ever darkening world economy, they have nothing to do. We should think of tackling the social divides that have become evermore prominent under the Con-Dem government, (and the illegal actions of the police) before we condemn the riots that we've seen over the past few days.

  62. #64 serendipity 10 Aug 11

    @andy g

    Why are they doing this in their own communities? Because they do not feel they are in ANY community at all. They feel totally excluded from all society and have created their own communities, and yes, they are not in any way savory communities that they have created but at least they feel they BELONG somewhere.

    This is a link to a woman I respect greatly and I would suspect you do too, I know that she is correct Andy. Like I said, I have worked in this for over 20 years, please do read this and chew it over:

    Yes, some of Jody's words are controversial and it's easy to see why some people take umbrage but anybody out there who think the answers are easy and the blame is obvious, THINK AGAIN because this is not going to go away.

    Andy, as a smaller note, you said that where you came from there were things for young people to do and still, many of them would have acted in the abhorrent way that we have seen (get that clear, I do think it is abhorrent to see small businesses destroyed, people mugged, threatened, fires started etc). In these areas there is NOTHING for young people to do and no future for them to reach towards. Unless you have been there and lived there and worked there, nobody here has a right to judge at all.

    The hatred and bile being offered up to Jody is clearly linked to the state that these young people have been left in. If you do not start using your noodles a little more and look at yourselves as part of the problem, look at your judgements and reactions as a deep seated cause, then we can not move forward.

    WE are to blame. Until we get out of our armchairs and down from our podiums, then no solutions will be found and the riots will return.

    Incidentally, for Londoners, the #riotcleanup was inspired and further spontaneous community actions are the way forward, the police (who I respect greatly for what they have had to go through in the past four days) and the government are clueless. But what would you expect? The police aren't youth workers and the government are millionaire sons and daughters of millionaires. WE should be the ones acting, we should fill the streets with calls for huge increases in support to youth, not huge cuts. And that's not just government support, that's your own personal support and understanding, share your skills, start up your own youth provisions. I've run two youth clubs started up and run by local volunteers and they have been far more successful than any other youth clubs I have worked and do you know why? Time and again, the young people have asked us ’what, so you are doing this for free? you're not being paid? you're giving up your time for free?’ Once they realise that the answer is yes, we are doing this because we do care, because we value you, then a serious shift happens in the way that teenagers see us and how they understand our perceptions of how we perceive them.

    WE are the problem and the cause and in us and how we act is the solution. Stop judging Jody, stop judging the youth and look at yourself.

    Incidentally, you are already engaging in this process Andy C as you are asking questions still rather than trumpeting opinions and I sincerely salute you for doing so!

  63. #65 liberateyourself 11 Aug 11

    Thanks for this blog I agree with a lot of it. I think that the media and public consciousness is being very bias eg 'unemployed, mindless, thugs' also I'm a bit concerned how people are so quick to jump on the bandwagon and side with the police and government, if you ask me it's about time people in this country stood up for themselves, I don't want to live in a nanny state..of course there will be people who join in on the riots because they like violence but also the reason behind this is unclear, these kind of movements in society, favourable or not is what helps make a change..I want the inside stories from the rioters before I make my judgement thank you very much :D

  64. #66 Anonymous 11 Aug 11

    Does the mistake of a few give thousands of people the excuse to go and ruin our cities??
    My sympathies go to Mark's family and friends and I am sorry for their loss but even they do not condone the violence and rioting which has gripped cities in our country.

    The utter disregard for other people can not be excused by this incident, let the police do their investigation instead of having to man the streets and maybe we will get the answers we are all waiting for. By rioting whilst these investigations have been underway these people are just distracting the police from getting down to the bottom of what happened in the first place.

    People have lost their homes, their cars, their jobs and their livelihoods. It needs to stop

  65. #68 paul 13 Aug 11

    Bye bye Jody, you'r now as relavant as Johann Hari but before you go thanks for destroying the left.

  66. #69 zeitgoose 13 Aug 11

    ’However, if they want the rioting to stop, there is something extremely simple the police can do: stop killing people.’

    ’I’m sorry, but my solidarity does not lie with corporations making millions and their fully-insured smashed windows, it lies with human beings who lose their lives and their families.’

    This article is peurile. The author is a juvenile delinquent. His sulky-little-boy face is just right!

  67. #70 Colin 13 Aug 11

    This must be the last respectable site left for hanging out with Londonsburning McIntyre. Don't you care about your reputation?

  68. #71 JP 13 Aug 11

    Dear New Internationalist,

    I subscribe to your magazine because I want to read well-researched pieces that support justice and improving humanity's prospects. I don't pay you money to subsidise ignorant self-important 'revolutionaries' who have been persistently calling on people to set London alight.

    Please don't commission any more articles from Jody Mcintyre,


  69. #72 Elena Faramus 14 Aug 11

    I am grateful I found your explanation of what happened as I was in the dark about that. And I can understand why people took to the streets but not all the rioters were there to make a point and not all places looted and burned were £million corporations. My sympathies are with those poor people whose livelihoods have been destroyed by peoples' greed. Comparing yourself to Martin Luther King or Bob Marley still doesn't make it right.

  70. #73 Esther Wheatley 16 Aug 11

    Well said Mr McIntyre. I posted the Martin Luther King quote as my status on Facebook and received abuse for it. When I pointed out that Martin Luther King was one of the most respected and peace-loving men in history, I was told that the quote was not relevant to the circumstances. In what way? Another issue that has been discussed heavily among my less condemnatory friends has been the endless parading of luxury goods in front of kids who simply can't afford them. How do we get rid of this government, and how do we get people out of the poverty trap? The police need to stop shooting people, the banks need to stop robbing people (I get mugged by HSBC for £100 regularly once a month, and I only earn £200 a week), and this government needs taking down. We need t rebuild the welfare state, people need an income in line with current prices, the poorest need to be able to live without resorting to crime, and the richest need to stop perpetrating financial crimes withut redress.

  71. #74 Stewart Lane 25 Aug 11

    Dead on!

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About the author

Jody McIntyre a New Internationalist contributor

Jody McIntyre is a writer, poet, political activist and founder of The Equality Movement. He blogs at Life on Wheels.

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