As fire, looting, and chaos continue in London, the riots have now spread to other parts of the country. Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol, and Liverpool have all reported violence and police officials have blamed social media for the continuing violence, while many young people have taken to Twitter and Facebook to organize clean ups of the city.
Although the initial catalyst for the riots was the shooting of Mark Duggan, disenfranchised young people (of all ethnicities) have been taking to the streets to violently protest the treatment they say they receive by the government. Tensions between the working class and the government have been building for years. Tottenham, where Duggan was shot, was the scene of London’s 1985 race riots, and since then conflicts have continued.
While many don’t understand the compulsion to torch one’s own neighborhood in protest, Darcus Howe, a writer and activist, says that it’s deeper than that.
“I don’t call it rioting. I call it an insurrection of the masses of the people. It is happening in Syria, it is happening in Clapham, it is happening in Liverpool, it is happening in Port of Spain, Trinidad,” Howe told the BBC.
Initially, reports surrounding the Duggan shooting said an illegal gun was found at the scene and that Duggan fired at police, but the Independent Police Complaints Commission said today that “ballistic tests presented ‘no evidence’ that a handgun found at the scene had been fired at officers.” This news has prompted many to ask why police shot Duggan in the first place.
British Prime Minister David Cameron returned from vacation and recalled Parliament for Thursday to deal with the “sickening scenes.” Tonight, 16,000 police will be dispatched in London to attempt to squelch the violence, and for the first time, police are considering using plastic bullets to deal with rioters.
Although the violence has been fairly uncontrollable, officials say they will not call in the military to help police the city just yet. But Cameron tried to comfort his citizens saying, “People should be in no doubt that we will do everything necessary to restore order to Britain’s streets and to make them safe for the law-abiding.”
So far one person has died, nearly 600 people have been arrested, and 111 police officers have suffered injuries during the riots.
*Photo courtesy of The Guardian.