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... to think the riots, although terrible, are not particularly surprising?

(44 Posts)
fgaaagh Tue 09-Aug-11 14:13:23

I'm terribly sorry to start yet another thread on the London (and other city) riots.

These are terrible, terrible events - so many people placed in danger, property and businesses destroyed, emergency services even being attacked (!). But I haven't managed to spot many posters who are as unsurprised as me that these large scale disturbances are happening (please link to threads if I've missed any where this is the case, as I was genuinely confused at the seeming lack of "well it's hardly a surprise" thread base).

I live in a really, really shitty area. We don't open the door after dark; most of the "nicer" neighbours in the area have moved on since we bought here 4 years ago. The elderly neighbour who lived next door found kids/youth pettiness so stressful that she moved in with her daughter miles away; my neighbour across the road gave notice on her rental agreement after teenagers set upon her cat with an airgun so badly that they thought they'd have to put the poor thing down (they didn't, it just had to have a leg amuptated, and it survived). There are regular muggings, and robbery attempts at the local corner shops, to the point where I'm not even surprised when I see the posters asking for witnesses these days. I've reported or been witness to crimes an average of two-three times a year since living here (car breakin attempts and vandalism to cars/shops mostly, a fight or two on the corner where people hang out, cruelty to a dog for a neighbour who we believe is one of the local drug dealers, my car was stolen and joy ridden, written off after being crashed into a lamp post).

Whilst I know not all teenagers are bad (DS falls into that category now!), I have had a feeling that large scale disturbances might become more common over the last few years. Several things:

1) The attitude I see in school from parents. It appears that teachers get a massive lack of respect from a significant number of parents - something unheard of in my own upbringing. When it's as widespread as I've witnessed, that's a good indicator that future generations are being brought up to not understand how responsibility and respect works.

2) The economy. Whether you agree that big bankers aren't suffering after sending us down this path, or it was our own greed that caused the crash - the outcome of this is that the job situation in our area has gotten even worse. And opportunities were limited enough during the "boom years".

3) Common sense. I recall 3 years ago during the summer of 2009 when the nice neighbour with the injured cat told me she was moving out (and the reason why) when she came to say goodbye - she said "if those little bastards are doing that at 14, I don't want to be here when they turn 17, 18 or 19 and move from shooting cats to stabbing people - what's it going to be like around here then?" ... and I suspect this is the case in a lot of rundown communities. As generations of families who have never known order, peace or a sense of community grow up, and it's occured on a mass scale, is it any wonder we would start to see a breakdown and this undercurrent of an "underclass" venting its frustrations?

So AIBU to be sitting here thinking: "well that's absolutely awful, but hardly surprising?"

This isn't intended to be a political post,btw, I'm not sitting here also thinking "well look what a mess the labour lot gave us / look how the tories are screwing us up". I'm talking about a wider picture of social disconnect that's happened with a HUGE number of young people today, which i can see with my very own eyes.

fgaaagh Tue 09-Aug-11 14:15:51

Meant to add - I'm not a teacher, even though I come across in 1 above potentially like that. I work in the charity sector, tho not in a non-profit org (95% of our work is related to charity organisations though). For the record! smile

drcrab Tue 09-Aug-11 14:18:11

I mostly agree with you, except for maybe the economy bit. Don't get me wrong, I do think that if more people are unemployed, can't pay bills etc, then the general feeling of fed-upness and stress etc, can lead people to riots and robberies etc (My husband has recently been made redundant, but touch wood, he's not started to rob or loot!)....but many of those caught on camera are teenagers. Are they even in employment? shouldn't most of them be in some sort of education? I realise it is the summer holidays, but what exactly are they rioting against?!

Found this write up - thought it was very well written blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/katharinebirbalsingh/100100161/no-wonder-these-kids-think-stealing-trainers-is-ok-everyone-makes-excuses-for-them/

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 09-Aug-11 14:22:41

YANBU. There's been a general underlying level of criminality, especially in certain parts of London. The gang culture that leaves so many young black men and boys dead from stab or gunshot wounds has become so 'ordinary' that we barely register it when we read the latest story in the newspaper. I don't think, however, that this is an underclass 'venting its frustrations'. May have started out that way in Tottenham after the fatal shooting of the man there. But others have simply cottoned on to the fact that the police can't be in as many places as they can.... and they're on a spree.

Two teenage girls interviewed on the BBC talked about it the way others talk about a rock festival... 'madness'... 'it was good fun'. And when asked why they joined in the looting they said it was to show 'the rich' and 'the police' that they could do what they liked. They also blamed 'the government' but didn't actually seem to know who they were....

Ormirian Tue 09-Aug-11 14:25:03

Well I am fortunate enough to be in the position to be surprised by this.

sparkle12mar08 Tue 09-Aug-11 14:28:55

And therein lies the problem Ormirian, the govt feel exactly the same...

sparkle12mar08 Tue 09-Aug-11 14:30:35

They have no idea about how to connect to the youth in this country, nor it would seem, any odea as to why that might be a good idea.

OP, I think you have made some truly excellent points. It is a political post, but perhaps with a small p, as opposed to being Political, iyswim?!

Ormirian Tue 09-Aug-11 14:33:05

But that might be because I live in the wrong part of the country (or the right one in this case) or because of my age, or just because of my expectations. i don't think there are that many people who can't have been taken aback by this?

Sausagesarenottheonlyfruit Tue 09-Aug-11 14:34:15

The interview of the two teenage girls doesn't ring true to me. Something about it seems scripted, I am of the strong opinion they are actors.

LynetteScavo Tue 09-Aug-11 14:35:11

OP, YANBU, but I expect Cameron is jolly surprised.

LolaRennt Tue 09-Aug-11 14:38:19

The two teenage girls seemed perfectly plausible to me,

2 brats wanting an excuse for why they were being brats. I don't belive they belived what they were saying. NO one has any sense of responsibilty anymore.

Their parents don't look after them clearly, so where would they learn it from?

An0therName Tue 09-Aug-11 14:39:22

YANBU I think the economy is relevent - if you percieve you have no hope of a job - even if you have done ok at school its not going to help
remember there were riots 20 years ago when unemployment was also high..

Sausages those two girls don't believe what they are saying, they are just finding something, a populist cause to pin it on.
The real reason is that they are silly little girls who have no concept of their being any consequence of their actions, but of course they don't realise that, and even if they did then that doesn't sound so good does it?

harassedandherbug Tue 09-Aug-11 14:43:36

I come from SE London although don't live there any more.

If you're a young person living on these huge estates (Pembury, Broadwater et al) then really you have nothing to look forward to except a life of crime. These kids are no prospects, no chance of a job in they even bother looking and generally no decent role models to look up to. They watch the tv and all they see is consumerism..... which they can't attain to by legal ways.

I don't support the rioting, but I can see how it's come about to start with although now I feel it's just people jumping on the bandwagon and using it as an excuse to loot and vandalise.

I now live in a nice medium sized town in Andover but my ds2, despite 3yrs at college doing mechanics, is stacking fruit & veg part time in Tesco and can't get anything else. It must be very disheartening.

turkeyboots Tue 09-Aug-11 14:44:04

YANBU, I lived round Tottenham and Hackney for years and I'm not surprised. Horified, but not surprised. All the investment in that area was in the form of retail parks, which might have offered some jobs, but destroyed the community feel to many parts of North London. There are pockets/estates of severe poverty in London, right next door to ordinary family houses that cost £600 - 700k plus.

We left London as were priced out of the "nice" areas, and bringing up kids in areas like the OP describe frigthened me. We are lucky that we could afford to make that choice.

izzywhizzyletsgetbusy Tue 09-Aug-11 14:48:24

I can see what you see, OP, and if I'm surprised at anything it is how long it has been, excluding the relatively minor fracas in Central London last year, since the last riots in the capital.

Unless the police are empowered to use any means to bring a halt to the ongoing lawlessness on our streets, I very much fear that there is going to be more looting, arson, and mayhem throughout the summer.

I have just spoken to a friend who lives in South Croydon which is some distance from one of the scenes of devastation we can see on our tvs. Her small high street was 'hit' last night by gangs of predominantly white marauding hoodies but, fortunately, the damage they caused was not severe.

This lunchtme, in broad daylight, the hoodies are back and have been boldly going into her local (open for business as usual) small shops and helping themselves to goods. At the time I spoke to her, there was no police presence in that particular area.

The shopkeepers have now elected to close early which will cause yet more disruption to the lives of honest and law-abiding folk but, of course, in the absence of any meaningful police protection they must put their safety first.

fgaaagh Tue 09-Aug-11 14:54:18

And when asked why they joined in the looting they said it was to show 'the rich' and 'the police' that they could do what they liked. They also blamed 'the government' but didn't actually seem to know who they were....

That is interesting, but again I'm not surprised that they spoke like this, and that when they were prompted for some deeper analysis (and hopefully soundbite-worthy wink) they just came up with very vague ideas about "the man" (or whatver these younger generation term it - the girls called it the gov and the rich but the idea is the same).

I'm sort of reminded about the quote from 1984:

The only evidence to the contrary was the mute protest in your own bones, the instinctive feeling that the conditions you lived in were intolerable and that at some other time they must have been different.

I think that whilst there are opportunists jumping on the loot bandwagon, I'll agree - there is also a huge set of very real problems that have been simmering for years - obvious, literal problems that can be felt, touched and (if you live amongst them) endured, and have been endured, for years, for certain segments of society.

So there are more than opportunists - there are youth of today who know it shouldn't be like this. They sense the growing disparity between the "haves" and the "have nots" despite not being able to articulate it! Which is irony in itself, because the failing education system has made them unable to communicate what they know in their bones.

There's the ones who have never been encouraged and have lived amongst bad parenting (say), but there are also the ones who have worked hard (relatively, for them) and still gain no reward from it - e.g. in my local area where there are no jobs beyond a part-time contract at Tesco or these zero-hour warehouse work which stops your benefits and essentially forced you into a poverty cycle of being the working poor on minimum wage without even the advantage of having a guaranteed income each week like you would get from social security.

that is my perception, living amongst this community, and it's why I'm not surprised at all that these riots are happening in London, terrible as they may be.

fgaaagh Tue 09-Aug-11 15:01:08

We left London as were priced out of the "nice" areas, and bringing up kids in areas like the OP describe frigthened me. We are lucky that we could afford to make that choice.

Yes, turkeyboots, that's our plan. Now that we're both in fulltime work, we've got our finances sorted, no debts, and plan to move within the next 6 months once DH's contract is signed for another 2 years. We're not even particularly close to our work, so there's nothing keeping us here.

We can eventually buy our way out of this place. But it's not a solution; we'll just join the legions of employed, honest, folk who've fled the area over the last 2/3 years really. What more can we do? Socialist ideals make me think perhaps I should help out in this Big Society more, but now that I'm back fulltime, juggling 3 DCs, helping my (increasingly frail, but still independant) parents, I don't have room to fit in volunteer work for this "society".

It's easier to throw money at the situation and move somewhere else. Good for my family in the short-medium term, terrible for the community in the long term.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 09-Aug-11 15:13:25

The people rioting will not be the ones working on part-time contracts at Tesco. Someone who has the integrity and self-respect to do a job, even a minimum wage job, has 10 x more going for them than the type that think it's 'great fun' to loot an off-licence. As you say, the decent people are getting out. They're probably no better off than the rest financially - they may be worse off if they don't deal drugs etc - but they clearly have a certain ambition and standards that doesn't involve stooping to destructive criminality.

moffat Tue 09-Aug-11 15:26:11

YANBU - and there are no easy answers for fixing this mess.

harassedandherbug Tue 09-Aug-11 15:33:14

"The people rioting will not be the ones working on part-time contracts at Tesco. Someone who has the integrity and self-respect to do a job, even a minimum wage job, has 10 x more going for them than the type that think it's 'great fun' to loot an off-licence. As you say, the decent people are getting out. They're probably no better off than the rest financially - they may be worse off if they don't deal drugs etc - but they clearly have a certain ambition and standards that doesn't involve stooping to destructive criminality."

You're right they won't be (and my son certainly won't be believe me!) but you can see how these youngsters end up disillusioned and angry. If they can get a job, and many of them can't, then they end up doing a crap job for crap money. I'm not sure I can them blame for not wanting to do that.

CogitoErgoSometimes Tue 09-Aug-11 15:41:57

It's one thing to be annoyed with your crap job and crap money but it's a quantum leap in morality to go from there to torching the Sony warehouse.

harassedandherbug Tue 09-Aug-11 15:44:19

I totally agree with you. I don't agree with the looting, vandalism and rioting. But I can understand original feelings behind it. Too many have jumped on the bandwagon now..... it really is, and I hate the word, criminality.

Kayano Tue 09-Aug-11 15:44:37

Come to Newcastle smile cheap houses, jolly people etc. I was shocked by all this but reading into it more I am not.

I would hate to live in London - it seems so 'all or nothing'

lashingsofbingeinghere Tue 09-Aug-11 15:52:54

We are talking about these rioters and looters as if they are a homogenous group. I prefer to wait and see who they actually are: they have their hoods up and faces covered so we can't even see if they are black/white/asian/other ethnic group. We can probably assume they are mainly male and under, say, 30 (they all run pretty fast!) but these wild generalisations are not helpful.

My own hunch (ok generalisation) is many rioters/looters are just opportunistic people caught up in the dirty, violent glamour of the moment rather than hard core criminals.

It's too easy to point to social deprivation as the root cause of the riots - let's wait and see who these people actually are first, and how "socially excluded" they really are.

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