Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Riots

Hey everyone,  just got back to London the other day to discover there has been rioting since Saturday... not very good news.

I've had a quiet day and a half back here, but left this afternoon for a break from my work.  Lucky me, in my posh neighborhood, the rioting was far from my mind -- until complete strangers came up to me to ask if I thought the neighborhood would be safe tonight.  I had no idea, I said, but as long as shops were open I figured things would be fine.

Then I started actually noticing the swarms of police on the street, the young men handcuffed in an alley, the few officers already in riot gear in the late afternoon.  Uh-oh.  As I headed home, to buy my groceries for dinner and get back to work, I saw that many stores had shut, and by 5:30pm this is really unusual in central London.  My local Sainsbury's, which is usually open until 10pm, closed before 6.  I'm of the school of thought that if there is trouble that doesn't concern me, I will back off, so I grabbed a couple things for dinner where I could and am now at home, listening to the news and shaking my head.

The lack of police presence before today, and the reluctance of certain higher-ups to break off their holidays and come home, makes me more than a bit nervous for the Olympics, which up until now was worrying most people because of the potential traffic jams.  Coupled with the student rioting earlier this year, I've got to say it has been a rough year for my fair city.

Here are a couple links that I've found to help explain the situation -- and for the record, I am not taking sides yet, having been out of town for the beginning of this mess and generally believing that taking sides leads to more trouble.  I will say, though, as I have said to a few close friends over the year, that a very clear divide exists between richer and poorer communities, between immigrants and natives, and tension with the police sadly feels like it has been a long time coming.

Some photos from the past few nights.

An editorial trying to explain what sparked the riots.

HuffPo's sum-up of the events thus far.

The BBC's update.

A BBC interview being thrown around Twitter where a west Indian broadcaster and writer tries to explain what happened from the rioters' point of view.

An interesting op-ed about why looting was the vehicle of choice for expressing outrage.

A very cool Youtube channel I just learned about for posting videos of civic interest.  Just search "London Riots"

A very worrisome piece about how to fix things... including curfews.  Always a warning sign.

One hopeful symbol.

I would love to hear your take on what is happening, and am open to all viewpoints.  You can post it in the comments, or tweet me at EpicAdventurer_

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