Tottenham Riots: An Observer Writes


Interesting events in Tottenham right now. I’ve been listening to the
reports on the BBC and there seems to be what I can only describe as a certain lack of honesty coming from the powers that be.

First of all there seems to be an ongoing policy of under-declaring casualties. There is one message coming from the police (i.e. no casualties!) and another from witnesses. I know which messages seems more plausive in this context and it’s not the police’s one. The only value in such misinformation to be to try and make the police look like they are more in control than is really the case. or perhaps it’s simply due to an inability to collate and confirm figures quickly but, whatever the reason, policy or inability, it does give the appearance of dishonesty.

The events of 7 July 2005 in London showed that the powers that be do in fact have a policy of dishonesty, misinformation or ‘information mamagement’ (choose your own label) regarding casualties. The key problem with this is that it puts in doubt anything else the powers that be (i.e. police, etc.) might have to say about the causes of rioting, in this case, into doubt.

More significantly, I have to say that it sounds to me from listening to the reports (and not taking anything that anyone says on either side without a pinch of salt) like this riot could have been caused, at least in part, by a nasty combination frustration at police inaction/disinterest and a single instance of an (apparently) unprovoked attack by the police on a young woman.

None of this justifies any damage to private property or looting or private property of course but it perhaps makes the initial anger and violence understandable. If the state, in the form of the police, appears disinterested in responding to a desire for justice and open communication from a large number of people, then how should they react? It’s a bit feeble to tell them they should obey the law and… er… turn to the police to help.

That said, there is little point in rioting. But there does seem to be a justification for anger here (from what little I can tell by watching the tv and listening to the witnesses they have interviewed).

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2 responses to “Tottenham Riots: An Observer Writes

  1. Reports of casualies are coming in. Do you expect immediate reports all the time? The police have a lot on their hands here at the moment. I do not see why people expect to know all the facts the second they happen. The media will twist whatever is said by the police or anyone else anyway to make a more interesting story. People may be angry in Tottenham and have turned to rioting, but why be angry with the post office, a newsagent, a bus. How did the anger turn to stealing and looting from a mobile phone shop and others? What did the business owners from the community do to have their lives destroyed?

  2. ” But there does seem to be a justification for anger here”

    I can’t see any justification for ‘anger’ that expresses itself as gangs looting shops.

    All I see are criminals happily seizing the opportunity for self righteous looting.