The recent UK riots over here, are reminiscent of the ones in LA in 1992 according to the UK government – at first glance, but scratch the surface and we really more in common with…. well previous London Riots!
The links between the two haven’t been lost on David Cameron either, Bill Bratton, former LAPD Chief of Police who oversaw the aftermath of the LA riots and did a pretty good job, is being consulted as some kind of ambassador advisor on the way forward.
Both started with a flashpoint racial incident – in the US it was Rodney King being pounded by several police officers, here it was a North London blackman Mark Duggan, shot dead by Police marksmen during an operation.
That was really where the similarities ended though, as the LA Riots began after the 5 police officers who were on trial for using excessive force against King, were acquitted.
The UK Riots began after a silent protest on its way to Tottenham Police Station the day after the shooting, turned violent and the subsequent disorder branched into running attacks on the police and looting and burning of shops.
The US government wasted little time before calling in the National Guard to police LA, the UK Government said Army intervention wouldn’t happen – period.
Since the Riot’s, the Coalition Government appears to be at war, tearing itself apart over the stringent cuts they have introduced to tackle the UK Deficit and as seen by some to be detrimental to the police force who were undermanned, underprepared and tactic-less.
The UK Rioters had at their disposal technology to organise them, using Twitter and mobile phones (specifically Blackberry’s closed network) to organize themselves in an area, and then move on before the overstretched police could turn up.
The Police’s problem’s weren’t helped by their “allowing the inmates to burn the asylum” rule) appearing to stand back and allow looters free reign in London and Birmingham. This seemed to be some kind of change in tactics after the brutality and heavy handedness (in particlular, their stop and search policies which were blamed), which preceded the Brixton & Toxteth 1981 and Brixton 1985 riots.
Last weeks calls to “shoot the bastards!” and “string them up!” have given way to a more measured look into why it happened. Aside from the rampant element of criminality and extremism which latch onto every protest and march. There exists a part of society which the Politicians would rather forget about, people caught in the loop of poverty, kids brought up to know no respect and no better. Parents who couldn’t give a stuff about what their kids get upto – The very disintegration of moral society.
The usual list of socio-ecomonic reasons were present in both UK & LA Riots, recession, high unemployment, lack of opportunities and increasing racial tensions between residents and Police.
In the aftermath of the LA Riots, four of the officers were retried and two were sent to prison. It is unlikely, any of the UK officers will stand trial as Mark Duggan was allegedly reported as having drawn a gun first.
The cause and aftermath of the UK Riots is too much much detail to go into here, but it does draw interesting parallels with the LA Riots. Spaceman thinks though, we have enough experience of our own riots to look for the answers in this country after the UK Riots of 1981, 1985 & 2011, without calling in the US cavalry just yet.
It will also be interesting to see how the politicians again fail the people by doing little to scratch the surface of a problem; which is 3-4 generations old and exasperated by an increasing divide of society between the have’s and have not’s.