UK Newswire Archive
Photos taken earlier this evening.
Cops attacking kids in the Hackney Central/Pembury Estate area
Where is the anarchist response to the riots? A few thoughts...
While the most exciting wave of civil unrest unfolds in front of our eyes, anarchists across London seem to be failing at actively supporting this immense expression of anger and frustration. We believe this expression to be totally legitimate and should be encouraged and supported. But how? The writers of this are not sure themselves but here are a few ideas and we hope people will think about and act out their response to this situation.
Create a visible and directed anti-authoritarian presence - we should be on these demonstrations with banners and literature but perhaps most importantly facing down the police. Think black-bloc, barricade roads, don't run when the pigs come.
Legal advice - we should be making people aware of the importance of masking up and the presence of CCTV. Distributing bust cards is also important (note: many people wary of receiving legal advice from perceived outsiders. we are not completely sure how to overcome this and it needs thought.)
Pick your targets - the rioters so far as doing a good job of redistributing wealth by attacking large corporations. what else can we go for? police stations, courts, other government buildings, banks, CCTV cameras
Think about safety - we should be aware that some people are using this as an opportunity to mug others. stay safe, move in groups and think seriously about who you trust with your physical safety.
This is just the beginning of what we should be doing and we hope a dialogue is formed between all protesters across the city and the country who are tired of the police harassment and exploitative economic systems.
What is the crime of looting a corporate chain store next to the crime of owning one?
-- Luther Brecht
Looters don't give many press conferences. This made all of the conversations on today's BBC morning show a little bit one-sided.
Having been out last night in Brixton, I feel as qualified as anybody to offer at least a bit of perspective as an anarchist living in the area for the past six years.
First things first. None of the people hauling ass out of Currys last night will ever pay £9000 annual tuition to David Cameron's shiny new neo-liberal university system, so beloved by the young people of London. Although Britain has a bit more social mobility now than in the Victorian era which Cameron seems to idolize, the racist overtones in the Great British societal symphony are still pretty loud. Most of the black people who participated in last night's looting of the Currys over on Effra Road may never make it off their housing estates and into the Big Society. They don't have a hell of a lot to lose.
Despite this, the fairly mixed (for Brixton) crowd of several hundred was feeling festive last night, as cars lined up on both sides of the road, all the way to Brixton Water Lane. They're not people who are used to winning very often. The chance to haul away several hundred thousand pounds worth of electronics, right under the helpless noses of the police who routinely harass, beat, and kill them, made it a great night. The fourteen year old girls heading for that 60 inch plasma TV of their dreams were polite enough to say "excuse me", quite sincerely, as they bumped into me while springing into the Currys parking lot. Last night, everybody on Effra Road was in a great mood.
This morning, killjoys in the corporate media disagreed.
Many commentators decried the lack of a clear political motive in the riots, and seemed worried about how unrespectable the looting makes it all seem. According to this line of thought, poverty is not political.
On the radio, on the web, and in the papers, there's a lot of talk right now about the 'stupidity' of the rioters, burning down their own neighbourhoods. All of the commentators who follow this line of argument haven't considered some pretty basic facts.
Outraged Guardian readers, I say to you: you're only partially correct. It's true that the guy carrying that cash register past Brixton Academy last night probably didn't conceptualize his actions according to rational choice economic theories. However, when compared with four years of failed state capitalist attempts to catapult us out of the economic crisis, his maneuvers were in fact the height of rationality. Destroying evidence by turning on the gas cooker full-blast and burning down the Stockwell Road Nandos is pretty crazy. But it makes a lot more economic sense, for Brixton, than anything so far attempted by Labour, the Conservatives, or the wizard brains of the City of London.
Smashing windows in Brixton is probably a surer road to prosperity for most people than any of the more respectable paths already explored.
The guy who showed up today to fix the smashed windows on Brixton Road may live just down the street from the shattered glass lying on the pavement; it's unlikely that he's a currency speculator or a hedge fund manager on the side. Any money he makes from fixing the windows will be mostly spent back in the local community.
The merits of endlessly sucking money out of the pockets of working people into the reserve accounts of the supercharged risk-takers at Canary wharf are quite a bit less clear to me, at present. The crisis is entering year five. Throwing hundreds of billions into the endless rounds of bank bailouts, corporate tax breaks, and other props for a global economy which increasingly resembles that of the USSR circa 1987 is not clearly a winning strategy.
The eruption of economic chaos in the Eurozone, and the police bullets which ripped into Mark Duggan, ending his life, are now two events which are bound together in a massive sequence of riots in London, the European continent's largest financial centre.
These riots are remarkable chiefly for the role-reversals they bring about, and most of the outrage in the corporate media is a reflection of this. The outrage is really interesting if you stop to think about it.
For instance: retail profit is a kind of theft. It's economic value which is hoovered out of a local community via corporate cash registers. The decisions about where to re-invest the profits are the preserve of corporate managers and shareholders, not the decision of the people from whom the value was extracted. The whole process is fundamentally anti-democratic.
This daily denial of basic democratic political rights is "normal", and may last for years, decades or centuries. Corporations may steal from poor people - but any attempt on the part of poor people to steal back must be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
Similarly, I had multiple conversations today about Saturday night's riots in Tottenham. They invariably referenced the case of Keith Blakelock, the police officer who was killed during the Broadwater Farm riots of 1985. Not one of the conversations I had included any reference to Cynthia Jarrett, the woman whose killing during a search of her apartment sparked those riots in the first place.
In the same way, I doubt whether any of the outraged middle-class commentators on the BBC 4 radio show this morning gave much thought to the dozens of people that the cops have killed in custody, or to the more or less daily humiliation of black youths who get stopped and searched outside my house. The message conveyed by all of this is pretty clear: police attacks on poor people who can't defend themselves (especially black ones) are normal. Conversely, popular attacks on police are an outrage, especially if they happen to succeed. And don't ask that guy who nicked the cash register to give his side of the story.
None of this is to say that the fire truck which just screamed past my window is a good thing. The political and economic problems of Brixton are complex. It's too easy to spout platitudes about how nothing will ever be the same again - but for a few hours last night, walking down Effra road with plasma screen TVs and Macintosh laptops, the losers were the winners. And that could have a powerful effect.
08-08-2011 22:55Follow events in London at London Indymedia
London Indymedia is collating news reports, images and videos from events in London: http://london.indymedia.org/ Also see the London Tumblewire for updates http://london.indymedia.org/tumbles/promoted
Picutre of people watching the riot - brollies out!
Here's a photo from earlier today.
08-08-2011 22:10Rioting on Woolwich high street. Shops smashed.
Visiting High Road two days after the first riot, that sparked others around London, and around the UK, with reports coming in from Birmingham and , the place is still locked off by police.
After taking a few shots, walking back to the tube station a man stops me:
"Are you working for the media?
"Well, yes kinda...? Indymedia is the media, but probably not the media he meant.
"What do you think we should do now?
What am I supposed to respond to that? And why am I being asked, after being placed as part of the media? Is he asking me how people can get their story heard? How to change the image that has been created about those riots? That's how I interprete the question.
I tell him that I think people need to tell their story, to get their version of events out there without mediaries, professionals, journalists who will never be able to tell the sotry the way the people who are in the events can. The people in the communities need to get their stories heard.
I tell him about Indymedia, a community news site, that doesn't have editors or a bottom line. About our publish button.
He nods and grins and holds out his fist, for me to bump with my fist (how do you even say that?)
This is the time when we need community news. News written by the people, not by busy and harrassed journalists. We need to hear about the reasons for the riots and looting from the people who were part of the events. We need to take the time to collect and understand the real reasons for what is going on. Reading comments on news websites and listening to vox pops just shows how out of touch a lot of the people are with the streets. How those people who have a voice in the media have no explanations and reasons. And those who know do not talk.
The protest was the latest in a campaign against the children's charity Barnado's which will be running play facilities at the government's newest prison for migrants which will shortly open in Pease Pottage, near Gatwick in Sussex.
Leaflets handed out to Barando's staff were a detailed riposte to the latest statement by CEO Anne Marie Carrie. Read more about that here.
08-08-2011 18:58Any news from Brum?
On the third day of the unrest in London people started to report clashes with the police in Hackney and Lewisham, around 6pm clashes with police were reported from Peckham Rye area. In Hackney people started to smash windows along Mare Street.
see Tumblewire for updates
more info soon.
08-08-2011 18:16Hundreds of people, shops smashed, tesco smashed, few riot cops bout 20 so, and more people heading in.
I was under ten when PC Keith Blakelock was killed and Broadwater Farm erupted in the now infamous riots of 1985. I was growing up a few miles away near Finsbury Park; racial tension existed locally, with the National Front in evidence across north and east London; sympathy for the unwilling victims of an unwanted war in Northern Ireland was widespread; and there was little respect for authority in the form of the Metropolitan Police - a feeling vindicated by the subsequent unmasking of corruption at "Stokey-Pokey" (Stoke Newington) police station, situated only a short distance away in Hackney.
Twenty-five years later, despite what even recently appeared to have been progress, little has actually changed. As a nation, we are all affected by the corruption of authority. The financial extravagances of recent years are causing the economic system to collapse on us - and the poor are paying. Racial tensions persist, with increasing support for the English Defence League across the country, and DNA profiles samples taken by police in London are disproportionately far greater for non-northern European whites (more than 1 in 2 of all such profiles) than the comparable figure for the London population as a whole (approximately 30%). We remain involved in costly, unwanted and unnecessary wars against "terrorists", and bribing the police is apparently still rife - if their conduct surrounding the red-top press is anything to go by.
Yet the riots in Tottenham and Wood Green on Saturday night were not political in origin, say the commentators. I disagree. They may not have been consciously political - the destruction of local businesses (I don't mean the IKEAs, CarPhone Warehouses or HMVs, but the local grocery stores and small businesses run by families or individuals) is not commensurate with good neighbourly manners - but the riots carry a message: "We are people too." The banking excesses of the past decade have robbed us - the people - who are now expected to pay the price. And now the people are asking "why?" Why are our youth clubs, nurseries, leisure centres, and libraries being closed? Why are hospital budgets and health care services being cut? Why are we blamed and why are we carrying the can for the problems caused by elites?
Indeed, Haringey seems to suffer most from this robbery: as a borough, it is ranked in the top 15 most deprived boroughs in England (there are 326 altogether). More specifically, it is Tottenham that bears the brunt of this; the western half of the borough contains the relatively much more affluent districts around Alexandra Palace, Muswell Hill and Highgate. The deprivation figures across the borough only become more extreme when looking at specific measures of deprivation such as child poverty, employment levels, or housing.
Is there a light at the end of the tunnel? It would be nice to say "yes," but I'm not sure that I can. Downing Street on Sunday morning lit a candle in the dark: by stating that "[t]he rioting in Tottenham last night was utterly unacceptable" the door at least has been opened for local residents to claim compensation under the Riot (Damages) Act 1886. This makes provision for monies to be "paid out of the police fund of the area" But such retrospective claims often take years to effect, and the damage upon our communities is being inflicted now. Cameron's cuts can only lead to further unrest; the true remedy requires long term investment in community combined with an understanding of every day life - an understanding that this government is clearly lacking. The coalition's failure to learn the lessons of the last 30 years is proving a costly mistake for us all.
The police were clearly psyched up and frustrated that they couldn’t break more heads. One man, who happened to be both young and black, but in the area to monitor policing for the network for police monitoring, was arrested for obstructing police after he refused to give a name and address. In the back of the police van he was then repeatedly punched in the face leaving him with cuts, bruises and a bleeding lip.
If this is a typical example of how the police treat local black and working class youths – and there is every reason to think that it is – then it isn’t difficult to understand the anger and rage that exists.