For days, the world witnessed the flames of discontent and disenchantment engulfing the urban streets of England in the aftermath of the shooting death of 29-year-old Mark Duggan by the Metropolitan Police Service on Aug. 4.
After the London riots in August, the theorist Paul Gilroy made a rousing yet frighteningly honest speech to a crowd of community leaders and activists in Tottenham, North London. In his speech, Gilroy argued that Black and poor youth had been subjected to what he called “processes of criminalization,” re-creating them in an image they did not choose.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has lost legitimacy as a result of the brutal suppression of peaceful demonstrators and should resign. Statements to this effect were made nearly simultaneously by leading Iranian and Libyan politicians. Khalid Kaaim, deputy head of the Libyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stressed that Cameron and his government have completely lost their legitimacy and should leave after the mass protests and violent police actions against the participants in peaceful demonstrations.
The riots that started last Saturday night were completely unexpected, but they could have still been anticipated by everyone from the community to police. The fact that a man, Mark Duggan, was shot by police was always going to be a provocative issue, but this was amplified by the fact it took place in Tottenham – a place that has a fairly murky history with the police and authority in general – and the fact that the man was Black.
I just watched Good Morning America, where the anchors denied that there were any social or economic justice concerns driving the London rioters. They were all just criminals and copycats apparently. Shame on you, Robin and Christiane; you’re both a lot smarter than that.
Since the coalition came to power just over a year ago, the country has seen multiple student protests, occupations of dozens of universities, several strikes, a half-a-million-strong trade union march and now unrest on the streets of the capital – preceded by clashes with Bristol police in Stokes Croft earlier in the year. Each of these events was sparked by a different cause, yet all take place against a backdrop of brutal cuts and enforced austerity measures.
Several days of unprecedented revolt by the most impoverished minority-populated neighborhoods of London have shaken the normally staid and reserved British aristocracy. Prime Minister David Cameron cut short his Italian vacation in sunny Tuscany to return to the red-orange glare of a burning city.