Riots – it’s not all doom and gloom.
After five days of riots, I will probably flick on the BBC News tonight to see more scenes of disturbances which have taken place this evening across England. Recent developments have seen the first deaths due to the disorder in a car accident, and another man has died in hospital after he was attacked by looters when defending his community (Mirror front page 10 August). Where’s the hope, respect or love in that?
From London to Bristol and Manchester to Milton Keynes, the fires have been spreading across the country, with arrests reaching over 1400.
Thousands of emergency calls, 16,000 police officers patrolling the streets, buildings burning, burglaries, looting and random attacks have filled the headlines and shocked the country.
But no more of that doom and gloom. Dave has announced that the ‘fightback’ is underway, and it is hoped that all the people who have been committing these atrocities will be put to justice.
Despite being glued to the TV the past few nights, I have, like most people, been incredibly angry, upset and disappointed by the behaviour I have seen.
But despite searching for the solution, debating the problems or questioning police tactics, I’ve tried to see the human spirit in this situation and shed some light in the dark, some flickering flame of hope for humanity.
Perhaps the first – and probably only – picture of the riots that has made me smile is that of Boris Johnson defiantly holding a broom above his head as yesterday he visited affected areas to help with the clean up effort. Such an example is a small inspiration, as barriers between politicians and people are somewhat broken for a small amount of time.
It wasn’t just Boris who was keen to help put the city of London back together. Yesterday morning, footage showed crowds of people waiting patiently outside the police tape with brooms and spades in the hope they would be allowed back onto the street to help clear up the wreckage of the previous few days of vandalism and arson. The expectancy of this group and the keen attitude they showed to help return the city to normality as quickly as possible shows that people do still care about their communities.
Even those who lived too far away to help raised the profile on Twitter with the hashtag #riotclearup.
An MP noted that it was amazing how much people care about their community, their city, their country.
During the riots themselves, we have seen extraordinary acts of bravery. The courage of many to stand up to defend their buildings and shops from rioters and looters without the help of the police is incredibly admirable. I’ve read of people linking arms and standing in front of buildings and pressuring away rioters. There have been reports of organised resistance in Turkish and Kurdish areas to defend their own properties and businesses with nothing but baseball bats. A Facebook group has launched in support of those. Such bravery can only be looked up to, when the police cannot always be there to defend every single person affected by these riots.
A fund for a local man whose barber shop was destroyed during the riots and has no money or insurance to repair it has been launched by three interns at BBN on Blogger entitled Keep Aaron Cutting, collecting over £11,000 so far.
The famous clips of a Malaysian man being helped up by a group of other men who then robbed him and walked away as stood bleeding and in shock. Another blog has been set up on Tumblr, with people voting on how to do something nice for him. Suggestions include paying for his dental costs, his student fees or for his family to come and see him. It has also been taking donations.
A campaign I’ve recently come across on Twitter and been invited to on Facebook is the Operation Cup of Tea, which campaigns for everyone to stay at home and drink tea instead of rioting. The popularity of this has been amazing, and has been trending on Twitter for days On their website they are selling a new brand of anti-riot tea, described as containing “a special blend of darjeeling, which will help you to relax and unwind, dispelling any urge you may have to go out and riot.”
This video of the founder, Sam Pepper, is pretty inspiring, and makes me feel proud of members of our generation, a lot of whom do give a shit about something.
Some other entertaining Facebook groups include ‘Looting basmati rice when Argos is next door because you’re a fucking idiot’ and ‘The awkward moment where we should have believed the Kaiser Chiefs’ which have been posting funny quirks, photos and videos on the site for fans.
After all of this, something also may be able to be gathered from the fact that at least all the politicians are coming together to condemn this violence. Empty and simple words they may be, collaboration and agreement from the three main parties – even if the government is broken and divided – is something to look to in these troubled times.
I am not attempting to downgrade the situation, its importance or its significance. The disgusting scenes from the past few days have shown that there are real problems in Britain that need to be addressed, and the behaviour of many to be held to account. However, these few examples which are probably accompanied by more, show me at least that there is still some spirit, some community and some respect still left in Britain.