Reporting from Manchester, Alex Patnick examines the rioting that has broken out in the North West.
By now, you may be bored of reading about the riots but I would like to ‘throw in my two cents’ as the Americans say. This site, and most of the press, has been concentrating on the London riots, but what about the rest of the country? There were riots in Birmingham on the last two nights, Manchester and Salford, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.
The riots in Tottenham started out as the residents had legitimate anger and frustration against an unhelpful local government and police. While the way they went about venting the pent up fury was abhorrent they at least had reasons, at least when it started. As the people in and around Tottenham rioted over the death of Mark Duggan, and unprepared, understaffed and underfunded Metropolitan Police lost control of the streets. As the rest of London saw this, even in ‘trendy’ areas with a large professional population such as Camden Town rioted. This soon spread across London and we have seen and heard the results in the last few days. These riots soon spread like wildfire northwards through to the West Midlands and parts of Greater Manchester.
I do not know too much about the West Midlands but living in Manchester I can safely say what went on in the city centre was abhorrent and, as they said about the riots in London, mindless thuggery. The Assistant Chief Constable Gary Shewan of Greater Manchester Police stated late last night of the riots and rioters that
“This is nothing more than senseless violence with no absolutely no regard for people, their property or livelihoods. These criminals have also attacked some of my officers and other emergency services who are simply trying to do their job to keep the public safe and restore order.”
There have not been any shootings by the police here, no heavy-handed response to crime this is, violence for violence sake and crime for crimes sake. Throughout the country, there is no reason now for people to be rioting. No political, economical, financial, or moral reason. This is most evident in Manchester when one looks at the shops that were targeted – JD Sports, Foot Locker, Primark etc, The posher shops, such as Marks and Spencer, Debenhams and designer ones such Louis Vuitton, and Armani, weren’t targeted. It was what the Victorians called “the criminal underclass” that did this, we know them as Chavs but it is the same sentiment. The Manchester community at large is shocked by the acts and on the whole is being supportive of the police. I only hope that they arrest enough of them tonight to prevent further violence. Chief Constable Shewan said that officers will be going through CCTV today and arresting anyone they can who was involved and we can only pray that they catch every one involced.
The people rioting are probably people who would not be able to say who the PM is and probably think Adolf Hitler was a German Football coach such is the education in some schools. One could blame lack of education funding, lack of jobs, youth centre’s and other such things but this is not the case. If you take part in crime for fun and ‘kicks’ then there is something seriously wrong in your upbringing. Those arrested should face the full force of the law, with jail time and withdrawal of any and all benefits for life.
AP Schrader in his earlier article says that he is loth to encourage the government to deploy the Army to quell the riots, and I agree but this is needed if it goes on any longer. If we look at the USA for example, within an hour of rioting they would have deployed the National Guard on the ground and had helicopters flying overhead. From my flat, I hear more helicopters when Man United is playing Man City than I did last night! The riots in America would have been over quickly, the National Guard would remain deployed for a further day or two then the streets would return to normal.
In Israel there is currently a protest over high costs of living but the people aren’t rioting. 250,000 people marched in Jerusalem last week in protest and I have not heard of one act of criminality yet in this country a few thousand people protest and all hell breaks loose. The parents of this country need to be forced to take responsibility for their children instead of blaming it on “the rich who own the businesses” as one London youth put it.
I applaud the efforts of the police throughout the country and wholeheartedly support the bravery and professionalism of the many young men and women who have probably never experience anything like this before. I also feel sorry for them as, at a time of economic stringency they are facing redundancies and cuts that mean they will be even less able to cope next year. I urge the George Osborne, the Government and Parliament to stop the police cuts now before they are too weak to cope with this. If this happens next year, will they be able to cope and will forces be able to help each other? I only hope that these riots end now and that the police have the resources to help if they happen again.