Archive for the ‘London riots’ Category

Monkey see monkey do: Riots gang culture moral direction and knee-jerk sentencing

August 16, 2011

For years gangs have terrorised slum estates, everyone turned a blind eye, last week they went mainstream and all hell broke loose.

Yes, we need to clamp down on the gangs, but many who got caught up in the looting were not thugs, were not from slum estates, were not disadvantaged. Crowds have a mindset all of their own, that goes beyond the individual.

In Glasgow they brought over an American academic. They tried a new approach. They brought the gang members in under armed guard, they introduced them to their victims, to mothers whose gang member sons had been killed. They told them that from now on there was going to be zero tolerance, they were going to be dogged every step of the way, they would not be able to breath without someone knowing about it, they were going to be pulled in and put away. But they had a choice, they were also going to be offered help. Which way did they wish to go, the choice was theirs? [see Hood Rat]

In London, an ex-gang member who has served time in prison is working with gang members who with a team of volunteers is helping gang members to turn their lives around.

In the Sates an epidemiologist has drawn up a programme of intervention to stop what he calls the disease spreading.

Favelas in Rio in Brazil face some of the worst gang violence. A minor gang member decided to fight violence with music. The main problem with the kids who joined the gangs was a sense of belonging, music gave them the opportunity to join something other than a gang. [see AfroReggae]

There are problem families who make life hell for everyone around them. They need to be given a choice, reform or you lose your home.

One programme puts problems families in a sin house. Every move they make is monitored, there is CCTV in the house, they are subject to curfew. It is a very strict regime, but there is also help on hand if they need it, the kids get help with their homework. It is their choice, the alternative is to be put out on the street.

One of the first interagency meetings I was asked to attend on a slum estate, a very outspoken girl was present. I talked to her after the meeting. She was around 14. She was not stupid, she was very articulate. She said the younger kids needed somewhere to play, the older ones somewhere to meet and chat and chill out. She wanted a house. I said what for drugs and drink. She said no, tea and coffee and prepare their own food. I said as long as they did not abuse the facility and there was a nominal responsible adult in charge I could not see a problem. She said they had tried, but no one was listening. I suggested direct action, grab some green space, squat a derelict house and do it up.

She though was the exception not the norm. 50% of Black Caribbean boys of 14 have a reading age of eleven-year-olds. Working class White kids are no better. It is cool to be stupid and ignorant and to despise education, it is cool to disrupt class and get excluded.

Intervention costs money. These projects have to be longterm. But is cheaper than a spell in prison. It costs less than the consequential cost to society of thugs roaming the streets.

It costs money to put more police on the streets.

The mantra of the ConDem government is cuts, cuts and more cuts. A mythical debt crisis is used to push through Shock Doctrine.

I was surprised David Cameron could find a youth centre from which to give his speech yesterday on a collapsing society. When a ten-year-old boy last year complained to David Cameron re the closure of his chess club he was dragged out of school by the terrorist police!

I do not know what drugs Theresa May is on but they must have a high street price as she has lost all touch with reality. The police can barely cope now, slash their budgets by 20% and they will not be able to cope.

Simon Hughes MP is little better. Last night he was complaining that his local Divisional Commander did not put all his officers on the street. According to Simon Hughes, police do not need any training to control crowds. Well it may be a surprise to him but they do. Untrained officers lose their cool and make the situation worse. I have faced both on the streets.

We have a society that lacks any moral direction. It is not that these kids do not know the difference between right and wrong, or know they can get away with, they see poor examples all around them. Greed is the watch word, do what you like, rip people off and if you are powerful enough you will get away with it. They are brainwashed into thinking your only value in society is to have the latest mobile phones and trainers, so if you get the opportunity to grab them, then go for it. Our public space and culture is open for sale to the highest bidder. [see Reclaim public space

We have seen knee-jerk sentencing, courts reduced to little more than lynch mobs. Magistrates have been instructed to ignore sentencing guidelines. The result has been vindictive sentencing. Judge Jeffries would have been proud.

A student 6 months for stealing a couple of bottles of water.

A youth four months for threatening behaviour towards three Police Community Support Officers. His threatening behaviour was to point his fingers in the sign of a gun.

A mother of two sentenced to four months for receiving a pair of stollen shorts. She was asleep at the time of the looting.

A mother threatened with eviction because her son was one of the rioters.

In the past a ticking off by the police, a formal caution, if in court a suspended sentence.

Well done the 14-year-old girl who spoke out this morning. The judge condemend her parents for not attending court. She said she could take care of herself and she took full responsibility for what she had done and it was unfair to criticise her parents. Both parents will attend her sentencing. Her father tries to hold down two jobs whilst at the same time trying to look after six childrens.

We are seeing slurring of single parent households. If parents stay home, claim benefits whilst they look after their children they are called welfare scroungers. If they go to work, often more than one poorly paid part time job, they are attacked for being too tired to supervise or look after their children.

That is not to say there is not a problem with parents being unable or unwilling to look after their children.

The last two weeekends I have been at a local fish n chip shop and had to suffer obnoxious kids of primary school age, banging on the window, swinging on the rails. Their brain-dead parents stood idly by and did nothing. No attempt was made to tell their brats to stop causing a nuisance.

China has praised the ConDem government in its wish to shut down twitter and other social networks. There was no evidence, or at least I have seen no evidence, of twitter being used to organise the looting. Twitter was used to organise the clean-up, for friends to warn each other of areas that were not safe.

The ConDem government knows it will face massive civil unrest as its cuts start to kick in. It is using the looting as an excuse to cow the population into inaction.

Reclaim public space

August 15, 2011
Message on Recipease Jamie Oliver shop in Clapham

Message on Recipease Jamie Oliver shop in Clapham

Factory chimneys belching out smoke, slate-roofed rows of terrace houses, the Victorians also gave us parks.

In Lincoln there are two parks, Boutham Park and the Arboretum, two commons, South Common and West Common, all are within the city boundary.

In Guildford only a few minutes walk away from the bustle of the High Street lies the tranqulity of the Castle Grounds and the River Wey.

In Hackney, Vicky Park as it is known locally, or to give it its more formal name, Victoria Park.

Often these parks had bandstands. On the seafront at Brighton a bandstand has recently been restored. In the park adjacent to the Royal Pavilion you will be lucky to see a blade of grass in the summer, especially on a hot day in the shade.

Although very popular, parks are at risk, as greedy developers eye them and corrupt councillors and planning officials agree to their sale.

Schools used have extensive playing fields. Many have now been sold off.

Green space is important for our health. It may be stating the blindingly obvious, but those whose outlook is green space are healthier than those who look out on a brick wall.

Ambient light level is important. That in many residential homes is too low, not surprising many of the residents turn into zombies.

It is not only physical space that is being lost, privatised, so too is our cultural space.

People no longer make a choice in what they wear, what they listen to, their culure has been stolen, turned into a mass-produced, mass-marketed commodity and sold back to them.

Watch a Nigerian rap group and they are churning out the same crap gangster rap, wearing the same gangster clothes as their counterparts in New York. They could be clones, maybe they are.

I travel on a bus and cannot see out of the window because the bus has been turned into a gigantic billboard.

Naomi Klein in No Logo and Paulo Coelho in The Winner Stands Alone have excellent discussions of this theft of our culture.

In the London riots and the riots that spread across the country, the must have was the latest mobile phones and trainers. Worth is determined by what we wear. At the end of the day merely footwear and a communication device but such has been the brainwashing and theft of culture.

The only good to have come out of the riots and looting were the people who in the aftermath came out and cleaned our streets, who recognised the importance of common space.

What we saw was less not knowing right from wrong, what we can get away with, but lack of an internal sense of morality, lack of respect for those around us.

But is this surprising when Members of Parliament fiddle their expenses, when companies like Vodafone fail to pay their taxes?

It should be a moral imperative that companies like Vodafone pay their taxes, that is their contribution to the common good. If not they should be seen for the social paraiahs that they are, shunned. And yet we see George Osbourne promoting them in India, David Cameron in South Africa.

Town centres, market squares grew organically. They were where roads met, rivers were crossed, or if on trade routes where there were springs and wells. Local people set up trade, outsiders brought their goods in on market days. These were public spaces, where people paraded, partied, protested. None of the latter is possible in a shopping mall!

The only people who have talked a modicum of sense post-looting have been the Archibishop of Canterbury in the House of Lords last week and the Bishop of Manchester on Sunday.

A broken sick society