birmingham riots

11Aug11

For a view of the local events as they are unfolding: The Birmingham Riots 2011 – Casey Rain Blog

Messages have been coming in from distant friends across the globe, saddened and bewildered at the news images depicting urban Blighty in 2011: Gangs of young looters, seemingly buoyed by a collective mob mentality, ransacking the high streets of our cities and towns, knowing somehow that there is insufficient power on the part of the Police, or anyone, to stop them.

Perhaps, in due course, history will attribute these events to a broader socio-economic crisis prompted by the global financial meltdown and its consequences? But that’s difficult to see as the evidence suggests that the ‘disenfranchised’ are forgoing bread and books and reaching instead for mobile phones, skategear and flatscreen TVs -basically all the consumer stuff that the advertising relentlessly tells them they need to have. Yes, the looting is driven not by frustration but an ideology of greed and opportunism. (Nobody has any money… but the shops are full of stuff, stuff and yet more stuff that people want… and if they don’t want it they’ll know someone else who does.)

Because it’s been demonstrated that the policing has been ineffectual, groups of vigilantes have been appearing on the streets to defend their businesses and their communities (sales of baseball bats are reported to be escalating). Almost inevitably, a tragedy occured last night on the Dudley Road, when 3 Brit-Asian men were ploughed into by a car whilst trying to defend their shops. The ether is then full of suggestion that gangs of men from other cities will travel from here and elsewhere to battle the looters (who have clearly got wind of this and moved on to surprise a different town).

There is a sense of unreality about the whole scenario…like it’s being played out on a stolen Xbox, like it’s a simulated Zombie movie. Apart from the fact, of course, that communities are being trashed, reputations shattered and lives destroyed. Desperate and sad times.

Zoe Williams in The Guardian, attempts to unravel the Psychology of Looting

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