The police, politicians and some media outlets are all blaming technology for the riots. The people are blaming an ignorant government. The two sides don’t seem like they’re going to meet anytime soon.
British MP David Lammy has called for social networking sites to be shut down, but, if they did that, then those who are trying to help clean up the mess as volunteers wouldn’t be able to coordinate either. Turning off technologies will not magically fix the problem. People won’t simply think, “Oh my phone and internet doesn’t work. I’ll just go back home peacefully.” No, you will end up with even more rioting and more chaos.
In an attempt to catch looters, UK police are posting photos on flickr in the hopes that someone recognizes a looter and turns them in. There is also a report that some folks have formed a Google Group to try and use facial recognition to identify the looters.
If you’re still confused about the riots, you can read this excellent article on the Guardian’s website. One of the more famous quotes that has come out in the past couple of days has come from a young rioter.
here’s a sad truth, expressed by a Londoner when asked by a television reporter: Is rioting the correct way to express your discontent?
“Yes,” said the young man. “You wouldn’t be talking to me now if we didn’t riot, would you?”
The TV reporter from Britain’s ITV had no response. So the young man pressed his advantage. “Two months ago we marched to Scotland Yard, more than 2,000 of us, all blacks, and it was peaceful and calm and you know what? Not a word in the press. Last night a bit of rioting and looting and look around you.”
It’s unfair to blame one single thing for the riots when the politicians in particular are ignoring the large swath of poor, disenfranchised people that have been ignored and abused for so many years. It’s just easier to blame technology instead of looking at the situation properly and admitting what a huge failure the government has made in handling the riots and everything that has led up to it.
Most of the people who will be writing, speaking and pontificating about the disorder this weekend have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up in a community where there are no jobs, no space to live or move, and the police are on the streets stopping-and-searching you as you come home from school. The people who do will be waking up this week in the sure and certain knowledge that after decades of being ignored and marginalised and harassed by the police, after months of seeing any conceivable hope of a better future confiscated, they are finally on the news.
Until the Prime Minister understands why the rioting started to begin with, this will not end well. The disconnect between the upper classes and the poorer people in the UK is so large that the country will continue to burn until there’s nothing left. When the government cannot understand its people, it’s time for them to leave so that the poor and disenfranchised can get the help they need.
If you do want to help, you can go to Riot Cleanup or check out @Riotcleanup on twitter, who have amassed more than 87,000 followers in just a couple of days.
Let me point out that I do not condone the massive looting and burning that is happening. I know that there is a difference between those who feel marginalized and those who are out to just burn shit up and steal whatever they can carry. The fact remains, there are large problems in the UK that need to be addressed, but the government seems determined to focus on the criminality instead. When you do that, the rioting will die down for a while, but it always comes back.