Race and Riots
The ever interesting Katharine Birbalsingh says the riots in England are about race, and nothing will be resolved until authorities are willing to face this fact:
Some of the black kids I used to teach will tell you that the riots are absolutely justified. A number of adults would agree with them. Everywhere I read that the protest was understandable because “people are very angry”. …
At school I remember watching a presentation given to the kids by Trident, the Metropolitan Police Service unit set up to investigate and inform communities of gun crime in London’s black community. I didn’t know what Trident was then, and it struck me that all of the photos of people shot (the idea was to scare the kids) were black. So at the end, I approached one of the policemen and asked him what percentage of those involved in gun crime were black. I kid you not, but my question made this thirty-something white man who was, after all, trained to deal with the black community and its issues, turn pink.
He explained that about 80 per cent of gun crime took place in the black community. I smiled uncomfortably. But no, he said, it was worse than that. Then he told me that 80 per cent was black on black gun crime, and that of the remaining 20 per cent about 75 per cent involved at least one black person: black shooting white, or white shooting black. I pushed to know more. While he kept saying his stats were crude and he didn’t have scientific numbers, on the whole the whites who were involved in these shootings tended to be from Eastern Europe.
Was any of this ever mentioned in their presentation? Of course not. Just like the news about the Tottenham riots doesn’t mention race either.
Problems cannot be addressed unless people are willing to tell the truth. As with so many other things in this country, we stick our heads in the sand and refuse to speak out about it.
The death of petty criminal and gangster Mark Duggan in a shootout with police was not part of a ‘context of oppression’ that explains why young black people are so angry. Nor is planned reduction in social welfare services. These are simply handy excuses to destroy property and steal.
Brendan O’Neill writes in The Australian that the riots are nothing like a political rebellion. They are an expression of the toddler-like rage of a molly-coddled mob.
One of the most disappointing things about these conflicts is the police warning against ‘vigilante justice.’ You have got to be joking.
Vigilantism is when something bad has been done and people try to catch the wrongdoers and punish them without due process under law. Sikhs, Kurds and others who have had the courage to stand and defend their properties and families are not vigilantes. They are trying to prevent crime. They are doing the job the police should be doing.
I don’t mean to be critical of individual police officers. Most of them are people of courage and integrity who really do want to make a difference in their communities. Most of them do not accept the ‘we police with the consent of the communities we serve’ platitudes. They police because they are sworn to uphold and enforce the law, regardless of locality, race or creed.
They are hampered (perhaps betrayed would be a better word) by a politically driven management class of senior officers, many of whom have very little enforcement and operational experience. Christine Nixon, recent and unlamented Commissioner of Police in Victoria, is a perfect example.
The riots in England, and the attempts to excuse them by reference to the down-trodden lives of the rioters and the uncaring attitude of government, remind me of the Palm Island riots in Australia in 2004.
‘Respected local man’ and petty criminal Cameron Doomadgee died in police custody. The circumstances are still unclear. The habitually drunk and violent Doomadgee allegedly attacked the police, who defended themselves and responded with sufficient force to subdue him, including punches to the abdomen. He suffered internal injuries which were not noticed, and died a few hours later.
This was the pretext for riots on the island in which the courthouse, police station and police barracks were burned down. Local police (eighteen police for a population of 2000) and their families were threatened. Fearing for their lives, they barricaded themselves in the small hospital until another eighty police arrived from the mainland.
There seemed to be an infinite supply of social workers and government officials ready to describe the islanders as ‘justly outraged’ and expressing the anger of accumulated years of mistreatment. Police involved were demonised in the press, and the usual intellectuals offered the usual claims about institutionalised racism.
I have worked with police in remote locations with high aboriginal populations. Overwhelmingly they are men and women who care for their communities enough to put themselves in danger when things go wrong. Those who work in remote communities can find themselves alone in threatening circumstances, under great pressure and with little time to make decisions about appropriate words or actions.
The 1999 Guiness Book of World records said that, apart from war zones, Palm Island was the most violent place in the world to live. Criminologist Paul Wilson has confirmed the island has one of the highest rates of violent crime in the world. The homicide rate is 94 per 100,000 people per year, compared with 6 per 100,000 per year for the rest of Australia. Serious assaults are 930 per 100,000, compared with 46 per 100,000 per year for the rest of Australia. Almost every female between the ages of 13 and 16 has at least one sexually transmitted infection. Wilson claimed this horrifyingly destructive behaviour was the fault of repression and colonial mismanagement.
No it is not. Do we really have so little regard for the young people of Tottenham and the aboriginal people of Palm Island that we have no expectation of any ability to control themselves, to take reponsibility for their actions? Do we have so so little respect for them that they don’t even have to make up their own excuses any more, because there is an army of Mrs Jellybys with baskets full of excuses suitable for any occasion?
Even in the poorest parts of London there are still parents who are responsible, honest, work hard, and teach their children to do the same, and to respect other people and their belongings:
In his coffee shop in Stoke Newington, Karagoz tried to explain another feature of these riots – why Turkish and Kurdish youths had generally not joined the looting.
“We have businesses and work hard for what we have. As parents we want our children to work, earn money and be able to buy what they want, not steal it. Our young people know we would be ashamed of them if they were doing this.”
Thanks Karagoz. And all the parents like him.