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London Riots Speech

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London riots


My name is (...). I am very pleased to be here tonight, to talk to all of you. I am going to talk about the riots that are still going on just outside of these doors from my point of view, and hopefully help solving some of challenges that the nation is right now facing.

After three days of fire, violence and looting in England, countless analyses are trickling in the media, each with their take on the cause of this sudden riot. Everyone wants to know how peaceful demonstrations in North London, unexpectedly turned into riots, that just as unexpectedly, has spread like wildfire over London and the UK and has created global debate. And I am pretty sure we are all left with the same question, because; what makes people set fire to small, family-run businesses, and why would someone beat up a random by-passer or rob somebody who has already been beaten up?

But what creates the greatest schism in the analytical reverberates among experts, politicians and basically everyone with a twitter profile, are the lootings. Why do all these young people from poor areas, wade into smashed shops, take the goods and then just leave with a grin on their face, absolutely careless of whose watching?

With the conservatism dominating this country, many people will think that a bunch of thugs who thoughtlessly commit criminal acts, do not deserve an explanation for their unacceptable behaviour, and supporters of the liberalistic mind will shake their head digitally over explanations referring to England's poverty problems. Everybody owns an iPhone – who are they to complain?

At the other extreme, there are arguments that when the capitalism creates a need for expensive brands that people cannot meet due to the poor economy, the community is asking to get robbed. This is where I believe that one should be careful what you assume when you talk about poverty in England, because poverty does not necessarily mean that you do not have access to expensive shoes and telephones, whether the goods are purchased legally or illegally. Many of the thieves had already expensive cell phones and expensive sportswear, which can be seen on the videos of the looting, and the use of Blackberries to organize the riots on the social medias. Moreover, it was not only expensive things that were stolen - pictures of people who steal chips and other cheap stuff, are also circulating on the Internet. People did not just steal things they could not normally afford. Poverty in England is more than a flat saving accounts, and it is naive to create a romantic picture of it. Because poverty in London's working-class is about a class division that has never really been dealt with. It is about growing up with limited access to education in a country, where it really matters whether you went to a good school or less good in the neighbour district. The way you speak reveals what social stratum you come from. Where your role models sell drugs, and the police is a threat to your family and your friends, and where it is really hard to break away from the negative social heritage.

Some groups even feel that they are in war with the police. People, who grow up in the worst deprived areas in London, neither feel protected by the police or politicians. They grow up with the feeling that they have nothing in common with those who make the rules, and that they have nothing to expect from them. They feel forgotten and ignored.

And although we are in a time where people of all skin colours can be spotted in London's director chairs, issues of racism are still smouldering in people's minds. And while London's police force today actively seeks candidates of different skin colours than white, it is not long ago the police force was officially characterized as 'institutionally racist' following the failure of a case where a young black man was stabbed, and the police did not do enough. Many still remember the last major riots in Brixton in 1981, which also dealt with the racial conflict between black people and the police, and where the same street scene was seen, with fire, violence and looting.

So what is to be concluded from all this? Preparing this speech, I have been over this a million times. Because what has really caused these major riots and the last couple of days’ brutal street behaviour? When I was first briefed about the whole situation, I thought it had to do with the typical criminal behaviour among young men and lack of meaningful roles and socializing forces for them, but then I found out that many rioters were women. Then I started thinking that the riots were products of how angry the British African descended community feels at the white majority, but then I realised that both rioters and victims came from multiple ethnicities. So when every other theory I had, had crumbled, I thought of the growing underclass and how it has been lashing out the last couple of years. But then again, I realised that many of the rioters and looters came from the working class, middle class and even the upper class… So I guess what is really to be concluded is that England is a crumbling nation – a broken society where people have been stepped on for too long, to still care about moral, solidarity and unity. Only when we learn to open our eyes and decide to do something about this, our society will again mend.

I want to thank you all for coming tonight, and listening to my words. I hope to see an end to this very soon.…...

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