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Rioters in London and other cities around England over the past week have caused senseless violence and criminality on a scale that hasn’t been seen for decades.
Causing millions of pounds worth of damage, rioters have turned a number of English cities upside down, showing complete disregard for the safety of citizens.
It began as a peaceful demonstration following the death of the 29-year old Mark Duggan from Tottenham who was shot death by police on Thursday August 4. Around 300 people gathered outside Tottenham police station on Saturday August 6 in their quest for justice for Duggan and his family. Later the same evening the violence broke out.
Gradually going completely out of control, the predominantly teenage part of the population of England set buildings on fire, smashed and looted shops, attacked policemen and caused chaos on the streets of English cities. The looters seemed to be always one step ahead of the stretched police forces, taking full advantage of the disorder.
Some of the cities outside London affected by the riots include Manchester, Salford, Wolverhampton, Birmingham, Liverpool, Nottingham, Gloucester, Leicester, Bristol and Leeds. Turning those cities into war zone, the rioters left people without homes and businesses.
Some of the most shocking disturbances included:
These represent just a small portion of the consequences from the volatile acts of the looters. Eventually, it became clear that it was not about protesting – it was about robbery and pointless vandalism.
The clean-up action
During this week of distressing events, people have seen the worst of Britain – the angry and rather greedy youngsters destroying their own community — buildings being burned down, businesses being wrecked, property being stolen, innocent people being injured.
Nonetheless, following these disturbances, onlookers now see the best of Britain: the volunteers who gather on the streets of London and other affected cities to clean up the mess left by rioters.
“Bring gloves, heavy duty sacks, brooms, brushes and marker pens,” instructed a Twitter account, @RiotCleanUp. For just more than an hour, the Twitter account attracted more than 70,000 followers and brought together the people of England who got together to pick up the pieces and restore the order in their cities.
With regards to the rioters themselves, they will pay for their acts. Having seen “the most sickening scenes of his career,” Greater Manchester Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Garry Shewan made the following statement:
“Hundreds and hundreds of people, we have your image, we have your face, we have your acts of wanton criminality on film. We are coming for you, from today, and no matter how long it takes, we will arrest those people responsible.”
Prime Minister David Cameron also gave a speech warning the rioters that they “will feel the full force of the law” and if they are “old enough to commit these crimes” they are “old enough to face the punishment.” He further urged the country to pull together and promised to compensate anyone whose life has been affected by violence.
In fact, almost 2000 people have been arrested across the country using CCTV images. More than 600 have been charged. The offenses range from violent disorder (including robbery, assault, carrying a weapon and obstructing a police officer) to burglary and related offenses (including handling stolen goods), arson and drug-related offenses.
The events of the past week have been extremely overwhelming. Now that the cities are being cleaned up and offenders are being punished, a question arises as to why it happened in the first place. Cameron admits that the riots were caused mainly by social and cultural problems.
He blamed it on “children without fathers; schools without discipline; reward without effort; crime without punishment; rights without responsibilities; communities without control.” Seeing the riots as a “wake-up call for the nation,” Cameron gives a promise to “mend our broken society” by reviewing all aspects of policy, including education, welfare, parenting and drug addiction.