A fitwatcher’s view of the riots

Posted on Posted in Uncategorized

I’ve felt a lot of emotions over the past few days ranging from joy to grief to anger. It’s been amazing to see people fighting back against the police and it’s been equally horrific to see damage to people’s homes and small shops, let alone the deaths in Birmingham yesterday.

However, today I am just angry. I feel utterly sickened at the attitude of large numbers of people who are suddenly supporting the police, who support the army being brought in, who want to see water canon and plastic bullets used on the streets.

I am livid with rage at people who have never experienced police harassment not even attempting to understand the brutalisation this causes. I know the effect it has had on me, and I’ve only experienced it through the choice of being politically active which is nothing compared to it happening on a daily basis because of your skin colour or where you live.

Not only did the cops kill Mark Duggan, they tried to spin a story about him shooting first, the same way they manufactured lies about Charles de Menzes and Ian Tomlinson amongst others. They showed utter contempt for his family by not communicating with them, and the demands of peaceful protesters to speak to a senior officer were ignored.

This was just one incident in a long line of police killings, brutality, harassment and abuse, but it was one incident too far, the spark was lit and now the flames are a long way from being quelled. In Hackney, it has been well documented that it was a stop and search which led to the conflict which quickly escalated.

For years the carrot of capitalism has been dangled in front of kids with the stick of police brutality and harassment to keep them in place. Now with EMA cut, youth services decimated, university unaffordable and mass unemployment, many don’t see a future and no longer have anything left to lose. This is a generation growing up with capitalism blasted in their faces, living in areas colonised by gentrification. Every day these shiny unattainable products are shoved in our faces through advertising, telling us our lives will be happier if we have the latest product, and then we act surprised when people start looting.

I don’t want to see our streets being controlled and patrolled by gangs, and totally support for example the Kurdish and Turkish communities who have been defending their shops and homes. However, there has been a massive gang on the streets for years – the police, the biggest gang of them all. All the people calling for greater police powers and militarisation could do well with remembering they are a bunch of corrupt murdering liars – something we have seen amply demonstrated on so many occasions.

Meanwhile, the cops and media are calling on people to grass up their friends and family, to shop-a-looter, custody suites are filled to capacity and there are reports of courts having to open through the night. Deterrent sentences will be passed, there will be scapegoats, and the anger will continue. Locking people up in our already over-crowded prisons will not help, and media witch-hunts simply add fuel to the fire.

Civil unrest is a nasty, ugly, messy business, and it is naive to think it is otherwise. There have been some amazing actions and there have been some which have been utterly reprehensible. However, instead of condemning the rioters we need to look at the root causes – violent repressive policing, social deprivation and capitalism as a whole. Otherwise things are only going to get worse.

37 thoughts on “A fitwatcher’s view of the riots

  1. Well said, I agree with everything – of course because it’s the truth. I have had it with everyones ‘opinions’ – they are ill informed and as was said here – do not even consider the root cause.

  2. “I’ve felt a lot of emotions over the past few days ranging from joy to grief to anger”

    Just out of interest, when did you feel joy?

  3. I cant believe I am replying but…

    1. The Police did shoot and kill a man armed with a loaded firearm.
    2. The Police did NOT say anything about he firing first, that was the IPCC (clue is in the title-independent)…
    3. This is certainly NOT a Police state… if it was, your blog would not be allowed…
    4. There were lots of people injured and killed by the rioters, the Police had nothing to do with that.
    5. We are, without doubt, the softest Police in the world. Anywhere else, the police would have shot the people attacking them…
    6. Social deprivation is NOT a police issue… We are NOT instruments of social change…
    7. In my experience, the people crying ‘harassment’ are villains that NEED harassing…

    Now… here is an interesting experiment: will you post this? If you don’t then aren’t you oppressing me and my right to free speech?


  4. Oh, I guess it’s ok then that 5 homicides have occurred due to the riots? 3 people, innocent by-standers, run over by a car: vehicular homicide. Cheers to you, you complete idiot.

  5. If a bunch of whinging handwringing liberal sociologist hippies hadn’t spent the last few decades “empowering” these scum and absolving them of all responsibilities for their actions, the police wouldn’t NEED to change in the way they have. Send out the army, give the police guns and turn a blind eye for a few days. By the end of the week we won’t have any more need for the “police gang mentality” and the prisons will have plenty of space. Problem solved.

    Assuming you want to solve the problem of course. Currently you sound like you’re more interested in keeping it going for your own ego-stroking gratification.

  6. I think you’re being very naive if you think these riots are the result of anything other than greed. Do you really think the thugs running around burning down small businesses and beating up innocent bystanders take any kind of interest in political and social matters?

    I have visited countries and seen/spoken with people who live in real poverty, and they do not feel the need to smash and burn their own communities, attack their neighbours.

    I also think you should question your own motives if you feel rage at the normal members of society, people in genuine fear for their lives, their families, and communities, who want this stop using whatever means necessary.

    We live in a democracy, if this is how the majority of people want the current situation to be handled, then how dare you feel so omnipotent and righteous as to condom them.

  7. “I am livid with rage at people who have never experienced police harassment not even attempting to understand the brutalisation this causes.”

    Sorry you feel this way, but I think you should try to feel empathy with the good, honest people living in fear, rather than making narcissistic rants on the internet.

  8. You need to grow up and think before you speak/act. You think you have it so bad when actually you have it so much easier than past generations the only difference being is you have not been disciplined, because us being the stupid and caring folk that have gone before you, deemed it wrong to discipline children. Now what we have is a bunch of misinformed, ferral, desensitized kids running around thinking me me me me me welcome to the real world grow up and get on with it like we have all had to.

  9. I think the riots happen in a social context – caused by the disasterous effects of years of capitalism, inequality and the recent cuts, and triggered by police brutality.
    The bankers & politicans wreck the country for short-term profit so how can we be surprised when the rioters copy them and wreck the streets for short term gain? Unless we fix these problems we won’t get anywhere.
    But I’m not happy to see people physically fighting the police.
    I think we need to be standing against violence, whoever its committed by (police or rioters), and whoever its committed against. We need to be stand up and say a better world is possible.

  10. Yes! Too many people commenting because they have a right to comment … but few willing to admit that they know very little about the individual and specific tensions and issues in the individual and specific communities which have risen to action. too many people who see only what the BBC wants them to see and understand. Perhaps the best, most concise analysis of what is going on I have come across ( and this is from an Aberdeen Football Club fans forum FFS ) ….
    “We may not understand the reasons, but there are reasons … water does not boil on it’s own”

  11. Porbbably one of the best summing ups I’ve seen so far, I’ve had people I’ve demo-ed with, been arrested and dragged out of topshop with people who have had as much disdain for the police as me talk about bringing in the army and supporting the met police not to mention rubber bullets. All sorts of crap really without even wanting to know why people are acting like this. As I’ve seen somewhere else – “Trying to understand why it’s happening doesn’t mean you’re supporting how it’s happening”

  12. we all know the police are evil ,they killed mark duggan because they knew they could get away with it, same way as excuted the robbers in chanderlers ford ,the police are scum that have to be cofronted and defeated,until the people of this country see that the filth for what they are our sruggle will be in vain

  13. Bloody great!… and so, sooo true.

    These were my reflections, from earlier today, as comments in the Guardian.

    10 August 2011 3:55PM
    The excellent Nina Power had a piece on ‘Comment is free’ recently, re; the riots, which was undoubtedly, for the most part, entirely considered and true. But some expansion would be enlightening in terms of the stats..

    The London Borough of Haringey (Alongside those of Lambeth and Hackney) does indeed contain some of the poorest and most deprived council housing estates in Britain, but it also contains a lot of very prosperous districts, with some of the most expensive real estate in the world.

    A lot of very rich people live in Haringey.

    It’s pretty typical of Britain’s towns and cities, where extreme poverty and deprivation sits cheek-by-jowl with substantial wealth, unlike in US cities where practically all the most run-down and impoverished habitation, along with all the worst social indicators for things like crime and unemployment, will most often be concentrated in some more-or-less well-defined zones of a city, like Chicago’s South Side, or the East Side of Washington DC.

    This distinctive housing pattern in Britain’s cities has arisen not through some ideologically inspired social engineering, but largely because of an accidental factor which randomly affected swathes of not just London, but also Coventry, Bristol, Birmingham, Cardiff, Hull, Swansea, etc, which were flattened by the bombs of the German Luftwaffe during WWII.

    This led to the (genuinely socialist) 1945 Labour government embarking on a massive council house building programme to put decent, affordable roofs over the heads of hundreds of thousands left homeless by the german air-raids, and a lot of these new housing estates for working class people got built wherever Goering had left zones of flattened and rubble-strewn wasteland, even if these were right in the middle of previously “rich” metropolitan areas.

    Hitler and the Nazi Air Force effectively de-ghettoized huge chunks of britain’s major cities.

    But this has led to some extraordinary and extreme statistical anomalies when it comes to accurately measuring things like unemployment.

    If we take just a little bit of what Nina Power said in her original article -http://bit.ly/mSEo9h – as an example:

    “Haringey, the borough that includes Tottenham, has thefourth highest level of child poverty in London and an unemployment rate of 8.8%, double the national average, with one vacancy for every 54 seeking work in the borough.”

    This 8.8% figure quoted may well be true for Haringey overall, but these figures are distorted positively by the enormous number of relatively prosperous people who live right within the Borough of Haringey.

    If one were to look at the figures specifically relating to the Broadwater Farm council housing estate, where Mark Duggan (the black man shot dead by police as he sat in the back of a taxi, which reputedly kicked off the current riots) came from, then the actual unemployment rate for black males under 25 years old on this estate is presently pushing 55%, and rapidly worsening in this time of radical right-wing Tory Government imposed “austerity”.

    The sad fact is that if you’re young and black, and fill in a job application form giving your residential address as Broadwater Farm Estate, the chances of you getting a job anywhere in London today are virtually zero, however well qualified you might be.

    This is because as most of us know, the Broadwater Farm Estate was made notorious during the riots which engulfed britain’s cities during the Thatcher years of the early to mid 1980’s, and is still a byword for criminality and lawlessness in the imaginations of most british citizens.

    Doubtless in the days to come, you’ll see britain’s news media portray the place and it’s inhabitants as a viper’s nest of feral, work-shy, drug-dealing scum, muggers and burglars, but – and this is the important bit – this is a totally deliberate falsehood.

    Please read this excerpt from the Wikipedia entry on the Broadwater Farm Estate:


    Which even if you have doubts about the reliability of Wikipedia, can be stood-up from numerous other www sources.

    Crime rates

    Since the regeneration, Broadwater Farm now has one of the lowest crime rates of any urban area in the world. In the first quarter of 2005, there was not a single reported robbery or outdoor assault on Broadwater Farm, and only a single burglary, from which all property was recovered and the suspect arrested; this compares with 875 burglaries, 50 robberies and 50 assaults in the third quarter of 1985 immediately preceding the riot.[6] In an independent 2003 survey of all the estate’s residents, only 2% said they considered the area unsafe, the lowest figure for any area in London.[25] The estate also has the lowest rent arrears of any part of the borough.[5]

    I’m running out of space here to make the really important point – so please reference my next comment.

    10 August 2011 4:07PM
    Comment Continued:

    In 2005 the Metropolitan Police disbanded the Broadwater Farm Unit altogether as no longer required in an area with such a low crime rate.

    Now, with with the Broadwater Farm regeneration programme undertaken after the 1980’s riots having been such a resounding success, in turning a housing estate with seemingly intractable social problems and shocking levels of crime into – and this is worth repeating – an area with “one of the lowest crime rates of any urban area in the world”, you’d think people would know about this, surely?

    You’d think that all UK governments of recent years would be shouting of this social miracle from the rooftops, wouldn’t you?

    But no.

    Nobody knows about it.

    Nobody knows that with access to a relatively small amount of money, and despite enduring problems like shattering levels of unemployment, the citizens of Broadwater Farm themselves have turned a crime-ridden urban sink estate, with one of the most ethnically diverse populations in London, or Britain as a whole, including a very high percentage of black people from Afro/Caribbean backgrounds, into a glowing beacon of community harmony, tolerance and security that should shine out around the whole world.

    But nobody knows about it – because it’s not something that successive UK governments, their pals in the media, or the Metropolitan Police wish to publicise.

    They also don’t wish to publicise how the Tory-voting wealthy of London have harboured a bitter resentment of the post-war settlement and urban regeneration model in London, and have despised the fact that enclaves of working class people were allowed to be established in the “nice” bits of town that for generations had been completely their own.

    They don’t wish to publicise the heartless and cruel policies they’ve followed relentlessly ever since Thatcher came to power in 1979, to ethnically cleanse the more “up-market” areas of London of it’s working class residents, and to re-ghettoize it’s working poor South of theThames, and to the East End, and to try and re-establish a distinctly more “American”- style map of class and population distribution on London.

    They don’t wish to publicise the unswerving co-operation they’ve received for over 30 years from the Metropolitan Police, in “containing” London’s working class within the boundaries of their estates, with constant harassment, excessive use of draconian stop & search powers, and outright violence meted out against perfectly innocent people, struggling desperately and determinedly against tremendous odds, to try and live peaceable and dignified lives, but with the Metropolitan Police being fully complicit in a vicious right-wing drive to eject them from their homes, that whole areas of britain’s capital may be re-claimed for the wealthy alone.

    They don’t wish to publicise how Class War is still alive and thriving in Britain today – a War not being conducted by disgruntled, criminalistic youths rioting on the streets — but by a vicious, heartless, greedy Eupatridae, assaulting those very youths, and their innocent parents, and their innocent grandparents, all in the name of greed, spite, prejudice and unrestrained class hatred.

    That’s why London’s burning.

  14. Who are you really working for MI5 or Special Branch? Your clearly trying to discredit everything decent campaigners are working for. Troll.

  15. Whats the difference between the avarice of a looter and the greedy dodgy dealings of a city banker?
    None at all really except one will get hammered by the ‘system’ and the other knows they can carry on with impunity!
    This country really is pretty broken and almost beyond repair.

  16. The greatest manifestation of racism in the Metropolitan Police today is their pandering to Ganstas and leaving the shops and homes of Tottenham to burn because it would be “racist” “insensitive” to stop arsonists from burning people out of their homes in a “black” neighbourhood.

    We are told that Mark Duggan’s family loved him … well he wasn’t being arrested for domestic abuse, he was being arrested for carrying a gun. How else does a man in his twenties become “an elder” if not by leading a gang that holds the neighbourhood in fear of him ?

  17. The problem is that people thought ‘Great!’ when a few people smashed up a Tesco in Bristol, because they hated Tesco. Then they cheered when the students smashed up some buildings and frightened the Royals because they hate the Government.

    But then when society breaks down altogether they wonder why – and of course if you ‘Fuck Da Police’ when it suits you, who is going to protect you when ill-disciplined little shits set fire to populated buildings simply ‘cos they ain’t got two brain cells to rub together.

    Wankers like you are going to be as much use as a fart in a space suit in protecting us, because you are almost as bad as the lawless cunts prowling the streets. I am a progressive liberal, but anyone who thinks we should be punishing those coppers that beat the shit out of those skanky Manc cunts needs their heads testing.

    Policing by consent when it works, policing by the full force of the law when it doesn’t.

    Whose side are you on ? Because if it is not the police – nobody will save you when those low-life shits are smashing down your door.

  18. No liberty without order. Fitwatch, people are not with you on this one. The looter I caught got a shock when he was pinned down by two polish lads on motorbikes !

  19. absolutely spot on article fitwatcher! its so ironic that its because of this very hate and fear that people got so angry they didnt care about attacking their own neighbourhoods. very very sad.

  20. As you say, Fitwatcher, “Civil unrest is a nasty, ugly, messy business”.

    Top salaries increased by 30% this year.

    Unless this trend suddenly reverses, things are going to get worse.

  21. I’m no fan of the police. I’m no fan of the rioters. I’m just a normal uk citizen who wants to get on with his life without constant left or right wing propaganda. I visit this site because of the first incident with Emily and val. But the actions this week by this scum will just give the police more oppressive powers. Something I dont really want to see.

  22. thats just it people are conditioned into thinking the state is your friend. This is far from the truth. They are being brainwashed by state propaganda and the media industry as a whole. If we want the truth we need to look outside of these boundaries.

  23. Ooh, you’ve really upset the cops with this one Fitwatch. All these holier-than-though and sneering comments can only be from the pig scum that monitor this site but usually manage to keep their gobs shut. Shows their rattled. Unfortunately they’ll now be even worse.
    I reckon the Met is running this country ‘cos no one dare stand up to ’em and they know they can, and frequently do, get away with anything they want, including cold-blooded murder.
    Wouldn’t piss on cops if they were on fire. Keep up the excellent work comrades.

  24. One thing the cops posting here might like to reflect on is how near they came to losing it completely. Three days of rioting, and all of a sudden people are demanding the army and all sorts and a load of cops with all the public order training of PC Blakelock are being sent in to bat. Thousands of cops from as far afield as Glasgow and Edinburgh, Devon, Cleveland, Wales… And a load from Manchester scurrying back when trouble started there.

    The government’s grip on society is nowhere near as strong as people thought. And that little genie’s out of the bottle now. Next time it happens – maybe in a fortnight, maybe in a month, maybe in a year – there’s a load of people who won’t stop like they did this time. And there’ll likely be riots in some places to take pressure off others. Riots in Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Birmingham would be sufficient to keep police from those forces, and from their neighbours, tied down. And if the Met had to summon assistance from the smaller forces how long would that last? The Met only have 777 TSG and a few thousand level 2 officers. More to the point, the MPS Training Centre at Gravesend only has a finite capacity. In short, you can’t train up a load of level 1 or level 2 officers at the drop of a hat.

    The police leadership so proudly displayed by Bob Broadhurst on March 26 and on the student protest when Prince Charles had to order new trousers on the way to the theatre seems to be much in evidence now. It’s pitiful. You were largely out-fought and out-thought by the rioters. Imagine if this went on for a week, which you simply don’t have the numbers for. Imagine if the next riots focus on police stations, courts, and police officers – on and off duty. Imagine if the private forensic labs go the same way as the Sony warehouse. And imagine if the CCTV control rooms each London Borough and many – if not most – local authorities outside London have receive the same attention. In short, imagine if next time the rioters learn from their mistakes. The infrastructure necessary to the reaction following the riot would be, to use a technical term, fucked. The energy expended in these riots could easily have taken in all these targets. The riots could easily have lasted three or four days longer.

    I used to think it would be years, if not decades, before the current bankrupt system got smashed. Still could be, I suppose. But now we know how weak it is it could be weeks or months.

  25. Fitwatcher:
    The use of ‘however’ in your introductory sentence (below) reads that you are more affected and moved by the attitude of those who are ‘suddendly supporting the police’ to the deaths of three brave asian men in Birmingham – this says it all really. No need for me to throw the word troll around. Your words are an irrelevance to the people of Tottenham, Hackney and the working class in general.

    “…. it’s been equally horrific to see damage to people’s homes and small shops, let alone the deaths in Birmingham yesterday. However, today I am just angry. I feel utterly sickened at the attitude of large numbers of people who are suddenly supporting the police, who support the army being brought in, who want to see water canon and plastic bullets used on the streets. “

  26. You fucking idiotic shit!
    The police shot and killed a man armed with a loaded firearm in a busy high street!
    You wouldn’t be ranting if the police hadn’t shot him and he then proceded to either shoot at you or a loved one would you? No thought not.

  27. I heard reports of people that were claiming to be journalists making offers of money to youth if they would engage in rioting. False flag and agent provocateuring are apparently modus operandii going back to ancient Rome.
    People have to read what the piece of filth Zbigniew Brzezinski’s talks about in his book ‘The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy And It’s Geostrategic Imperatives’.
    Some people already know that the American government has been hijacked, the latest incarnation of them is known as the neocons.
    The website wanttoknow.info has highlighted the inflammatory passages of that book.
    If you read between the lines you will fully know what I mean when I called them ‘inflammatory’.
    Phrases like ‘imperial mobilization’ and ‘Africa’s subordination’ and ‘the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat’ and ‘chief geopolitical prize is Eurasia’.
    They have objectives and they spew their false nauseating narrative in support of these objectives.
    Zbigniew Brzezinski as recently been saying that people of the world are becoming more politically aware.
    Yep, aware of guys like him.
    Wake up, people.

    1. No offence, but this is a load of conspiracy theory nonsense that is not supported by any concrete evidence.

      We have direct experience and self directed study of Public Order policing in this country, and the criminology behind it. We are fairly confident that the use of agents provocateurs is highly unlikely at this stage. We have written posts about this.

      To say otherwise is unfounded paranoia that has the effect of alienating militants and, ironically, does the polices work for them (the isolation of militant sections of political movements being one of the key, proven, written, objectives of public order policing in England & Wales and not just based on a YouTube video).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *