According to some media reports, the riots in London have started to calm down, but that the violence is spreading throughout the UK. The political aftermath of these events will be transformative, but I wonder, in what way? Will these events finally shine a light on the plight of the disenfranchised or the poor? In a country where there is extreme wealth alongside extreme poverty, are actions like these inevitable? It’s been mentioned a few times, that these riots occurred not too far after the royal wedding.
I worry that the response to these violent actions will be knee-jerk and reactionary. Already there are calls for a tougher and larger police force. Some want stricter laws. The English Defense League’s leader, Stephen Lennon has been quoted as saying “We’re going to stop the riots – the police obviously can’t handle it.” The EDL is a noted conservative group that have regularly protested what it views as an increasingly growing Muslim influence in the UK. It is also important to note that ant-Islam pastor Terry Jones is a supporter of EDL as is Anders Behring Breivik, the shooter in the 2011 Oslo terrorist attacks (though it’s equally important to note that EDL condemned Breivik’s actions).
The EDL professes to use peaceful protest to get its message across (although, I’m not really convinced that any kind of racist protest can be deemed as peaceful). I would hope that even in the light of this sort of violence, the EDL is not suggested vigilantism, or responding to the riots with renewed acts of violence; I also hope that this won’t inspire other Londoners to take a hardened view of urban blight that affects the inner-city.
When London was hit by terrorists on July 7 2005, there were those who responded by calling for stricter immigration (even though the perpetrators were all British nationals). Tougher jail sentencing and a more robust police force will probably alleviate the problem. Temporarily. What I’m hoping for London and for large cities throughout the world that also share some of the issues of the capital, is that they look at the cause of these riots, and work from there to find a solution.