The news of the ‘riots’ in Tottenham, London is sadly not a surprise to me. I drove through the streets of Harlesden yesterday and witnessed a tense argument between two men, one wrapped his arm around the smaller man’s neck in an intimidating way and they faced-off nose to nose with lots of hand gestures, the way they do in films. But this was no film. I was glad that my children weren’t with me and that I was in the car and not on foot sauntering around buying plantain, as I sometimes do.
People had stopped what they were doing and were just staring at the unfolding scene. The shorter guy broke away and crossed the road in front of me and his opponent followed swiftly on foot, arguing as they went. The youth was followed by about six friends, most of them on bicycles. Their faces read interest and slight amusement.
Historical London Street Battles
There are usually a series of events that light the spark of tension into the full-blown flame of street war. In April 1981 a battle between police and residents broke out in Brixton. The arrest of a man outside a minicab office sparked the violence. Within hours, the streets had become a battle zone. People threw petrol bombs and set light to police cars. This incident lead to a public enquiry,under Lord Scarman resulting in the much-acclaimed Scarman Report of 1981. Scarman emphasised that policing in a civil society can succeed only with the consent of the community. There are many other incidents of urban riots, across the world. They are unique to urban areas, sociologists have this area covered.
Lawlessness or economic justification?
The traffic jam eased and I moved on. BBC Radio Four news opinioned on the downgrading of the US credit rating. Standard and Poor’s analyse the economic data and make assessments based on risk. More like poor and poorer, I thought, surveying the hustle around me.
Humanity unravelling to re-build
A global economy apparently in free-fall, a tense flare up in Harlesden and the activities in Tottenham as well as increasing political activity in the form of demonstrations around the world reveals a common thread. A physical response to perceived injustices is straining the thread of humankind and causing it to unravel.
Who or what will pull it back together? The internet buzzes with forums and individuals with ideas for a new economic blueprint and fresh approaches to global citizenship and engagement: ranging from 2012 theorists, environmentalists and sustainable projects through to those who suggest that changes to human DNA form a necessary part of an interplanetary global evolution. Big topics! What do you think?
I will share my findings of these in future posts, but for now: keep listening, reading and thinking. Everything is changing. Wishing you peace and serenity as we all strive individually and collectively to manage the fast-moving energies of a world in a spin.
© Suzy Rigg
Photo: Time Magazine