This is written with a lot of trepidation.
What was witnessed in Tottenham on Friday was a reaction to the shooting of Mark Duggan, a father of four, by police officers in north London. A planned peaceful protest descended into violence, which in itself is not extra-ordinary as this type of situation is a fairly common scenario when tempers are high.
What was witnessed on Monday night across widespread areas of London, Birmingham and Liverpool was a mass smash and grab, orchestrated by hooligans, thugs and opportunists whose associations with mainstream society and with the community in which they live has eroded away.
We should not be surprised that the natural reaction of people who feel alienated is to lash out against a society that they perceive to have dealt them an unfair hand. Social conditioning is a powerful factor influencing all our behaviour, and for most of us the chastening received from breaking social norms is enough to temper any sudden swings in our own moral compass. But for a minority, the norm is one of personal survival where anti-social behaviour is encouraged and celebrated.
There will be plenty of time to reflect on the causes of the riots. Right now, let’s hope peace comes quickly to the streets of London.
Manchester has had more than its fair share of street violence over the years, and as a result the city’s police force has a long history of community out-reach work. I hope the fruits of this labour are evident for all to see this week. The sound of silence is the loudest message we can send.