The Unorthodox Website Blog

Riots in UK

10 Aug

Although I haven’t published a blog on the current terrible situation in the UK, I have been busy posting comments on Facebook and I also wrote a letter to the ‘Weekly Worker’ newspaper which I hope they publish, condemning not only the riots but the idea, shared by the U.S. Constitution, that there should be a ‘right to bear arms’. Just imagine how much worse things would be if guns were even more freely available, bearing in mind these riots started when police shot a gang member who was armed with a gun. OK, so it hadn’t yet been fired, but who knows what might have happened? The fact is anyone with a gun is going to be seen by armed police as a legitimate target. Even if they throw the weapon down, they could have more guns on their person.

The riots which broke out all over London then spread to other cities were all caused mainly by young people, some not even teenagers yet, and they seemed to regard it as ‘fun’ to riot, loot and set buildings on fire, including people’s livelihoods and private homes. The parents of many of these teenagers and young people must be regarded as criminals themselves and accessories to their crimes as most of the kids are too young to have homes of their own. Therefore they must be coming back to their parents’ houses loaded with stolen goods looted from stores in the riots.

Now people have died because of the riots – three men of Asian ethnic origin deliberately run over in a car as they tried to defend their neighborhoold from rioters, and an elderly man in his 60s also has suffered life-threatening injuries. Many have lost their homes.

The reaction of the police and authorities has been too slow, too little and too late. Both the Prime Minister and the Mayor of London were abroad and did not come  back for days.

As to the police, they are now doing their best to contain the riots and prevent further outbreaks, but what have they done, or been allowed to do, over the past few years when teenage armed gangs based around drug culture ruled whole areas, stabbed and shot each other over territory wars, etc.? Precious little despite Operation Trident (investigating black-on-black murders and gun crime). The reason is possibly ‘political correctness’ and fear of stirring up more racial prejudice and violence.

Not all the gang members and looters are black or of ethnic origins, but the fact that a large percentage are has perhaps been part of the reason the government has been reluctant to crush the gang culture before it got completely out of hand and created this total anarchy on our city streets.

There are widespread calls to bring back National Service, if not for all teenagers, at least for those involved in the looting and rioting. I think this would be the worst possible thing; putting guns into their hands and training them in better ways to kill people then sending them abroad to places like Afghanistan to kill, rape and loot civilians at will, which is probably what would happen.

However compulsory community service for all teenagers (male and female), and certainly for all in armed gangs, found with knives or guns on them, and for all involved in the riots and looting is something I would fully support. Indeed I have been urging for compulsory community service for all teenagers or at least those in gangs for quite some time. This community service would not be military, but would be a disciplined environment (possibly boot camps for the most rebellious) in which they learn respect for society, and to help the most vulnerable, including the elderly and disabled. Also where they learn to improve the environment by cleaning up graffitti, and in the latest situation, rebuilding the communities, shops and homes the rioters and looters have destroyed.

As to how to prevent armed gang warfare, rioting and looting on our city streets, well I’ve not seen a policeman around my council estate or the surrounding streets for I can’t think how long, except after serious incidents have already occurred. Not even last nite and Clapham Junction (scene of arson, rioting and looting) is less than half a mile away. Other areas, including Wood Green next to Tottenham, had a huge police presence, so probably did Clapham Junction itself. But this is only for a few nites, this level of policing cannot be sustained as it involves cancelation of leave, extra shifts, drawing in police from other areas, etc.

Despite all this the government still intends to go ahead with cutting the numbers of police (already invisible in normal circumstances on our streets, until after incidents have already occurred). They have also cut many other public services, including those which would be helping to get unemployed and bored youths off the streets and into useful activities or even jobs.

I am basically a pacifist, but I have long argued that in this age of armed gang warfare on our city streets, and now rioting, arson and looting, we can no longer have the luxury of an unarmed police force, still less an unarmed police force which is not constantly visible on our streets.

Most other countries have lightly armed police visible on their streets, and I see no reason why Britain should be the exception. Even unarmed police constantly patrolling would be a deterrent, but we cannot expect our police officers to effectively confront armed gang members and rioters like we’ve seen this past week unless the police officers have some sort of weapons better than truncheons to defend themselves and apprehend the law breakers.

As to ‘stop and search’, a very sensitive issue, it is time to stop pussy-footing around. The police cannot operate effectively with one arm tied behind their backs. They must be allowed to stop and search all those in the community they feel are most likely to be carrying arms, and as I’ve said before on these blogs this is not likely to be some wealthy person living in Hampstead. It is much more likely to be a teenager living on run-down council estate with a high crime rate. It is also a fact that a large percentage of these teenagers will be of ethnic family origin.

This fact must not prevent them being stopped and searched. Indeed all law-abiding citizens should be willing to be stopped and searched by police, but inevitably this must be targeted and teenagers must get used to being stopped and searched very regularly at least until this gang culture and the rioting culture has been banished from our society. Only then can we hopefully return to something approaching normality.

As to how to defeat the rioters and looters, there must be a permanently increased police and security presence on our city streets, and if necessary the army should be brought in. They should, in any case, be brought back from places like Iraq and Afghanistan where they have no right to be in the first place, and combatting the anarchy in our cities would be a much more worthwhile job for them. Any world policing should be done by a UN force under the authority of the UN General Assembly, not by the UK, USA or NATO alone.

On our city streets baton rounds (plastic bullets) and water cannon should be deployed in riot situations. Curfews should be announced. If these measures don’t work, then it may be necessary to even declare martial law and announce that looters and rioters will be shot on sight with real bullets by the army. If this sounds very extreme from a pacifist, and likely to create more racial violence especially if a young black person is shot by police, then I say it cannot get much worse than it already is. Hopefully just the threat of shooting on sight with live bullets any looters or rioters will have the required deterrent effect.

However this is only half the story. In the longer term serious efforts must be made to totally reform our sick materialist society. Dangling expensive luxury goods in front of the eyes of those who cannot afford them and implying everybody should have them is asking for trouble, but this is the capitalist system, especially in the wake of Thatcher’s ‘get rich and damn everybody else’ society.

What is needed is a good dose of old-fashioned Socialism – real Socialism which puts the emphasis on a caring society and comradeship. Where there are no overpaid, over-perked, corrupt bureaucrats and politicians. Or indeed a good dose of Humanism or any religious creed which does not divide people, but teaches them decent, civilized behavior and concern for other people, especially the disadvantaged. Any creed, in fact, which places spiritual values above materialistic ones, which places the good of society and other people above personal material gain.

There are, however, no excuses for the kind of scenes we have seen on Britain’s city streets this week. Capitalism and materialism is no excuse for this type of behavior, which will make things much worse and not change society for the better. Working-class people are one of the main victims of this violence, not the rich in their millionaires’ apartments and mansions, nor the politicians and others in the leafy affluent suburbs and rural towns and communities. That is not a call to take the violence into these affluent communities, it is just pointing out the fact that the rioters, arsonists and looters are making working-class people live in fear, and in destroying businesses making the unemployment situation even worse.

Any change in society must be brought about by disciplined, organized worker and unemployed people’s solidarity operating thru the ballot box and trade union movement, thru worker and consumer cooperatives, and similar initiatives. Only if and when the peaceful and parliamentary road is blocked should more direct action be taken, and then this must be restrained and organized, such as widespread strikes to enforce the will of the people. Peaceful revolutions brought about the collapse of many dictatorships abroad, but violent revolutions nearly always brought about a repressive regime, often with brutality and injustice towards the very people they sought to champion.

Yes it may be necessary in extreme circumstances where innocent lives are threatened to resort to arms, but these must always be discriminate and never indiscriminate. They should only be used in extreme life-threatening situations and then only by fully trained, disciplined security forces whether these be the police, security forces of the UN or individual nations, or indeed disciplined workers’ militias seeking to prevent striking workers from being shot.

Giving every person the ‘right to bear arms’ is a recipe for disaster. It is turning a blind eye to so much armed gang warfare that has brought us to the present catastrophic situation.

I await to read the response of readers and column writers of the Weekly Worker tomorrow to the riots, arson and looting. I have already told them, in my letter which I hope they publish, that if the response does not satisfy me I will cut my recent ties with both the publication and its sponsor, the CPGB Provisional Central Committee. One question I have asked in this letter is what the ‘right to bear arms’ in their policy actually means: the right of who to bear what arms and in what circumstances? If it is giving every maniac a gun, I said, then I’m outta here.

  1. Rose posted the following on August 11, 2011 at 11:47 am.

    Hello Tony!

    In reading your article I agree with much of what you say, especially about the police being able to bear arms. How do you stop armed thugs if you do not have equitable fire power? How do you police if you are over-gunned and know it?

    Perhaps it is purely my Americanism that recoils when you speak against the “right to bear arms”. Perhaps it is that logically I know that criminals will always have firearms, obtained illegally in most cases. Gun laws have little effect on the criminal element.Most laws have little effect on them actually.

    If someone were gaining illegal entry to a home, what happens in those minutes between calling for the police and their actual arrival? (The fewer police forces the longer the wait times for arrival.) Does the unarmed home owner have much recourse for self-protection against a possibly armed criminal? However if that same homeowner is armed perhaps, as the criminal makes use of the gaping time factor from call to and arrival of police forces, the homeowner has a bit of equality should the criminal proceed with his intent. I would definately be sitting in my locked bedroom waiting on the police with my gun loaded and ready should that bedroom door be forced open before the police arrived! I would rather they be taking my statement about how it came to be I shot the burgular than writing up how they arrived to find me dead-at-scene!!

    I am not sure how things will be in the UK but I feel fairly sure that in America that all attempts to take away the rights of good citizens to bear arms and to then allow only those with criminal bents to have them would be met with stiff resistance. Those who are good citizens and law abiding, but unarmed, could be called sitting ducks by those who don’t give a hoot for laws and are armed.

    Obviously the tighter gun laws in the UK aren’t working out so well since admittedly the gang bangers “across the pond” have guns and the police do not. At least here in the US everyone arrives with fire power and so the odds get a wee bit better for the good guys versus the bad guys. One look at the police riot squads arriving with their armada of weapons is often enough to send many rioters and looters on the run. (The smarter ones anyway!)

    No laws will ever stop abuse of weapons or abuse from forces meant to administer the law. Those lines will always be crossed. However I can’t imagine sending my son, husband, brother, friend as a law enforcement agent armed only with baton into battle with criminals who may have guns. That just seems ludicris to me. Neither can I imagine me sitting in my locked bedroom with a broom handle only as protection against that armed man with evil intent who just broke through my back door, no doubt carry a weapon. I say “Come on dude…may the best shot win!”

    As for the governmental agencies, of any country, cutting policing forces that is just an idiotic idea all around. If your government can’t provide adequate policing forces to maintain control and safty against the criminals then you had better be able to “pack your own piece” and have the training and practice to defend yourself adequately when push comes to shove. Criminals don’t go away…it seems they multiply exponentially, especially in a environment will little policing value.

    Must go now to clean my gun, grab a littel target shooting practice down at the range and stop by the ammo store to make sure I am prepared when the bad guy comes a calling! Choa!

    Reply to Rose
  2. Tony posted the following on August 11, 2011 at 1:01 pm.

    This clearly is an emotional issue and a difficult one, the question of gun laws and the ‘right of citizens to bear arms’ enshrined in your Constitution.

    Again I pose the question: ‘the right of whom to bear what arms and in what situation?’ I think that’s the crux of the matter.

    Allowing any nutter to freely obtain as many guns as they like without so much as proof of a stable mental condition, etc. is in my view just asking for trouble.

    I do have sympathy for householders and others who injure or even kill burglars and others who invade their property to commit crimes. However does this mean it is necessary for every household to have a gun in the home loaded with real, live bullets?

    In the United States many people would say ‘yes’, in Europe, at least up to now, this idea is very alien to us. More so to me as a virtual pacifist, only conceding the necessity of minimal violence and lethal weapons (if discriminate and targetting only those about to threaten lives or commit gross atrocities against human beings) in very extreme circumstances.

    How do ordinary citizens protect themselves until law enforcement officers arrive? There must be a variety of options, but many non-lethal devices are available and perhaps should be made more so. Stun guns, etc. Even these can be lethal at close range, but I would say this was much better than removing all controls on guns loaded with live ammunition.

    I’m also sure most homes have equipment in them already more effective than a broom handle, but I would much prefer that proper non-lethal but effective citizen defense equipment is designed and merchandized, or even supplied free to households by the government.

    Reply to Tony
    1. Rose posted the following on August 11, 2011 at 10:22 pm.

      Thanks for the reply Tony. It is a difficult call to sort out who should have guns and who should not. In the US the background checks and registration process is SUPPOSE to weed out anyone convicted of crimes. However there is no test for whether you are a “nutter” (love that English word!) or not. And of course even with the “safeguards” in place the criminals and nutters still slip through. Of course criminals rarely go through the process of obtaining a firearm in a legal manner anyway, so odds are the ones going through the legal processsing are the ones who adhere to laws…the “good guys”.

      My remark about the having only a broom handle in the bedroom was offered as a metaphorical point about the UK police who must go against armed criminals with nothing more than a nightstick/baton. Actually the homeowner armed with a broom handle has it better than a policeman with a baton…there is a locked door (hopefully!)between the homeowner and the criminal!

      Your comment about having sympathy for the homeowners who would injure or kill burglars…is that because you feel they would feel bad about having done so or because even though they were protecting themselves they may have to undergo investigation for having done so?

      I am not sure if this is the American in me, the biblical “eye for a eye” upbringing or perhaps even from watching too many John Wayne movies growing up…but I don’t know that I would feel too badly about taking down the man who not only took out my back door but was coming through my bedroom door after me. He had choices to make and left me with little choice. If he wants only my stereo system, go for it! If he wants my cash, here’s my wallet. But if he is coming through my locked bedroom door then I would feel no guilt. He made the wrong choice. Pure and simple.

      Other non-lethal forms of protection might indeed be viable one day. I don’t know of any off hand that currently can be used without having to be too close or would guarantee that the criminal would be taken down and neutralized before he could fire his weapon.

      Mace…have to have a good face shot for it to be really effective.

      Stun gun/tazer…they have to have entered the room and you have to be close enough to put it flush to their skin or a clear enough shot to embed the electric projectiles.

      Shotgun/deer rifle…the second that locked door gives way you unload the barrels/clip and neutralization occurs…most oten instantly. Actually, you can do neutralization prior to the door actually breaking free of the door jamb.

      In a more peaceable pacifist world I would welcome the thought of releasing the freedom to bear arms by normal citizens. I would welcome knowing that I can go camping in the wilds and not fear the human predetors. I would welcome knowing that I can lay down to sleep and no one would forcibly be kicking in my back door and knowing that I could watch t.v. and rioters and looters would not come marching down my street inflicting destruction and harm. However, in the world as it exists right now I am glad to be an American citizen who can legally sleep with a little “insurance policy” close to hand.

      I do mean this…I hope your world dream does come to fruition. It is mine also. I do not want to think about using my weapon/s on human flesh and would not do so in any case other than self-preservation. But use it I would.

      We all have choices and I tend to be one who let’s the other guy make the first move. Depending on his choice this then dictates my choice. If it comes to a choice of him or me…I want at least a fighting chance!

      “Make my day, punk!” Clint Eastwood

      :)

      Reply to Rose
  3. Tony posted the following on August 12, 2011 at 12:00 am.

    All I want to do here is answer your question about the person defending their home, property, family and themselves against a burglar or other uninvited intruder who has forced entry and in the process the intruder is injured or killed. What happens here is the person defending their home and causing the death or injury is prosecuted. I doubt this is what happens in the States.

    No doubt the courts take into consideration the person was defending their property, but they also consider whether reasonable force was used, and of course if a firearm was used by the householder, whether it was legally held.

    This is why I expressed sympathy for the person defending their property, because I feel the law is too weighted in favor of the criminal. If they force an entry into someone’s home, or place of business, and get shot in the process, then its their own bloody fault.

    With the riots in England last week they were sparked by a black gang member with a gun. The exact circumstances are not known, but it appears now he didn’t actually fire the gun, and may even have thrown it down. I still feel the police faced with an armed man had a very difficult choice to make in a split second. He could have had more than one weapon. The bottom line is, if he was a member of a gang and had a gun, he was a legitimate target for armed police if they felt he might fire that or another weapon.

    There needs to be a full investigation of the above incident, but certainly it is not a case of an unarmed totally innocent black man, not a gang member, just shot dead by the police as some people are now trying to make out.

    By the same token a householder who defends his or her property and family and injures or kills the intruder should not be criminalized unless the force used was clearly extortionate. This is where it is very difficult for courts to judge. They weren’t there, and in retrospect it is easier to make judgments, when you’re in fear of your life you are not.

    So what I’m saying I suppose is Europe so far does not have a situation where every householder feels it has to have loaded guns in the house, and indeed it would be illegal in most countries for us to do so. I hope we never get to that situation. But if a burgler breaks in during the night and the householder, for example, stabs the intruder with a kitchen knife and he dies, surely that cannot just simply be classed as ‘murder’.

    The burglar should not have been in the house, and the man shot by police should not have had a gun. Then we come to the very difficult question since so many Americans have guns and many would have them in their cars for protection, that they too would be legitimate targets for armed police presumably. So we are back already in the John Wayne Wild West situation.

    I know this is not pure fantasy because when I visited the Lewis House once (I’ve been several times) in Ferriday, La Jerry’s sister Frankie Jean who has guns in every room tried to push a loaded gun thru the window of our hired car as we drove away saying: ‘Y’all need a gun, Y’all in America now!’

    I’m afraid that says it all, and I just hope UK and Europe don’t head the same way.

    Reply to Tony
    1. Rose posted the following on August 12, 2011 at 2:23 am.

      Thanks Tony for the answer to my question. As to whether someone here would be prosecuted for shooting a burglar…that would depend. There would be an investigation, no doubt about it, but if you were acting in self-defense it is generally not an issue. But you must prove or have it proven that you were in fear of your life. You can’t shoot them just because they are making away with your 42 inch hi-def t.v. set! (Though it might cross your mind!) However the presence of someone in your home in the middle of the night could be seen as causing enough fear of loss of life that the investigation would most likely be a formality and no charges issued. Depends on the state too.

      I did have a wee giggle over your story about Jerry Lee Lewis’s sister and her trying to give you a gun. You were in LA afterall and there are some very freaky folks down that way! LOL!

      As to the gun in the car thing…if you are pulled over, and are in compliance with all gun and carry/conceal laws of that state, you MUST declare that you have a gun in your possession immediately to the officer. (Most of the time they know before they arrive to your window if you have a carry/conceal license by running your license plate number and will ask if you armed) They will ask where the gun is and perhaps even ask to see it and your documentation. If you are “legal” they will either leave it where you have it or they will take posession of it until their business with you is finished.. if you seem a bit “hinky” to them. If you do not declare the weapon and they find it (should they do a search of your vehicle) then you are treated like a criminal b/c you did not comply with the law and are therefore a criminal. That is where it gets “sticky”.

      Once again, good legal citizens will be in compliance in all matters and the police generally respect that. IF you aren’t then you are illegal… and should be treated as a criminal until proven otherwise.

      Been a few instances rather locally here where a legally armed citizen gave needed back up to police in trouble. Just last week when three siblings on a rampage had one state trooper pinned down behind his car with gun fire a citizen passing by caught the “crooks” by surprise and shot one, scattering the other two. All were apprehended and that armed citizen may have saved the life of the trooper. Generally if you are “legal” the police just tip their hats to you.

      Reply to Rose

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