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Conservative English Officials Ignore Lessons of 2011 Riots

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While that interim riot report entitled "5 Days in August" listed economic deprivations as an element underlying the widespread rioting last August, Britain's conservative led government continued with its budget slashing "austerity' further devastating low-income communities like Tottenham.

The same British Prime Minister David Cameron who's authorized spending billions preparing for the London 2012 Olympics and bailing out bankers continued claiming insufficient funds existed to address the worsening economic plights of Britain's poor plus its working and middle classes.

"I think there is no coincidence with the rise of this conservative political climate, less emphasis on diversity and the worsening economy," 100 Black Men of London President Olu Alake said.

"There is serious unemployment among black men in London between the ages of 16 and 30 but that is not a big enough issue for politicians to examine."

Ken Clarke, the Secretary of State Justice for Cameron's government, blasted rioters last August as a "feral underclass" who wanted material goods without having a willingness to work to obtain those goods.

Yet, grass-roots leaders in Tottenham and elsewhere fault British leaders like Cameron and Clarke for failing to address festering problems underlying those August 2011 outbursts involving mostly under-35-year-old participants of all races.

"The establishment has not always reached out. They've done things in the wrong way," conflict engagement specialist Ken Hinds said. An activist in Tottenham, Hinds heads the Stop-&-Search Harringey Monitoring Group.

Stop-&-Search in Britain is like the Stop-&-Frisk in America where police conduct warrantless searches on streets that are often abusive in nature and inordinately ensnare the innocent.

While both British police Stop-&-Search and U.S. police Stop-&-Frisk disproportionately target non-whites British police also pounce on poor whites with the street search practice.

"Black people are 32 times more likely to be stopped and searched by police than white people," Zita Holbourne, the BARAC co-chair and a trade union activist said.

That interim riot report referenced Stop-&-Search as "a major source of discontent with the police. This concern was widely felt by young Black and Asian men who felt it was not always carried out with appropriate respect."

That report cited the context of the "historic backdrop of antipathy between some members of the black community and the police""

In 1985, for example, in Tottenham where Duggan's death occurred, the death of Cynthia Jarrett during a police raid at her residence sparked the "Broadwater Farm Riot.'

Participants in that 2011-riot-sparking police station protest about Duggan death had marched from the Broadwater Farm government housing development.

The final riot panel report issued in March 2012 found disturbing concerns about police with many people thinking police are "corrupt" and "dishonest." Over half of people the panel surveyed had no confidence in complaint procedures against police. "These are worrying statistics," the final report stated.

That November 2011 interim riot report questioned "whether the issues" of Bankers' bonuses, expense scandals by members of Parliament and a lack of personal responsibility had created "a moral vacuum in society" as reflected in the criminal, violent non-caring behaviors displayed during the rioting.

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Linn Washington is a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and This Can't Be Happening. Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and failings of the news media. He teaches multi-media urban (more...)
 
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