My heart is literally breaking over what is happening in my city. I love London unequivocally. I have seen other cities and I have experienced other cultures, some very different from my own, but I can say without a doubt that my heart is most at peace when I am walking the streets of London. The air here is different. The rhythm of the city beating its own distinct pulse through the buildings, along the river, and out through every street laid out due to necessity not the order of later cities learnt from our example.
The events of the past few days both sadden and anger me. Some are saying that it is the disenfranchisement of our youth that is causing them to act out in this way. Council services have been cut so they do not have anything to occupy their time with and the economic situation for them is bleak. I understand that, part of me even agrees with it. If there is no promise of a brighter future then, why not take what you want when it is there for the taking? Why work hard to earn enough for the latest high-tech gadgetry when throwing a chair through the window of Dixons and running off with all you can carry will have the same affect? Why? Because we are supposed to be better than that, that’s why.
When life gets hard we are not supposed to use it as an excuse to run around lawlessly destroying our own communities. We are not supposed to make our neighbours fear for their own safety. We are not supposed to destroy the homes and livelihoods we have spent so long and worked so hard to create. The disenfranchised youth with monetary incentives to stay in school and free travel; these are the people running around causing mayhem as they take pictures with their i-phones and Blackberrys.
On a day with blue skies and white clouds most Londoners would be out enjoying this momentary glimpse of summer. Instead, most are constantly refreshing their computer screens for an update on what the current situation is in the city. We are on tenterhooks waiting to hear what is happening around London. And I, like so many, have a heavy heart inside my chest as I see the actions of few, reeking havoc across the city that I love. It aches at the scenes plastered across newspapers and television screens as the world watches Londoners tearing London apart.
And what can we do? In the aftermath those that can have done what I knew Londoners would do, they have taken up their brooms and bin bags and are helping with the clear up. Others waiting until it is safe so they can go in and help clear away the broken pieces and help mend the broken lives of those affected, but what of the looters? Whilst the police and the politicians decide what action to take stories come in of people taking up saucepans and bats, whatever they can, to defend whatever they have left. Elderly people determined that they will not live in fear in their own city. This is the true face of London.
The looters are nothing but opportunistic scum. They have brazenly walked through our communities and neighbourhoods, along our high streets, and declared themselves above the law. This has nothign to do with what happened to Mark Duggan and the police shooting. This is about nothing more than causing as much damage as possible, to hell with who gets hurt. I hope each and every one of them gets caught and are punished accordingly. Raise my taxes to lock them up; right now I do not care. They have tried to destroy my city; they do not deserve to be a part of it.
All across London everyone I know is bracing themselves for another night of looting. Stores have shut early, shutters pulled all the way down and some are even boarded up. People have put their cars in garages. All plans have been cancelled. As we set in for the fourth night of possible unrest the 16,000 strong police force out on the streets brace themselves too. We wait for the sun to set and pray that tonight we are spared a repeat of the previous nights. Every Londoner listening out for the sirens and helicopters. Every Londoner looking on in disgust at the ones we have disowned. Every Londoner hoping that this madness is over and that their city can be returned to them.