United We Stand
Wednesday, 10 August 2011
The people of London have risen up against the looters, thugs, and arsonists who have run a mock in the capital over the last week.
In the vacuum of police inadequacy, on Monday night residents in parts of London got together to guard their neighbourhoods, and prevent the hooligans from getting into their streets. Islands of untouched housing exist in the midst of the devastation. Elsewhere, business owners stood guard with friends and family, armed with sticks and baseball bats to repel attackers, and Sikhs in Southall came out on mass to guard their temple. Sadly, last night three men standing guard outside a mosque in Birmingham, were run down by a car which mounted the pavement in an apparently deliberate attack. A 32 year old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder. Haroon Jahan, 21, Abdul Musavir, 31, and Shazad Ali, 30 were popular members of their community who are sorely missed.
Riot Clean Up campaigns were organised on Twitter and coordinated through the web. Locals gathered together across the effected boroughs, armed with brooms and rubber gloves to clean up the debris, and take back their neighbourhoods. Those who stood up for their communities far outnumbered the thugs who tried to destroy them. Business owners who have lost everything were supported and cheered by their efforts.
Last night, gangs of vigilantes patrolled Enfield and other parts of London ready to intervene if violence breaks out in their area. Whilst most are well intentioned and focused on preventing criminality, there are concerns that some have other agendas, and may even contribute further criminality. It should be remembered that summary justice is not legal, and would be a more serious crime than theft or criminal damage.
The police increased their numbers to 16,000 boots on the ground, and have made it clear that any participants in any further disturbances will face a robust response which may include plastic bullets. Water Cannons have been shipped across from Northern Ireland and can be deployed at 24 hours notice should they be needed. Parents have been warned to keep their children at home tonight, or accept the consequences. Many perpetrators have been caught on hundreds of CCTV systems, and police have made 800 arrests, including one for the huge blaze in Croydon.
And tonight it has worked, no further trouble has broken out in the capital. All it took was for the people to stand up together and make it clear that they will use force to protect their communities. Whilst vigilantism is normally unacceptable, in circumstances where the authorities have been unable to prevent whole sale looting and threats to life, people have stood up and said, "No more!".
It's reminiscent of the famous Dunkirk spirit, when civilians used small boats, at great risk to themselves, to ferry the marooned and surrounded British army to safety as Nazi Germany secured France at the start of the second world war. Many did not survive their repeated trips, but the majority of the army was rescued and later these same soldiers turned the tide of the war and liberated Europe from the tyranny of fascism.
Copycat looting has broken out in Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester, Gloucestershire, and other parts of the West Midlands tonight. However it is on a much smaller scale than in London. Retail outlets and the police have prepared for potential trouble, and although there has been some disturbances and at least two fires, their worst efforts have been thwarted. It seems that the motivation is to compete with looters in London in some kind of perverse competition of egos.
The Arndale Centre in Manchester was attacked, and Glen Barkworth the manager reports seeing shoppers running away from a wave of youths who targeted JD Sports, but stock had been secured away from the shops, leaving no rewards for looters. Windows in one entrance were shattered, but staff and shoppers had already been evacuated from the area.
A gun shot was fired at police in Birmingham and police are using dogs to seek the culprits who fled the scene in a car which was then abandoned.