“If ‘the establishment’ don’t listen, the riots may stop but the resentment will never go away.”

Ladan Dirie*, 16, from North West London

 

*All views expressed in this article are the author’s. IARS accepts no responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any views expressed in these articles and will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information or any losses or damages arising from its display or use.

 

“The violence, looting and criminal damage to public property, private businesses and individual homes that has taken place during the recent riots are in no way right or justifiable, and I would like it to be made completely clear that the vast majority of young people were not involved in the riots. In addition, many of my peers do not condone the way the rioters have behaved.  However, it must be stressed that many others were not surprised by these riots, and were well aware of the frustration, anger and hopelessness felt by young people that had been bubbling under the surface for some time. This ostensible ‘summer of discontent’, which includes the recent student demonstrations and trade union strikes, provides clear and direct evidence that recent government decisions – particularly relating to youth services, or rather the distinct lack of them – play a significant role in the events that have unfolded.

We’ve heard time and again that these riots are “sheer criminality” and “sick”, and that these “hooded youths” are too unintelligent to have valuable opinions about issues concerning their own demographic (such as EMA, tuition fees, cuts to youth services and current academy plans). Surely this serves to disconnect such young people even further from society. Furthermore, speeches from our Prime Minister, Mayor of London and Home Secretary have highlighted how out of touch they are with the young people involved in these events, who are notably from socially deprived areas with high unemployment rates and a significant proportion of people living below the poverty line.

What has struck me, and most probably many others, is the inability or perhaps the unwillingness of ‘the establishment’, be it the police service, our elected politicians, even councils, to hear the cry that is being delivered to them loud and clear. Only when they begin to engage in this dialogue can we move forward.

Understandably, there are questions and the search for answers must begin:  community relations with the police, the abuse of stop and search powers leading to racial profiling of primarily young black boys, police tactics regarding protests, and the prioritisation and protection of certain boroughs over others. It would be incredibly dangerous for politicians to treat this as just an act of criminality caused by opportunists. Rather, they should consider the reason behind it and try to solve the issues. If they fail to do so, the riots may stop but the resentment will never go away.”