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Popular revolts [not riots] in United Kindom are a demand for justice and equality

August 10, 2011

Mark Duggan was killed by the Police in London, without excuse. Peaceful protests were held by mostly non-White young Londoners, but society ignored them. A 16 years old girl approached the cops asking for answers, and she got beaten. Then violence broke lose.

London in fire. Photo Getty Images

There is no country in the world of today with such a horrendous history of abuses, invasions, slavery, colonization, looting and injustice like the United Kingdom. It is a monarchy that built its richness on the exploitation of peoples and resources of vast lands of the planet, including Africa, Asia, Oceania and the Americas.

This is important to remember, when we try to understand the popular insurrection that have occurred in the last four days in London, Liverpool, Manchester and Bristol. Most media has described the uprising as riots and looting, presenting them as violent actions of delinquents trying to steal items from clothing to money to plasma TVs, while burning cars and stores.

What is happening in the U.K. is not just about simple delinquents looting and burning buildings. It is a sign of the decomposition of a society, the moral decadence of a nation that was build on decadence and decomposition of other nations. For first time in its history, the Britons are experiencing what they did to other peoples in the last millennial, and the damage has been done by their very own youth.

The young British that came out to the streets to set cars and stores in fire, were there to confront the police, to express their anger and frustration with a society that doesn’t include them, that treats them as second class citizens, that discriminates them for being African or Arab descendants, for being poor Whites, for whatever reason. These young British joined by immigrants, are saying enough is enough, that they simply don’t give a shit.

Of course this level of violence is not acceptable, we all agree this shouldn’t have happen. No one is promoting violence or illegal actions as a way to protest. But it is happening for many reasons. This violence is a sign of the changes coming ahead in the world, especially in the United States where entire communities are being repressed and treated with the same brutality seeing in the U.K. — especially among immigrants, and non-White communities.

The challenge now for the British is not to punish the rebels only, but to understand why is this violence happening and why is that the British police allowed it all to happen so passively.

Many people on Twitter and Facebook are criticizing the protesters, they call them thugs and hooligans and try to ridicule them by not having a platform of demands or an organized movement. They generalize everyone as criminals, as ignorant kids, as lazy folks who want free stuff, and that’s it. That perception is a mistake.

We know it all started as a peaceful protest against police brutality, injustice, inequality and racism. But it grew into this mass reaction of youngsters who are hopeless, angry, frustrated. They have lost all respect – if they ever had any- for a deeply divided society where corruption and abuses of the rich are worsening [read this testimonial posted by Al Jazeera].

A commenter on the Al Jazeera Facebook page wrote: “Looters say they do it because they can get away with it. They learned that from bankers.” While others demand the U.K. government to stop spending money in wars overseas, while the poor is struggling in the country. Sounds to me very similar to what we live in the U.S.

And of course, to understand better the roots of the violence in London, here is the video that thousands are sharing online. Darcus Howe, a writer and broadcaster born in Trinidad and Tobago and resident of south London:

“I don’t call it rioting, I call it an insurrection of the masses of the people. It is happening in Syria, it is happening in Clapham, it’s happening in Liverpool, it’s happening in Port of Spain, Trinidad, and that is the nature of the historical moment…”

Howe, son of an Anglican priest and a former activist with the U.K. Black Panther Movement ended the interview by saying:

“I have never taken part in a single riot. I’ve been on demonstrations that ended up in a conflict. And have some respect for an old West Indian negro, and stop accusing me of being a rioter. Because I…you don’t want to get abusive. You sound idiotic. Have some respect.”

Respect. That is something that we non-White communities and especially immigrants, hardly get from the so-called first world countries.

There is plenty to discuss about these tragic events. This is something that should never had to happen, but as sad as it is, there is a good side to it: this will allow the people and the leaders of the United Kingdom, to analize carefully their duties and rights, what they need to do to recover from this moment and avoid for this to happen again.

Same way we expect them to stop the wars and colonial abuses across the world.

While these violent protests might deepen the division among the British people, but some changes will come after them. And as regrettable and unfair are these revolts for the people who lost their properties and peace of mind, but let’s remember here that no revolution in the world has been peaceful. The creation of the United States is the result of violent revolts of the European migrants and their descendants who were tired of the British rule, for instance.

We might be witnessing a new type of social protests [technology was very helpful], and even if they “lack a clear political or moral consciousness” as British historian Ted Wallace recalls, it is causing already an impact.

What is happening now in the world, in Europe, in South America, in the Arab world and Africa, is a process of awakening among humans.

Now is time to reflect, to change. As we immigrants and poor workers are seeing the same abuses in both the U.K. and the U.S., we face racial discrimination and police harassment in a daily basis. It is part of our lives, and most seem to accept that status quo. Others are sick of it.

When the oppressed youth decide to take their anger to the streets, that is when some people protest violence is unacceptable, but before they were silent.

That double standard and denial of the reality only make things worse, and it keeps anger in the shadows, until one day it comes out in the form of the most irrational violence.

We need to see now the consequences of these protests, in the U. K. and the rest of the world.

Here are some videos that explore the roots of the ongoing violence in the U.K.

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