Monday, 8 August 2011

Black kids in London need a new hero - the "elegant hardcore"

Holy cow! I'm not in Kansas anymore!  This is London in 2011. 

More than 215 arrests, 27 people charged, and the Mayor and Home Secretary have both cancelled their holidays to deal with the mess in London.

Around the world people are asking where all this craziness has come from?   And what can be done about it? And just how safe WILL it be to visit the London Olympics after those bloody tickets were so hard to get hold of!!!

Here's the Cliff Notes:

According to reports in the press, 29-yr old Mark Duggan, a criminal known to carry a firearm, was shot dead by Met Police officers on Thursday after he opened fire, striking one officer who was saved only because his radio slowed the bullet down.  Officers from a Met unit which specialises in preventing and detecting black-on-black gun crime in London had reportedly had Duggan under surveillance, fearing he was about to avenge the killing of his 23-yr old cousin, rapper Kevin Easton.  

Almost immediately statements started to appear which contradicted early reports about the shooting.  Eye witnesses describe Duggan being dragged out of a vehicle and being shot in the head in the street.  And in recent days, rumours have emerged of a police ballistics report which indicates that Duggan's weapon had not discharged any shots at all on the day he was killed.  Some are even saying the handgun was a replica. 

On Saturday morning a group of Duggan's friends, family and sympathisers gathered outside Tottenham Police station, demanding answers from the Met.  The latter had reportedly not assigned a Family Liaison Officer to keep the Duggans apprised of developments in the enquiry involving the deceased father or four.  If that is true, it means the Met may have failed to meet their obligations under the Macpherson Report  - and that report was itself commissioned after the callous and unhelpful treatment of the family of murdered black teenager Stephen Lawrence in 1993.  

Faced with police silence, the crowd of Duggan supporters grew angry and attacked two empty patrol vehicles nearby.  And then a rampage began which has led to arson, criminal destruction, looting, muggings and assault;  homes damaged with families inside desperately pleading with the rioters not to destroy their property;  apartment buildings burnt to the ground and others left as charred ruins; five girls were spotted smashing a shop window and walking off with armfuls of designer handbags;  Firemen were attacked while doing their job.  Clearly, none of this can have anything to do with justice.

Overnight the riots spread to other areas of London, including Brixton, scene of the terrible riots of 1981 and 1985

But this is not the 80s!  The riots are an odd throw-back to the Thatcher era, a weird anachronism but with a strangely modern twist; this time the violence has a cutting-edge scapegoat.... Twitter.  

Sound the alarm! Twitter is out there, fueling the riots!  Sure, it's unsurprising that those who turn so readily to violence also prefer to keep their press releases to fewer than 140 characters.  But what is more surprising is that society apparently holds the internet to blame for its own abuse.  Poor old Twitter, once lauded for its role in the Arab Spring, has now taken on a reputation to rival the satellite phones that single-handedly brought an American BlackHawk down in Mogadishu in 1993, no weapons required, right?!! Remember that? 

Today the press proudly declares that Twitter communication brings about evil!  The problem is Twitter.  The problem is not most definitely NOT us.  Repeat after the mass media: what we do NOT need is young people communicating!

[Blackberry's BBN is apparently also to blame.  Part of me finds it amusing to think of the hooded yoof frantically checking their blackberries under fire and cursing their slow Outlook synching connection....  "Really must save my pocket money and upgrade my data package"]  

But mostly, I just find this whole state of unrest WRONG.

The ballistics report will be released tomorrow. It wouldn't surprise me if the Met Police shut down the entire mobile phone network in the riot zones, a quite common public order tactic.  Which will certainly slow Twitter in its evil tracks.  But let's just hope that nobody trapped in a burning building is also trying to get a message to the authorities....

I'm gonna go against the grain here.  What I think London actually needs right now is better and more meaningful communication, and with people who the yoof trust.  And clearly that rules out politicians who have feathered their nests with our taxes and cut education spending;  cops who are selling our phone numbers to journalists at the bottom and wining and dining the most abhorrent power-mongers on the planet at the top;  a Church which has allowed children to be abused; businessmen who have preferred cheap foreign manufacturing to creating jobs for this generation of Brits, and bankers whose collective arrogance has destroyed our economy and our job prospects.  [Oh and Civil Servants might as well just give up and go home.  The yoof ain't interested, bruv - you bastards have got stable jobs!]

Who will the angry mob listen to?

Tell me the truth. Did you stop feeling sympathy for Mark Duggan when I told you his cousin was a murdered rapper?  Did you write him off as a tragic cliche?  I think I've written off some young people because they look up to people I despise, like musicians who produce criminal records faster than hits singles, and artists who promote guns and treat women as cheap objects.  

I've got an awful feeling that those precise role models are the ones who need to be telling rioters to stop - and you and I have no influence over them.  I'm sure that none of us could pull off a command to rioters to retreat as effectively as a respected underground musician could right now.   So, are the popular gangster rappers of today getting together and writing a press release?  Are they broadcasting their grief?  Or are they just laughing at the chaos?  

Frankly, I don't kid myself that role models admired for their anti-social behaviour are ever going to be viable harbingers of peace. 

Well then.  

Of the righteous, who should step up?  

Get ready, you are not going to expect this.....   



... It's Grandma

Anyone who had the privilege of an older, black aunty or granny growing up will remember acutely the power of that generation of women, who took absolutely no s@%! from their sons.  In their youth these women had seen their families damaged irreparably by war, then packed up their bags, unbowed, and crossed oceans to start a new life in a hostile nation. They survived racism - REAL, BRUTAL, SHAMELESS RACISM, survived "informal" segregation in the 50s and appalling housing conditions in the 60s. In the 70s they lived through inflation we can't comprehend, on the lowest of wages while their husbands were laid off.  These women are an untapped example of the "elegant hardcore".  We need old, black grannies to get their handbags out and hit adolescent boys with them until those young men feel shame like they did as children.  Proper, old-fashioned SHAME!  Ladies, dust off your switches and show this generation of mothers where we went wrong!  I'm serious!  Because I can only see two, more formative influences if granny doesn't beat these boys into shape : the de-humanising impact of a police water canon or the equally undesirable normalisation of an utterly unacceptable gangster code.  


  1. You nailed it. Stay safe.

  2. Just like this:

  3. MC you were reading my mind!


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