A peaceful protest turned violent

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 August, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 August, 2011, 12:00am

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The London riots, some of the worst in England's recent history, were triggered by the death of a young black man. On August 4, Mark Duggan was shot by police. Two days later, his family organised a peaceful protest outside a local police station, but the protest soon caught on and became a violent riot despite the wishes of his family.

Over a few days, we were bombarded with almost apocalyptic images of London and a few neighbouring cities. Rioters looted and set buildings on fire. The looters targeted sportswear and electronics shops. It's clear they were not doing this because they needed the goods - the riot was just something they decided to join in with. To make matters worse, there were not enough police to control the situation.

Yet amid all this destruction, Londoners came together to clean up the streets. Websites such as riotrescue.com were set up to help rebuild local neighbourhoods. London, you'll be back on your feet in no time.

Candace Kwan, St. Paul's Convent School

From the Editor

Thank you for your letter, Candace.

Britain has been thoroughly shocked by the violence that took place because it seemed so unexpected. Like many European countries, Britain has been affected by this ongoing financial crisis, which has seen austerity measures imposed. Among those were a cut in police numbers and an increase in university fees and cuts to social programmes. However, the wealthy in Britain keep on getting wealthier.

Danny Dorling, a professor of human geography at the University of Sheffield, and author of the book Bankrupt Britain: An Atlas of Social Change, writes in a recent newspaper article 'In 1986, the richest 1 per cent of the population held 18 per cent of all marketable wealth [the kind you can lend]. For the rich, it was a low point. In that same year, the poorest half of all Britons held 10 per cent of marketable wealth between them, an all-time high. The latest figures reveal that the richest 1 per cent of Britons now hold 53 per cent of all marketable wealth and the poorest half hold just 6 per cent.'

As we are often told in social studies, a wider gap between rich and poor leads to social unrest. While the bankers are getting massive bonuses, other people are wondering how they will afford nappies for their toddlers. That makes for an explosive situation and the government had been constantly warned.

Susan, Editor