Violence and mayhem on the streets. Shops being looted and vandalised. Public buses and police cars being torched. Blazing infernos across the city. Hooded youths clashing with police. Teenagers making off with looted stuff from shops. A woman jumping off a burning building to save her life.
You could be forgiven for thinking that I am talking about a movie. Alas, No. This is real life in London. It is yob rule in London right now. Even on the fourth night, the riots show no signs of abating. Despite all the police effort, it is still spreading inside and outside London. Other cities like Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool are added to the growing list of riot venues.
It all started with the killing of a 29-year old man in Tottenham, by the police. His family and friends led a protest to the police station. This peaceful protest later turned violent and acted as the catalyst for the riots. With the help of social media, groups of youngsters coordinated attacks and rampaged different parts of London. And when somebody needed to take control, all of the top brass, including the prime minister, home secretary, opposition leader and the mayor of London, were away enjoying their holidays abroad, leaving London in the hands of the rioters. The sorry picture of policemen watching from sidelines when young thugs broke into shops and burnt buildings, was far too common.
There’s more to it than random youths pillaging shops and vandalising. This is the behaviour of a lost generation with no jobs, no skills, no money and nothing productive to do. They might be sending a message by venting their anger and frustration. Or they might just be some opportunistic criminals. Or maybe, both.
I was a bit concerned about going to my office in central London today. Nearby Oxford circus was hit the previous day. Today, there were riot police patrolling the streets. Fortunately, there were no issues near our office. At 3 pm, our HR sent a mail asking people to leave early, if they wanted to. Most of us left early, to avoid getting caught up in any trouble. It seems they are going to deploy more police officers – reportedly 16,000, to secure London’s streets tonight. Hope the situation improves by tomorrow.