White Riots
By Abdul Turay
Published 23 August 2011

Some in the media are doing “The Italian job” on England's black population. For those of you who are not British, I'll explain. “The Italian Job” is a famous 60s movie starring Michael Cain. It's something of a national institution here, every Briton has seen it. Non-Brits may have heard of the more recent American remake staring Mark Wahlberg.

It's a very clever, quirky, patriotic movie about an elaborate gold bullion heist in Italy by London's criminal underworld.

There are couple of scenes in the movie that have always bugged me and I suspect every other Black Briton.

At the end of the movie, after a celebrated car chase through Rome's Byzantine streets, the gang load the gold onto a bus, ditch the cars, get on the bus themselves, and drive off.

The driver has the easiest job in the whole gang, in fact the easiest job in the World. He has to drive a bus along a perfectly maintained mountain pass, with no other traffic on it........without driving it off the edge of a cliff.

But he is black. He can't manage it. He starts acting black, flipping the bus from side to side and laughing, and then!.........watch the film if you want to find out what happens, it is not quite what you think.

You see the point. The black man screws it up for everybody.

Outside the UK, the riots have been presented as a race riot. In Russia and many other countries many people actually believe the recent riots in England are simply the fault of “blacks and immigrants”.

Even in the UK the coverage of riots has been black tinted. All the main media outlets looked to historical precedents; the riots in Brixton, Hansworth, Tottenham and Toxteh in the 80s. These were race riots. Old stalwarts from the 80s, people like Darcus Howe were wheeled on to give important pronouncements about police harassment of the black youth. Contemporary black pundits were also roped in to give their penny's worth.

It was as if time had not moved on since 1985.

But there's a problem and everybody knows it. The trouble spots included Salford, Gloucester, Milton Keynes, Reading, Nottingham, Ealing, Enfield, West Bromwich, Greater Manchester, Bristol, these areas are mostly white.

Look at the images of the rioters or do what I did and go on to the street and see the rioters, one thing becomes crystal clear; the rioters were mostly white.

This is where the Italian Job comes in. The idea persists that the whites were just passengers, the driver is still black, or Asian.

Historian David Starkey notoriously explained this on the BBC's Newsnight.

The whites he said have adopted black mores and values.

“The whites have become black, a particular sort of violent nihilistic attitude has become the fashion and black and white, boy and girl operate in this language together. This Jamaican patios that has been intruded in England.”

David Starkey is wrong. Firstly he is wrong about language, nobody outside of London talks in Jamaican patios or multicultural English as it is called, certainly not in Salford or Gloucester.

More fundamentally he is wrong in his assessment of the problem. He could not be more wrong. White people haven't become black the opposite is true. Black people have become white, that is to say they have become English; and the English like to riot. Sometimes we riot for a purpose but at other times it is mindless.

In 1780 a mob took over London for two weeks. They rampaged through the street in an orgy of destruction. The nominal reason was anti-Catholicism, but historians and commentators at the time thought the real reason was a combination of lack of social mobility and an opportunity to loot. Sound familiar?

In the Middle Ages peasant revolts were fairly common. The most famous was the revolt of 1381. That has been sold to us as a righteous looting, noble peasants chaffing against evil barons.

However most of these rebellions were totally dodgy and therefore not well remembered. Jack Cade's rebellion in 1450 is a case in point. After all this time it is difficult to work out what Jack and his lads actually wanted, other than to steal and to smash things up.

Shakespeare portraits Jack as a bragging charlatan leading a rowdy mob. The Jack Cades of today would be or more accurately are on blackberry.

The 20th Century had riots in England aplenty, in France also.

There were riots in Bristol in 1919, there was the so-called Battle of Cable Street in 1936 against Oswald Moseley's Fascists. There was the Tonypandy Riots, the Brown Dog riots, the Epsom Riots, the Poll Tax riots, my flat mate took part in that.

We have had riots because we were happy, after we won the Great War in 1919 celebrations turned into riots. We have had riots because we were sad, after losing football matches and yes we have had race riots.

It is not just blacks against whites or against the white “system”, (Brixton 1981) sometimes it’s whites attacking blacks (Notting Hill 1958). Other times it’s Asians against whites (Oldham and Bradford 2001) and other times it’s black against Asians (Birmingham 2005).

But mostly people riot; because it's summer, because they are young and because they are bored.

Growing up in Chelmsford, Essex in the 80s I experienced the low-level suburban violence that seems to benighted every small to medium size town in England.

A river runs through the town in the Northern suburbs. At night kids would stand on both sides of the river and throw stones at each other. Then the council was dumb enough to build a bridge. There were pitched battles between dozens of kids on that bridge.

This low-level suburban rioting never received much attention from the media. It was happening all over the country most summers, but it was localised and sporadic.

If it's happening everywhere at the same time, then the press are going to notice.

What would have happened if you have satellite TV, CCTV, blackberries, and Twitter in the 60s?
Youth cults, the Mods and the Rockers, would be fighting each other all over the country, not just in Brighton.

Why did these riots happen?

Here is your answer.

This riots happened because the English like to riot and now the English have the technology to riot in many different places at the same time.

There is another very English type of violence which is very instructive as to what went on this August. Why has no-one noticed that these riots have more in common with football hooliganism that persists to this day than anything that went on in Brixton in the 1980s?

It was football hooligan gangs, known as firms, who invented organised fighting and looting specialised clothes and sport goods shops. This is the culture of the casuals and this was a casual riot. Casual culture spread to the streets and it was only a matter of time before casual organisational skills did as well.

This also explains something else that has not been discussed much. Why there was no rioting in Scotland and Wales.

Scotland in the 70s and 80s had enormous problems with football hooliganism. The Scottish Football Association and the Scottish government in the 90s dealt with the problem by appealing to people's sense of patriotism.

“Let's not be like the English, let's be civilised, let's not tarnish own nation's reputation,” they told people. The strategy worked. Hooliganism has died out as a Scottish problem.

I think Scots will agree the reason why the Scots didn't riot isn't because they don't want to be black. The reason why the Scots, and the Welsh and Northern Irish for that matter, didn't riot is because they don't want to be like the English.

Football hooliganism is the English disease after all. Now all types of mindless urban and suburban violence have become the English disease.

Why the English like to riot is a subject too big for this essay. It's been going on for decades, it's been going on for centuries really.

I suspect the answer lies in the mutual contempt the classes have held for each other since the Norman Conquest. After a period of détente from the 1945-1990s, this hatred has come back with a vengeance.

Modern England has vilified its underclass “the chavs”. Now “the chavs” are fighting back. But there's the thing, chavs are usually presented as white. This riot proves chavs can be any race.

New feature (Off Topic) This Blog is about Estonia but occasionally I may publish a feature or opinion piece that is off topic. Here's one about the England riots.

White Riots

City under siege
By Abdul Turay
Published Postimees 11 August 2011

Croydon High Street this morning looked like a war zone. I could see smoke pouring from buildings on the main street. Places I know well were burning to the ground. Police had sectioned of the main street. The helicopters, the one
s with
the cameras on, whirred overhead. Debris strewed the streets, people walked around dazed and shocked, not quite sure what to do.

Then is started up again. By noon Croydon was starting to look dangerous. Crowds of youths were beginning to gather. So I went home, only to find the high street near to where I live was shut down. There are reports of crowds beginning to gather there too. I can hear the wail of police sirens as I am typing this.

There is no simple explanation as to why this is happening. The truth is nobody knows why it is happening.

Some commentators have pegged the rioting on the usual suspects of inner city social deprivation and government cuts. This is demonstrable false, as well as poorer areas like Peckham, Tottenham, Hackney, Dalston, and Walthamstow and Brixton, rampaging gangs have torn up well-heeled areas like Notting Hill, Camden Town, Chalk Farm, Ealing, and Lavender Hill.

Ealing was one of the worst hit areas, it is not an inner city area, it’s an affluent leafy suburb on the outskirts of London, think Nõmme.

There have also been trouble across the country in Liverpool, in the centre of Birmingham, in Leeds, Manchester, Bristol and Nottingham. More is sure to follow.

I spoke to local residents in some of the worse effected areas who have been touched personally by events.

Tyrone Davidson lives in Peckham, a tough inner city area on the front line last night. He knows some of the people involved in the rioting.

“I wouldn’t be surprise if some of them(the rioters) come up to me and ask “do you want to buy a TV, do you want to buy a phone?””

Davidson gives me updates of the latest developments.

“My friend just e-mailed me and said it is kicking off in Lewisham again. ”

Talk to local residents and it is very clear that this not a race riot, nor political riot like the one in Tallinn four years ago. It is sheer mindless violence.

I have been on the street, I have seen the rioters. They are young, mostly male, between the ages of 15-30, but different races, religions, shapes and sizes. What they have in common is a hooded attire and an appetite for destruction.

“This ain’t political, some people are just angry and others are jumping on the band wagon,” Davidson said.

“Others are just thinking let’s just go on the rampage. Some of these kids are just 14, 15, their don’t know what's going on, it is just fun for them.

“These people are tearing up the streets . All ages, all colours. It is not a race riot, it’s just mad,” Davidson said.

Bill Todd another local resident agreed. “It's not politically motivated. It is just pure looting,” he said.

Though we may not know why it is happening, I can tell you how it is happening.

Local residents, people in touch with the hoodlums agree these events are not spontaneous, they are co-ordinated attacks, executed with almost military precision. Co-ordinated by blackberry.

In Croydon town centre on Monday, shop were closed at 4pm, hours before any trouble. Shopkeepers had got word that trouble was coming.

Residents also knew trouble was on the way. “My daughter called me at quarter to four and said there will be trouble,” local resident Sheena Kochi said.

This pre-planning has led to senseless destruction. A furniture store on the outskirts of Croydon was set alight merely to divert emergency services away from the main show of smashing up and looting the high street.

“They didn't get all the shops they wanted so they will back for them tonight,” said another local resident who didn't want to be named.

All over London there has been a similar pattern. The looters have discovered the power of the internet to manipulate the police and other emergency services. There are stories of polices being deliberately diverted away from hot spots by false reports of trouble twitted over the web.

Ultimately and this is the really scary thing, the looters have discovered that if you riot in different parts of the city at the same time the police just don't have the resources to deal with it. IT and systematic planning has created new opportunities for looting and general mayhem.

Could this knowledge spread to other countries? Can we expect gangs of hooded rullnokad roaming the streets of Tallinn?

London is beyond saving. “The kids know there aren't enough police to contain it. Police can’t be in two places at the same time,” Davidson said.

Two girls bragging about the riot to the BBC made the same point: “It was good though (the riot), it was good fun. It is not even a riot it's showing the police that we can do what we want.”

The only good thing to come out of all this madness is that ordinary people, decent people, are coming together. Neighbours who wouldn't normally talk and would be going about their business zombie-like on a Monday are now engaging with each other, looking out for each other. It's not just friends and family, total strangers will warn you where to go and where not to go.

It's almost as city has divided into two factions. Them and us. Them, being gangs of hooded youth and us, being everybody else.

I feel like I am living in a city under siege but the attackers are inside the walls already. We all wait with some trepidation for even
ts for the next few nights.