Youth Riots in England


Recent riots by young people in England raise questions about the causes of the violence. Here, a carpet store in London the day after it was set on fire. PHOTO: Stanton

The city of London, England saw its worst riots in decades after police killed a black man and then beat a 16-year-old girl who attended a protest. The uprising spread through the poorer neighborhoods of London and to several cities across England. British youth broke windows of businesses and public buses, stole store goods and set fire to cars and buildings.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called the unrest, “criminality, pure and simple” and made a plan to remove the rioters and their families from the government’s lower-cost housing.

Many people disagreed with Cameron’s response saying that the British government should deal with discrimination and poverty at the root of the crisis. On the news program Democracy Now!, London columnist Darcus Howe called the rioting an “insurrection,” and blamed “the consistent stopping and searching young blacks without cause.” Black men in England are much more likely to be stopped and searched by cops than white men.

Also, young people in England have been hit hard by the bad economy and face high unemployment. However, the government has cut programs and services to youth.

Just a week before the riots began, Professor John Pitts, an adviser on gangs and violent crime for the city of London, warned about what was likely to happen with the closing of services for young people, reported The Guardian. “If you cut summer activities for young people, as night follows day you will see an increase in crime.”

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