Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Britain on Edge....

My daughter Camille lives in London and I have always loved the city. For reasons unknown to anyone, including me, I have this affinity with anything British. Go figure! So the situation there is very important to me. How could this happened? why did this turned so violent and spread so fast? I am flabbergasted, but still cannot find any answers.

Since Saturday night, London and other cities in Britain have been racked by riots, looting and utter chaos. Regardless of the reasons that caused this, this is not the way to go. There is no excuse in my book that would justify these behaviors...NONE. There have been so many that have tried to explain: it has to be the cuts in social services, the frustration of the young people, the lack of education, high unemployment and other things. Sorry, still NO excuse. There is nothing to be said about young people that can go around doing these kinds of things: "because we want to show the police and the rich we can do what we want, when we want", as two young girls told a BBC reporter. All the valid reasons that might justify a protest, are nullified by this behavior.

Sunday night things started to get really bad. Police, in insufficient numbers patrol the streets and were no match for the mobs. It was an unpredictable and scary thing. These young people just appeared in a neighborhood, looted, set buildings on fire and chased the police away with bats, rocks and pieces of broken glass. Anyone trying to calm them got beaten up and the vocabulary.....just horrific. It was absolutely heartbreaking to see these scenes on television. Never mind all that, I was scared for Camille. The unpredictability of the situation was utmost on my mind. All I could do was to tell her to stay indoors and away from places that could be targeted...but who knew when and where?

Monday dawned in a city showing signs of devastation, but the worst was yet to come. Monday night, as soon as people were coming out of work, mobs of young people rampaged through several neighborhoods, looting and burning and yelling and drinking and totally out of control. I stayed in contact with Camille via Skype, as I watched in horror what was going on. Some places, I recognized, I had been there just last month. Other were vaguely familiar, all looked scary by the light of buildings on fire. People asking for the police, where were they? who was in charge? who was going to protect the citizens? Questions without answers....the night was long and frightening.

It was then that politicians, who had been on holiday, started to come back. Showing up in devastated neighborhoods, they were received with heckles. Now, this was to be expected. Everyone needs a vacation and everyone is entitled to have a rest, but at the first signs of unrest everyone should have been back...EVERYONE! The fact that they weren't, was not looked upon favorably. Measures were taken, meetings were conducted, everyone made a public appearance and a public statement. About 16,000 police officers were to be deployed the next day. Still, all is not well, things have just calmed down a bit...there is so much going on.

Since then, disturbances have spread across the country. Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham have all suffered riots, looting and destruction. Still, I have not found what can justify this , still I have to see something that excuses this behavior. This is just absolutely and purely a chance to loot, to release steam, to show "we can" and it has to be dealt with. Later, when things cool down, solutions should be found, people need to sit down and see that behavior like this only hurts them and their own communities. I do hope this can be done because if not, this will happen again...SOON!

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