Thursday, August 4, 2011 Mark Duggan, a ‘real straight up and down respected man’ (words of London rapper, Chipmunk) from Tottenham in London, was blasted to death while on his way home in a cab by a mob of cops wielding Heckler & Koch MP5 carbines. 29 year old Mark, father of four young children, lived on the housing estate known as Broadwater Farm, a depressed predominantly Afro-Caribbean area. The area is infamous since the riot of 1985 after 49 year old Cynthia Jarrett collapsed and died of a heart attack as police raided her home. (During the riot a policeman, PC Blakelock, was hacked to death with a machete.) Today, in the words of a resident, ‘if you’re from Broadwater Farm, police are on you every day, you’re not allowed to come off the estate. If you come off the estate they follow you.’ They followed Mark Duggan and he ended up dead.
Originally published by Act For Freedom Now!
August 6 – The arrogance of the killers in uniform in the face of the protest by the victim’s family and supporters, plus the brutal attack on a 16 year old girl by police during the vigil was the last straw.
That night in Tottenham the police station was attacked, police cars set on fire, a double-decker bus ends up a twisted wreck after being engulfed in flames, press photographers are beaten and relieved of their equipment for the decades of lies they have propagated. Bank windows smashed. Countless shops looted, stuff thrown all over the streets. Young guys storm McDonald’s and start frying up burgers and chips. Indignant anger clears the brain, flushes out the cops in the head. Collective fury at this latest police murder combines with the daily bullying and humiliation of being stopped and searched, the moralising, the false promises, useless lives, no future, desire for status-affirming ‘needs’ unattainable due to increased taxes, unemployment and cutting of benefits, 4 million cameras, glaring security cops at the entrance to every store, the colonization of all remaining urban space by trendy bars filled with the noisy chatter of the carefree… that and much more that we don’t know and will never experience welled up and fueled the will to smash through the invisible and plate glass barriers that hold everything in place.
The hostages of the open prison, the young people of the ghettos of London, rise up and the capitalists’ nightmare finally materialises, as the last link in the consumer chain of submission snaps. It explodes into a free-for-all when, in a flash of illumination the solution to the existential dilemma is found: MUST HAVE/CAN’T HAVE = TAKE. It’s simple: learn and apply, possibly burning store to ashes on retreating.
The rioting escalates, scores more people come into the area responding to call outs on twitter to come up and fight the cops and loot shops. Over the following days it spreads to many other parts of London and onward towards other cities.
The rage also spreads beyond the main clashes in Nottingham, Manchester, Bristol, Gloucester, Liverpool, Birmingham. In many incidents the stories escape categorisation or quantification. One thing sure that is not reported and deliberately ignored is the chiefly anti-authoritarian flavour to the uprising, the government and corporations relentlessly branding the people ‘scum’, ‘thieves’ and other low simple catchphrases of demonisation. The failure in this to stop young people identifying with the uprising is obvious when it is seen how quickly the riots replicate and need little trigger to begin breaking the Queen’s peace. Mainstream media reporting becomes incredibly formulaic, and the bosses make mileage from their scenes of interest in reaching their political objectives, looping the same images over and over, overlaid with the stereotypical talking heads’ condemnation and reassurance.
The widespread disorder does not stop. The people who lost their fear go outside, collect themselves to attack and take as much as they can.
also read: Dark Matter Publications ‘August 2011 Revolt: Anarchy in the UK’ contains a rough chronology of events during the rebellion, and action communiques during the period from anarchist groups aiming to deepen and extend the conflict, as well as a couple of essays written after the main events analysing the nature of the revolt and prospects for the future.