[News] Olympic Security’s Dual Motive: Conservative English Officials Ignore Lessons of 2011 Riots

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue Aug 7 13:23:36 EDT 2012

August 07, 2012

Conservative English Officials Ignore Lessons of 2011 Riots


  Olympic Security’s Dual Motive: Conservative English Officials Ignore
  Lessons of 2011 Riots


One year after riots rocked 66 areas across England for five days in 
some of the worst disturbances in that nation’s history, the issue that 
initially ignited those disturbances – police abuse – remains an 
unresolved problem.

Those August 2011 riots that produced five deaths, the loss of hundreds 
of businesses and homes plus overall damage costs exceeding $1-billion 
erupted on August 6th after police attacked a group peacefully 
protesting outside a London police station against police fatally 
shooting unarmed Mark Duggan.

Those protestors included family members of Duggan, a 29-year-old black 
man who was one of eight persons to die suspiciously while in custody of 
English police during just the first nine months of 2011.

While English officials swiftly slapped prison sentences on persons 
arrested during that rioting, like 16-months for a 22-year-old man 
accused of stealing ice cream, the official investigation into Duggan’s 
death has progressed at a snail’s pace due largely to authorities and 
the policemen involved in Duggan’s death erecting their respective 

No English police have received convictions for any one of the thousands 
of suspicious deaths of persons while in police custody since the 1969 
conviction of two English policemen for killing a black man.

Last week Pam Duggan, mother of Mark Duggan, issued a statement 
criticizing the authorities’ for failing to deliver “justice” to her 
family. Duggan’s father died last month without seeing those involved in 
his son’s death held to account.

“The past 12-months have been terrible. We still have no answers about 
why my son died,” Pam Duggan complained in that statement.

“Thirty-one police officers surrounded Mark and he was shot twice. Why 
has none of the police officers given statements one year on?” Duggan 
wondered, regarding the death of her son in London’s Tottenham section, 
where the rioting began.

Britain’s oft-criticized Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) 
is supposedly “handling” the investigation Duggan’s death.

The IPCC, last August, initially declared Duggan fired on an officer, 
triggering police to shoot him, but the agency later backtracked, 
acknowledging that Duggan had been unarmed.

While that August 2011 rioting produced professed soul-searching among 
English authorities including various official investigations, one year 
later, activists around London complain about witnessing too little 
substantive change.

Community leaders fault the conservative elected officials controlling 
London and England for failing to aggressively target high levels of 
youth unemployment or effectively corralling police abuses – twin issues 
that activists and analysts alike cite as underlying last summer’s 

“It’s approaching one year since the uprisings last year and things are 
getting worse: more poverty, more unemployment…Over one million young 
people are unemployed in the UK with one in two young black people 
unemployed,” co-chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts Zita 
Holbourne said.

“In September students will pay tripled university fees effectively 
blocking the poorest from participation in higher education,” Holbourne 

In late November 2011 the independent panel appointed by British 
authorities to investigate the rioting found a “link between deprivation 
and rioting” noting that most of the 4,000 arrested during the riots 
lived in some of England’s “most deprived” communities.

“Most disturbing to us was a widespread feeling that some rioters had no 
hope and nothing to lose,” declared the Interim Report from the Riots 
Communities and Victims Panel.

While that interim riot report entitled “5 Days in August” listed 
economic deprivations as an element underlying the widespread rioting 
last August, Britain’s conservative led government continued with its 
budget slashing ‘austerity’ policies, further devastating low-income 
communities like Tottenham.

The same British Prime Minister David Cameron who has authorized 
spending billions of pounds for preparing for the London 2012 Olympics 
and bailing out bankers continued claiming insufficient funds existed to 
address the worsening economic plights of Britain’s poor plus its 
working and middle classes.

“I think there is no coincidence with the rise of this conservative 
political climate, less emphasis on diversity and the worsening 
economy,” 100 Black Men of London President Olu Alake said.

“There is serious unemployment among black men in London between the 
ages of 16 and 30 but that is not a big enough issue for politicians to 

Ken Clarke, the Secretary of State Justice for Cameron’s government, 
blasted rioters last August as a “feral underclass” who wanted material 
goods without having a willingness to work to obtain those goods.

Yet, grass-roots leaders in Tottenham and elsewhere fault British 
leaders like Cameron and Clarke for failing to address festering 
problems underlying those August 2011 outbursts involving mostly 
under-35-year-old participants of all races.

“The establishment has not always reached out. They’ve done things in 
the wrong way,” conflict engagement specialist Ken Hinds said. An 
activist in Tottenham, Hinds heads the Stop-&-Search Harringey 
Monitoring Group.

Stop-&-Search in Britain is like the Stop-&-Frisk in America, where 
police conduct warrantless searches on streets that are often abusive in 
nature and inordinately ensnare the innocent–especially, in the U.S., 
young men of color.

While both British police Stop-&-Search and U.S. police Stop-&-Frisk 
disproportionately target non-whites, British police also pounce on poor 
whites with the street search practice.

“Black people are 32 times more likely to be stopped and searched by 
police than white people,” Zita Holbourne, the BARAC co-chair and a 
trade union activist said.

That interim riot report referenced Stop-&-Search as “a major source of 
discontent with the police. This concern was widely felt by young Black 
and Asian men, who felt it was not always carried out with appropriate 

That report cited the context of the “historic backdrop of antipathy 
between some members of the black community and the police…”

In 1985, for example, in Tottenham, where Duggan’s death occurred, the 
death of Cynthia Jarrett during a police raid at her residence sparked 
the ‘Broadwater Farm Riot.’

Participants in that 2011-riot-sparking police station protest about 
Duggan death had marched from the Broadwater Farm government housing 

The final riot panel report issued in March 2012 found disturbing 
concerns about police, with many people thinking police are “corrupt” 
and “dishonest.” Over half of people the panel surveyed had no 
confidence in complaint procedures against police. “These are worrying 
statistics,” the final report stated.

That November interim riot report questioned “whether the issues” of 
Bankers’ bonuses, expense scandals by members of Parliament and a lack 
of personal responsibility had combined to create “a moral vacuum in 
society” as reflected in the criminal, violent, non-caring behaviors 
displayed during the rioting.

Simon Woolley, Director of Operation Black Vote, said definite 
double-standards exist in how the British system handles transgressions 
by the lower and upper classes. OVB is one of Britain’s most prominent 
civil rights/human rights activist organizations.

Rioters received harsh sentences demanded by governmental leaders like 
one 18-year-old receiving 33-months for posting a Facebook message that 
produced no violence. Yet those convicted in the Parliament expense 
account scandal received sentences of 18-months or less.

“Who is worse, kids who steal $50 sneakers or politicians who commit 
expense account fraud to buy $8,000 flat screen televisions?” Woolley said.

“If kids are animals what are politicians who should know better?”

While looting and destruction characterized the overall rioting, there 
was a political aspect to much of it. Some of those Tottenham protestors 
and others initially burned police vehicles, public transport buses and 
offices of government entities along with torching many of the betting 
parlors filling that lower income community, which some residents 
consider parasitic.

Walking down the Tottenham High Road three weeks after the rioting 
ceased, one activist said, “Look around. See that government office was 
burned and the betting parlor next to it was also burned but across the 
street the butcher, restaurant and supermarket were untouched. Clearly 
there were specific targets. This was not a mindless outburst but very 

Empirical and anecdotal evidence from the initial outburst in Tottenham 
evidenced an uprising that contradicted riot reactions from top British 
leaders like Prime Minister Cameron who angrily declared rioters 
represented “mindless criminality, pure and simple.”

Journalist Darcus Howe, a respected elder in Britain’s Afro-Caribbean 
community, received an apology from the BBC last August after a BBC 
interviewer created a stir by indignantly slamming Howe for his terming 
some rioting an “insurrection” by young people upset with police abuses 
and economic deprivations similar to the Arab Spring.

Some in London see blocking possible riots as a second unexpressed 
motivation for the massive military/police presence arrayed for 2012 
Olympics security – a presence that includes over 25,000 military and 
police personnel plus thousands of others doing security.

Some activists see the security build-up, which includes jet fighters, 
war ships and helicopters carrying snipers, as aimed at intimidating 
London residents outraged by festering ills as much as at deterring 
potential attacks from foreign terrorists.

“The police are muting the idea of another uprising happening this 
summer,” London activist Omowale Rupert said.

Rupert, a member of London’s Pan-Afrikan Society Community Forum, said 
police are using the Olympics “as an opportunity to bring out more guns 
and stoke up baseless notions of ‘terrorism.’ It is a massive crowd 
-management exercise.”

*/Linn Washington, Jr./*/ is a founder of This Can’t Be Happening and a 
contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion 
(AK Press). He lives in Philadelphia.

Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415 
863-9977 www.freedomarchives.org
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