Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Walworth Road - Only Fools no Horses

I'm no writer. I'm not particularly good at it and it doesn't come easy to me, but after my journey home from work today (8th August 2011), I feel the need to share my experience on the looting (especially as I've read a lot of rubbish both in the press and online) and so have started this blog. I find writing can be a good outlet for anger and at the moment I'm feeling pretty angry.


Whilst at work I saw on the internet that trouble had flared in Hackney. I expected it would kick off, but not so early and in broad daylight. I left work at about 6:30 and my worry at the time was whether or not to go to the barbers, I didn't want to be left with half a haircut if things kicked off. I live in Camberwell which borders Brixton, where there had been riots the night before and I was actually lucky not to get caught up in. I was driving home pretty late in the evening and I would normally have gone through Brixton, (exactly through where the looting and fires were taking place), but I recalled there had been some road works the last time I'd been in the area (couple of weeks ago) and so instead went a different route.


Anyway at my bus stop on the Strand in Central London, I didn't get on the first bus to Camberwell, it was rammed and I didn't fancy standing up the whole way home. The next bus came a few minutes later and I jumped on. Just as I was approaching Elephant and Castle, I got the first phone call checking that I was ok. My mate told me that there was rioting going on in Peckham, (which borders Camberwell on the opposite side to Brixton) and wanted to know where I was and how things were in Camberwell. At this point I started paying attention to what was going on the street rather than listening to my music. Elephant and Castle looked completely normal and so I assumed I'd have no problem getting home as I thought that this would be the likely place of any trouble. However, I was wrong. The bus didn't get very far away from Elephant down the Walworth Road, before the driver pulled over behind two other buses and turned off the engine and everyone had to get off.
Police organise blocking off the Walworth Road
Police block vehicles and pedestrians from travelling south down the Walworth Road




Walking in front of the other two parked buses, I saw that about 15 police officers were blocking off people and traffic from going any further down the Walworth Rd than Manor Place. A massive crowd started to gather, Walworth Rd is normally very busy, lots of buses and cars pass through and as buses were pulling over more and more people were joining. This was all very peaceful, it was full of ordinary people wanting to carry on their journey. The officers seemed very calm, none were in riot gear, most were in uniform and a few in suits, but they didn't seem to have much of a clue what was going on, (all they would say is there is some disturbance down there) or when it would be sorted. I watched officers repeat themselves again and again as different people questioned them. It didn't seem that any police officers were using common sense, I actually wanted to take control. I wondered why they didn't use a megaphone to speak to the increasingly large crowd - this was all taking place 200 metres from Walworth Police station (on Manor Place), so they must have been able to get one. I wondered why they didn't do anything about the traffic, ok the buses had to remain stationary, but Manor Place and Browning Street were open and cars were coming out of both of these roads, why weren't cars stuck on Walworth Rd diverted down there away from Walworth Rd? It was common sense and would have only taken one officer to sort out and would have stopped the jam being all the way back to Elephant and Castle.


video                     
Crowd on Walworth Road




After updating my facebook and replying to a couple of texts I was trying to figure out what to do - there was no advice from the police. Surely they knew looting was going on, that their was debris all over the street and that the Walworth Rd would not be open for hours, so sensible advice would have been to make your journey home avoiding Walworth Rd if possible. They could have advised people to walk to Elephant and Castle (a substantial transport interchange of tube, train and bus to get advice on finding an alternative route home) I was feeling quite hungry, and ironically was standing outside a closed McDonalds - they would have made a lot of money if it had been open. All the shops in the area were shut, even Bagel King, and anyone who knows the area, knows that Bagel King is open 24/7. I didn't fancy standing around for an unknown period of time and although I could have gone back to Elephant and Castle and taken a longer route home, I decided to try and make my way through the back streets to Camberwell. I followed a woman down Manor Place past the Police Station, we'd got about 400 metres pass the station when a young mixed race or asian guy ran past us with some small items in his hand (maybe mobile phone boxes) and he shouted something boasting about his loot. The young black woman (in her 20's) I was walking with kissed her teeth and said something about him being an idiot for conforming to stereotypes. We walked down Penton Place, and had the choice to walk up Penrose Street back to the Walworth Road or continue on the back streets. I was not 100% sure of the way on the back streets and to be honest curiosity got the better of me and I walked up Penrose Street back to the Walworth Road as did the young woman.
Looted shop on the corner of Walworth Road and Penrose Street - 8th August




As we got to the Walworth Road, I couldn't see the police line further back up the road which had stopped us coming down, but I did notice the first 2 shops I came across (on the corner of Penrose and Walworth and on the other side of Walworth Rd opposite Penrose) had their windows and doors smashed as you can see in the pictures, but other than that it was sparse in the immediate area.




Looted shop on Walworth Road opposite Penrose Street - 8th August

Walworth Road (view from Penrose Street) - 8th August
I could see further down the street (and you can see in the picture below) that there was a group trying to break into the footlocker and that there were buses stationary in the street. I wondered what would have happened if I'd got on the earlier bus, guess I'll never know.




Walworth Rd Footlocker being looted - 8th August




I decided to head further down the street. There were a lot of people out on the street, but relatively few involved in looting. There were a lot of people (my estimate is 30% of people there) who looked as though they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time (like the two girls and the guy on the bike in front of the bus). It wasn't really a scary environment, I'm not saying that people weren't frightened, but I think a better description would be shocked and disgusted. I saw a middle aged woman walking with her elderly mother through the worst hit area and they were obviously concerned, but I (and I hope they also) didn't feel that they were unsafe. It sounds stupid to say it, but the atmosphere amongst everyone else seemed like carnival - I actually saw a girl getting chirpsed (chatted up). There were plenty of people (my estimate is maybe as many of 50% of people there) hanging around, fascinated by everything and enjoying watching the 'entertainment'. They didn't seem to be in the wrong place, they wanted to be there and to see what was going on. I got the feeling that they wouldn't get involved in smashing any shops in, but if there were goods dropped by looters, they wouldn't hesitate to pick them up and I actually witnessed this later on. Lots of these onlookers were females and young kids (10-13) and they came from ALL races. I didn't notice any racial tension, Walworth is a very diverse area and white and blacks were mixing together whether that was in watching or in looting.
Looted shops on Walworth Road - 8th August


On to the looters. A lot of them (more than half by my estimates) didn't bother to hide their faces. I don't know if this was down to bravado or stupidity, but also maybe because there were no police in sight and no media, although I suspect there is plenty of CCTV around there. From what I noticed the instigators were older guys (20+) but a lot of the followers were teenagers. It didn't feel like it would get violent. Nobody seemed interested in fighting each other and as mentioned there were no police to fight. I wasn't paying attention to where I was walking and barged quite hard in to a big black guy with a bandana over his face, who was with 3 or 4 other guys, instinctively I said sorry and he responded "Cool bredren" and spudded me (touched fists). The only thing that made me a little nervous was taking pictures. I was careful not to capture anyones faces, I felt that was the only thing that could have got me into trouble.




As I continued walking through the Walworth Rd, I noticed a couple of interesting things. As pictured, a LCD TV lay on the street, it didn't seem damaged, so not sure why it was left there, maybe because it was only about a 19"!!!
Discarded LCD TV on side street off Walworth Rd - 8th August
A local convenience store had its shutters down, but all the staff (between 6-8 Kurdish men) sat on crates outside. They were obviously making sure that nobody looted their shop. They seemed calm and didn't appear to have weapons and nobody seemed interested in bothering them.  I also noticed that the bus drivers had remained inside the buses that were stuck in the middle of the looting. I was surprised by this, I thought they would have taken their keys and quietly slipped off, rather than being a sitting target. However, they looked calm, one driver had an old white lady still on his bus that he was talking to. I felt sorry for her, getting off the bus in an area that she may not know whilst looting is going on would be terrifying and she may not have been able to walk very far. She really didn't have much choice except to wait on the bus until the police came - I imagine she was waiting a long time. Hopefully, the fact that the driver was a black man considerably bigger than any of the looters made her feel a little at ease. I also felt bad when I noticed a young black girl (maybe 13) crying, she was being comforted by a number of people and I overheard that she was upset because she couldn't get into her home
Looted Cash Converters shop on Walworth Road - 8th August
As I got further south down Walworth Rd, there were less and less people and no looting was currently going on, although there was evidence that looting had happened earlier as you can see by the picture of the Coral betting shop.
Looted Coral Betting Shop, Walwort Road- 8th August
Outside the Argos a number of DVD's were scattered all over the floor. A car that had come out of a side street and realised there was no way of getting up the road pulled over and 2 white women jumped out the car and started picking up as many of the DVD's as they could. One of the women then shouted to the other "come on let's go, let's not get greedy" and they drove off. This was at approximately 7:30.
Assorted DVD's on the street outside Argos Walworth Rd - 8th August
Assorted DVD's on the street outside Argos Walworth Rd - 8th August
Assorted DVD's on the street outside Argos Walworth Rd - 8th August




It may sound like I don't feel the goings on are that bad, when I'm saying that it wasn't violent etc, but that's definitely not the case, I'm just stating facts, it's annoying me that a lot of the reporting I'm hearing and reading is opinion, speculation and rumour rather than fact.  I only want to hear accurate reporting (especially when it comes to race - it's definitely not just black men involved), I don't really care what people think, I can make my own decision on what to think, but if you want to hear my thoughts, you can do below.


I'm really angry about ALL of those involved. Those that are causing the trouble, have no respect for innocent people - homes and cars are being destroyed - there can be no excuse for that. As in Walworth where the damage didn't (during the time I was there) involve fire or damaging peoples property, the fact that shops were ransacked still made me mad. It wasn't just chains that were targetted, independent shops were hit too, they can't afford these losses and many will go out of business. Even looting chain stores is far from being a victimless crime, they employ many people and the looting will likely cause jobs to be lost, maybe some stores won't even reopen. I've heard a lot of people speculate on the reasons for people getting involved in the looting and there are lots of them, many very complex, (although none come close to justify what is happening) but to me there is one reason that is key and more important than anything else and that's that people thought/think they can get away with it. They can't be allowed to get away with it and MP's and Police have said they won't. That's the only thing that politicians and police have said that I actually believe. I'm sure they will spend months going through videos and photos identifying the looters and arsonists, but the time for this is after the disturbances are stopped.


I'm also really annoyed with the police. I'm not the police's biggest fan (like most young black men), there are a lot of things they could do better. When I was younger I was constantly getting hassled by them, including getting pulled over 3 times by different coppers whilst driving down the Old Kent Road on the same night. Although things have definitely got better over the years, it just seems there are so many things that could be improved very easily. Communication being a key example. After the shooting of Mark Duggan, the truth should have been put out straight away. Rumours were leaked to the press that he had shot at the police first, when the police officers on the scene (and any witnesses - the cab driver for example) knew this wasn't the case. The police belatedly now admit this. The Police may have feared a disturbance if they had admitted they had shot a man dead who hadn't shot at them, but they made it worse when they didn't clarify that reports he had shot at them were wrong. I think that they presumed that people would believe this story until the IPCC report came out and tensions had calmed down. What they didn't expect was that Mark's family and friends would completely reject that he would shoot at the police, he may have been involved in criminal activity, but by all accounts wasn't a violent person, at least not a killer letalone a copkiller and those that knew him smelt a rat. I know they can't put out the full details when an IPCC investigation is ongoing, but they could have said a man has been shot dead by a police officer and the officer has been suspended (surely they have to suspend even if on full pay) whilst an investigation takes place. People may have been angry, but at least it wouldn't have felt like a cover up, which obviously would make people more angry. It just seems that those leading the police are making some pretty big mistakes (let's not forget phone hacking and the De Menez shooting at Stockwell) and makes it hard to justify their six figure salaries. Unfortunately it seems to take something to go majorly wrong (Stephen Lawrence for example) for things to be improved and lets hope lessons will be learnt from this. Having said all that, I can't have anything but sympathy for the police having to deal with the disorder that has occurred over the last few days. Their mistakes don't deserve bricks being thrown at their heads.


I'm also angry with the politicians. It took Cameron and Boris a long time to come back from their holiday's and it seems they came back for the wrong reasons i.e. they realised it was going to effect their political careers if they didn't rather than wanting to sort out the country. Now they are back it seems they are more concerned with looking good on BBC and Sky news than really getting the situation sorted. We don't need them walking around Croydon, Clapham Junction etc shaking hands and thanking people. If they haven't got better things to do than kissing babies they should have stayed on holiday - I'm sure they are protected/accompanied by a number of police officers (who definitely have better things to do) whilst on their jaunt. I'm glad that Boris got a hard time in Junction, hopefully this buffoon will never get elected again. But it's not just the Tories, Milliband has also only just come back and is also in Peckham for the cameras. I've seen a lot of MP's on the TV (I've been watching constantly) and so far the only one that has done himself any credit is David Lammy. I'm sick of hearing MP's saying that these people will be punished. Theresa May has made an idiot of herself calling on people to ring the police and identify looters - people on the same news programmes are saying at the moment police can't respond to 999 calls,  they haven't even been able to get through to the police to report break ins etc and she's advising people to ring up and say they've seen Tony with a new pair of Nikes. Surely it's more important to stop the looting happening before worrying about grassing up Tony.


I presume that it is up to the government as to whether police can use rubber bullets, water cannons or even bring in the army. Therefore its disgraceful that the most senior politicians were not here. I obviously don't know all the pros and cons, but I am massively in favour of water cannons. As I state earlier, people are rioting because they can. They have realised that if enough of them do it, in enough different areas, then the police can't stop them. Also, I have mentioned that I feel a lot of people involved are hangers on. Therefore if you have a water cannon, you can first send a megaphone warning that people need to clear an area before the water cannon is fired - I think most people will leave then (as I said a lot of people are just onlookers), police can then approach, they may not need to even shoot the water cannon or only give it a short burst. At the moment, the police are looking on and the looters are looting in their faces knowing they can't be touched. Having a water cannon means that you can take on a crowd that is bigger than the police force. Surely they are safer than driving armoured vehicles towards a crowd, which they did last night!


I wouldn't say I'm angry with, but I'm annoyed by, the media (even though I work in it myself). There have been a number of innapropriate people getting airtime and the presenters have been ill equipped with the basic knowledge of who the people they are intereviewing are. Point in case being this interview with Darcus Howe, whom I am not a fan of.


The reports on the trouble in Ealing also really pissed me off. I keep hearing that Ealing is a "leafy affluent area" where you would never expect this type of thing. Well we don't expect this type of thing in Tottenham, Brixton or Hackney either - it's been 25 years since we've seen disturbances anything like this in these areas. Reports keep talking about how people must have come from other areas in to Ealing because locals would never do anything like that. Maybe, I'm being over sensitive, but I just don't like the connotations of what they are saying. Sky News and Dermot Murnaghan the worst culprets. Lastly, the jesters that they have giving the weather reports are annoying at the best of times, but when something serious is going on, we really don't need to see their inane smiling faces and chirpy voices cracking jokes. Can a producer not tell them just to bring it down a notch?


The looting in Walworth hasn't been mentioned on TV, obviously there are a lot of disturbances in other areas that were a lot more serious, but on a normal day what happened in Walworth would have been headline news. It makes me wonder how many other smaller scale disturbances there were and whether the police (even with increased numbers tonight) will be able to cope especially if forces are coming from other areas that might find that they have their own disturbances.


I think I've just about managed to spit out everything I want to say, and I feel a little more calm, let's hope it calms down in the high streets too. It's taken me the full day, in between doing some bits of work to write this up. I don't imagine many will find this, letalone take the time to read it all. However if you are reading this do let me know :) and if you've got any comments then I'm of course really interested to hear - oh and apologies for the bad grammar.


Stay safe

285 comments:

  1. Good article, well written :)

    As a (new) resident of Walworth its interesting to get a complete first hand account of what went on. By the tweets and images shown the problems did escalate somewhat in Walworth Road after you were there but it still sounds far better than I thought.

    I was pretty stunned by the complete lack of mention of Walworth in the mainstream media and am at a bit of a loss as to why this happened. Perhaps not being such a recognisable area it was deemed less likely to have the impact the media constantly craves, why report about looting in Walworth when you can replay a family business in Croydon being raised to the ground over and over again while grilling the distraught owner?

    I also completely agree with you about the water canon, unfortunately without an incentive to stop running amok why would people (who are already clearly of a criminal disposition) choose to? The police are constantly on the TV saying they cant arrest people and the politicians threats of 'repercussions' are pretty meaningless. The threat of violent reciprocation, even the non lethal kind is indisputably effective and it is ironic and depressing that the people our government wouldn't use force on in the most cases would be more than happy to use force on others.

    My main concern with this whole situation is that a month from now when all the damage is fixed and the shops are restocked what is to stop this from happening again? As far as I can see with things as they are nothing.

    As a nation we take far too soft an approach to crime in general and this the result. Without some sort of fundamental shift in government policy on dealing with crime and anti social behaviour I fear we will see more and more of this as the financial, social and economic state of the country declines as it seems inevitably bound to do so.

    Anyway, nice article and good photos, guess I should go and enjoy London before it all gets too Mad Max!

    Take it easy.

    Tom.

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  2. great report, some very valid points. as said above it did get worse and the police did eventually turn up in force (with armoured vans later on!) but sadly this was after much of the looting had happened.
    i've only lived in walworth for 3 years but i really love it here, it genuinely feels like everyone is part of the community. it really upset me when the tiny locally-owned sports shop opposite us got looted, and it angered me even more when later it got looted again and there were SIX police vans a few feet up the road protecting Argos and it took them fifteen minutes or so before one of them finally came down, and even then they just sat in the van watching for a while before casually getting out. i can't see how this is going to help anyone's relationship with the met!

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  3. You have articulated everything I feel about the police (frustration/sympathy) Politicians (selfish bafoons!) and the media. Thank you for the time you've taken, am grateful for intelligent people like yourself, who actually should think about writing on a more serious level.

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  4. Thanks for this account. I was on a bus coming from the other direction, saw it was about to kick off, and ran off home quick as I could.

    It's funny how, especially on twitter, there were reports of the place going crazy (Argos on fire), when it looked like Argos wasn't even touched, and Walworth got off relatively lightly compared with other areas.

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  5. Great blog account of your experience / views. We live just off the Walworth road & had no idea things were kicking off until our neighbor knocked on the door and told us to stay inside as Walworth road was a 'war zone'. It makes me so angry what people think they can get away with and what in fact they have got away with! Keep up the blogging, without write ups like yours we wouldn't have much of an idea about what happened.

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  6. Thanks for your comments - 5 more than I expected! Glad to know others feel the same way. Tom, I completely agree with you about the news repeating the story about the family business in Croydon over and over again. It's a heartbreaking story, but surely its important not to focus on a human interest story, but instead give a full picture of the unrest. With the BBC and Sky's resources, contacts within the police and the pictures/videos that will be sent to them, they could have given a broader view. Right back to Sky/BBC/Twitter to try and find out what went on last night!

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  7. Thanks for taking the time to write this article, I found it a lot more informative than the majority of the ‘mainstream’ news output. Please keep it up, good to know what’s actually happening on the ground without the standard hype and guess work which seems to accompany news reports at the moment.

    Cheers,
    Andy

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  8. Tom P. said : "As a nation we take far too soft an approach to crime in general and this the result. Without some sort of fundamental shift in government policy on dealing with crime and anti social behaviour I fear we will see more and more of this as the financial, social and economic state of the country declines as it seems inevitably bound to do so."
    What's wrong with sorting the problem of inequalities then ? If you want to carry on with social unfairness, you'll have to build very high walls and very big prisons to protect yourself from the anger. The solution is in producing a fairer society, which gives people a reason for acting good. The police can deal with crime, not with mass illness of society. I live in France and I can testify the more we try to solve the issue with police, the more insecure we are. Don't do the same mistake than we did in electing someone who has nothing to offer but police deployment, if you want to keep your streets safe.

    That being said, I want to thanks the writer for this very interesting report. I used to live off the Walworth Rd and I'm glad to find some news from the area, as the BBC doesn't seem to care (this is less sexy than Brixton for sure.)

    Take care and don't be mad at them ; this is what happens when you leave a whole part of the population without descent incomes and most of all, descent education.

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  9. Thanks for this, I was really interested in what you had to say as someone "on the ground".

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  10. Great report Motown. I left the UK 17 years ago and now live in Thailand. We don't get the breadth & range of news reports here on the situation in the UK right now so blog posts like yours are invaluable.

    You might not think of yourself as a writer but you are conveying your thoughts & feelings in a very straightforward, no-bull way. Keep it up, would love to read more about how the situation evolves and what happens in the aftermath.

    Cheers, Ian

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  11. Thanks a lot for posting this - really well put together. I appreciate a slightly different angle from the mainstream media views.

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  12. I think we were on the same bus!

    I had exactly the same experience, thrown out of a 176 on the Walworth Road by Macdonalds, literally seconds after texting friends that the road ahead looked fine. I walked round the looting, past the Beehive pub and Sutherland Square on the west side of the main road, and saw a lot of looters running from shops carrying big TVs and Nintendos.

    I've never felt such rage, made worse by the fact that I was totally unable to do anything about it. Trouble is, no-one in authority thinks they can do anything about it either... or even seems to care.

    I've lived in Camberwell for five years and it was horrible to see residents so fearful of each other. I was really terrified, not of the looters, as they had other things on their mind (tellies and trainers), but of something going wrong, anything, just being in the wrong place at the wrong time...

    Anyway, thank you for your post. Writing about this the first step in making sense of this kind of thing, I think.

    Kat

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  13. Motown, the Guardian linked to your blog:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/blog/2011/aug/10/manchester-riots-uk-disorder-day-four-live#block-73

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  14. Excellent post, really interesting. Totally share your view about letting others shape readers views of what did or didn't happen.

    I've actually had a similar inspiration to write about what I think and about how we should all look to ourselves to see what we did, or didn't do, to stop this hours, days, weeks, months or even years ago.

    http://www.ihavejustonethingtosay.blogspot.com

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  15. Hi, this is a great piece. I write for the Guardian - I've quoted you on our live blog today as I thought it was a really great first-person piece, and a very good analysis of why the media so often gets it wrong.

    Here's a link to my write-up http://bit.ly/qzCe0a

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  16. Wow congrats on your piece being featured on the Guardian website -

    "Although this blogger claims not to be a very good writer, in fact he does a fantastic job at explaining his conflicting views about the police – sceptical over the shooting of Mark Duggan but sympathetic to the officers policing the riots, along with a great first-hand account of the situation in Walworth which, which he describes as having an undertone of danger but laced with an almost carnival-like in atmosphere. He also concludes with a powerful denunciation of those who have perpetrated the looting."

    Here's the link if you haven't seen it:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/blog/2011/aug/10/manchester-riots-uk-disorder-day-four-live#block-73

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  17. Well written and nicely rounded views.Keep us posted and all the best to you.

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  18. Great post, thanks for taking the time to write this up. It's a lot more interesting and nuanced than what you get from the newspapers who are all about sensationalising, emotionalising and blaming - puts things into perspective, really.

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  19. I just read (the whole of!) your post and wanted to thank you for taking the time to express what you saw and feel about the riots. I've read a lot of words (in all of the newspapers, on twitter, from politicians) and have been glued to the rolling news coverage (in an almost macabre way!) and this is a breath of fresh air amongst the hyperbole, ignorance and nastiness. Well done.

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  20. interesting blog, thanks! Found a link to it on the guardian. I live between Tottenham and Hackney but I'm abroad at the moment so am reading to try and find out what's REALLY happening, as you said, the media sometimes distort stuff with their prejudices about different areas of London. Like you said... we don't expect this kind of stuff in Tottenham or wherever, either. So thanks! Also, you are a pretty good writer!

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  21. An interesting blog, as it's been namechecked on the Guardian website, expect a lot more fascinated readers! Very well done indeed.

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  22. Reading from Ireland,guess you'll have more readers after being posted on Guardian site! Very informative and I hope things calm down soon.

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  23. Excellent article - and stop saying you can't write! I agree with much of what you say. Sadly, I have not found the rioting a total surprise. Watching how those who supposedly should lead by example, bankers with their bonuses, politicians with their expenses, papers with their phone hacking, have had to have the truth extracted from them but still appear to shrug their shoulders as if it were a minor transgression, watching the rise of gated communities in London and elsewhere to keep the riff-raff out, watching the increasing split between the rich and poor, between those who can afford education and those who cannot, something was going to happen. And it has. Which is not to condone the riots. Politicians should understand the social effects of their policies and the fact that if you ignore a minority, they will complain.

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  24. Thank you for writing this, I found it really insightful. I think you channelled the anger and confusion and annoyance a lot of people are feeling really well.

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  25. Thank you for sharing, some very valid points made. I feel very angry too for very similar reasons. You might know already but in case you don't The Guardian blog has posted a link of your article, this is how I came to read it. I hope many more will!

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  26. Well written and more honest than most stuff I've read. I moved from the Heygate to South Camberwell a couple of years ago.
    I was down the Walworth Road early next morning (9th) and it was so sad. I reckon less than half the shops hit were big chains - there's not that many down there anyway - and their rest were small businesses/franchises. The joiners and glaziers were busy but everyone else looked bereft.
    In terms of getting a full picture, which I agree is really important, Camberwell Church Street was looking a bit battered too, but nothing like Peckham or even the Walworth Road. I haven't heard mention of that either.

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  27. Thank you for taking the time to write this - really interesting read as I used to live around that area before moving to Jakarta a few years ago. Feels odd to compare riots in a stumbling Europe with a now booming Asia.

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  28. Thanks for a great article. I was about 20 minutes ahead of you on the top deck of a bus which was part of a long line of buses that stalled as cars tried to turn around and get away from the Walworth Road. A crowd of about 30 guys in masks tried to get debris into the road to I assume blockade buses/cars. They hit a 468 with sticks as one very large man in a red vest walked a large pience of wood into the middle of the road with one hand. Cars and buses then started to move around this block and accelerate away.
    The most vivid memory was a guy with a full olive green old style gas mask on and the mask looked brand new and he was waving a long stick. People on my bus were very scared and a man went down to the driver to ask him to close all doors and move away as fast as he could. Elephant was quiet and so was Camberwell but the Walworth Road was scary with 3 groups of masked men moving north long it.
    People I work with do not understand how scary this was as they saw nothing like this. Later on I stood on my allotment which is very high up with a great view of the city and watched smoke rising from Peckham and Hackney farther away. I saw no police anywhere but you obviously did. I'm still pretty shaken by what I saw on Monday night and I think buses have proved to be very easy targets for those with intent.

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  29. Excellent. Great post. Keep it up, but I hope you don't have to and everything calms down, but somehow I can't see that happening right now.

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  30. Great report, thankyou

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  31. Thank you for voicing many of the frustrations bystanders are feeling. The media definitely got this one wrong. I appreciate that some journos were threatened while trying to report but so much of the coverage felt like it was from another country! I worry about the longer term effect on various communities. There is going to be an undercurrent between those who were and were not involved.

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  32. Thanks for the account. There've been lots of lootings like this over London that haven't been reported in the mainstream press from what I've seen and heard. The more that people like you write about their experiences, the more other people have a chance of understanding what's been happening on the ground.

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  33. Thank you for taking the time to post this. Excellently written and sums up the anger and frustration that we, the law abiding and good majority feel about this tragedy.

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  34. i was tagged through to this from the guardian, excellent, well balanced reporting, really the best I've read on the situation yet
    noura

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  35. Thank you for writing that. I would just say that there has been some very good reporting of this crisis - as well as some bad. It is no surprise that not every disturbance/looting has been covered since half the time no-one, apart from the looters, gets there in time.
    I hope you and your friends stay safe.

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  36. Well said, sir, well said. I'm white and forty something, so can't possibly relate to your experience of living in London, but I am a proud south Londoner of over two decades standing. This is so clear and cool and well argued, it's really the best thing I've read about the riots. My wife's a schoolteacher in Peckham and she says exactly the same thing as you about people thinking they could get away with it. Thanks for taking the time for writing this and reminding me why I live in this great place.

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  37. Hi Motown,
    thanks for an insightful, thoughtful, well-written piece. Found it from the Guardian. Living overseas, totally overwhelmed and dismayed by what's happening at home. This is does say something that the wall-to-wall coverage on BBC/Guardian, and the non-existent or embarrassing coverage on US TV, does not.
    DC

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  38. A great piece - much more informative (and, most importantly, more balanced...) than anything I've read on the websites of the BBC, Guardian etc. I hope the situation improves soon - in the meantime, please keep posting...

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  39. This is one of the most intelligent, thoughtful pieces written about this whole sorry episode. Thank you. Your description of the 'carnival atmosphere' chimes absolutely with other eyewitness accounts. As a man in Hackney commented, this is possible the most empowered these kids will have ever felt in their lives. This behaviour is only 'incomprehensible/mindless' if the people who are so quick to judge don't expend any mental energy on trying to understand the lives of the perpetrators.

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  40. Thanks for the account and honest reporting. I live in the USA and I am glued to the TV and Internet as I have lot of family and friends in the UK!

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  41. Many thanks for this, good to read an objective opinion from someone who witnessed things first hand...

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  42. You say you can't write - well I reckon you can. This is just the type of citizen journalism we need to counterbalance the mainstream media. Thanks.

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  43. Great read. Was nice to read someone with rational well-informed views. Found this from the Guardian's live blog. Since few of my mates read it, I might share it on.

    You are a pretty good writer, by the way. I'm a bit of a pedant and nothing jumped out at me.

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  44. Awesome post. Clear and succinct writing on an immensely complicated subject. You cut right through it. Well done

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  45. One of the best write up's i have read! good work thanks for the on the ground info,
    peace paul in southend

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  46. Thanks for this balanced account. All the best to you!

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  47. This is one of the best pieces I have read about the lootings so far. Thanks and stay safe!

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  48. Thank you for this raw and undramatised piece from the ground. It is refreshing to get beyond the media hype and hear opinions that consider the full complexity of the situation. keep it up and all the best.
    jamie

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  49. For someone who reckons he can't write this a bloody good report.
    Speaking as someone from a part of the country that hasn't been affected by the riots (Scotland, hopefully it stays that way) It's interesting to hear an alternative viewpoint, devoid of sensationalism.
    There are a number of journalists who could learn a few lessons from this piece.

    Thanks

    Steve

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  50. Hey well done on this blog, excellent first post. I have lots of ideas but still been too angry to start my blog, you have inspired me :)

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  51. Hello Motown-- found you via the Guardian's liveblog. Between the eyewitness report and your carefully-laid out thoughts afterwards, this made a great read. When you were talking about the tone of reporting regarding Ealing, you said...

    "Reports keep talking about how people must have come from other areas in to Ealing because locals would never do anything like that. Maybe, I'm being over sensitive, but I just don't like the connotations of what they are saying. Sky News and Dermot Murnaghan the worst culprets."

    I don't think you're being oversensitive at all. That kind of talk, to me, is pretty obviously a "dog-whistle". And it's no surprise that Rupert Murdoch's mouthpieces at Sky are the shrillest.

    And Simon said:

    "If you want to carry on with social unfairness, you'll have to build very high walls and very big prisons to protect yourself from the anger."

    Yes. Please have a look at my native country, the United States of America, for a sterling example of how well THAT works out.

    I love living in England; I was glad to be able to take part in a clean-up here in Brum yesterday, and would have gone again today if not for work. I hope the powers that be can stop preening for the cameras and start working.

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  52. Well I have read it all and found it very moving to get such an excellently written first hand account. Thank you for taking the time to do it. I can't really disagree with anything you say.
    Just to add where are the parents of these looters? I think a lot of media and politicians are afraid to ask that question.

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  53. Thanks for this, really. I have read few balanced or unsensational articles on the rioting. Left, right and centre seem to be united on one account, tripping all over themselves to say "told you so"; which reminds me a bit of the reaction when the economic bubble burst a few years ago. (The events are probably not unrelated.) Reading something sane and not shrill (either way) is very refreshing.

    Thanks too for the wealth of revealing detail and the food for thought. You'll know by now that your post was picked up by the Guardian, and it'll hopefully be read by many more people. Calm views are very needed right now.

    Keep the good work going...

    Sergio

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  54. Thanks for this Motown. Really interesting and well written too!

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  55. http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/blog/2011/aug/10/manchester-riots-uk-disorder-day-four-live


    all over the Guardian live blog - good work mate.

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  56. Good post,bookmarking.

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  57. You lied when you said were no writer. This is a wonderful, heartfelt piece of writing. I hope the situation improves quickly for you and everyone involved.

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  58. Really good post - I was trying to find out information about what was going on on Walworth Road on Monday and it was near impossible to tell what was rumour and what was true from Twitter, and there was nothing on the news about the area. Thank you for providing an informative and insightful first hand account...

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  59. I appreciate the time you've taken to write this. The area where I live was untouched by the events of the past few days, but that doesn't stop me being angry about what's happened, and also concerned about the response of the authorities. Cameron claims the root cause is ‘a complete lack of responsibility in parts of our society’. I wonder whether he is including the lack of responsibility of bankers, expense-fiddling politicians, celebrities, sports stars, newspaper owners and journalists in his thinking. It’s no good just stopping at a statement like that and apportioning blame without asking ‘why?’ Perhaps he should keep asking ‘why?’ until he gets to the real root cause, taking into account all parts of our society.

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  60. Well done! There is so much utter rubbish being spread by the media and on the social networks. Stay safe!

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  61. Well written man. I used to live in Browning Street just off Walworth Rd. I can see where you're coming from and what you're trying to say. With you on most points. Not all, but most. All the best and stay safe, everyone.

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  62. At last! A real piece of writing from a real person who was really on the ground at the time. I was getting sick to death of the same old regurgitated, reductive, received opinion that's been spewing out of the mainstream media (apart from: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/video/2011/aug/08/london-riots-hackney-police-response )

    Thank you for your well-written, rational perspective.

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  63. Interesting to read your reports. I'm still forming my views on this but I have gleaned more from 5 minutes on your blog than 2 days of sky news/bbc.

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  64. Really good, well balanced article. Thanks for taking the time. Please keep writing, regardless of the topic - I was engrossed from start to finish.

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  65. I can't believe you said you're not much of a writer. This is far more articulate than most of the commentary I have seen elsewhere

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  66. Many thanks. This has been the most lucid and descriptive account of what's actually happening at least in certain parts of London. I wish that more journalists could do similar reports about what happened in the areas with more violent riots.

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  67. found your article through The Guardian website and what an excellent read it was. Thanks for a clear point of view that has articulated my own feelings on these mad few days better than I could have! As a (sort of) neighbour (Bricklayer's Arms/TBR) it's really fascinating to hear first person accounts of how things kicked off in SE1.

    P.S. Don't do down your writing, it's unique and very good.

    P.P.S. Agree re those weathermen, especially the 'dapper' one on BBC.

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  68. Thanks for some well written truth. Those photos of the telly and the DVDs lying around seem to sum it up. Normal values suspended completely.

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  69. I don't have much to add and am unsure if I can even fully understand the situation in Britain right now, seeing as I live in the U.S., but I wanted to thank you for a very interesting read. I came here via the link on the Guardian's live blog (I expect you'll get a lot more hits now!), which I've been following since Monday. I can't imagine what it must be like to see something like this happen in your own community. I hope justice is dealt swiftly and appropriately, and that the business and jobs aren't dealt as hard a blow as you fear. Given the economic turmoil around the world lately and the concerns people have with just staying afloat, this must be a nightmare.

    I think out of everything I've read so far, aside from reports coming in from news correspondents out in the field, this blog has been the first thing I've read from someone 'on the ground' as it were.

    And there's nothing wrong with your writing :), it was a very engaging read.

    Good luck and best wishes to your community (and the rest affected) from just outside Montgomery, Alabama.

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  70. An excellent and refreshingly sober street-level view of all this mess. Your account of the casual banality of serious property crime and the quiet breakdown of law and order is really quite frightening. Is this the new 'normal', I wonder.

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  71. You were doing alright until you dissed Darcus Howe. He may not be my favourite person either but he has a better idea about the history behind these events and there connections to long standing class warfare and racism than you do.

    That said you make some very pertinent observations and its worth the read.

    You write well too

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  72. Motown, You open your blog by claiming you're not a writer, I would like to echo the other commenters and congratulate you on a well written, and balanced view of these riots. You have managed to articulate so many emotions in one article; you mention you're in the media, I would encourage you keep writing, perhaps an "aftermath" view, as you clearly have a great talent for observation.

    Nice job.

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  73. Terrific account, thanks. I live at the other end of Walworth Road, and cycle down it every day from Elephant & Castle at about 630-7pm. That day I was off work sick. I couldn't find references to Walworth in the media, and was left wondering that if I had cycled that day, would I have been safe or been pushed to the ground and my bike nicked. That's what I hate about the riots - the unease I now have about simple things like cycling down a road. Last night I told my brother not to come and visit me because he'd have to get the 68 bus and I wasn't sure if it would be safe. And now I'm thinking about selling my flat and moving somewhere safer just as soon as things have calmed down and I can convince someone else that this area is a decent place to live ...

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  74. Also here from the Guardian, great article, thanks.

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  75. Also reading from Ireland. A really excellent insight into events, something which is definitely missing from the generalizations trotted out in the media, well done and all the best.

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  76. Thanks for sharing your experience. I live and work just of Walworth Rd and had a very interesting talk with the MP, Simon Hughes and many bystanders the following day. The crowd was a mix of all types of local people, many of whom were surprisingly helpful and constructive on what can be done to change behaviours at the local level ... a few had pitched in to help shops in the clean up / repair and all were deeply caring of this area and its unique sense of community. I spoke with a few on feeding their ideas into the plans for changes at E&C/ Aylesbury but most were unaware of current community outreach ... in fact we were talking outside the Community Hub (182-184 Walworth Road) but none had seen the exhibition or got involved - missing a good chance to affect change locally.

    If anyone is interested there is a web link at:

    http://www.elephantandcastle.org.uk/pages/consultation_dialogue/67/elephant_castle.html

    http://www.elephantandcastle.org.uk/pages/news_events/72/600_turn_out_for_first_transforming_the_heygate_exhibition.html

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  77. Great post. It's really interesting to hear your take on it - you make a lot of sense.

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  78. Great post - thanks for taking the time to write this up. Its been a refreshing read after all the BBC/Sky News media thats around at the moment. Keep up the good work!

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  79. Great stuff, calm ,collected and well, just damn good. You should be a writer, you have made things far clearer for people like me, watching it from the outside, with only the media to rely on ( and how trustworthy are they?) Keep blogging and good vibes for the future.

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  80. I used to live near Walworth Road myself and I didn't know that this had happened there until I read this article.

    Happy to hear from someone who was actually there. Everyone seems to want to paint it as a youth problem or a black problem or a this or that problem, but it's not that simple is it?


    I've also lived in Ealing. You are so right about the connotations given by the media when reporting that Ealing had been targeted. They kept mentioning that it was 'West Ealing', but I've never called it that in my life. It was central Ealing.

    I don't know the ins and outs of Darcus Howe's history, but he came across very well and the BBC interviewer came across extremely badly.She was not listening to what he had to say at all.

    It's not just the weather presenters who are too chirpy. The news 24 presenters seem far too excited when something's happening 'live'. Really annoys me to see that they can't at least show some sort of respect to the seriousness of what is going on.

    Lastly, I'm wondering what I can do to help out tonight / in future. I would stand with a crowd of many to stop the looters, but I'm reluctant to put myself in danger. I'm not a big guy but I've got a big sense of responsibility and I don't mind reminding people what's right and wrong. But I'm not going to take a baseball bat to the head for it.

    Did you feel like stopping any of the people who were robbing and do you feel guilt for not doing so? (I'm not saying that you should have, I'm just interested to know). Watching some videos, particularly of kids setting fire to Miss Selfridges in Manchester, just made me think that we can actually stop this together. Not easy, but possible. And we might actually emerge stronger out of it.

    Could these shocking events actually finally politicise people and help to identify what our national values are? I really hope so.

    Anyone got any links to groups to join with to help protect the streets please post here.

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  81. Bravo on the article and getting into the Guardian.

    I was raised in Kearny , NJ and Newark, NJ was nearby. As we moved there in 1970, the riots had occurred in Newark already decimating entire neighborhoods. Imagine three-quarters of Tottenham decimated by fires and looting and deaths and never coming back to its former state after 40 years.

    The areas that survived were the ones protected by the shopkeepers or resident patrols - back then the Italians and the wealthier residential sections in the northern section of Newark. The hard hit areas have been kept from becoming ghost towns due to churches and a few good politicians and community activists.

    Kearny, my hometown, has done well keeping its middle, working class vibe with some upper middle class. But at the expense of police discrimination and elevated property theft. With the influx of Portuguese, Brasilians and now South and Central Americans along with Manhattanites seeking affordable homes, the area has remained stable and thrived somewhat.

    The best thing your community can do now is band together and protect the high streets and do your damndest to keep your shopkeepers and chain stores in your area over the next few years. Attend the community meetings with your police precinct and be aware of safety levels.

    One thing Brits must realize - you cannot run away from the underlying problems by leaving for greener pastures or relying on the government to rectify everything. Yes you could move to another country - but every country faces this. Have you read of the student protests in Chile? Or the peaceful but large demonstrations in Israel about the disparity between rich and poor?

    I am very very sorry you are going thru this ... I had a taste of it when I was working in downtown Newark at the time of the LA Riots. The memory was still fresh for Newarkers of the old riots that they closed all their shops at 5 pm the days of the riots. Even in NYC areas closed shops earlyu for fear of copycat riots back then (1991 I believe).

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  82. Very well balanced and honest account. The only lie was that you said you are 'no writer' - this was extremely well written you have a great talent.

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  83. Thanks for this blog post, Motown. I live in the US but have been following this story closely via the BBC and Guardian web sites. I have a lot of friends in the UK, many of which live in and around London in areas that were affected on Monday and others living in areas that were hit last night. I have quite rightly been concerned for their welfare for the last few days. It is good to read a first hand account of what happened Monday night that isn’t tainted by someone else’s preconceived notions. Do you mind if I link to your blog in a discussion thread on an unrelated web site that I moderate?

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  84. This is an excellent eyewitness blogpost, and everyone should read it in full detail. I live 500 miles away but even up here there is a lot of hysteria and calls for the army, rubber bullets etc. Some idiots have even been trying to start riots in Glasgow on Facebook! I think the police are largely doing the right thing to try and save life and regain control, detecting and arresting people afterwards if necessary. It's right to be angry at the idiots who are rioting and looting, but it's more important to think of the hardworking people whose homes and livelihoods are ruined, and even those foolish individuals who will have been caught up in the rush of the looting and are probably facing jail time. Worst of all, three young guys are dead near Birmingham. I hope it calms down quickly, that order is restored, that people get help to rebuild their lives and that something positive can come out of this, maybe simply the shared sense that most of us want to just get on with our lives in peace and quiet. Good luck down there, and stay safe!

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  85. thanks for writing this - a fresh and honest account that's really appreciated in the face of increasing media delerium. be safe.

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  86. Thank you for taking the time to write this. Will be watching this blog for more.

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  87. Great post - it's so gratifying to read a down-to-earth account of the lootings, without the sensationalism.

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  88. Nice antidote to the lazy, black or white reporting of the media. Well done!

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  89. Thanks for your Blog, well written and perceptive.

    I have stayed near the Walworth Road a couple of times when visiting friends.

    I agree 100% with your comments re politicians.

    Don't know what you do for a living but you sure can write in a clear and easy to understand way.

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  90. Thank you for this. Really well put, clear and fair. Glad that writing it up is helping deal with some of your understandable anger.

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  91. Great blog Motown. I am a long way from home at the moment, and the news reports are driving me crazy. It is good to hear from someone who was really there, about what is really happening.

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  92. Great report - at last, someone with some common sense, ever thought of a career change..!?

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  93. I had the same issue you describe when coming home around 8 pm on Monday night but I wasn't brave enough to venture onto the high road. I saw a group of maybe five guys loading a flat screen TV into the back of a black car on Wooler Street.

    I agree with you about the atmosphere they just seemed like they were having a good time and weren't threatening me or anyone, just pumped that they were getting away with it.

    They weren't even that young, maybe 18. I can't understand the sense though, it seemed to have taken five guys and one car to loot a few a TVs and shoes. I doubt there was more than £1,000 worth of stuff and they wouldn't be able to sell it for half that at most. Hardly seems worth a criminal record never mind basic right and wrong.

    Anyway thanks for recording what happened on Walworth Road, near where I live, so objectively.

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  94. Thank you for writing this. I found you through the guardian, and I expect a lot more will too.

    This was really well written and a very good antidote to a lot of the scaremongering based on rumours that has been going around.

    My area didn't really get mentioned much either (Wood Green), and it sounds like it was probably similar to yours.

    I'm against water cannons - they can really hurt people, and apparently aren't the best tool to use with a crowd that easily disperses and reforms elsewhere.

    The thing that I find really offensive is that these rioters and looters - even if there were 4,000 of them across the country (I'm making this figure up) - are a tiny minority of the youth of this country. In other words, an equally important story is that the majority of young people chose NOT to do this. Shouldn't we hear their stories too? If we don't, some people will inevitably just presume that all young people are the same, and it's not fair.

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  95. Really excellent piece. Absolutely agree with you about the politicians, TV whores most of them and it still staggers me how Boris got elected.

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  96. Hi Motown,

    I just came over here from The Guardian too. Thank you for such an insightful article. Your feelings and experiences are very similar to mine watching events in Brixton on Sunday. It's a much more complex picture than some of the more reductive media reporting suggests.

    Please keep writing!

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  97. Fantastic write up. I agree with you that the tv news in particular is terrible at nuance. I watched an hour of the coverage yesterday and came away with the feeling that Sky were desperate for it to kick off again. Let's keep our fingers crossed that we get a period of peace, but I'm not banking on it.

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  98. Found this through a tweet, it caught my eye because I have friends living off the Walworth road. I will send it to them for two reasons, firstly because it may be relevant to their experiences. Secondly, because I think that reading words this well written helps people make sense of thigns and heal, in a way that cyclical coverage churned out by desperate media doesn't.
    Thank-you very much for writing this, for taking pictures and for distinguishing between your reportage and your comment. Please continue to write, I will continue to refer to this post.

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  99. Thanks for taking the time to write this post - very informative, and interesting for someone who lived in Camberwell and Peckham for 9 years, before moving to "leafy" Plumstead. I agree with so many of your observations, particularly regarding water cannon and people looting just because they can get away with it.
    A couple of things I want to correct though. It was Jean Charles de Menezes who was assassinated by armed police in Stockwell.
    And while you are right that Mark Duggan did not fire at police as first reported, it is now established that he had a loaded illegal fire-arm on him, and he knew that Trident officers were in the process of trying to arrest him. For me, anyone moving around London carrying a loaded fire-arm deserves all they get.
    Anyway, well done for a great post - I found it via the Guardian link. And BTW I'd love to know what Darcus Howe got up to; I thought he was still respected!

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  100. Excellent... I have been so cheesed off with how long the PM took to come home from his Villa, did he not know what was happening??? could he not have had a televised speech to address the nation, and the Ealing report grated me like hello!! Oh things like this don't happen to people like us gosh.....

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  101. Really great blog. Keep writing.

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  102. Reading this from the U.S., linked to it from the Guardian. Thanks for taking the time to write it, really helpful to have a point of view that seems dispassionate and thorough.

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  103. What you wrote is very interesting and can't agree more. To me it feels like the media coverage was a little too "dark" and more interested in diffusing the fright and building up the tension and excitement over the fact that "tomorrow will be another day of riots and no one know who next will be hit, so barricade yourself in your flats and be very afraid" while at the same time little or no action was taken to actually prevent riots in the first place. Stupid and not reassuring.

    In the end of the day we are talking about young locals gone wild not professional hard core criminals - very few basic actions like water canon would have stopped looting from spreading after the 1st day. For example, I live in Hackney very close to the affected areas - on the 3rd day when looters headed for Stoke Newington hundreds of Turkish people chased them and scared them, nothing more happened that day or the following while in the news it was stated that Hackney is again on the shopping list. It was quite obvious nothing will happen on the 4th day, yet we had all the police there (a little too late).

    Teresa May sounds like she's out of this world and Boris can't even comment on the level of stupidity and vanity that man approached. Shame on top level management, ordinary policemen looked like there was nothing they could do with no sense of direction...

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  104. Great post, excellently written :)

    Thanks

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  105. Great blog, really refreshing to hear an account in such a non-biased manner.

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  106. Good blog Motown - hope you will come back with more. It seems to me - trying to follow from Denmark - that the hard core perpetrators are relatively few and that most are just along for the buzz. Shocking disregard though for their fellow community members.

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  107. Good piece man, it's a great first person account of what you saw. Keep writing!

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  108. As living in Germany I had little access to tv information except BBC, so I resorted to The Guardian and found your blog. I took liberty to post a link to your blog on my facebook site on which I have been discussing the riots with a friend in Somalia. We are very much concerned about London, I town we both like very much.

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  109. Excellent account. Thank you for your honest and insightful writing. Came here from the Guardian. Well done, reading from the Netherlands.

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  110. There seems to be too much 'this is the one and only reason for the riots!' going around in the media and among politicians. Of course it was going to be more complex than 'mindless thuggery'. Thanks for breaking it down into something understandable to people who aren't in the affected areas.

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  111. American reader here who just found you through the Guardian. Thanks for taking the time to write this up and giving such a thorough report.

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  112. Yes, really excellent, I came here from the Guardian link. I love the bit about the onlookers. Standing there with their camera phones - the masked performers with their bandannas. Street theatre.

    And what next, after the success of the Turks and Sikhs at defending their 'territory' - the EDL will be wanting to defend their areas. They love a bit of this kristallnacht style anarchy. Time for the clampdown they'll be saying.

    The rain here in Manchester will put a dampener on things.

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  113. I'm a Londoner living abroad, and have been reading (no TV here) about events mostly on the Guardian website. It's hard to imagine what's been going on over the last few days, and also hard to know what I feel about it all - apart from many different things. I sit here reading the news and every now and again burst into tears. Your article is the first thing I've read that's made any sense to me, and it has helped me a lot to get a proper picture and to sort out my feelings. Thank you. BTW, you definitely can write.

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  114. I'm based in Iceland and I've been following the events non-stop since they began - your blog is among the best comments/insights I have found on the subject. Thank you for your words.

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  115. Found it a very interesting read - great reporting!

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  116. Wow an amazing piece! I really think you summed up things better than people who WORK IN THE BBC AND SKYNEWS! I saluteeeeeeeeee you!

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  117. I was directed here by the Guardian's excellent Matt Wells. A great piece - thoughtful and (strangely) hopeful. If a large proportion of the looters are simply in it because they think it is consequence free, the authorities may be able to put the genie back in the bottle.

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  118. Thanks for an excellent article. I live in Walworth as well and I have not seen or heard anything on the happenings on Walworth from the media either (except for the news feed on guardian's website). It just begs the question - just how many areas have been affected in London and how bad is it?

    I totally hear you with regards to politicians just getting on TV and making air time instead of getting down to business to stop all this nonsense, but I guess they have to make some form of public appearance to let others know that they are working on it. I would be a little more sympathetic towards the police though, cos I think they're doing all they can to control the situation in London. What happened completely took them by surprise, a magnitude that overwhelmed their resources - I've heard that some officers had been working shifts as long as 30 hours!

    You are absolutely right when you said that all this is happening because people think they can get away with it. I'm not sure what this says about our culture, but it's been reported widely that in the wake of the nuclear crisis in Japan (as a result of the earthquake), looting was practically unheard of. I'm not saying this did not happen at all, but imagine how it would be like if a similar disaster were to strike London. As it is, people are looting just for fun, I shudder to think the repercussions of a serious disaster. Whatever happened to our sense of civic responsibility? Has this been eroded with the increasing emphasis on individual rights? I don't know - I guess we'll have to leave it to the government to deconstruct what has been happening and get to the root of this societal problem.

    There needs to be a mass crackdown on such criminality. Send in the army, water cannons, rubber bullets and what not (what happened in Bangkok in May 2010 was much worse but it quelled the unrest). Although I'm not too sure about the effectiveness of water cannons since the crowd is kind of dispersed and it will be hard to target them if necessary, but I'll leave that to the government. I just think it's time for people to know that while you live in a developed nation with full respect for individual rights, acts of violence and those which evoke social unrest cannot be condoned.

    Stay safe everyone, and thanks for a great article again :-)


    Al

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  119. Thanks for the post - really interesting read. (I, too, came from the Guardian link)

    I came down the Walworth Road on Tuesday morning, and - like you - was surprised how little media coverage it had received considering the scale of the damage actually seemed worse than Peckham, which I also saw firsthand.

    My Dad's family are from Walworth, and though I don't live there, I think it's very, very sad that an area that felt like it was finally a little bit on the up (the recent tarting up of Walworth Road with new pavements and trees helped a little), has been knocked down again.

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  120. Agree with Simon. Much more shocking than the looting itself is the general public reaction to it, stupidly asking "why are they doing this?" and then answering themselves by saying this is pure criminality and concluding with calls for harsher police crackdowns. Why are they doing it? Because they're desperate and see no prospect of a dignified life in a rotten system. Why should they respect any property in a system where managers "earn" thousands of times more than the average worker? Compared to this everyday legal theft, looting a shop is trivial. These people have nothing to lose. Unfortunately the masses are totally brainwashed by Murdoch media and don't see the real issue, and this way Britain will just more and more go the way of the U.S. and become an outright fascist police state. (The "land of the free" has the world's highest rate of people in prison - and still one of the highest crime rates. This is the direct result of them having the most extreme inequalities. But there too the power of the plutocrats is so entrenched that they will still get further down this insane path before the inevitable revolution will come.)

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  121. Informative piece, really balanced and your analysis seems to be spot on. I feel that in a sense the media's coverage has probably helped prompt further disorder by concentrating on the general powerlessness of the Met to deal with such a great number of disturbances when so clearly undermanned.

    You're a better writer than you give yourself credit for too, probably better than most I've seen writing on the subject professional or not.

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  122. Thanks for this excellent account of events in your area of London, which is far more valuable than any media report I've seen. I totally agree with your sentiment towards the politicians and the media, though I think BBC News is far worse than Sky News because of its stuffy middle class little (South East) Englander bias. They frequently enrage me with the utter sensationalist and almost fictional rubbish they come out with about incidents in Northern Ireland where I am originally from. I simply turn it off when they start reporting on it and get the actual news from local news sources online. In my view it's the media who do the most damage to communities and only stoke up more violence by the manner in which they report it.

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  123. Great piece, Motown. I spent that evening walking up and down the Walworth Road as I'm the Rector of the local Parish Church, St Peter's on Liverpool Grove. Your piece really captures it. I've used the word carnival to describe the atmosphere too - tragic carnival. Hope you keep pursuing the writing - well worth it. All best wishes, Father Andrew

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  124. I wrote to the BBC about the Darcus Howe interview, as I was digusted! The man is a legend in my eyes and is a TRUE journalist / broadcaster. Fiona Armstrong is an idiot! This was their reply:

    Thanks for contacting us regarding our BBC News Channel from 9 August.

    I understand you were unhappy with the Darcus Howe interview conducted by Fiona Armstrong.

    We forwarded concerns on this issue to BBC News Channel Editors and while they accept that this interview was not ideal, they stressed that the presenter did not intend to show Mr Howe any disrespect and the questions were simply intended to gauge his reaction to the events in Croydon the night before.



    In particular they acknowledge that the interview included a poorly phrased question about rioting. This can and does happen on occasions during live interviews and was compounded by a number of technical issues during the interview which led to the presenter and Mr Howe talking over each other.



    I’d like to assure you I've registered your complaint on our audience log. This is an internal report of audience feedback which we compile daily and is available for viewing by all our staff. This includes all News Editors and presenters, along with our senior management. It ensures that your points, along with all other comments we receive, are circulated and considered across the BBC.

    Thanks again for taking the time to contact us.

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  125. Excellent read. Well written and on point. Thanks mate.

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  126. brilliantly written article, agree with you entirely, Motown. Thanks to The Guardian for the link.

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  127. Visiting from the Guardian LiveBlog - thanks Motown - good read. Well, you know what they say, whenever you have direct personal experience or knowledge of something covered by the Media, you know they get it wrong - makes you think!!

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  128. Great post, thanks for taking the time to write it all down.

    And on a side note I've been getting equally pissed off at Ealing being universally branded by every single TV report as an 'affluent leafy suburb' (what does leafy actually mean anyway?) - the area immediately around Ealing Broadway may well be middle class but you only need to walk 10 minutes down the high street to find another reality. The borough has got many areas with problems of social exclusion, poverty and criminality.

    It's not all £1m homes and organic cafés, despite the media caricatures.

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  129. Great, well written post. Pleased that your blog was picked up by the guardian and a big thank you to you for taking the time to write it.

    In particular, I really agree with your comments on the politicians. This is not partisan. It makes me angry that the current government are using photo opportunities and "chairing cobra meetings" (lets remember this just means cabinet office briefing room a meeting" where the PM gets briefed) to give the impression they are getting a hold of this.

    Additionally, it makes me laugh to hear the ways in which they can wriggle out of the question "Why did you not put these measures (cancelling police leave, rubber bullets, police surge in london) earlier? Their answer again and again is "Well we have done that now and it is making an impact / situation is fast moving". The media follow up is....nothing!!.

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  130. Glad I clicked on the link on the guardian for this blog, great read and very thought provoking. Don't put yourself down about not being a writer, a page full of spelling mistakes and bad grammar would not take away from how balanced and well written this is, sky news could only dream of doing an article like this!

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  131. Well observed, well written and photos too. Well done. So much better than the news. I'm a north Londoner but know folks in the Elephant area so I followed your route on my new A-Z. I experienced something similar...turfed off a bus, surreal scenes of looting, calm and storm...and that was in Brixton in 1985 after Cherry Groce. By the way,I had to laugh on Monday morning when the BBC's normally inanely (you're so right) bubbly weather woman finished her forecast by saying: "The outlook for England is a bit unsettled...er, weatherwise, I mean."

    (PS) You can edit this part bit out when you moderate this comment. I've run a blog similar in tone to yours www.paulcolemanslondon.blogspot.com Take a look if you like but keep posting if you can...your post was good.

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  132. This was good, am glad I read it.

    Most of my reading is confined to newspapers and (normally old) books, so it was great to get a different kind of insight.

    My only complaint is that mysterious stuff about Darcus Howe. Am I meant to just sit here and reflect on my lack of insider knowledge!?

    Rich (but due to technologyy deficiencies I'll be known as 'anonymous')

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  133. Great blog, really interesting read, and I'll be posting it around lots!

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  134. Well written and thoughtful glad I followed the link
    Darcus Howe is a mystery I will have to follow up.

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  135. Thanks for taking the time to write a calm, reasonable post about all this. There's so much hysteria at the moment it's impossible to get at the facts through all the speculation and posturing. I've found most of the media coverage of the riots to be completely useless, with BBC reporters almost ringing people up at random on Tueday to ask what they thought. It's nice to see someone acknowledge that calm heads should prevail right now, there isn't enough of that going around.

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  136. Thanks for this calm description of what's happening. Similar scenes in Notts - unreported because bigger riots elsewhere.

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  137. I live in the Caribbean with friends in the UK, thanks for posting this on-the-ground account because major news was pissing me off. I'm going to share this.

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  138. You probably know the Guardian shout has made your post go viral (I saw it reposted on twitter), so well done for getting heard.

    One thing I really agree with is what you say about the mass media milking individual stories, rather than giving a fuller picture of events. It's just the sort of lazy, cheaply emotive reporting that is rife at the moment. There were so many disturbances in east London on Tuesday evening like the one you describe in Walworth that went relatively unreported - Canning Town, Stratford (noticeably both near the Olympics)- and it's frustrating that news companies don't seem to want to convey a complete, unbiased picture of the verifiable events.

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  139. By the way if you are not familiar with the Newark Riots - here is some footage -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag1yxB_Lvq4&feature=related

    This is a video of one of the parades iona section that was spared the riots

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkYpO4lLCWc&feature=related

    Here is a video of how the hard hit areas are working very hard to come back - 30 years to get a wasted plot of land turned into a park

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JtePFma9q_c

    Please share these videos

    Chris Sahar

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  140. Incredible, incredible piece of writing. I'm a Londoner currently in North America and it's heartening - amongst all the hyperbole and misinformation - to have an account like this to read at a time so sad. Thanks so much for the effort you've put in. I want to buy you a drink and they cry in to it!! Look after yourself and others.

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  141. Interesting and sensible piece, and most of your observations are the same as mine. Can I just add one personal observation - possibly controversial. I live just off the Walworth Rd, and was walking home. I was there a little earlier than you, when there were amorphous fairly large groups of young men running about and smashing windows - in other words, before they had succeeded in breaking into any shops and start stealing. My perception was that those young men were almost exclusively black.

    I absolutely agree that once the looting started, the thieves included all races and colours. But my strong impression was that those who started the trouble were black - and not schoolkids, but late teens and twenties.

    I don't know what, if any conclusion, to draw from that. It's a racially mixed neighbourhood (one reason I like it. I'm white British, btw). But no point in keeping quiet about my perception of the facts.

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  142. Also here from the Guardian. Best report on this week's events that I've seen yet. Makes me realise how much of the media reporting so far has come from people at a distance who don't live in any of the affected areas and haven't seen things first-hand. This may just be one man's snapshot of the day, but it adds more than any number of reports from the news studio could.

    My sympathies to you and anyone else who's seen this happen to their area. Mine has escaped so far but plenty of people I know haven't been so lucky.

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  143. Great post, thanks for writing this.

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  144. Just want to say it was refreshing to read such an insightful first hand account. Thank you for taking the time to write it, this post deserves all the attention it's getting.

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  145. excellent piece, I live in Brixton and wholeheartedly agree with everything you've said, there seems to be a significant disconnect between the reporting and the reality - not least last night when media/rumour vs. truth were very far apart.

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  146. Great piece of writing. Balanced and informative and bags of common sense. More please!!
    B

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  147. Another thanks.
    Keep writing!
    Living abroad I've found hard to feel what's really been happening. Now I can.

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  148. Respect to you Nick! Great writing and cool photos to go with it.........Looking forward to yournext one...Bob.

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  149. Great bit of writing Motown. It's good to hear a balanced street view of the situation.

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  150. Great post, one of the best things (possibly the best) I have read about these events. So much better than the predictable bigoted bile from the Mail etc and the liberal hand-wringing from The Guardianistas (most of whom live nowhere near the places where this is going on). Keep posting but keep safe!

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  151. Brian, Milton Keynes10 August 2011 at 17:53

    I also got here via the Guardian (I hope they reprint your great piece). I wanted to add my thanks to you. It's such a clear and vivid account.
    Keep safe man!
    Brian, Milton Keynes

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  152. Great account and some very interesting points raised.

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  153. Well done Motown. I stumbled on your blog through a twitter feed by Roger Ebert. You do a wonderful job describing events. I'm from Canada so are far removed from the chaos but you should know that even over here people are watching and hoping that things calm down for all the innocent people caught in the middle.

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  154. You got it so right about Boris and Dave... how the hell did they ever get elected!!

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  155. Brilliantly written, true words, thank you for vocalising what I think so many people think and feel.

    Stay safe yourself xx

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  156. You CAN write!

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  157. Well said Motown. I've lived in Hackney and Southwark but am now in Canada and have been watching Sky and BBC coverage relentlessly. I have a lot of the same concerns about the media's handling of this event as you - I find it amazing that we are already spending time analyzing the event, and imposing racial/cultural elements to it, before it's even ended...and yes, Boris needs to go. Wish someone had hit him (gently) with a broom in Clapham. Oh wait, that's me inciting riots. Nevermind. :)

    And you're definitely a writer, whether you think so or not. Well done.

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  158. Just want to add my appreciation for your good work.

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  159. Fantastic piece of reporting - you deserve to get all the attention that's coming your way. But what are we going to do make sure that 16 year olds in 2031 don't feel that they need to behave in this way?

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  160. This really is perfect.
    -Simply B.

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  161. Well-written, sir. American film and culture critic, Roger Ebert, just linked to your blog from his Twitter feed, so I suspect you may get a jump in readership, shortly.

    Be well and I hope things settle soon and safely.

    Yours,
    David J Rust
    Minneapolis, MN

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  162. Good job on the blog. It's good getting that on the ground perspective. I will send your link to my friend Sherry Dixon who has a talk show on Bang Radio there. Also consider attending the National Association of Black Journalists convention next June in New Orleans. Check out the highlights from this past confab at: www.nabjconvention.org. www.nabj.org. You can also see some photos from my blog. You won't regret coming. Keep writing.

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  163. hi & thanks for this great post. keep them coming :) x

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  164. Great blog, well written.

    I think water cannon - which are large slow moving wagons - would be fairly useless against small fast moving, volatile crowds in several locations. It's usually used to disperse large groups. It's also quite dangerous and, like baton rounds, can lead to serious injury. A riot bystander in Germany had both eyes blasted out of their sockets. Police commanders know this, but our PR politicians are just wanting to sound tough.

    What WOULD be effective is tear gas; which, if you've never experienced it, is extremely unpleasant stuff! Greek anarchists come prepared with gas masks, but your average ram-raid burglar (I won't call them looters) won't and will quickly want to leave the area. Even the following day it hangs around in puddles until it's hosed away, and makes your eye's continually stream. I don't know why it hasn't been suggested as an option.

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  165. Thank you for your fascinating report (and sorry for my english).
    I am a French living in Portugal and being concerned about his friends in London.
    Your story gave me evidence to my first impressions simply (and strictly) generated by reports and videos on Saturday : no racial conflict, a carnival atmosphere. The French proverb "l'occasion fait le larron" means "opportunity makes the thief". While I was looking at these guys looting tv shops, my feeling was that they were stealing the tv set with which they could see themselves stealing a tv set... YouTube generation.
    Unfortunately, EDL tries to take advantage of the situation, shops and houses have been destroyed, murders have been committed.
    Now: carnival or Blitz?
    Hervé D. B.

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  166. Great read - interesting perspective - don't stop writing!

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  167. Great piece of writing, enjoyed despite the subject matter. Long time I've been gone from Walworth, where my Dad was born, and crying shame to see the place being ruined, like elsewhere it seems.
    Carry on the blog!

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  168. Disgusted by the interview with Howe. How could they invite a man to speak and then not listen to what he has to say?

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  169. Great post. Read the WHOLE thing and thoroughly enjoyed it. Arrived from Guardian blog too.

    I'll be posting a link from twitter and facebook. People have to read this!

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  170. Thanks so much for a great report, the first bit of media that has made me feel better about this situation because it is truthful, balanced, fair and not scaremongering. Wish more people would work through their anger by writing (myself included). Grammar don't matter, making sense does. Stay safe x

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  171. Hey Great Briton, what did you expect when you imported 3rd world people? you think they were going to leave their crime, poverty and disease back home? surely you folks are not so naive or plain stupid to think that you could change them, are you? you lost your country when you chose population growth as the route to economic success, now you are stuck with millions of 3rd worlders who care nothing for your culture and heritage and will replace your institutions with theirs as fast as they can, and you brits will have the pleasure of paying them to do it, as they suck your white taxpayers dry. how soon before whites begin to flee England like sailors abandoning a ship overrun by rats? England has reached the critical mass where whites can no longer dictate their own future, their fate lies in the hands of the least intelligent, most primitive people on earth, a people who are sociopath by nature.

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  172. This is an excellent piece. Understandably, the mainstream media can't suddenly use people other than their usual reporters/journalists, but it's a shame that more articulate bystanders like Motown can't have their voices heard in situations like this.

    I've lived in Hackney all my life (I'm 29), and work in the media (yes, I'm a Guardian reader) - this is definitely the piece most in-tune with my thoughts that I've read since it all started.

    I don't know how we resolve all the issues that the riots have sprung from, but this should be a must-read for many of our decision makers. They should all start listening to people a bit more.

    cheers for a great bit of writing.

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  173. Great stuff, well written.

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  174. Interesting to hear about what happened in another area of London living in one of the worst hit areas myself (West Croydon). I completely agree about the media coverage. While they were filming the massive fire in Reeves Corner they didn't even mention what was happening in West Croydon, which is the forgotten part of the borough anyway.
    In terms of your comments about David Cameron coming to West Croydon - he may have come down but there were no pictures of him talking to ordinary people! He was about 30 feet behind a police cordon! It's a shame because I'm sure there were/are a lot of people with some choice words for him - myself included.
    I also have major objections to the way that Sky News insisted on saying that West Croydon is a "poor area", a lot like what they were saying about not expecting riots in Ealing because its so suburban.
    Anyway, thanks for your comments and it's good to know that other Londoners have had similar experiences and feelings about the whole mess.

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  175. A good read, keep on writing on. Despite having lived in Brixton some time ago I came here via Roger Ebert as well.
    :)

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  176. So far I've opened up about 30-40 different comment pieces about the riots from all the usual sources, Guardian, Telegraph, etc and this is the only one I've read from start to finish, and it's probably the longest.

    The point you made about politicians is the one which really strikes me, they have had ample opportunity to stop acting like and politicians and start acting representatives to their constituencies and the larger public and none of the top names have done anything like that.

    This is such a complex issue that we need people of authority to act with maturity and conviction, not pander to the whims of whoever they want to support them.

    I also found it really interesting to hear your experience of the riot itself. The reporting has so far failed to put the scale of the troubles into context. While all of the rioting has been abhorrent it strikes me that everyone who has engaged in it is being tarred with the same brush as people who attacked innocent bystanders and burnt down buildings. Obviously any rioting is wrong, but some of it is more wrong and that applies to the people who engage in it.

    Keep up the writing, I'm looking forward to your next post.

    Adam

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  177. Fabulous article, thank you for taking the time to write it. I live in Peckham and my wife works in Walworth but we're on holday so it's great to read a balanced article like this which gives a clear picture of what's happened. As others have said, there's nothing wrong with your writing style.

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  178. Thank you so much for the well-written and honest account of what's going on. I feel so awful for all of the people (seems like the majority as always) that are innocent and trapped in this. Stay safe and do more updates, please.

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  179. What an excellent, balanced, open and fair report on what you witnessed. Thank you for this it sheds a sane view against a backdrop of, mostly political, stupid, over the top comments that I've mostly read so far

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  180. Hey, 106fb8e2-c376-11e0-bbe9-000bcdcb8a73 (if that is your real name)

    Yaaaawwwwwwnn

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  181. Really appreciate this calm, thoughtful post. We need a lot more of this sort of thing (the discussion not the looting!) Though I don't think I agree about the water cannon – as someone tweeted, water cannons and rubber bullets solved the Northern Ireland troubles in just 25 years!

    Intrigued by your thoughts on Darcus Howe. I first saw him cashing in on a racist murder of two Asian students from my college 30 years ago and he was a boor and a bully then. He always seems an absolute prick but I have seen decent people posting this interview around as an example of how terrible the BBC is. I think he has probably done a lot of damage over the years with his false narrative of what it means to be black in Britain. You are honest about the hassles you've had and I don't minimise them – but it hasn't convinced you that there is "no alternative" to an underclass life. That view of things is so bloody patronising: "If you're brilliant like me you be a distinguished pundit like me but if not, you'll be a teef."

    That these riots have not been a black thing from the start (and we can all see that) seems to have caught such old 20th-century race warriors off-guard.

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  182. Hi great Piece of writing. I too found on Guardian Live Blog. As I was reading it I was listening to David Cameron talking about morals and morality. I think it's ironic that there has been no talk of morals when it came to bankers bringing the country to its knees and taking away our jobs and our children's futures, whilst and giving themselves huge bonuses but lots of talk about the morality around these events. This is not in any way to condone these events, but to point out that the call for morality only seems to apply to certain parts of our society and not to others. If there is going to be a call for a new moral society it needs to be to the wider society and not just to those involved in recent events.

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  183. Hey Motown,

    Great post - nicely done and well said. Appreciate your stance and the fact that someone's writing about it. I saw some of the situation (I live on the Elizabeth Estate) and am still suprised by the lack of media coverage of our area.

    First visit to your blog (arrived via the link on the Matt Wells section of the Guardian live blog) but will be bookmarking and returning.

    Stay safe,

    S

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  184. Great blog! ... good to hear your account and get a different prespective from the media; even if i don't agree 100% with everything (i'd be a little hesitant with the water cannons), great read!

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  185. Real news, indeed. Regarding your annoyance at the tv talking heads saying more affluent areas do not "expect" riots, I felt the same watching Felicity Barr on Al Jazeera English live feed during night #3. Now I want to know: what about Darcus Howe and why he is not on tv? From several thousand miles away, thanks for the information!

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  186. Brilliant! A very well written eye account and outlining of opinions.. I'll be sharing it with others.

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  187. Thanks for this, balanced and well written. I'll be forwarding to friends abroad who have been worried for me.

    As a secondary teacher I know that the severity of the punishment is never the most important factor in controlling behaviour, it's the certainty of getting caught, and the certainty of the punishment being carried out that makes the difference.

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  188. A really well written piece despite your modesty. I'll look out for your next post, consider yourself followed. :-)

    Ann Patey

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  189. Hi Motown this is a great example to the rubbish,especially TV,media covering these terrible events. As you say sensationalism and "how do you feel" stupid questioning is out of place and unhelpful.I also thought Sky should have suspended adverts at the height of their coverage,but as usual money-making wins out.
    Best of luck in your new writing career which I am sure will follow!

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  190. Thank you so much for this, Motown. Reading about your experience, and your point of view, is very valuable. I am British but live in France and it's very helpful to read reports like yours - well written, in spite of what you say, balanced, intelligent and thoughtful. Thanks again. And good luck.

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  191. Your link has been given by riotscleanup and you're gonna have a lot of readers I guess. More than you would have imagined?

    People like you make real history. Stating facts. I wish people just stopped watchign news which is about SENSATION (and then it would drop and then people who want to be in the news would drop 2). Why did it take them so many days to tell about the cleaning community that started just after the riots???? Because it is POSITIVE. POSITIVE don't sell!

    What's the object of information? Selling. Not informing. What's the object of politics? Making a carrier. Not dealing with problems. What's the object of mankind? Now trying to take as much as possible thinking they can get away with it, in front of mankind AND God. Sadly for those, when time to pay comes it might be a higher price they expected but hey, if they ate their bigs cows already.....

    Solution? Education, and spending time on it, being with kids, giving them hope and not giving hope on them.

    We, as a majority of educated people could influence the way medias reflects us - as people - but we're too busy. We don't feel connected to that mass "they" talk about - whether the traders, or the looters. It's never us. We ARE the majority that gets hit by everything (traders AND looters, all thieves, firsts with white collars and official authorizations). Sadly WE are just... a crowd. It's time more people like you talked to speak about reality so that these medias disappears and only truth is told. Then maybe a new area of information will come where the ionformation come from reality and explanation from media. Then we will go back to civilization and not circus like right now.

    Apologies for grammar, I'm French.

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  192. Thanks for this - most intelligent and well-considered piece I've yet read on the whole subject - and I have been reading and watching non-stop.
    I'm glad the Guardian linked to it - hope it gets wider coverage still.

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  193. Thanks for taking the trouble to share your intimate perspective of recent events. Very well written.

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  194. Thank you Motown, I live just north of the Elephant and have had a growing sense over the last 24 hours that we're just not getting the full picture of what's gone on over the last few days, and how many areas have been affected. I imagine that there may be a good reason for this, I would guess that the media need to tread a fine line of what they report, so that they don't end up somehow stoking it all up. In terms of my own safety, I've been feeling anxious with everything I've seen on the TV, but it seemed that it was all quite far away, physically, from me. Reading your very balanced-sounding account of what you experienced (which I found very credible with the detail you've given, and photos, and your measured description), I feel a lot clearer about the actual situation here in my immediate neighbourhood. Thank you, and take care.

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  195. Best informative and insightful piece yet on the UK riots, no need for clueless mass-media with someone of your calibre!

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  196. Incredibly well articulated, and no nonsense blog, if only we could bottle this "sense" we wouldn't be where we are now.
    If nothing else let this time elevate the needs of the community to the front of the queue - let's inject hope and worth/value from the youngest to the eldest.
    I'm writing from N16 and the sense of community is strong, no one wants their livelihoods destroyed, and more so no one wants to see their local spots deemed "no-go" zones.
    Now is the time to work together, not blame each other - if this time spells anything clearly then it is screaming out at all of us to care, care enough to help, to put in, to give back - small steps that we can all build on - this doesn't cost anything.

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