The 2011 London Riots

On August 4, 2011, 29 year old Mark Duggan was shot and killed by Metropolitan Police Service officers in Tottenham, North London, England. Duggan was under police surveillance because of illegal activity he allegedly partook in before his death. After being stopped by the police while he was in a car, Duggan was shot at twice by the officers and his life was taken away. Official police reports claim that the officers thought he had a gun but no weapons were found on him. Because of conflicting eyewitness reports, it is not known exactly why Duggan was shot. After news of this incident went public, many local residents became angry at what they believed was an injustice. On August 6, two days after Duggan’s death, peaceful protests quickly turned violent as young people began rioting and looting in London. When discussing “globalization from below” Douglas Kellner states that it “refers to the ways in which marginalized individuals and social movements resist globalization and/or use its institutions and instruments to further democratization and social justice…it can also give power to groups and individuals that were previously left out of the democratic dialogue and terrain of political struggle. Such potentially positive effects of globalization include increased access to education for individuals excluded from entry to culture and knowledge and the possibility of oppositional individuals and groups to participate in global culture and politics through gaining access to global communication and media networks and to circulate local struggles and oppositional ideas through these media” (Kellner 1997 and 1999b). Youths used the protests as a way to show the government that they were fed up with the way they were being treated. Because the mainstream media refused to cover stories such as poverty, government spending cuts that closed youth clubs, and racist police stop and search policies many of the rioters felt like they were partly to blame and if the news focused more on their struggles and created avenues for people to help, there would not have been all that chaos and looting.

In the video below, a young Londoner named Leon Fearon tries to explain to Mayor Boris Johnson how government cuts and improper spending negatively affects the London youth and is the reason why they were outside rioting. He also goes on to say that some of his friends cannot attend college  because of unfair policies.

Although the riots started because of growing tensions between the black community of Tottenham versus the police force and the government, social media allowed for young people to meet up and loot in vulnerable areas as an activity. Internet users would create Facebook posts and send out tweets giving details and addresses of “riot zones” which gave people information on where they should be if they wanted to cause destruction or steal free electronics. Blackberry Messenger was also widely used for this same process. The mainstream media blamed social media for the violence and claimed that it would not have happened if the government had put regulations on its use. In the “Is technology neutral?” section of the Theoretical Frameworks chapter, Murphie/Potts would explain how social media, like a gun, did not necessarily cause the problem because it is up to the user to decide what he/she does with it, but it did alter and escalate a situation that could have been handled with less violence. Social media allowed for young people to join in on a violent event because that was what everybody else in the area was doing. The riots eventually spread from London to other cities and areas such as Manchester, Bristol, and Merseyside.

This video is a parody of the riots by Arnold Jorge, a London comedian.


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