Perfect Storm: The England Riots Documentary

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“If the young are not initiated into the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth.” – African Proverb.

This mini-documentary film looks at the initial causes and wider context surrounding the recent England riots. Politicians refuse to acknowledge their role in creating a deeply unfair and failing society, a perfect storm of police brutality, city poverty and austerity measures, that will lead to further societal breakdown if left unresolved.

Did you know for the rioters to be on par with the looting by the financial bailouts, corporate tax avoiders and the cost of military action in Libya, they would have to repeat the same level of damage……4,320 times?

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Extras and Podcasts

Local Citizen Speaks Out

Sky News had been busy ignoring local people and very selectively broadcasting their own views that day. This gentleman spoke candidly. He is a real person who did the video in ONE take, with no PR training and no media skills; just a simple and honest interview.

The Government’s Response To The Riots

The government propose more CCTV, electronic tracking and shutting down of communication. Big Brother will save us.

The Police And Media Are Lying! (November 27, 2012)

WideShut looks at how the police continue to lie, and the media are still biased about what caused the riots, at the start of a packed WideShut Webcast.

In Their Own Words? (August 19, 2012)

Keelan reviews the BBC’s new documentary on the London Riots “In Their Own Words”

The Truth News Australia Interview (August 21, 2011)

Hereward Fenton of Truth News Australia interviews Keelan Balderson of WideShut about the UK riots.

Cameron’s Crackdown (August 15, 2011)

WideShut looks at some of the fallout from the riots, including benefits being taken away, evictions of families and draconian prison sentences.

Causes and Outcomes (August 09, 2011)

Keelan Balderson discusses the England riots, the social and political problems that laid the groundwork, the dubious police shooting in Tottenham and subsequent attacking of a teenage girl. How the establishment might want to exploit the situation by implementing martial law or private security, and how non violent action is the best option for change.

Documentary Transcript

On August 6th 2011, rioting erupted in Tottenham, North London.

Reporter: I’m just behind the police lines, the police are coming under attack from fireworks, they’ve just warned us that petrol bombs are being assembled, and I can just see in the distance a car that was set on fire about an hour ago.

What ensued was one of the worst cases of public disorder in recent history. The rampage of looting, arson and vandalism, mainly conducted by youths, spread throughout London and in to several major cities.

Reporters: A large scale police operation is underway in Birmingham City Centre tonight…They were scenes not witnessed in Liverpool for a generation…After the chaos, the clamp down, the police in the centre of Nottingham reclaiming the city after 2 nights of unrest…The clean-up is underway in Bristol after cars were set on fire and shop windows smashed, as hundreds of people created disorder.

People’s homes and businesses lay in ruins.

Business Owner: I came round to the back of the shops through the residential streets, and was met by what I can only describe as feral youths, feral rats! Just these teams of young 14-15-16 year olds that were just in gangs on the streets.

And at least 5 people have been killed in the violence.

Reporter: Riot police stand guard outside a hospital in Birmingham, early on Wednesday, after 3 men were rundown by a car during the riots. 2 men dies at the scene and third succumbed to his injuries after being taken to hospital.

Reporter: The heart of a suburban shopping centre is now a place where people are coming to remember a life lost. Mr. Manington-Bowes was said to be set-upon as he remonstrated with rioters who’d set fire to an industrial bin.

Politicians were quick to label it “pure criminality” with no purpose and seemingly no root cause.

Reporter: Councillor do you accept that first of all, that this is just opportunist criminality, people taking the chance to steal something because they can, that there isn’t something else beneath this?

Councillor: I think that is a fair summary, that this is nothing short of pure criminality.

Member of Parliament: What we’ve witnessed on the streets of our major towns and cities is nothing more or less than pure criminality and thuggery, and those that seek to excuse this behaviour as being down to deprivation or poverty or current government policy, are themselves symptomatic of a no blame, no responsibility culture, which has undermined our society and led us to this sorry state.

Prime Minister Cameron: This was not political protest, or a riot about protest or about politics, it was common thieving, robbing and looting, and we don’t need an inquiry to tell us that.

But what really sparked these riots, and what does the future hold for Britain?

The Spark

On August 4th, Mark Duggan, 29 year old father of 4, was pulled from a taxi in Tottenham and shot dead by the Specialist Firearms Command.

Initial reports from the IPCC claim that one of the officers had been shot, and Duggan had to be neutralized. The bullet was found lodged in the officer’s chest radio, but following ballistics tests, it was revealed that it couldn’t have come from Duggan, because it was a police issued bullet.

Reporter: The IPCC are appealing for witnesses, but suggestions that a bullet that was lodged in a police radio was one of their own, and had not been fired from another weapon has raised more awkward questions. The people who live nearby told me that a police surveillance vehicle had been filming the road for several days before the shooting. They claim to have seen armed plain clothes police hiding in bushes nearby, and say the taxi that Mark Duggan was a passenger in, was taken away from the scene before being brought back for more tests.

The question remains, if Duggan did not fire a gun at police, why does an eye witness describe how he was held down an essentially executed?

Police Officer: There is no question that this was an execution style killing.

Darcus Howe, Local Resident: There is a young man called Mark Duggan, he has parents, he has brothers and sisters, and two yards away from where he lived a police officer blew his head off, blew his face off with a Glock pistol.

Local Resident: Now the police seem to have this contempt for people, and I don’t think they necessarily needed to kill the guy, they had apprehended him, they were in control, there was no need to kill him, absolutely none. So basically they might be surprised that this has happened, but they still don’t seem to have learned their lesson 30 years ago, what happened at Broadwater Farm housing estate, Toxworth and those places. Now you cannot keep on oppressing people.

Tensions between the police and the poor city communities has always been high, the blanket approach to crime and gang culture, leaves many people feeling oppressed.

Darcus Howe: They have been stopping and searching young blacks for no reason at all. I have a grandson, he is an angel, and he began to think that he was coming of age when the police slap him up against the wall and search him.

Home office statistics show that black people are far more likely to be stopped and searched based solely on their appearance. In Tottenham this adds to the distrust.

Darcus Howe: …I asked him the other day, I had a sense that something was going seriously wrong in this country. I asked him how many times have the police searched you. He said “Pappa I can’t count there’s so many times”.

In their eyes the police themselves are a gang that will protect their own before bringing any justice.

Local Resident: That feeling that was passed down from generation to generation, that the police are not for us. And we’ve seen of events this year there’s been a sense that events like the student protests and hostility between young people and the police, then the death of Smiley Culture and Kingsley Barrow, there’s a sense that the police are not for us, and that’s manifested itself even more so in 2011 as we’ve seen now, the trigger was a young man killed, arguably from point blank range according to some witnesses.

Since 1998 at least 333 people have died while in police custody, not one officer has been convicted. It is then understandable why Duggan’s community wanted answers.

Duggan’s Friend: When we talk about the riots we still have to go back in to the stem of why the riots started, and that’s because Mark died. Whether people like it or not, whether people know him or not, but he is the reason why everything started. And right now when they do pull up stuff about his death, and little things that were important at the time, it’s like they’re not important anymore, because of the rioting and the looting and looting that the media and government are highlighting more than his death.

After being ignored, 2 days after Duggan’s death on August 6th, the community went to the local police station to exercise their lawful right to protest.

Family Friend: We want answers for the family, for Mark Duggan, we have been given no answers, the family haven’t been told anything as to why Mark Duggan was shot on Thursday.

Local Resident: Well as far as I’m concerned, the protest started quite peacefully. There was about 150 people outside the police station, all they wanted was a few answers as to what was happening. The police completely ignored them, treated them with contempt, and even at that point they didn’t retaliate.

Duggan’s Friend: …and right now the whole of Tottenham is mourning because of that. The whole of the community that know him are hurt. Which is justifiable. We need answers.

There wasn’t really any relationship with the police.

Police Officer: There is no question that this was an execution style killing.

…Now the answers have come out that it’s true what we were saying, so what we were thinking was true. It’s like hold on! You said one thing and it wasn’t even that. Now we’re hearing that he didn’t even shoot. What’s going on?

Tension built as police refused to answer questions. All that was needed was a lack of judgement and the crowd would reach a boiling point…It soon came.

Local Resident: And then a young 16 year old, approximately, went to approach them just to find out what’s roughly going on, and they took some action by pushing her and drawing their batons and that’s when the people started to retaliate.

Young Resident: I’ve been caught up in the middle of it since around 5pm this afternoon, and before everything started to kick off what actually ignited everything was a young female had approached the police standing line and she was set upon by police with their batons. The police line had charged towards her and started hitting her with the batons. Subsequently it turned out she was only 16 and this made everyone go up in uproar.

Duggan’s Friend: They beat up a girl, they’ve hit up a girl. The girl’s on the floor. “Have you seen it, did you just see the police stomped out a girl” and from there…police cars are on fire.

The Epidemic

Although the establishment won’t like to admit it, the initial catalyst was clearly down to dubious police actions and a culture of distrust between the police and citizens. But what allowed this isolated incident to spark violent looting and rioting around London and in to other UK cities?

Darcus Howe: Listening to my Grandson and my son, is that something very very serious was going to take place in this country.

Young man To London Mayor: You’ve cut off so much blood supply to youths. Connections (youth job finders) has stopped. I only god the job I’m working at now because of Connections. You’ve cut off the Education Maintenance Allowance, you’ve cut off so much stuff, there’s a knock on affect to everything. Look what’s happened! The youths are running around stealing, and there’s a reason for everything Boris. You’re cutting and cutting and cutting. And you’re putting up fees. I’ve got so many friends who want to go to University that have stopped.

Those that say austerity and poverty play no role in the wider context of the riots, tend to be politicians trying to defend the cuts, or those that are still living comfortably.

Business Owner: Feral Rats!

Funnily enough, MP Nick Clegg predicted unrest on the streets if an out of touch Tory party came to power: There’s a danger of having any Government of whatever composition, led by a party which doesn’t have a proper mandate across the country try to push through really difficult decisions. I think a lot of people will react badly too that. But rioting in the streets? I think there’s a very serious risk.

The Tories did come to power, Clegg joined them, and now we have those riots.

Darcus Howe: But if you look at young black and young whites with a discerning eye and a careful hearing, they have been telling us and we would not listen, at what is happening to this country, to them is wrong.

Although these riots don’t seem to have a conscious political aim like the student protests, they are the result of the political decisions made by our leaders.

Local Resident: This is about youths not having a future, not having any kind of possibility of having a future. A lot of these people are unemployed, a lot of these people have had their youth centres closed down for years.

Rioter: It’s got to the point where they can’t control us anymore. We see the opportunity, we run we take everything. Nobody has got any money round here, so everyone is trying to make as much as they can while they can.

“What’s your reaction when people say you’re nothing but thieves?”

Well obviously they’ve easier lives than the people round here. Some people have got absolutely nothing, come from nothing.

Haringey, the borough that houses Tottenham has the 4th highest level of child poverty in London, and an unemployment rate of 8.8%, double the national average. There is only one vacancy for every 54 people seeking work. In terms of young people, due to the economic crisis, Britain currently has a record level of youth unemployment. Britain’s youth services face cuts of 25% , while Tottenham alone has already been cut by a staggering 75%. It was only in October last year that the BBC warned of youth unrest, similar to what occurred in France in 2005. This was attributed to poverty and a lack of opportunities.

Local Resident: And they’re basically seeing the normal things, the bankers getting away with what they’re getting away with, making this country lose money, let’s be honest about this. The police being made money to do things underhanded to get stories for newspapers, nothing really happened to them. The Government getting done for fiddling their expenses. Some of them have gone to prison, but the majority of them have been doing it for years. This is the youths actually saying to themselves guess what? These people can get away with that, then why can’t we tell people how we feel? Look at what you’re seeing today. You’re not seeing it in one area, you’re seeing it right over London, there’s a message here. There’s a message for the Government; they don’t care, they aren’t even talking about it. They’re talking about these thugs this, these thugs that, they’re not addressing the real problem that the society has. There’s no hope for them, and this is their way of reacting and I feel genuinely sorry for them. These young kids have no future, they can’t get a job. This is sad! This is a reaction to the Government, not only the Conservative party now but the Labour party that was in power before. They’re all in this.

Young man To London Mayor: You are spending hundreds of millions of pounds a week in Libya, when you could be over here. Sort yourselves out over here first. We can’t stretch our hands where we can’t reach it. I’m sure we’d all love to help in Libya, but we can’t afford it! So don’t you think it’s about time that we actually started concentrating on here?

The hypocrisy of the system knows no bound. We only need cuts because the Government has overspent in our name, and bailed out the banks and financial gamblers in the City who crashed the economy in the first place. To put it in to context let’s do some math:

The estimated cleanup costs of the riots is currently £200million, the “kinetic military intervention” in Libya to “protect civilians” otherwise known as the invasion to steal oil and to prevent the region from becoming economically independent has so far cost tax payers £1billion.

George Osborne who condemns the looting just so happened to help Vodafone cancel a £6billion tax bill, a flagrant looting of the public purse. Ignoring Vodafone and other special relationships, the Government itself admits that companies in 2010 avoided 6.9billion in corporation tax.

Why aren’t the public calling for water cannons and rubber bullets to be used on them. Is it because they wear suits?

And finally the cost to taxpayers of bailing out the banks is approximately £850billion.

To be on par with this corporate and financial looting, the “feral scum” of the inner cities, would have to repeat the riots 4,320 times.

The unfair system that loots billions from the people has just as much if not more explaining to do than those involved in the riots.

Policing & Justice

News Report:

The police have not been anywhere, if the police were here do you think all that would have been done?

I think they need to prioritize themselves a little bit better, I don’t think they’re doing everything they can. I don’t think they need to be more violent, I think they need to be more competent.

During the riots, many eye witnesses were shocked at the lack of police intervention. Looters chose to risk it because there was literally not enough officers stopping them. When this became apparent, it caused a copy cat approach across the country.

On the first day only 3,000 officers were deployed to protect the people. This is 2,000 less than were on guard at the royal wedding. Of these 3,000 many of them just stood back and watched as the rioting escalated. In some instances there were direct orders to just stand and observe.

It’s not surprising they were stretched and confused on tactics, thousands of police have already lost their jobs to cuts. Even in the years before the financial crisis, they had continually faced frontline pressures and increasing red tape. This is why Police Community Support Officers were first introduced.

News Report: Over the last year we’ve already seen a loss of 5,000 police officers, an amazing number, and also a separate report from the Inspector of the Constabulary says over the next few years we can expect 34,000 police jobs to go. Over 16,000 police officer jobs, over 1,000 PCSOs and 16,000 police staff. So huge numbers, and I think people will just be frankly astonished.

The question remains, how on earth will they contain any future riots? Perhaps Cameron’s Big Bankrupt Society means doing the policing ourselves. Or maybe we should hand it over to the racist English Defence League?

EDL Member: We’re the Enfield anti-rioting squad. If you want to riot on our turf, then lets fucking have it mate! We’re here to smash you up!

One solution being offered is to privatize policing, but this raises all sorts of questions about accountability and effectiveness.  Is it wise to mix justice with profits? And with the current Community Safety Scheme deploying personnel on to the streets after just 2 weeks of training, poor decisions and cases of brutality can only increase.

Rioters are now being convicted of their crimes, but some of the bizarre punishments will only re-inflame the situation.

Reporter: Look if you are in any way caught in this rioting and looting, any single member of your family, we will throw you out of your council houses.

Prime Minister Cameron: I think that is helpful frankly, because we’ve got to find ways of enforcing responsibility in our society. If you live in a council house, you’re getting a house at a discount from what other people have to pay and so with that should come some responsibilities.

Reporter: More than a hundred thousand people have signed one petition suggesting the Government should retract all financial benefits being paid to those found guilty of looting. That means it may be one of the first public bills to be debated in the commons and may even become law.

Because of course make youths homeless and completely penniless is going to get to the root causes of inequality in our society.

If the young are not initiated in to the village, they will burn it down just to feel its warmth – African Proverb.


The 2011 riots were caused by a perfect storm of societal failures. The dubious execution of Mark Duggan and the subsequent refusal to answer the family’s questions brought years of injustice to the forefront. The boiling point came when police attacked a young girl. Violence was met with violence and this ignited a wave of youth rioting all across the country.

Crippling austerity measures exacerbated the situation, both on the psychology of the rioters who now have nothing to lose, and the lacklustre police response, who had to deal with low initial numbers and orders to stand and observe while the rioting spread.

The perpetrators of the system and those that desperately cling to it are refusing to acknowledge this wider context. Politicians do not want to concede that their hypocrisy, their complicity in the corrupt financial system and their cuts helped create the unequal environment from which the riots developed.

The general public do not want to concede that Britain is failing state, no different to any other European or Arab country. Because in doing so they’d have to admit that some time in the future they might have to take to the streets. Not by choice but by necessity. Their collective ignorance is only prolonging their agony. By time they realize they’ve been living a lie it will be too late for rational discussion or workable solutions.

Living within our means is all fine and well, but our means are being taken away by bankers and politicians who haven’t been living within theirs. It’s not the general public who borrow inconceivable amounts to fund illegal wars or to prop up failed utopian dreams like the EU. It’s not the general public who gamble with financial derivatives and crash the economy.

The UK national debt to the bankers is currently set at £4.8trillion, and is increasing exponentially. It’s the general public that will be living in increasing poverty to foot the bill.

It may have been iPods and TVs this time. But what happens when it’s food? When you take a loaf of bread, will that be pure criminality with no root cause? Will it be dismissed because it’s not political?

If people weren’t so dumbed down by state owned and corporate monopoly media, maybe there would be more political action.

We are all in this together, so why can’t we come together and turn our attention to the real culprits. It’s not those on benefits, it’s not black people, it’s not public sector workers or private sector workers, it’s not the lower classes, it’s not the middle class, and voting any of the political parties next time around won’t fix it.

The bankers have looted 4,250 times more of the people’s money than all of the rioters, and none of your tax money is going to clean up that mess. Yours, your children’s and their children’s tax money has already been signed over to the bankers. The sooner people wake up to the reality they live in, the sooner we can address these issues pecfully.

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