On Saturday the 6th of August a protest outside
of Tottenham Police Station turned into what was one of the worst riots England
has ever seen.
The protest itself started over the shooting of Mark Duggan
by the police. His friends and family
led a demonstration from the Broadwater Farm Estate to Tottenham High Road,
outside the police station. It was here where things took a turn for the worse.
There are no confirmed sources as to what started the riot; some say that it
started over an incident in which riot-police assaulted a teenage girl; other
unconfirmed sources say that she taunted the police by throwing a bottle at
them. Whatever may have triggered the riot, no one was prepared for the mayhem
that followed after.
From that day and onwards a whirlwind of mayhem swept
through Tottenham and passed through cities across London and other parts of
the country. For 4 days it seemed that the nation was under siege by angrer and
Many people began to wonder, where were the MPs and PM? And
why weren’t they doing anything; they began to question whether the police were
capable or equipped to handle the havoc that was occurring on our streets. It
seemed England was lost in chaotic confusion.
As days passed and the rioting spread across the country, Community
Leaders, youth workers politicians and everyday citizens gave their opinions on
TV debating about what was happening; giving their views on what the causes of
the riots were and what could be done to prevent such terrible-events happening
again. One thing noticeable was the
sides in which people were taking;
On one side, many people saw the rioters/looters as
opportunistic hooligans seeking to get free merchandise and cause damage. People spoke of the looters/rioters just
wanting to carry out their own personal agendas and that they were not acting
out in retaliation to the shooting of Mark Duggan. These statements were understandable and true
in a way. We have to look at the issues regarding the rioters and their actions.
Many of the rioters had organised themselves to take part in the trouble.
Social-media such as Blackberry Messenger, Twitter..etc were used to plan where
and when they should meet up to cause chaos. Due to the wreckless and
thoughtless actions of the rioters many people were left homeless; and one has
to wonder, did any of the rioters feel any ounce of compassion for the homeless
victims? And finally the obvious fact
that a majority of the shops and businesses looted were places where valuable
goods were sold & displayed.
The general public were understandably scared and infuriated
by the riots. What was confusing about the rioters is the fact that some of
them seemed to have little, or no reason to even think of joining in the
disorder; for example amongst those arrested some had jobs. Teachers,
graduates, a model, a lifeguard and even the daughter of a millionaire were
just a few of thosel arrested for their involvement in the riots. These facts
just support what some people said about the intentions of the rioters. One
final factor is that news from The Metro
and The Guardian newspapers stated
that three-quarters of those arrested had criminal records. So with all these factors it’s easy to
understand why the rioters were easily condemned and labelled.
One the other side, people said they understood why the
havoc that plagued England’s streets had happened. Community Leaders, Youth
Workers and rioters/looters themselves had spoken of actions of the government
and their actions which had driven them to behave in such a manner.
It’s no secret to anyone that the government have made many
massive cuts; and those most affected are those living in inner-city areas.
These people had been living in areas which have had issues with crime, bad
relationships with police, unemployment, unstable homes, kids being out of
school and deprivation before the cuts were made; but now that the cuts have
happened it seems things have gotten worse. Cuts to organisations that actually helped
young people, youth-clubs..etc were among the cuts that the government made. Citizens living day to day life with these
issues were bound to eventually snap at one point and it seemed that the time
to snap had reached. Many people felt that these riots had been a long time
coming. For some time now the people felt they were being marginalised and
ignored by the government. Many young people felt that they weren’t be given
any opportunities which would enable them to build a better life and future for
themselves and so now was the time to let their anger out.
One other issue which people kept addressing was that the
government themselves have looted funds from other countries and from the UK
itself. With many politicians claiming expenses on personal items and the
increase in young people being stopped and searched, people felt that it was
hypocritical for the government to condemn the looting.
Going back to the shooting of Mark Duggan; people were angry
that he had been killed by the police and wanted answers as to why he was
killed. In Tottenham a few days after the riots had stopped, a demonstration
had taken place at Tottenham High road. It was a peaceful event, but there was
anger still searing in some people’s hearts. People were angry at the fact that
many other young black men had been killed at the hands of police and this was
one reason which contributed to the riots.
The whole topic of the riots is a deep and long issue. To understand
the riots in its entirety we would have to dig up years of past disputes and
issues which may have been addressed but not yet solved. The situation of the riots was described by
Ola Gbaja-Biamila, the comedian as “a room filling with gas and all that was
needed was a spark”. And in no way was he joking.
Now that the riots are over, England’s affected areas are rebuilding
and going through a healing process.
A bridge between communities and government needs to be
built so that both parties can delegate and together solve the problems
addressed. Let us hope that both
government and communities learn from this and let us hope that it makes us
wiser and lead us to build a better future for the people in this nation.
I’ve played gangsters, baddies and hard men in the movies, but in real life, the tough choice that takes real courage is be able to say no when violence seems like an easy way out. Emeka Egbuonu has made it his mission in life to equip young people with the confidence and knowledge to make good choices in difficult situations. His book Consequences – Breaking the Negative Cycle is based on his real life experiences with gangs as a youth and his work since helping other young people not get sucked into violence.
This is a valuable insight from someone who tells it as is really is and doesn’t pull any punches. It’s funny, it’s dramatic – but most of all, it’s honest.
It’s no good just condemning street violence, you also have to look at why it’s happening and how to stop it – especially when British cities have been torn apart by looting and rioting. Emeka was out on the streets during the recent unrest in London, helping young people to see sense and not get involved in trouble. This book is a must-read and a practical guide for young people, parents, teachers, police and anyone with an interest in making our cities safe and creating a new generation of hope instead of alienation.
Jamie Foreman – Of EastEnders and movies – Gangster No 1, Layer Cake and Inkheart.
Book promo video
Prof David Wilson
Young people generally have fast become the human equivalent of dangerous dogs in our culture, and young people who join gangs are especially seen as being somehow different, dangerous and alien. Few of us have bothered to try and understand why a young person might want to join a gang, or thereafter how we as a society might repsond to that decision and thereafter help that young person to leave the gang behind.
Written from his personal experiences of working with gangs and young people in Hackney, Emeka Egbuonu’s Consequences - Breaking the Negative Cycle fills this criminological gap, and brings fresh insight into what we all should be doing in the wake of the English riots to help young people – usually young men – bridge the gap between school and a law-abiding adulthood.
This book should be read widely – not least within the Ministry of Justice and the Home Office – because we can all learn something positive and inspiring from Emeka’s work.
Professor David Wilson, Britain’s leading criminologist, Director of the Centre for Applied Criminology at Birmingham City University and author of Looking for Laura: Public Criminology and Hot News.
For more information on gang intervention programs visit http://www.thecrib.org.uk
Tyrese Gibson singer,song writer, actor and now author has released his first book called “how to get out your own way”. Tyrese is passionate about the message he is sending, he is a firm believer in passing on knowledge as well, the book is about breaking the barriers that stand before us in the mirror. Exploring ways to overcome doubt. This book is powerful and I highly recommend it. This is a man that has accomplished a lot of things in his career, a real rags to riches story, but he tells us that we must seek help to overcome and to move forward. Upon all his wealth that he still needs help and therapy to overcome things from his past. Buy his book now and am sure you will also recommend it to others.
A few people have been asking about the meaning of the front cover and how the idea for it came along. There are two main reasons that inspired the front cover. One of the things that inspired the concept of the cover was my time in secondary school, one of my mentors gave me some important advice that I have not forgotten. His name was Mr Richards; he was one of the few people that I actually looked up to at that period. One day we were both having a discussion about ambition, progression to success and making mistakes. He told me that everyone deserves the chance to make something of themselves, but with that comes hard work and determination to succeed even against all odds. He carried on by saying along the way you are guaranteed to have obstacles in your way, but you have to be ready and willing to overcome them. As your journey continues you have to be open to receive knowledge from those who have come before you and to their wisdom to learn from their mistakes because this can save you time in your journey to success.
The second reason was based on my sessions with the young people. I have been running these workshops for 2years now and one thing that remains constant is the fact that young people are enthusiastic in learning from each other, sometimes it proves to be more effective than when we give the same teachings as adults. The process of passing knowledge, experiences, aspirations these are important steps to take because it keeps you moving forward. The most important is learning by action, being around people who are doing rather than all talk and no action.
Going onto the cover and how it fits with the two things I mentioned above. The young man on the left is ready and willing to do what it takes to succeed, he has decided that he needs help, support, and motivation. The glass in the middle represents all the negative barriers, cycles that he faces day in day out in his life (regardless of the obstacle he is ready to face it head on). Through his determination his is able to break that negative stronghold withholding him and his potential. The young man on the right represents a fellow peer, who has come from similar circumstances and has already smashed down those barriers. He using the power of sharing knowledge we show this by the book in his hands, he is now willing to give that to someone who else so that the he too can pursue success.
The words on the lower half are all the positive words that are constantly coming up in our sessions.
THESE ARE THE WORDS THAT KEEP THE BARRIERS BROKEN
“I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education, and culture for their minds, dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits”
Dr Martin Luther King Jr
We all make choices. And choices come with consequences. I’ve written a book to help young people learn that the choices they make can transform their lives for the better – or worse.
My name is Emeka Egbuonu. I grew up in Hackney in London.
I hope my book Consequences – Breaking the Negative Cycle will help other young people learn from mistakes made by those who have come before them. So we can break the cycle of poor role models, low aspirations, under achievement. Understanding the importance of history and culture, how inequality affect young people, tackling youth violence and gang culture and enabling young people to be ambitious.
I lead seminars for groups of young people in London and am on the London Mayor’s mentoring team. I’ve also met former gang members in Los Angeles who are using innovative techniques to turn young people away from gangs. I hope this book will help spread the message even further that things can change for the better – and share ways to make that happen.
In this blog I’ll be telling you about me, my own personal journey away from violence (it hasn’t been easy) and towards self-discovery and I’ll also keep you posted on the book.
Thanks for dropping by and reading this first post.
Watch this space for much more.