As I understand it, the unrest started when, to quote Fox, "Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old father of four, was gunned down in disputed circumstances Thursday in Tottenham." The report says later on:
Tottenham is an impoverished area with an ethnically diverse population, a large black community and a history of unrest. Tottenham was the site of the 1985 Broadwater Farm riots, a series of clashes that led to the fatal stabbing of a police officer and the wounding of nearly 60 others -- and underscored tensions between London police and the capital's black community.During the late 19th Century, when Jack the Ripper was stalking London's East End, his hunting grounds of Whitechapel, Spitalfields and surrounding areas were called the worst in the metropolis. They had their share of riots, but nothing like this. Why is this different?
Since then police have made concerted, and fairly successful, efforts to build better relations with London's ethnic communities. But mistrust still lingers, and the shooting of Duggan -- a popular figure in the community -- has stirred old animosities.
Few details of Duggan's death have been released, and in the void rumors have swirled.
Police say Duggan was shot dead when police from Operation Trident -- the unit that investigates gun crime in the black community -- stopped a cab he was riding in.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission, which is investigating the shooting, said a "non-police firearm" was recovered at the scene, and media reports said a bullet had been found in an officer's radio.
But the Guardian newspaper reported that the bullet in the radio was police-issue, indicating Duggan may not have fired at the officer.
A report I heard on the radio this afternoon said that Duggan was a "gang leader." Might explain how a father of four is "popular," huh? The same report said that Duggan had a "gun." Not a "gun gun" but one that was (as far as I could tell from the report) made up from household tools yet used normal ammunition.
So, Britain, how's that prohibition of firearms workin' out for ya? "Gentle justice" not really all that? "Soft power" not so powerful?
These riots, that include robbery, looting, vandalism and arson, are now spreading outside of London to Bristol, Liverpool and Birmingham.
The spotlight is, quite understandably, on Prime Minister David Cameron. Brian Micklethwait called these riots "Cameron's Falklands War." But that pales in comparison to a comment made by journalist Kevin McGuire. Noting that Cameron ahd to return from a vacation (what the Brits call "Holiday") in Tuscany, McGuire opined:
"If he comes back from holiday, and it makes no difference, what's the point of having a Prime Minister?"Very close to the truth, albeit perhaps not the way Micklethwait sees it. The primary job of government under the social contract is security. Not health care, not welfare, not environmental protection. Security. That means defense, foreign policy and law enforcement. You can't have civilization without security. Period.
Government is supposed to protect its citizens from conflagrations like this. If it can't -- or won't -- what good is it?
It's a question that in our state of perilous national debt, we here in the United States better answer. Fast. Because the story of what is haoppening in London should sound very familiar to us. Because the lawlessness that has gripped Britain is happening here.