Manchester Burning

It started in one of London’s poorest boroughs, Tottenham, several nights ago… a riot sparked by the police shooting Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old black father of four, as he rode in a minicab.  He had a handgun, but there are still no reports that he tried to use it at any time.  A peaceful crowd of locals showed up at the police station in search for an explanation, but the police offered none.  By later that evening, even against Duggan’s own relatives, the people who were mostly youth began to riot… torching double-decker buses and police cars.  Shops are being vandalized and even burned to the ground.  And now, after several days of this continuing, other cities have begun to flair up.  This includes the city of Manchester, which I visited at the end of June to see a good friend.  Now, as I hear the reports coming in first-hand, my heart breaks in despair for the city that captivated me in the two weeks I was there and a city that I call my second home.

Public Square in the City Centre

Whether this started as a race riot in the London borough; whether this is a riot that has been fueled by all the stress that the people are feeling these days from rising prices and lack of jobs and this was just the catalyst that set it all ablaze; this has now become a riot of consumerism.  Young people breaking into and looting stores just to see what they can steal and get away with.  They burn stores and the homes of other people without a care in the world that they are uprooting and destroying people’s lives.  And I highly doubt that any of them know the real reason for the riots or how they even started.  They probably just know that people are doing it, and they should be a part of the action without fully thinking of the consequences of such actions.  They are destroying their own homes and their own communities.  They don’t realize that the people of those communities… those that run the businesses and those that pay the taxes and call that community a home… that will have to pick up the tabs for the destruction that these people are causing.  These people are at the equivalent of domestic terrorists as they are terrorizing the local people who are afraid to even leave their homes or their businesses and who are afraid of what will come when the sun goes down that night.

Random Street Picture Near The City Centre

There is absolutely no reason for a civilized people to resort to this kind of behavior.  I implore all Mancunians (and people all over England) to stand up to these thugs and to take back your streets, your cities, and your peace of mind.  I pray that order and civility can be restored before any further damage can be done to a beautiful city in a great country.  It is time to bring back peace and to reflect on the events of late and what has led up to them and what has fueled them to spread beyond the London neighborhood.  Show them that a sense of community can overcome all obstacles.  What they destroy, you can rebuild.  What has been shattered can still be put back together.  A civilized people will always win out.  A famous American by the name of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said the following, “The limitation of riots, moral questions aside, is that they cannot win and their participants know it. Hence, rioting is not revolutionary but reactionary because it invites defeat. It involves an emotional catharsis, but it must be followed by a sense of futility.”

There is a fine line between protesting grievances and rioting.  As a civilized society and civilized people, it is within our right to make sure that those in authority know when they have done wrong, but that does not give us permission to riot in the streets and to pillage from our neighbors.  To do so would make us no better than the Vikings of ancient history.  We must show that in the centuries since then, that we have advanced and that we have become an enlightened people who don’t give in to such tendencies.

As I watch the videos and the pictures come in, I sit here and hope that my friends can manage to stay safe and not get caught up in this irrational behavior of the mob.  I firmly believe that the city of Manchester will get this matter resolved and still be the great and beautiful city that I know it to be.  As for the Mancunian people… I will not let the actions of this mob influence my opinions of a wonderful and hospitable community.  The city that I am proud to call my second home will triumph over the adversities it now faces and it will be stronger and better than it was before.  For now, I sit here across the pond and watch in horror and wish that I could just snap my fingers and make it all stop.  Civility and rational thought must regain the high ground and order must be restored.

Skyline of Manchester


Need to Know on PBS:  “Anarchy in the UK”

CNN: “Before and After: Riots in London”


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