Wednesday, August 10, 2011

London: Some defended themselves

In London while most of the citizens had been trained to call the police and hide, one group took action into its own hands.

Guy Chazan and Jeanne Whalen, Wall Street Journal, 10 August 2011.

In the north London neighborhood of Dalston, rioters were held in check Monday night—but not by the police.

Hundreds of Turkish and Kurdish men, many armed with broken billiard cues, poured onto the streets to protect their businesses and homes from the kind of mayhem that was laying waste to other parts of London.

"They created a barrier and chased the kids back," said Burcu Bay, who works as a waitress at Tugra, a Turkish sweet shop and cafe on Dalston's main thoroughfare. "It was like being in a war."

What happened in Dalston, an area defined by its large Turkish and Kurdish immigrant community, was a rare instance of locals uniting to defy the wave of violence that has swept London in recent nights, leaving a trail of burned-out buildings, looted shops and broken glass. In other areas, rioters encountered little resistance, as terrified locals took cover and stretched police were often slow to show up.

The rioters usually have the advantage of youth and numbers.  In the case of Dalston, they may have had youth, but they did not have the numbers.

As is often the case the Police turn against the people defending themselves:

In some instances, skirmishes turned violent. "The police wanted to arrest one of my friends because he punched some of the [looters]," said a waiter at the Somine restaurant. "We didn't let them."

Key to this particular scenario was that the community lived near the businesses it was protecting.  Because they could not arm themselves, it was important that there be more local neighborhood supporters than hoodlums.

It may be a little late, but people are learning from the example:
Jerome Taylor, The Independent, 10 August 2011
Shop owners across London vowed to protect their own businesses as anger over the police's inability to stop widespread looting pushed them towards setting up their own neighbourhood vigilante groups.
Inspired by reports of Turkish and Bangladeshi groups chasing would-be looters out of their neighbourhoods in east London, many shop keepers took to the streets to deter looters. Hundreds of Sikhs turned out in the Southall area last night in a collective show of force after rumours circulated that jewellery shops were going to be targeted.
In the more affluent neighbourhood of Stoke Newington further north – an area filled with boutique shops and independent retailers – there was widespread praise for Turkish people who stopped rioters.
In Whitechapel, home to Britain's largest Bangladeshi population, locals described how 70 masked rioters were chased out of the neighbourhood by Bengali youths who had gathered for evening prayers outside East London Mosque.

While the United States has its problems with gangs in certain areas, Britain is a society that lives in fear of its youths.  It is pervasive.  There are no “safe neighborhoods”.   A disarmed, decentralized living pattern with no sense of community is gets overwhelmed by anything other than ordinary problem levels.  Of course an armed decentralized living pattern with no sense of community is far from perfect, but it does make life a little more difficult for your typical mugger.
Dalston in NE London:  Still unburned.

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