Comment - on the riots
Two riots, two meetings, two boroughs by David Flint.
In late September the authorities held public meetings on the riots in Enfield and Haringey. Members of the
local Green parties attended both meetings. The Enfield meeting, chaired by Southgate MP David Burrowes,
was orderly and constructive. The borough police commander, Dave Tucker, explained what had happened during
the Enfield riot and why the Police had responded as they had. He told us that known gang members were present
but "not acting as gangs". The town centre manager, Mark Rudling, had also been there and was sure that the
riot had not been spontaneous. And it seemed clear that motives for the attack on the Sony Distribution Centre
were theft first, arson second and protest not at all. The general sense was that the Enfield Police had done
a decent job in difficult circumstances and that the riot was not a response to circumstances in Enfield.
The meeting went on to discuss local initiatives that might improve matters in the future but nothing, of course,
that would address the root causes - inequality, racial disadvantage, heavy-handed policing and the alienation of
so many young people. After the meeting
N21.net recorded comments
from David Burrowes, Dave Tucker, Mark Rudling
and, er, me.
The Haringey meeting
was quite different. Local MPs arrived late, the roving microphone didn't work, the
chairmanship was highly partisan and the (Labour) leader of Haringey told lies about the closure of a community
centre. The lies led to anger and the meeting seems to have achieved nothing. Indeed, it probably made relations
between police and public worse (if that was even possible).
It's a stark contrast. It's clear that each meeting reflected its community in the same way that the riots did.
In Tottenham bad behaviour by the authorities sparked community anger. In Enfield police, shopkeepers and most of
the community felt a sense of common purpose.
I know which I prefer; which is more comfortable. But that's a trap. Comfortable Enfield will not solve the
problems that the riots have revealed. Only a transformation of our society can do that and that needs the anger
that we saw and felt in Tottenham.
First published in the EGP members' Newsletter. October 2011.