Thursday, August 11, 2011

Reuters celebrates community spirit

Remember when Reuters was a news-gathering organization? Here's how it reports on the British riots:

(Reuters) - Residents of a London housing estate laughed at a televised plea by police for parents to call their children and help rein in the youths who looted and burned swathes of the city.

Not only were some of the parents at the riots themselves, but many of those taking part were not the hooded, teenage delinquents on which many have pinned the blame for the worst street riots Britain has seen for decades.

"Some of the parents were there. For some parents it was no big surprise their kids were there. They've gone through this all their lives," said an Afro-Caribbean man of 22 who gave his name as "L," voicing the frustration and anger felt by youth and parents over yawning inequalities in wealth and opportunity....

Other young men were sitting with him, on a wall outside the drab flats typical of the subsidized housing that is home to many of Britain's poor.

One man held a marijuana joint, another rode in circles on a bike with his hood drawn tight over his face, a so-called "hoodie," a stereotype blamed for much of the violence....

"If you're not working, you find out what your friends are doing. We're just socializing, generally. Keeping out of the radar of the police looking to get in our business," said Ariom, 23, wearing baggy jeans and sporting corn-rows in his hair.

The young men sat within sight of a recently installed surveillance camera at the entrance to the estate.

A police car drove by, and all heads turned toward it....

Michelle said she had quit her job with the police youth offenders unit because her children and others saw her as an informer.

"The reason I don't work for them any more is ... it's a white institution, and I won't change my identity," she said.

She sympathized with the rioters and looters.

"Before, it was if a black man is killed, it's OK, 'black on black crime'. Now, when it's property damaged or stolen, it's uproar. What other platform have the youths got?" she said.

At a nearby housing estate, heavily tattooed Jackie, 39, resented what she saw as the media's portrayal of the riots as mindless youth violence.

"This was not kids. This was youths and adults coming together against the crap that's been going on since the coalition," she said, referring to Britain's conservative-led government, which has made deep austerity cuts since coming into power last year to tackle a big budget deficit....

"I was out in the riots. My 16-year-old daughter was calling me asking where I was," she said, chuckling.

She stood with a group of Afro-Caribbean men and women on a street corner, muttering and eyeballing the police who stood some meters (yards) away across the road. Shattered glass from the riots still littered the road in places.

She and others had little sympathy for many of the store owners whose premises had been looted and burned, identifying most as big chain stores that offer little to their community.

Many of the more upmarket stores cater for growing numbers of middle-class professionals and white hipsters who have moved in recent years into Hackney's handsome townhouses, of which many sit yards away from poor housing estates.

"The looting was done, not just because they can't afford the stuff, it was done to show they just don't give a shit .... We're here and not going away," Michelle said....

"It's like the old days. It's bringing the community spirit back. Even though it's a sad way to do it, it's bringing the community together," Ariom said.

As the sun set, the men at the estate said they would hang out on a typical evening, play football or visit girlfriends.

"But if the riots kick off again, I'm going. It's history, it's a revolution," Ariom said.

"I loved Hackney during the riot. I loved every minute of it. It was great to see the people coming together to show the authorities that they cannot just come out here bullying."
You'll notice that Reuters doesn't describe the blacks as hyphenated British, but Afro-Caribbean. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford

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