Dear David Cameron
Dear David Cameron,
The events of the last few days have saddened me deeply
For the last 8 years I have lived in Hackney, East London, a place and community that I love dearly. I am originally from Wolverhampton, West Midlands. Both of these areas have been heavily effected by the events that have taken place, sparked by the death of Mark Duggan and further escalated by the protests and rioting in London. I would like to write to you to offer a little insight as to why this may be happening and how we might help resolve some of the issues present.
Whilst I am disgusted and disgraced by the events that have taken place in the last four days I can not help but to try and put a reason to the destruction, violence and looting of our towns and cities. I will never condone the violence that has taken place or the theft and damage caused to peoples homes and businesses but I cant say that I didnt see it coming.
After following the media coverage, listening to the views of the Police, Politicians, and Reporters I havent once felt that anyone has touched on the reality of the situation we are facing, or offered any kind solution or understanding as to how we will work our way out of this mess.
I live and work on the front line of the rioting, Ive watched from my office window, had sirens and helicopters non-stop surrounding my house and have been on the streets whilst both protests and rioting has taken place. There are many issues and problems present and there is no single reason as to why this is happening, there has been a poisonous concoction of events and social issues that have been brought the surface all at once through a matter of bad timing. The unfortunate death of Mark Duggan at the hands of the Police was the catalyst, but it is now an issue far removed from the horrendous actions we see taking place on the streets of Britain.
There are people of all ages, races and social backgrounds taking place in the rioting and violence and as a politician you really have to ask yourself why? as opposed to the nameless finger pointing, empty threats and promises of punishments that have so far resonated throughout the press. You are talking to a lost generation of people, many of whom have no fear of prison, parents, police, government or state and even I can clearly see why. I was fortunate enough to come from a loving and secure family, Ive worked since the age of twelve, I have a college and university education and I am now self-employed and running my own business, all of which I can credit to myself and the support of family and friends and not the government or help of the state. I love my country and having been lucky enough to travel to many places around the globe through work and I have seen first hand the advantages and positive aspects of life we hold over many other countries and societies around the world.
However, there is no point in comparing the acts committed against the people of the UK to those of other countries, we should lead by example and not comparison. In spite of everything above I still hold a large amount of resentment and animosity toward the Police, Government, State and the current situation faced by many people living in the UK (myself included). I have suffered abuse and police brutality first hand as have many of my friends and peers and I can clearly understand the hate and resentment held by young people toward the British Police force. This isnt to say there arent any good Police officers out their doing their job correctly but there is clearly a big problem with the Police Force, particularly in London and other larger cities. In all honesty after being attacked by and stop and searched by officers on a regular basis with no apology I have little to no respect for the Police. Its nothing new to learn of the Police acting as racist, violent thugs, we see it in the news everyday and many of us experience it first hand.
This animosity toward the Police is held by a large number of both the young and adult people I know and is one of the contributing factors to the mess we are currently in. Many fail to understand why some of us feel this way as unfortunately our experience of the Police is largely based upon your skin tone, how you dress, how you talk and the area in which you live. When mixed with the unfortunate events of yet another non-white male dying at the hands of the Police its hard for people not to join together in mass and express their anger at this unjust form of social justice. Again I would like to stress, the UK should lead by example and not comparison, I know other countries operate under a much more violent and heavy handed police force but I do not see this as a positive thing and furthermore I feel it encourages hatred and would do nothing more than to escalate the level and types of violence carried out, as we have seen in Birmingham, where rioters have fired hand guns at the police. I would apply the same feelings towards any thoughts of bringing the Army out on to the streets. There are many criminals in our communities who given the opportunity, would excuse the use of fire arms against the Police or Army in the name of self defence. The answer is not to fight fire with fire but to encourage peace within the community, take the guns off the streets and again lead by example.
Might I also use this opportunity to express my disgust at those who fail to see the atrocity once again committed against a young man, resulting in his death, simply because he was known to be a criminal and was allegedly himself carrying a gun. I did not know it was the policy of the British government to hunt down and murder those with criminal records or those previously involved in criminal acts. This is part of a much bigger problem that needs to be addressed. The crime world offers to many a way out of the social pressures and frustrations of a life that otherwise offers them little. Its easy to see why many are attracted to making money via illegal means. Again we must address the root of this issue instead of trying to cover it up with a plaster and waiting for it to heal by itself. There are many regular people within our society who can identify with the lifestyle and consequent injustice of Mark Duggans life.
I am no expert on your governments policies, neither do I claim to know precise facts or statistics on the current state and ever present issues of social housing, employment and education. But I do know what it is like to carry heavy debts, face the frustration of poor job opportunities, and carry the anger of unaffordable housing and to be hit by a non stop stream or taxes and bills. The divide between rich and poor is again being driven further and further apart, creating an under class and breeding a nation of disaffected, misunderstood and ill-informed youth. Again lets not lose sight of the reality of this situation, for every single young rioter or looter there are a thousand more sat at home disgusted by the events taking place outside on their door step. Despite what the media would have you believe not every person from a low income or single parent family was out protesting, rioting or looting. This is not simply an issue of race, class or background and its no coincidence that these events have taken place during the school holidays. There is a problem with a large percentage of our youth, and whilst they may be a minority this is an issue that must be addressed right away. It should not be addressed through brute force, heavy prison sentences or demonising a large cross section of people But through education, community leadership, investment and an understanding of the larger issues that face the people of the United Kingdom. These are our children and any simple study of human nature will show children learn through a process of their interaction with adults and the environment that surrounds them. Which leads me on to my next point, and one that I feel extremely passionate about, the influence of the mass media upon the minds of the young. An issue created by and seemingly invisible to adults, perhaps because it operates best when in its most subliminal form.
We are living in a new age, a consumer driven age ruled by technology, controlled by the media, and parented by marketing companies. The pressures and concerns of our futures have been replaced by the need for commodity products and instant gratification. We have been sold a Celebrity endorsed lifestyle, in which the news corporations and conglomerates of this world operate with little thought to how this may effect the minds of those who it targets. The looting and theft was the by-product of this pressure. The pressure to subscribe to the lives of celebrities, the pressure to obtain the latest commodity goods, and pressure of constantly wanting more, the encouragement of greed over the more beneficial and important factors in life, the lack community and the pursuit of self gratification and fulfilment of the ego. We are the waste, the trash created through the exploitive nature of Conservative Capitalism. We are the people on minimum wages, creating the unnecessary products, funding the lifestyles, which you tax and sell back to us via slick marketing campaigns on tv, radio, billboards and the internet. We are overloaded with images that brain wash the youth and influences their every move to want more, consume and obtain. Many adults grew up in age where the power of advertising and use of the many social narcotics offered to young people today where not as prominent or effective. Today children grow up with the internet, cable television, huge billboard advertisements on every street and corner. The media now runs the world, not the government. Newspapers carry stories of celebrities sex lives, sharing twisted world views and expressing un-informed and uneducated opinions, all of which the governments and state profits from, with little thought has to how this may be influencing the generations below.
This has already been illustrated by Newspapers such as the Daily Mirror who are already trying to turn this into a race war, using irresponsible headlines and influences the thoughts of those far removed for what is really going on in the streets.
May I suggest that the Government add Media Studies to the national curriculum for those aged 12 and above, in order for young people to break down and be able to de-code the ways and means of mass marketing and consumer culture. Offering them a way to be able to separate their lives from the relentless advertising and marketing techniques of the mass media.
These are merely my own opinions and suggestions, hopefully shedding some light on a few of the reasons and possible resolutions to the problem so clearly faced by our young people. The key to stopping these events from taking place again is not to further alienate or demonise the young people of Britain but help and encourage them. It will be a long process. The constant shifting of Governments, leading to changes in funding, structures and polices every four years further aggravates the problems, we need a stable, smart, contemporary and long lasting resolution that will be there for young people of all social and economic back grounds no matter which Political party is in power.
Thank you for reading.
Hackney, East London.