Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Eyewitness to the London riots - it's all about class

Workers Solidarity interviewed Hackney local and education worker Alex Carver about the roots of the London riots.  Alex is a long standing activist in the IWW union, housing struggles in the East End, and the big left events since the start of the recession, most recently the M26 Militant Workers Block and the J30Strike project. He was a direct witness to the rioting on Monday.  Here he tells Workers Solidarity why he thinks that the riots are best understood by loooking at class rather than race.

You went down to have a look at the riots, were you not afraid of being beaten and mugged, from media scare mongering that's what would be expected by most people?

Well, I had no idea what to expect exactly, which is why I went, but no I wasn’t – and I'm not scared by the riots now. I'm not about to glorify them either, but this is not the start of a new dark age.
What's happened in the rioting is an understandable reaction to the way things are set up – I’m reminded of the famous bank robber Willie Sutton answering the question ‘why do you rob banks?’ with ‘because that’s where the money is’. The kids robbed the shops because that's where the stuff is. They attacked the cops because they'd stop them. It was simultaneous, it was not two groups of people, one with a beef against the cops and another with light fingers – it was one group of mainly young people. They didn't attack each other, rape people, mug people - I was able to walk freely amongst them in my shirt and slacks straight from work; lots of people who were obviously not rioting walked with the crowd in daylight – many have said the mood turned later on but actually I stayed with it with a friend, who was also not dressed to fit in, until after midnight.
I understand things have been much nastier in other places; in Hackney at least, enough of the community were unafraid to go out and talk to the youth, even being supportive and sympathetic, to stop its total destruction.

This interview continues:

Also visit August Riots – the anarchists perspective: