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What’s Up in Britain?
The London Riots | A Gay Man’s inside Perspective
by Armando Diaz

The recent London Riots
came as a surprise to me.  
Even in uncertain and
challenging times, this is the
last kind of news I would have
expected to hear from the host
of next year’s Olympic Games.
As one of the major global
capitols, London has had an
intense history and it’s own
fair share of socio-political
issues.  What then, is currently
lying beneath the surface of
Britain? Could we as
Americans understand and
relate to what they might be
going through.
David E. Watters, a
graduate of Napier University,
Edinburgh, Trinity College of
Music, London and the
Institute of Education,
University of London, has
worked internationally within education and Educational Management for more than 20 years. He has taught drama and music within
socially and culturally diverse settings; most recently as a Head of Performing Arts within Further Education.
David is currently working on the Give ‘em Hope Campaign, an online video initiative designed to inspire ALL who may doubt their validity
since ALL people, regardless of cultural heritage, physical or psychological ability, age, economic status, sexuality or gender identity, may
feel self-doubt at various stages in their lives.
 His background in arts and education, combined with a solid understanding of Cognitive Behavioural Strategies, and his passion for
Equality Advocacy drive every aspect of his work as an educator and a writer.
 Stuart Milk, nephew of Harvey Milk and Equality Advocate, has said: “I love your work, which is vital to show the richness of embracing and
celebrating our wonderful diversity. As Harvey would say, you’re bringing medicine into the world that the world needs! Thank you!”

DAVID WHAT NEIGHBORHOODS HAVE BEEN HEAVILY AFFECTED?
The riots broke out on Saturday 6 August in Tottenham, Tottenham Hale and then Wood Green.
By Sunday 7 August, they had spread to Chingford Mount, Enfield, Islington, Oxford Circus, Ponders End and Walthamstow. It wasn't until
Monday 8th August that looting and rioting took place in my local area of Woolwich. Woolwich is in the borough of Greenwich in South East
London.
On that Monday a larger number of areas were targetted including Bethnal Green, Bromley, Camden, Clapham, Croydon, Ealing, East
Ham, Hackney, Peckham, Stratford and, of course, Woolwich.

I HAD READ REPORTS THAT THE VIOLENCE SPREAD TO OTHER ENGLISH TOWNS?
By Tuesday the 9th August rioters were targetting cities and towns further north in the country and these included Birmingham, West
Bromwich, Manchester, Salford, Leicester and Wolverhampton.

DAVID, TELL US IN YOUR OWN WORDS, WHAT STARTED ALL OF THIS AND WHAT YOUR FEELINGS ARE ON WHERE THIS HAS ENDED UP?
David - Police and local communities have been considering the cause of the riots since they began. Many point to the fatal shooting of a
local man by police in Tottenham and there are others who point towards bad relations between police and the black community.
There is absolutely no reasonable justification for the recent riots in England and, in my opinion, this is not racially-motivated or in any way
connected to the unfortunate death of the young man mentioned above. Perhaps the initail demonstration in Tottenham was linked to the
young man's death but the wider rioting has no direct connection and was simply opportunistic criminality with no tangible motivation or
justification.
There are far deeper underlying cultural symptoms which need to be understood in order to prevent further wanton criminality.
There are undoubtably many young people who feel disenfranchised from society, many who are on benefits and who feel no sense of
social responsibility. There are also those of school age who have grown up in households where parents have modeled survival in a
Benefit Culture; something which can sap their ambition or desire to improve circumstances.
This is a complex situation which cannot be dissected and fully understood here but my opinion is that we have seen a slow and steady
withdrawal of government funded support for young people. Cutbacks have meant that successive governments have taken away key
services from this sector of our community and youth are left with a sense of detachment from the wider society and some, a minority,
develop a resentment towards those whom they percieve to have more.
Since the 1980's, the era of Prime Minister Thatcher, the United Kingdom has become a broken and fragmented country. Selfishness
became culturally acceptable and community spirit became less valuable.
This, of course, is only one view. This growing culture of greed and materialism has broadened the gap between the "haves" and "have
nots".
Whilst many children/young people have grown up with good moral guidance and
healthy parental support, there are those who believe that their situation is hopeless,
that they have no real earning prospects and that ambition is for the deluded.
This has been coming for a number of years. It is no coincidence that since regaining
power in 2010, the Conservative Party have systematically removed access to
education for those on a lower income. Student Fees have risen in many Universities to
£9000 per year and, for those hoping to gain Level 3 qualifications (High School
Diploma equilivent)there is no longer funding for this.
We have returned dramatically to a divided and class-based society; with mass
redundancies in 2010 and cutbacks in health services and the Police Force - all at a
time when our bankers were publically admitting to awarding themselves millions in
bonuses.
Others, in the media have touched upon the expenses scandal of 2010, where
Members of Parliament were fraudulently claiming excessive amounts to fund their
lavish lifestyles.
When young people, who whatever one may think have finely tuned moral-
compasses, see politicians and bankers escape punishment one has to wonder why
this didn't occur sooner.
This is in no way a justification. What happened was clearly wrong and the
greatest sadness is that the only people who were harmed were those in the
communities, many with small businesses and many others who are now jobless as
a result of arson attacks on their place of work. It is the regular, law-abiding citizens,
many barely survivng on minimum wages who have paid for this mindless criminality.   

WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE TO YOUR FELLOW CITIZENS DAVID IN REFERENCE TO
THESE RIOTS?
My message is that, having spoken to many local young people in my area, there is
hope, because those who commited these attacks, looted and in some cases
murdered, are in the minority. The response to the riots in every area where they
occurred was extremely uplifting; many people immediately set-up facebook pages
and used other social networks toorganize clean-up operations in their local towns.
nvolved in these were people of all ages and ethnicities. British people are renowned
for their "stiff upper lip", their carry on regardless attitude; they refuse to be beaten by a
minority of misguided thugs and in a strange way, what happened in early August has
reignited the subdued, latent passion that British people feel for their country and their
local communities.   

*He (David) is a personal and professional development associate with The Pacific Institute (www.pacificinstitute.co.uk), personal coach,
freelance writer, motivational speaker and founding member of NBI Associates (
www.nbiassociates.co.uk).

Here also David’s story about the wall which is part of his Give 'em Hope Campaign:
I spoke with some residents of Woolwich, South East London (SE18) to ask them how the riots of last week had affected them and to get
their take on the 100's, if not thousands, of messages of HOPE that have been written on the boards outside of what was once one of the
town's most popular bars, Weatherspoons.
The bar was completely gutted as fire swept through it on the night of the riots. Woolwich was severely hit and the town has barely a single
shop that was not looted, smashed up or set fire alight.
In the borough of Greenwich, South East London, the town is set to be a focal point during the 2012 Olympic Games; this unjustifiable
destruction has tainted the area and it was only through interacting with the good people of Woolwich and reading the heartfelt messages
that were written on the boards outside the bar, that I felt a sense of hope that decent people were using this devastating experience to
educate their children and each other about community spirit, mutual respect and living a moral and respectable life.
The riots in this area were barely reported in the media and many believe that this is because of the Olympic connection and the pending
"Royal Borough" status.
I am grateful to those who gave me their time today, on and off camera, and feel proud to know that there are good people living in this
area who value their community.

My video with some people in my area:
Give 'em Hope Campaign - WOOLWICH RIOTS 2011 (AFTERMATH)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU_Q-GYd9X4

SOURCES:
http://neverblendin.wordpress.com/category/give-em-hope-campaign-nbi-associates/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LU_Q-GYd9X4
David Watters (resident)

REFERENCES:
www.pacificinstitute.co.uk
www.nbiassociates.co.uk



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