By Gary McFarlane
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Riots: ‘One of the most powerful expressions of anger for decades’

This article is over 10 years, 5 months old
The killing of Mark Duggan is the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Issue 2264

The killing of Mark Duggan is the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Years of anger at police racism and poverty has exploded into one of the most powerful expressions of anger for decades.

But the response from the politicians, media and police—and from some that should know better—has been to be blame the victims.

Young people have nothing to look forward to but police harassment and a depressing struggle to make ends meet. And they are now being subjected to the rage of the real criminals—our rulers—for having the audacity to do what they do.

As one “rioter” during the Tottenham rebellion when asked if he was worried about going to prison said, “Well at least you get three square meals a day inside”.


When it comes to thieving, politicians have been doing it for years—except they call it “claiming expenses”.

They are joined by the biggest gang in the country—the institutionally corrupt and racist Metropolitan Police that takes money from Murdoch’s press to do the bidding of his vile newspapers.

And of course the biggest looters try and stay in the background—the bankers who have gutted public finances and now want us to pay. The youth on the streets know this only too well.

Compared to robbing the taxpayer to build a moat around your country home, taking trainers from an insured corporation is nothing.

The comic papers and the police criminals tell us that the riots represent mindless violence. That’s not true.

The destruction of property has been targeted. One of the first properties to go up in flames on Tottenham High Road was that of the police solicitor.

Other businesses targeted were the bookmakers William Hill, Barclays Bank, the post office, Aldi supermarket and Carpet Right, which is owned by a Tory lord.

No one set out to try and kill or injure those living above those premises. They were venting their anger against an unequal society.

Karl Marx was exactly right when he talked about expropriating the expropriators, taking back what they have taken from us. That’s what looting by poor working class people represents and in that sense it is a deeply political act.

And as far as violence goes, that was aimed at the police who carry out violent attacks on working class communities on a daily basis, especially against black male youth.


The continuing outrage of deaths in police custody goes on and still not a single policeman has gone to prison for any of the hundreds of such killings. That’s what I call violent criminality.

Many of our self-appointed community leaders are fond of invoking the words and memory of Martin Luther King. But it was Martin Luther King who said riots are the voice of the oppressed. Tottenham 2011 is no different to Harlem 1964.

We’ve heard about the heart of the community being ripped out. What nonsense. There are hardly any shops worth shopping in on the High Road—they moved out years ago. That’s why most of the looting was at the retail park and in Wood Green.

Tottenham has been gutted by unemployment, and cuts. A few bankers’ bonuses could make amends for the damage to property in Tottenham. But nothing will bring back Mark Duggan, allegedly executed by police.

When organised workers rebel they go on strike.

When alienated working class youth rebel they take to the streets—and sometimes riot.

The job of socialists is to unite the two wings of the struggle against the regime of the rich running this country, and take back what is ours. Turn riot into revolution.

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