by Justin Rollins author of The Lost Boyz: A Dark Side of Graffiti. 16 August 2011.
UK RIOTS AUGUST 2011
A very sad sight, seeing historical buildings that survived the Blitz burnt to the ground. Innocent people lost their lives and homes, it was like looking at a short clip of Armageddon.
But who is to blame?
I do not believe the police are to blame. How were they to predict or prepare for the amount of violence and looting that happened, when they had never experienced these issues on the scale that unfolded.
So shall we blame the hoodie generation? Lock them up and throw away the key?
No, you need to look at the bigger picture, they are acting that way for a reason, something has gone wrong in their short lives. I believe the Government have a lot to answer to. The cuts they have made due to the financial crisis have had a major effect on youths in particular. Why should youth clubs, EMA college payments and benefits be cut when the poor never started this problem.
It is all topped with the media and the music industry glamourizing material wealth, in magazines and music videos. So the kids see this and want this. With no jobs and cuts in the benefit system how else are they meant to gain these material things, but by uprising and looting, and the sad thing is material things really mean nothing.
They are also expressing their anger by setting fires, smashing windows and fighting with authority. I believe these children see no future, so they have the attitude of not caring. The violence and looting is wrong but they are getting up and making a statement, unlike their parents sitting on the sofa, moaning about the country’s problems.
This isn’t a race issue or a class issue – it is an issue for society as a whole. Bring back more youth centres, more college courses and EMA to give the youth of Britain a taste of what it is like to get paid for work.
Yes, criminals need to be dealt with, but underneath the behaviour of these youth there is a bigger issue, something is going wrong in their lives, and if it is not dealt with now we may find ourselves with a generation of hardened criminals!
Justin Rollins is a former member of a graffiti gang, and author of The Lost Boyz: A Dark Side of Graffiti.