Behind Bars

London Afire

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

After decades of political betrayal by the Labor Party, and the blatant attacks on the working class by the Tories (the British Conservative Party), there has emerged an angry and bitter class that has rocked what was once the center of a global empire: London.

Fires have erupted in Birmingham, Croydon, Bristol, Liverpool and Tottenham at last count, sparked by the very same fuse that lit the explosions of the 1960s, and 1990s—police violence—this time against a 29-year-old father of four, Mark Duggan.

But while this cop violence may prove a spark, that doesn’t mean it was the reason. Years of cutbacks, joblessness, slashed educational opportunities and plain old political mean-spiritedness aimed at the poor and the dispossessed, immigrants and the like, left sour tastes in the minds of many. Especially in the midst of a city that became the financial center of Europe, where the rich were living a life of excess and plenty.

Predictably, pols bum-rushed the mike and spat out words that could’ve echoed their American cousins in power in the ’60s, or after the Rodney King police-beating acquittal, which burned Southern California in 1992.

“They’re just criminals—this isn’t about social conditions!”

“These people are just thugs—they’re thieves—that’s all!” (Last time I checked, thieves don’t usually light fires where they steal.)

Fires are attempts to destroy: period.

The late Rev. Dr. Martin L. King, Jr. said, during the tumult of the ’60s: “A riot is at bottom the language of the unheard.”

For those in power in Britain, they’ve still heard—nothing.

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