REASONS TO BE ANGRY AND REASONS NOT TO RIOT
By Nigel Pivaro
The reasons for riots are many and often contradictory, even within the mob doing the rioting. There will be some taking advantage of disorder to temporarily enrich themselves, there will be others there because of the thrill of a fight, a fire and general chaos.
Some will cite their opposition to immigration, as I heard a young Salford rioter protest on BBC Radio "It's about the government letting in all these Polish so we can't get jobs."
No doubt there would have been kids of Polish and other foreign descent present at the riots in Salford who might seek to justify their participation as antipathy towards a society that singles them out as different, or even against other ethnic immigrant groups who have displaced them in the job market.
They might have stood side by side with our anti Polish rioter blissfully unaware of each other's supposed motives. Others, as reported by the Salford Star, appeared to be there because of the `party atmosphere' that the event provided, with unpaid for `liberated' cans and nibbles courtesy of Lidl.
Whatever the reasons rioters seek to use to justify or explain what happened in and around Salford's already dilapidated precinct, it was WRONG. This was not Peterloo or the Chartists on Kersal Moor or the workers protests around Bexley Square of the 1930s for the right to work.
This was as greedy, self centred and as vacuous as the more corrupt elements of wider society that it held a mirror up to. In terms of constructive protest this riot had no legitimacy and simply allows those in society we should rightly be angry with, and seek to change or replace, with the opportunity to muddy the water and deflect attention away from their own wrong doing and short comings.
In a democracy a riot of this sort puts the cart before the horse. There are so many legitimate reasons for people to be angry in response to events internationally, nationally and not least locally but I have not seen one banner or protest here articulating those causes of anger.
And there are many… housing in Langworthy and Broughton, care for the elderly, Childrens Services, Hazel Blears' expenses, Council waste and mis-spending, the failure as yet to deliver the benefits to locals of massive publicly funded investments in projects like Media City and lots more…
There is a way available to all of us over 18, to protest and change things, it's called the ballot box and democracy. If you are not happy with the Council then don't be part of the 70 per cent that do not vote in local elections. If you are unhappy with Hazel Blears then join the Labour Party to vote to deselect her, or vote elsewhere in national elections.
If you are angry about single issues like Housing or Green Belt development then form action groups as people have done in Langworthy and Irlam. Challenge, Protest, Vote and we will achieve more than any `Liberation of Strong Brew' ever can. In short, Don't Get Mad Get Even, do not allow the politicians, sub systems and policies that we feel have oppressed and failed us, to reclaim the moral high ground.
This prescription I maintain should also apply to us at the Salford Star. Notwithstanding the fact that I was not present at Tuesday's events, I feel the tone of the Salford Star Lidl report struck the wrong chord.
I do not think that what happened in Salford was as nasty as what happened in London and Birmingham, where as we know, innocent bystanders including a 68-year-old man were attacked and killed in the most cowardly way. It appears that in Salford at least there was no gratuitous violence of a similar type towards ordinary citizens and that most disorder was directed against the police and property.
That said the mob did not stop to distinguish between corporate business and those run by families - The Chinese chippy on Fitzwarren Street and the grocery store on the corner of Liverpool Street got it just as bad as the Lidl store and Cash Converters.
However the fact that the riots here happened shortly after those London riots means that in most people's minds the Salford riots will be forever connected to those disgusting events there.
Perhaps we should reflect that no matter how frustrating things can be here, where we constantly come up against the white collar looting within the banking system and financial markets, and council and government departments finding ways to spend our money on things we don't want and often not on what we do want, we can change things by political engagement. The sooner people of all ages understand that and do the basics like remembering to vote the sooner we get progress.
Since March I have been in regular contact with Syrian democracy activists both in the UK and inside Syria struggling for freedom and regime change. To Syrians we have freedoms and benefits they can only dream about, the like of which they are fighting for.
What has impressed me, even puzzled me at times is the Syrian activists' refusal to embark on a path of destruction and violence even in the face of ruthless killings of demonstrators by the Syrian Government forces.
The reason they give me for their resistance to choose violence is that to do so would be stoop to the level of the regime. That by continuing to protest peacefully they will maintain the trust of the people to enter office with a morally clean sheet.
Next time we are upset and frustrated about something here we would do better to reflect on that position before reaching inside a broken window to retrieve a pair of training shoes.
Remember: Crime does not pay…as well as politics.
So choose politics.
Photos by Diane J
See previous articles - click here and here and here and here