Sunday, 21 August 2011

August Riots & Hastings Faith in the Criminal Justice System

Hastings & St Leonards didn't have a riot in August this year, as far as I am aware. Perhaps we had one on October 5th last year?; we won't know until we know what the intentions were of those on the pier that night. The 5th October 2010 was, in the words of one contributor to this blog, a night when "the heart was ripped out of Hastings".
  • Does using a word like "riot" really help anyway?
  • How many people does it take to start a riot?
  • What kind of attention does a riot get?
  • Is the attention that riots get the kind of attention that addresses the underlying rifts in the society or not?
If 5th October 2010, for all it's excitement, wasn't a riot, I wonder whether it's the closest thing that Hastings has had to a riot, in that it is a focus of much public concern and calls for justice.
(The Hastings Justice Facebook Group is here)

Let's start an "anti-riot"!
One example of this is Alison Cooper's work on -lending & borrowing neighbours possessions & skills, that you might not have known they had or known they were willing to share for free. (Engaging with streetbank has been called an "anti-riot"; a point of view which I hope spurs you on to share more with your neighbours).

Encouragement & support for sharing also necessitates having access to the skills for handling situations where sharing doesn't go as you would like it to go.
Some people like to save the word 'conflict' for situations of intense physical violence whereas I find it a useful word whenever someone does something I don't like - a conflict of some sort now exists between what I want and what they did that was contrary to that.
The August Riots in London, Birmingham and Manchester are important conflicts, just as 5th October 2010 looks to me like an important conflict in Hastings' history.

What prompted me to make such a controversial link between the August riots and the fire on the pier? It was this email that I received that prompted me in making this link between the two. The correspondent wrote:
"The nation is divided on the rights and wrongs of punishing the rioters. My mother in law apparently nearly came to blows over it. Once the names and pictures of the pier arsonists are published I will begin to regain my faith on British Justice and not before."
My view is that one of the things that matters greatly, both for the future of Hastings & St Leonards, and for the future of the cities of London, Birmingham & Manchester, is that in the wake of these conflicts we learn something about the underlying causes and, as responsible citizens, each become part of the solution.
How we do this will be discussed on the anniversary of the Pier Fire (Wednesday 5th October 2011 at 7.30pm, (venue to be announced) & again on Saturday 8th October. Further enquires about attending these  opportunities to become part of the solution via the Mediation Support Ltd contact form please (Here).

Here's the link to the Panorama programme, the intro to which is as follow "The worst civil unrest for decades has led to tens of millions of pounds of damage, dozens of injured policemen and wide-scale looting as gangs of youths have rampaged through London and other major cities. Panorama tells the full story of the August riots and asks what has led a generation to violence.

These days I find myself singing to myself this old song called "Riot on Eastbourne Pier":

More reflection on the urban regeneration potential of actually processing the conflicts underlying the pier fire last October is at

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