Friday, 2 March 2012

London Riots: Reeves Furniture Store Arson

After only two minutes of watching that footage the full extent of the huge blaze becomes apparent. The witness using the mobile phone describes the scene as people gawp like 'lemmings' at the fire. In this post I will try to unpick the reasons and events of the riots using the Reeves Corner arson attack for a case study.
'My first thoughts are this is a complete catastrophe.
We've been here since 1867. They've (the police) completely lost control, there's no law and order'
These are the desperate words of Trevor Reeves, owner of Reeves Corner furniture store in Croydon, London, whose business was burnt down by Gordon Thompson on the 8th of August 2011. The shop had been in the family for five generations and the road in which it stood was named after the well-known shop.  The images of the burning store have become iconic image of the London riots 2011.
Gordon Thompson was captured on CCTV near Reeves Corner at
around the time of the fire 
The prosecution said: 
"On leaving the store, he asked another of the rioters for a lighter and, as soon as he was given one, went back to the shop and set fire to a sofa inside the shattered window.
"The ensuing fire razed the building to the ground. Such was the ferocity of the blaze that embers and heat from the flames set fire to property on the other side of the road and numerous residents were forced to flee their homes for their lives."
The Law needs to be fair in these circumstances. It is all too easy for judges and juries to crumble at the huge public outcry. One must not make excuses of course, but rather understand the criminal's situation so riots can be avoided again. 

Embarrassingly, similar scenes were echoed across inner city London and large cities such as Birmingham and Manchester in the north. Although many did not suffer as badly as Trevor Reeves, millions of pounds worth of designer goods, electrical goods and jewelry was looted from smashed shop windows. 

This arson attack highlights the pointlessness of the London riots. How did Thompson profit from razing to the ground a furniture store he had just looted? If his motives were simply born from malicious spite for those who had succeeded, this raises the question about how the economic recession and Britain's class system. Do they create such feelings among the hard done by in society?

Although this 'mindless' violence is tragic, I believe that the reason stems from the public's disappointment and outrage at the government's compliance with banker's demands despite them getting our country into the mess it finds itself in. At the time of the riots, not one banker had been incarcerated by the law, despite many stealing millions from the economy. Thats a lot of trainers. Just because a man wheres a suit does not mean he is exempt from the same level of crime demonstrated by those in hoodies. The simple difference is that the man in the suit, who deserve to be bailed out by the government. Its in Cameron's interests. 

The worrying fact is that the Conservative government is implementing a huge amount of public austerity measures that will directly affect the youth of our society. I hope Cameron has not abandoned this most vulnerable generation, stereotyped as hoodies, because he notices they do not care to vote. Comedian Russell Brand describes his troubled coming of age in a article for The Guardian in light of the riots: 
I felt that, and I had a mum who loved me, a dad who told me that nothing was beyond my reach, an education, a grant from Essex council (to train as an actor of all things!!!) and several charities that gave me money for maintenance. I shudder to think how disenfranchised I would have felt if I had been deprived of that long list of privileges.
We need to be able to understand the desperation some rioters are feeling due to the withdrawal in targeted public spending without having first hand experience of it. 

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