Censor looming around the UK corner?

UK Riots and consequences


While Tottenham businesses hit by the summer riots have been given support to improve trade over the Christmas period by Haringey Council‘s “I Love Tottenham” campaign aiming to encourage people to shop locally, to help firms recover from the devastation caused by looters, the government looked into the problem and thinks to have found a solution to avoid such uprising again. It looked as if the youngsters had found some uprising ideas in the methods of the Arabic Awakening, using the social networks to get more adherents.

The unrest began after a protest over the fatal shooting by police of 29-year-old Mark Duggan in Tottenham, north London, on Thursday 6 August. Speculation that Mark Duggan was ‘assassinated’ in an execution style involving a number of shots to the head are categorically untrue according the Police investigations IPCC Commissioner Rachel Cerfontyne. Following the formal identification of the body Mr Duggan’s family know that this is not the case.

Riot police in Piccadilly Gardens

Riot police in Piccadilly Gardens - Taken during the rioting in Manchester city centre on the night of 10.08.2011.

 Riots broke out in London, Tottenham, and spread to other parts of London and to English cities.

A friend of Mr Duggan, who gave her name as Niki, 53, said marchers had wanted “justice for the family” and “something had to be done”. She said some of them lay in the road to make their point. “They’re making their presence known because people are not happy,” she added. “This guy was not violent. Yes, he was involved in things but he was not an aggressive person. He had never hurt anyone.”

Vanessa Robinson said she had joined the original protest outside the police station and it had begun peacefully. She said the situation had then turned into “absolute chaos”.

Analysis of the Riots

The British government tried to analyse the riots. When they compare the last riots with those of the 1980s and the 2001 disorder in northern English towns they notice  that it were mainly youths not as much protesting but more looting. In the previous assaults the target has been the police or other groups, typically leading to lots of convictions for violence-related crimes. This time around, many of those out on the streets were out shopping with a crowbar. While there was still some very serious violence, the charges so far broadly reflect what we all watched live on TV.


Riot police during riots in Manchester

A good thing is that the courts are not treating defendants just as ordinary burglars – they are taking into account the aggravating circumstances of the riots.On the late afternoon of 9th August 2011, the shopping centre at Salford Precinct came under sustained attack from groups of those determined to enter them and make off with their stock, and with their money. Later the same day, large numbers set about the same exercise within Manchester City Centre. The disorder lasted in Salford from 5.00 pm, and in Manchesterfrom about 6.00 pm. It lasted to 4.00 am in both cases.

Substantial numbers of persons of both sexes were involved in criminality. Gangs of youths and others rampaged through both centres, many wearing balaclavas and armed with baseball bats and other weapons. Some were teenagers and children. 155 fires were started overall. The fires included those in shops set on fire after being looted. One – the Lidl store in Salford – was burned down. Firefighters in Salford came under sustained attack, as did police officers. In Manchester fire was also used.

Greater Manchester Police officers in Piccadilly Gardens (Manchester, England) 2

Greater Manchester Police officers in Piccadilly Gardens (Manchester, England)

The kinds of shops which came under attack were wideranging: premises attacked included small convenience stores, newsagents, off licences, specialist electrical goods retailers, jewellers, musical instruments specialists, supermarkets and clothing stores at all parts of the price spectrum. Other premises were also attacked, including coffee shops and a Probation Office No fewer than 147 properties, mostly business premises, were damaged.

The crimes left the shopping heart of Manchester between Deansgate and Piccadilly with large numbers of looted shops and smashed shop fronts. Salford Precinct suffered just as badly.

In Manchester 900 police officers had to be deployed, including some from 10 outsuide forces. 20 police officers were injured.


Some people  found the actions of the youngsters justified because, according to them the  rioters are economically deprived. Others say the government did not listen or did not see previous signals. A lot of people rightly point at the poverty. And is we are not going to handle that problem of growing poverty, we shall have to face more problems in the future.

Britain faces similar problems as Belgium where the gap between the rich and the poor becomes bigger and the greed of some have ruined a lot of others. The greed of the rich in Britain means that most people cannot get a decent life in Britain. The poor cannot tighten their belts any more than they already have. Parliamentarians asking more efforts from the people but not doing anything to save in the parliament or on their own pensions are aggravating the people. Britain is, like Belgium has become, a country of exploitation – and that eventually leads to civil unrest.

Someone in power needs to do something about the extremes of poverty and wealth in Britain or in Belgium.

But people should realize that the government cannot provide everything for them. Everybody has to work and earn their living and status. But by education and possible ways to get up the ladder at work people should find means to become better off.

Some do find it unrealistic to say that anyone can become wealthy in Britain – there just are not enough opportunities in Britain and small businesses cannot compete with the multi-national companies.  The rich forget that they are rich because the poor are kept poor by the employers.

But some folks do seam to expect Government to regularly supply them with electronic gadgets, designer clothes (or whatever items they stole at the riots), along with other benefits.

Shutting down Ideas, Media and Social Networks

Facebook icon

Facebook icon

On the other hand police nor politicians may generalise the youth either. They pointing out to the danger of the media sets off a dangerous precedent. They would like to shut down the social media Facebook and Twitter and prohibit the media giving more information when riots start. To me this looks like censorship.

In Belgium we encounter that already a lot, and it does no good to the community. Instead it does a lot of harm to the country and undermines it further.

Before the 80ies you could call Belgium a good democratic country where every body could live fairly well and where political paries got seats according to the amount of votes they got at elections. It had got the golden sixties but had later on to face the problems of the socialist overspending and the huge amount of expenses been made.

Vlaams Blok Flag

Flag used by the now-defunct political party Vlaams Blok = Flemish Block in Belgium.

Beginning October 1991 the Volksunie took discharge from the Government-Martens VIII after a particular violent communautaire confrontation over the export of weapons to the Middle-East.  By the Belgian general elections of 24 November 1991 for the Belgian Chamber of Representatives and Belgian Senate the results represented a big loss for the majority parties (Christian democrats and Socialists). The Flemish Block Vlaams Blokon the other hand had a very big gain. Normally they should have got more power, but the other parties decided to form a ‘cordon sanitaire’.

Because of that first large profit booking of the Flemish Block during these elections that electionday was called ‘Black Sunday’ in the years afterwards.

Striking was well that by the next elections, after Martens IX, all the other parties took  proposed agenda points of the Flemish Block in their leaflets.  Taking over those ideas of the Flemish Block was for them a possibility to get back a little more popularity. But they were mistaken.

The combined success of Flemish Block and ROSSEM elicited from leaders of more traditional parties the comment, that the ‘anti-politic’ heydays came fourth.  Strangely enough they either did not listen carefully or did  not understand that signal of the voters.

With the upcoming of mediatic Jean-Pierre Van Rossem one could see that people started getting enough of the media circus of the politics but also that they wanted some action about the economical situation. The voters wanted to show their dissatisfaction.

Vlaams Blok and Rossem were pushed in the corner and were put to silence. This took away the confidence of lots of voters. More people became apathetic to the politics. Having less credibility did not seem to matter a lot of politicians who became more interested to keep their seat in parliament or Senate. With the population they did not play open card any more  and negotiated with several enterprises who rejected their employees.

Finally when this degenerated in an economic chaos with enormous share losses and bank difficulties, the population became by the politicians soothed, while on the other hand the media brought men panic by spreading more negative news in the world.


N-VA Logo

The next political landslide came over Belgium on Sunday 13 June 2010 on which the Flemish-nationalistic party New Flemish Alliance Party  N-VA of Bart De Wever in Flanders got 27.8% of the votes and with this became the biggest party of Flanders and Belgium.  This was the first time in which a non-traditional political party dominated the outcome of a Belgian election. In the French-speaking country part, the socialist  PS  became posted the largest party with 37.6% while the most other parties had to face a loss.

The main objective of the party is to work on great institutional reforms by gradually obtaining more powers for both Belgian regions separately. But not many seem to want to step in the same boat and once more the minority groups thought to have found the solution and excluded the New Flemish Alliance.

Following a continued lack of agreement over how to resolve the conflict over the electoral arrondissement of Brussels-Halle-Vilvoorde (BHV) plus the intense effort of the acting party members to assure a post in the government brought Belgium in its worst political crisis of its history.

Meanwhile was there also an enormous financial crisis in the country and in Europe by which the government could miss further riots as toothache.  Therefore they took care that particular events got not in the news or in the media.  It is quite clear that as, especially after the respectless incident at the VUB of the Indignados and of the Occupy Movement, that these also lost further credibility by the press and were exiled into oblivion.


In Occupy Movement Verzwegen in de media it is pointed out how a political, European and financial crisis makes many Belgians fearfully.  Fearful for the collapse of the secure wealthy system. In the article it is mentioned that in Flanders they also got the Occupy Movement that came on course with the Indignados and at first got attention but after that blurred fast, when there happened a few unworthy things. In Verontwaardigd over Indignados you can see how much damage was been caused by the protesters who were given some refuge. Everywhere one could find the walls full with graffiti.  Food remnants were everywhere around, but also human excrements could be found everywhere where it should not be.  Water-closets pulled out of the ground. Even the sanctified library was demolished by the so called indignant people who demanded respect  but did not act as schooled men that have themselves respect.

After the incidents at the University buildings readers could not find many articles any more in the national newspapers and nothing at all was mentioned again on television.

The media took care that the populace could not get contaminated.

By omitting several happenings it is taking care that the public is not well enough informed. By doing that they are going to form their own conclusions taking into account that it is perhaps only the top of the iceberg which is not being told, to hide what is under water, and even more dangerous.

I Protest

Kashmiri protesters use these graffites on their profile pages of Gmail, Facebook, twitter etc

The Arabic Awakening could grow from the called up persons reacting on the messages on their cell phones, Facebook and Twitter. It is true those social  networks contributed a lot to the success of that revolution, but it could also help to let something bad grow. But it is better to keep it open and let them give the opportunity to bring some changes. Precensorship and censuring at the moment of the actions is not going to help the causes.

By looking for ways to censor Great-Britain brings itself in the danger-zone going to become such an undemocratic country as Belgium with the possibility in the long end to end up in total chaos and destruction of the country itself.


  1. View the BBC Video: Tottenham shops respond to scheme for riot-hit firms
  2. London riots: Most wanted suspect CCTV images released
  3. Verontwaardigd over Indignados
  4. Occupy Movement Verzwegen in de media
  5. Occuppy Acties en Sociaal Engagement


  • Pair honoured for organising clean-up after Manchester and Salford riots (menmedia.co.uk)
    Thousands of people from across the city nominated their community heroes for a variety of categories in the Be Proud Awards, celebrating their achievements in volunteering, the environment, business and improving their neighbourhoods.
  • UK Riots 2011: Prime Minister David Cameron Considers Banning Rioters from Social Media (ibtimes.com)
    Following widespread allegations that rioters used social media services to coordinate, UK Prime Minister David Cameron has revealed new plans to ban criminals from using sites such as Twitter and Facebook.
    As well as the potential new powers, Cameron also indicated his own belief that social networks had a responsibility to self-monitor and censor the content being posted.In a question and answer session following the statement, the PM went on to reveal that the UK Home Secretary, Theresa May, would meet with Facebook, Twitter and BlackBerry maker Research In Motion to discuss the three companies responsibilities regarding censoring dangerous messages.
  • UK riots: Manchester gangs using children as lookouts (telegraph.co.uk)
    Despite riot police positioned across the city, up to 1,000 youths, many on mountain bikes and the majority with their faces masked, caused the kind of mayhem seen in London earlier in the week.
    A spokesman for GMP said: “If you have been using social networking sites to incite disorder, expect us to come knocking on your door very soon.”
  • Twitter and the riots: how the news spread(guardian.co.uk)
    Riots in Hackney, London, Britain - 08 Aug 2011

    Twitter and the riots: A burning car in Hackney during the August riots. Photograph: Michael Bowles / Rex Features

    The Guardian has obtained a database of more than 2.5m twitter messages related to the riots.

    These messages – unique records of what happened during the August riots, as they happened – have been used in a range of analyses, including how rumours spread and were eventually debunked.
    The “riotcleanup” account was retweeted the most with 40,960 retweets. Second most influential was the Guardian’s Paul Lewis with 30,031 retweets.

  • Data journalism reading the riots: what we know. And what we don’t (guardian.co.uk)
    What does the data tell us about the riots and what role did data journalism have in reporting the disorder?
    For the Guardian it meant instant data journalism. Firstly, it was filling the hole of knowledge for anyone wanting to know what was happening where. We compiled a list of every incident where there was a verified report, then mapped it with Google Fusion tables, and allowed people to download the data behind it – possibly the simplest but most popular thing we did.
  • Why BlackBerry Messenger was rioters’ communication method of choice (guardian.co.uk)
    The free, secure BBM service was an easy way to share information on where riots were and what police were doing
    The message was sent through the BlackBerryMessenger (BBM) network: a free mobile phone messaging service open to anyone with a BlackBerry smartphone. Once users have swapped a pin, they can share messages as often as they like, and at the touch of a button send a broadcast (or “ping”) to everyone on their contact list.This extraordinarily efficient – and secure – communications network was a key tool for many who took part in England’s riots, as an easy way to share information on where other looters were, safe routes home, and what the police were doing.
    “BlackBerry was enough to give me enough information, or tell me at the time, of what was going on, where to stay wary of and what sort of things were targeted.”
    Broadcasting on BBM was particularly effective in organising people on the streets and identifying targets with – as one rioter put it – “military precision”. The “broadcast” feature allows users to instantly send the same piece of information to all their contacts, sometimes running into the hundreds.

    Mark Duggan

    BBM was used to share information about the death of Mark Duggan, which sparked the riots in Tottenham. Photograph: Rex Features

  • BlackBerry Phones ‘Main Tools’ for Organising London Riots(ibtimes.com)

    It was previously believed that social networks like Twitter and Facebook were to blame for the widespread rioting that occurred in London, Liverpool and Birmingham in the summer, but now it seems BBM was the culprit.

    “It was BlackBerry phones that were the main tools for organising the riots,” BBC Newsnight reported Monday. “The private messages known as broadcasts and pings that were being shared along chains of friends were reaching tens of thousands of phones – and not only in the UK.”

  • Manchester riots: 2,000 thugs rampage through city centre (mirror.co.uk)
    Up to 2,000 rioters have gone on the rampage through Manchester city centre


    Mr Sweeney posted on the force’s Twitter account: “Aware of pockets of minor disorder in Salford city centre. Advising people to stay out of city centre but also keep calm.”

  • How Blackberry, not Twitter, fuelled the fire under London’s riots (eu.techcrunch.com)
    Over the weekend parts of London descended into chaos as riots and looting spread after a protest organised around the yet unexplained shooting of a man by Police. Of course, there was huge amounts of chatter on social networks like Facebook and Twitter, with the latter coming under enormous amounts of criticism from the UK press for fuelling the fire. But while Twitter has largely been the venue of spectators to violence and is a handy public venue for journalists to observe, it would appear the non-public BlackBerry BBM messaging network has been the method of choice for organising it.
    But while Twitter and Facebook became the venues for public protests around public spending cuts it is the affordable BlackBerry handset and its near free BlackBerry Messenger network where group chats take place, which appears to have fuelled these riots. To communicate, BBM users have to exchange their phones’ PINs, making their messages are private, but PINs can be spread by any means – including, of course, Twitter and other social networks – but also via (still non-public) SMS.
  • London Riots: Blame Twitter — or BlackBerry Messenger? (abcnews.go.com)
    Just before Duggan died Thursday, he sent a final message to his girlfriend via BlackBerry Messenger, “The Feds are following me.” Ever since, according to Mike Butcher, editor of TechCrunch Europe, “while Twitter has largely been the venue of spectators to violence and is a handy public venue for journalists to observe, it would appear the non-public BlackBerry BBM messaging network has been the method of choice for organising it.”Butcher notes that BlackBerrys cost less than smartphones and that BBM is both essentially cost-free and invisible to police. In order to communicate, BBM users must exchange PINs, but their conversations are private. They can spread their PINs via SMS, Twitter or other means.
  • U.K. discusses riots with social media firms (cbc.ca)
    More than two weeks after riots, Britain’s government and police met social media executives Thursday to discuss how to prevent their services from being used to plot violence.But authorities did not seek new powers to shut down Facebook, Twitter or BlackBerry Messenger in times of crisis.
  • Majority Support Social Network Blackout in Future Riots (bigthink.com)
    A poll of 973 Britons found that 70% supported the shutdown of Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) during periods of social unrest such as the riots in England this summer. Freedom of expression campaigners expressed fears about this willingness to sanction “draconian measures as ever more services shift online… These kinds of actions would weaken the UK’s position against authoritarian regimes who censor internet access.”
  • Were the London riots really fuelled by Facebook and Twitter? (guardian.co.uk)
    Twenty six years later, police officers are still listening – but the megaphones and open-air meetings have been largely replaced. This weekend’s north London riots, the Daily Mail announced on Monday, were “fuelled by social media“.But is this necessarily the case?Certainly, the first online gathering of people mourning – and soon vowing to avenge – the death of Tottenham resident Mark Duggan took place on Facebook. Some of those behind the page, which now boasts more than 7,500 fans, launched into action shortly before 10.30pm on Saturday evening – more than five hours after the first public show of protest, outside the police station on Tottenham High Road.
  • Tottenham Protesters Used Twitter, BlackBerry Messenger to Mobilize Riots (techland.time.com)
    Though it was reported that Twitter was used to proliferate private BBM channels to orchestrate the anarchy, the Guardian reportsthat there were several opposing messages sent via corollary channels, containing sentiments more civilly held.

  • Two-thirds support social networking blackout in future riots (guardian.co.uk)
    More than two-thirds of adults support the shutdown of social networks during periods of social unrest such as the riots in England this summer, new research has revealed.A poll of 973 adults carried out for the online security firm Unisys found 70% of adults supported the shutdown of Twitter, Facebook and BlackBerryMessenger (BBM), while only 27% disagreed.Three-quarters agreed that governments should have open access to data on social network users in order to prevent co-ordinated crime. Support for action against social networks was strongest among over-65s and weakest among 18 to 24-year-olds, who are the heaviest users of the online services.
  • Facebook’s Role In London Riots Is Under Investigation (allfacebook.com)
    We’ve reported on Facebook’s role in organizing many other flash mobs; for example, in Vancouverwhen the Canucks lost the NHL finals. And less serious riots, like when a German teen forgot to set her privacy settings and had a mob crash her house party.What’s unique about the London riots is the level of violence that Tottenham is experiencing — despite a long history of racial tension — and the almost singular role that social media, from Facebook to Twitter (both accessed via BlackBerry) is playing in mobilizing rioters.
  • Help or hinder – social media in the face of the London riots (ikroh.com)
  • England riots: mapping the distance from home to offence (guardian.co.uk)
    Was there a riot commute? How far were accused rioters from home? ITO World has helped us map those accused of rioting in August. See what the data says
  • Report: UK Police Need Clearer Riot Tactic Rules (abcnews.go.com)
    An official British police watchdog says officers should consider using more robust tactics — including shooting arsonists as a last resort — if faced with future riots.Tuesday’s report, by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary, follows deadly riots that erupted in London on Aug. 6 and spread to other English cities.
  • Police blamed for UK riots (smh.com.au)
  • Twitter? Facebook? Rioters saw it on TV (guardian.co.uk)
    The spread of the riots was covered well enough by mainstream media for some people to use it to find out where disorder was taking place so they could join in
  • Distrust of police at root of UK riots, study says (smh.com.au)
  • Riots Debate: Alex Gabriel (politicalpromise.co.uk)
    In the second in our debate on the riots, Alex Gabriel asks can we talk about the violence? He believes that we can say what we like, these riots were political in every sense.
  • Twitter ‘a force for good’ during Manchester and Salford riots (menmedia.co.uk)
    A study has found Twitter was a force for good during the summer riots in Manchester and Salford after analysing millions of messages posted by users.According to the research, the social networking site helped to organise clean-up operations after rioting and looting.The study looked at 2.4 million tweets sent during the disturbances in August and found “no evidence” to back calls that Twitter should be closed down for inciting unrest.
  • Revealed: How the Manchester riots were airbrushed from official crime statistics for August (menmedia.co.uk)
    Graham Stringer, Labour MP for Blackley and Broughton, said: “I support transparency and releasing crime figures but only if they are going to be accurate and this looks very much as though the police are putting out distorted information.”
  • Manchester riots: Prisoners to be asked about what made them join in looting (menmedia.co.uk)
    Members of a government panel trying to pinpoint the cause of the summer riots may interview prisoners jailed for looting in Manchester and Salford.
  • MPs: Police Response To Riots Was Flawed (news.sky.com)
    Police were slow to react when riots broke out in August – putting too few officers on the streets and allowing the violence to spiral out of control, a new Government report has said.The Home Affairs Select Committee’s report found the operation to police the disorder in many towns and cities, and especially in London, was “flawed”.
  • Manchester riots ‘copycat crimes’ (bbc.co.uk)
    The August riots probably would not have spread to Manchester if police in London had acted faster, the city’s chief constable has told BBC Panorama.
    Peter Fahy said, with the benefit of hindsight “if London had been under control sooner, we probably would not have faced the problems in Manchester”.
  • London riots 2011: ‘The state ceased to exist’. Damning verdict of police tactics during summer riots (dailymail.co.uk)
    The home affairs select committee accused police of failing to appreciate the ‘magnitude’ of the task they faced.
  • Frustration with police a major factor in UK and London riots, study shows (telegraph.co.uk)
    Deep-seated anger and frustration towards the police was a major factor behind
    the UK and London riots over the summer, a study into the causes of the
    unrest has found.
    Analysts who studied 270 interviews with people who took part in the
    disturbances said distrust and antipathy towards officers was a key driving
    force behind why thousands took to…
  • Distrust Of Police Blamed For August Riots (news.sky.com)
  • David Cameron, the Queen and the rioters’ sense of injustice – The Guardian (guardian.co.uk)
    “I still to this day don’t class it as a riot,” said one young man in Tottenham. “I think it was a protest.”
    He was far from alone. A consistent theme emerging from interviews with the rioters across England was that they harboured a range of grievances and it was anger and frustration that was being expressed out on the streets in early August.

About Marcus Ampe

Retired dancer, choreographer, choreologist Founder of the Dance impresario office and archive: Danscontact-Dansarchief plus the Association for Bible scholars, the Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" and "From Guestwriters" and creator of the site "Messiah for all". - Gepensioneerd danser, choreograaf, choreoloog. Stichter van Danscontact-Dansarchief plus van de Vereniging voor Bijbelvorsers, de Lifestyle magazines "Stepping Toes" en "From Guestwriters" en maker van de site "Messiah for all".
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5 Responses to Censor looming around the UK corner?

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