Sep 5, 2011
Two weeks after the riots in Great Britain, the authorities began to hand down sentences for almost 3,000 people arrested during or after the four nights.
A 23-year-old woman was condemned to six months in prison for having stolen bottles of water worth $5.75. An 18-year-old man got two years in prison for stealing cigarettes from a supermarket. Another 22-year-old is in temporary detention for being served an ice cream he didn’t pay for in a confectionery store being looted. Two young people are condemned to four years in prison for writing on the Internet that their cities, where no riots occurred, should have riots! Obviously, the judicial authorities were told to give very heavy sentences. According to Ministry of Justice statistics, those accused of theft are getting longer than normal sentences. And sentences for attacking the police are also much heavier than normal.
This extreme severity led even The Economist, a financial magazine of the ruling class, to call it surprising that the British prime minister “seems to deny that poverty is the backdrop of the riots.”
Those condemned are mainly youth from the poorest neighborhoods in Britain. They cannot find jobs. A good number of the condemned were unemployed. The looting which accompanies these riots expressed the resentment and also the envy aroused by the wealth of a society to which most of the youth have no access.
The Conservative government plays on the fear that violence during the riots can engender. The prime minister also hopes to please the most reactionary electorate, by appearing very firm in the face of these so-called “criminals.”
But his administration and the Labor Party administration that preceded it are responsible for this situation. Their policy was to cut social spending, lay off tens of thousands of public workers, and, above all, allow the bosses to carry out mass layoffs.