SYN and the London Riots
Australia’s newest faux-reign correspondent here. I’ve been over in London for about three months, and up until now it’s been a pretty standard ex-pat experience- mooch off friends and relatives, then find work, find my own place, etc.
That all changed late last week. The police shot a man in Tottenham last Thursday, which sparked some pretty severe unrest in that area over the next few nights. But things got well and truly real on Monday, when the rioting spread to other areas of the city.
I live in Pembury Estate in Hackney (the Twitter-savvy can look for #hackney or #pembury for more details). Confrontations between the gathered crowds and police were sparked on Monday when police exercised their right to ‘Stop and Search’ a young Afro-Caribbean man near Hackney Central station- a block or so away from my flat. That’s when the whole thing blew up.
Not long after, many nearby shops had been looted. Things got decidedly closer to home (literally) when the rioters started to light things on fire in Clarence Rd- my street. Looking out my bedroom window, there were hundreds of people gathered. An off-license (a.k.a. 7/11 with booze) was completely ransacked, and a car in the street was torched shortly after.
Thus began a fresh wave of rioters vs cops. The police, with full helmet and shield get-up (and dogs) would advance on the rioters, then- I assume knowing any truly forceful action on their part was counter-productive- they’d retreat to their vans.
This same back-and-forth happened again in a major way once more that night, with rioters turning over council bins (skip-sized) to get ammunition to throw at the police. And then setting the bins alight.
This all took place outside my block of flats. But by the early morning, the serious rioters had apparently left the area. By 5am, there were dozens of riot police trying to disperse the remaining crowd, again using the dogs. Quite tellingly though, many were chanting “f*** the corrupt police!”
So I’m writing this early on Thursday morning here. Compared to Monday night’s shenanigans, my little section of Hackney is so quiet you could hear a pin drop, and it was like that last night too- it might have something to do with the 16,000 police patrolling London’s streets. Aside from a little bit of hassle here and there in London proper, things seemed to have moved to regional cities like Manchester and Birmingham.
But one of the most powerful things about all this (for me, at least) is that after a few idle Facebook comments, a good many SYN alumni and their colleagues got in touch with requests for interviews and such. It’s up to seven outlets now, not including repeat appearances and wire services that saw fit to quote from them…
It’s amazing, and inspiring, to think that so many of the people we worked beside in those tiny little studios, or saw around the House, are now at the forefront of media-making across the country.
Let’s keep up the good work, and remember where we came from!
Most bestest regards to you all,
Presenter/Producer/Radio Manager/Ginormous SYN fan