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Could the London Riots Happen in the US?

Could the London Riots Happen in the US?
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US mayors, contending with their own fiscal crises and diminishing federal support, have been looking warily across the Atlantic at rioting, looting and violence in London, Birmingham, Manchester and other cities throughout Britain. Similar riots seem unlikely to occur in the US, says Politico, though some politicians from urban centers said the riots are a reminder of violence in American cities such as Newark, Detroit, Chicago  and Los Angeles in the 1960s.

A vastly larger police force — 16,000 in London alone — and bad weather in the form of heavy rain combined to prevent a fifth night of rioting in London and other cities, says the BBC. More than 1,000 have been arrested and with police cells overflowing, courts have begun to process cases far into the night.

Prime Minister David Cameron says that a “fight back” is underway against the “groups of thugs” involved in the riots. He attributes the violence to “a complete lack of responsibility, a lack of proper parenting, a lack of proper upbringing, a lack of proper ethics, a lack of proper morals.” As the New York Times observes,

Cameron appeared to signal with his speech — and especially with one dismissive phrase about “phony concerns about human rights” — that the governing Conservative Party, which he leads, while perhaps vulnerable politically because the riots occurred on its watch, is spoiling for battle with those groups in the opposition Labour Party and elsewhere that argue that the riots grew out of social deprivation and despair.

On Thursday, the prime minister is to make a statement about the riots in the House of Commons, where debate is likely to ensue about whether his government’s harsh austerity measures, which have drastically slashed many social programs, played a role in the rioting.

Many have asked if tensions between racial and ethnic communities may have played a role in the riots.

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Photo of aftermath of the Croydon riots by motorised

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131 comments

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11:32AM PST on Dec 11, 2011

I know the building in the photo above. It was old and rather lovely. I'm going to miss it. I have absolutely no idea why it was set on fire.

8:11PM PDT on Aug 18, 2011

Riots will begin here in the U.S., just as in the U.K. for the same reasons stated below. Causes such as deficits, big government, and racial tensions are all just blowing smoke to disguise the truth.

7:59PM PDT on Aug 18, 2011

Cutting spending on, so called, entitlements is ineffective for addressing the deficit. Cutting programs that support the low and middle class will further strain both who don’t even receive lower prices as a result of the U.S. job losses and create a disconnect that will end in another financial collapse. The justification for attacking government benefits as opposed to raising taxes is the creation of jobs. But where?

Corporations have over-powered our government which now believes that out-sourcing and off-shoring of U.S. jobs is inevitable and necessary with expectations that the middle class should fall on their swords. It is the underlying cause of the financial collapse and borders on national security with the loss of our middle class tax base. Yet, this nation does nothing, not even demand it be restricted by whatever method. International businesses are doing the UN-AMERICAN activity of destroying U.S. salaries, U.S. businesses that hire in the U.S., and as an end result, destroying the U.S. marketplace while still demanding BUSINESS ENTITLEMENTS and protections for themselves.

Infrastructure spending and tax breaks will not replace enough jobs to keep up with the hemorrhaging loss of U.S. jobs from out-sourcing over seas. Neither party will do anything about it unless we begin grass roots efforts to protest out-sourcing and off-shoring of U.S. jobs. If nothing is done we will deserve what we get and it will get a lot worse before it gets better

12:43PM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

i do not know the whole story about these rioters and i don/t think many others do either. but they took in lots of people from third world countrys for cheap labor. now these is no work and no future for many of these youth. they feel abandoned. add drugs and bad diet to the mix and this can happen they are desperate. at this point and we are not getting the true story of what is causeing this.of course the world wide ressesion is the catelist that started it off

1:36AM PDT on Aug 15, 2011

All the demands the rioters claim are on an entitled basis. Instead of an open position from governments institutions for a dialogue, they treat us with bullets and tear gas. So, you treat us with violence and refusal of dialogue, and you'll get same from us.

2:28PM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

It CAN and WILL happen in America sooner or later. As long as government exists, so will rioters.

1:34PM PDT on Aug 13, 2011

You aint seen nothing yet ! Only on this side of the pond the police will have to contend with ARMED rioters and if they so much as injure one rioter they will likely pay with their lives.

11:02PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

These rioters are not seeking anything but power and thrills. They are organized, but there is no message-they steal from their neighbors. This certainly is no flash mob with this much. Longevity. They are bullies and cowards. They pick targets, destroy and move on, taunting police and terrorizing the public. What will they do when normally peaceful folk decide they've had enough and want their neighborhood back? Whoever started this is just like Bin Laden-anfry at life and trying to find excuses for hurting people. As for ho Londoners raise their children-many are caring, attentive parents-some are ignorant or overstressed-just like the U S or anywhere-But pack mentality is contagious-a bunch of followers who think they have a common bond-until they mess up, lose a few friends, remember better, quieter times. I personally hope ringleaders are caught, tried and locked up before people get killed or crippled-and I hope that Americans somewhere don't jump on the bandwagon-cuz that's all it is. My heart goes out to families trying to cope with this-may peace settle through London soon.

9:59PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

Any group can riot given enough reason. Though it isn't the best method of achieving the wanted result, frustration is a great motivator..especially if it has been fulminating for a long period of time.

6:56PM PDT on Aug 12, 2011

Not only have similar riots happened here in the U.S. but they have been common and some very recent! What an astounding question.

We all remember the Watts riots where the Nat'l Guard was called out, but many don't realize the more recent Rodney King riots caused more casualties in LA than Watts. Just two years ago we had a riot in Oakland over the shooting of a prone man on a BART platform. And, right after Katrina there was rioting and disorder in many neighborhoods of NOLA. We're the most urbanized developed nation and our cities have produced hundreds of riots, most of them racial, over the years - not all of them make the national news. But many are in our history books like the Bonus March or the shootings on the Embarcadero in San Francisco during the Depression, or the draft riots during both the Civil War and the Vietnam War, or the riot outside the Democratic Convention in 1968.

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