Everybody agrees on the fact that the death of Mark Duggan ignited the riots and looting that are taking place in London, Manchester and Birmingham. The man got shot. First the people are told that the police were firing back when he opened fire and so he got hit. Later the story changed into he was armed and considered dangerous.
There are two stories about what he was. His family and friends tell that he was a true family man, not really innocent but certainly no criminal. The police keep to the story that he was an important gang leader and a crack dealer. I fear we will have to wait a long time before the truth comes out about his life and death.
It does show again that the police are not great communicators. There have been incidents before and the people don't forget. There was the death of newspaper salesman Ian Tomlinson in 2009 who happened to be in the neighbourhood when there were demonstrations. He had nothing to do with these, got hit anyway and died because of it. Stories the police told were untrue, there was plenty of filmed material to prove it. Last year the lawyer Mark Saunders was killed after being surrounded by 59 policemen for hours.
And there was the case a few years ago of the Brasilian Jean-Charles de Menezes who got shot seven times in the head because the police thought he was an islamic terrorist.
Furthermore the police lost a great deal of respect because of the close connection between the top of the police and the tabloids of Rupert Murdoch. The disappearance of The News of the World will not change this for the public.
When we go back in time we see the riots of Brixton in 1981. These were the days of Margaret Thatcher and her economics. The poor saw that they were getting poorer and the rich were getting richer. There was a lot of dissatisfaction and it caused the uprising of mostly black poor people. This was caused even more because of the police being close to being racists. Thatcher was not a person for showing mercy: the miners and the Argentinian army (Falklands War) have witnessed this.
David Cameron has a different approach. He wants everybody to share in his Big Society. Till now not everybody sees that there is an equal sharing. According to Cameron the youngsters in the gangs just need more love. Till now there have been more words than action, we still wait for the first signs of "Hug a Hoodie".
Some newspapers claim that there is an organisation behind the riots. The looters are in contact with each other by mobile phone and blackberry. There is no proof of this. I doubt if they need these.
There have been riots and looting since there are people on this world.
The largest riot in history in London happened in 1780: the Gordon riots in which almost 300 people got shot by the police.
And of course it's also not a real British thing, think about the riots in Paris and several other cities in 1968.
And of the riots in the banlieus in France in 2005. Even the Netherlands had their own, for instance the Crowning riots in 1980. The use slogan of the rioters: "Geen woning, geen kroning". No house for us, no crown for you (Beatrix of Orange).
A legendary riot is the Eel uprising in 1886. A policeman hindered a game of eel pulling. The eel pulling game was officially forbidden because it was a bit cruel. A living eel was bound on a rope that was hung over a canal. Little boats would go under it and try to get it off with risking to fall into the water.
The bystanders became angry with the policeman and he got a severe beating. Other policemen came to arrest the people responsible. Things got out of hand, a big riot resulted and 25 people got killed by the police.
According to historians it really was caused by a big gap in wealth between rich and poor. Not having a mobile phone or a blackberry did not stop the rioters.
Nothing new is happening in England.