When Things Escalate and Cities Burn

by Courtney C Horne @FireezDragon

In London in 2011, the police killed a teenager. At a protest related to it, they attacked a protester. Things escalated. Pretty soon London was burning.

At the time, I couldn’t help but think of the Sublime song “April 29,1992.” In the song, they say it wasn’t really about Rodney King but that rather the riots were about “coming up.” They tapped into an idea that the LA riots, while they started because of Rodney King, ceased to be about him and became about crippling poverty and terrible conditions.

This parallels neatly with the London Riots. They started because of a specific act of police violence but were really about austerity’s the crippling effect on the poor and the terrible poverty throughout London. Plus the song sings “wanna let it burn” over and over and watching the live footage of London on fire I couldn’t help but hear it in my head.

Now the police are reportedly bashing up protesters at Brooklyn protests (look at twitter for photos and accounts, very little media coverage is available) related to a teenager they shot who they say was armed but civilian eyewitnesses say was not. Only time will tell if this hits they sort of collective anger, frustration, hopelessness, and desperation that has set cities on fire in the past. I hope for the sake of New York that it doesn’t.