Theo Wilson (UK, UWC AC 2010-2012)
‘Riots, what riots?’ I thought on my way back into London. I arrived home on the second day of Britain’s summer riots. The footage I’d seen on T.V was shocking. It had left me thinking London and parts of Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester were ablaze. But I got home to find the area where I live in Central London was untouched and I could have been forgiven for thinking that the reports had got it wrong. But meeting some friends in North London that evening I saw a London I’d never seen before. Cars burnt out, shop fronts smashed, angry groups of young people gathered on street corners wearing hoods. The police in full riot gear waiting a distance away to see what happened. Scenes one would expect to see in the Middle East or parts of Africa, not England.
My friends and I quickly got the hint that it wasn’t the best idea to be hanging around on the street with angry youths on one side and police on the other. I stayed in North London that night. I tried to get some sleep but the sound of sirens, shouting and screaming kept me up for the majority of the night.
The next morning was worse. The shops that had been unscathed the previous day now looked like they had been hit with a bomb. Local shop owners walked around with gloomy faces as their livelihood had been taken away from them over night. People were out in numbers cleaning glass from the streets. Seeing a strong British community pull together in a time of crisis really gave me hope for our society in the future.
The riots occurred in pockets of my city. Like the poverty that persists in Britain, it was distributed in clusters. A wake up call to my country to start thinking about how a more peaceful society could be ensured if wealth were more fairly distributed.