All Posts Tagged With: "riot"
Alcohol Studies, the Sandy Five, & a riot over Obama
1. A protest by disgruntled Republican students at the University of Mississippi following President Barack Obama’s reelection on Tuesday wasn’t a riot, according to the school’s chancellor. But it sure looked like one. There were racist epithets and Obama signs lit on fire as hundreds gathered on campus, reports ClarionLedger.com.
2. I regret to inform you that the University of Calgary is not offering a course called Alcohol Studies with samplings in class, as The Gauntlet student newspaper had reported in a humour piece, and which I pointed to in an earlier post as fact. (Mea culpa.) Too bad. It sounded fun.
3. The more than 110 deaths in the United States and the tens of billions in property damage weren’t the only consequences of Superstorm Sandy. New Yorkers say that after a week of eating processed foods while the power was out, they have trouble buttoning their jeans. The New York Times is calling the five pounds of weight gain the “Sandy Five.” Our thoughts are with them.
Don’t blame the U.K. riots on unemployment or tuition costs
Eyes were on the Arab world earlier this year as waves of demonstrations catalyzed national revolutions. Civilians took to the street in revolt of brutal dictatorships, corrupt governments and the general lack of basic human rights. As protesters in the Middle East fought with their lives to achieve a better standard of living, there were those of us in the West—equipped with makeshift stop signs and a total lack of perspective—who dreamed that we would see our own Arab Spring. The way to overthrow a democratically elected government is civil disobedience, you see, and rogue acts the key to beginning the process.
And it seems those rogue acts are indeed underway, though not in Canada as a wistful Brigette DePape had once hoped. Rather, several cities in the UK have been set ablaze over the past several days as rioting has spread across England.
But in England, there’s no united cause or discernible reason. That doesn’t mean that explanations haven’t been offered. It started with protests in Tottenham after a man was killed by police nearly one week ago. But the violence has continued to spread.
While few pundits condone the acts of violence, many have offered their own socio-economic explanations. Guardian journalist Stafford Scott says that the behaviour of the rioters should come as no surprise, since restlessness among British youth, especially in impoverished areas, has been provoked by widespread institutional racism, bitter job prospects, the rising cost of tuition and other barriers to education. Scott explains the destruction of property as simply symptomatic of the nihilism among British youth. “On Saturday, instead of imploding and turning inward and violent among themselves,” Scott writes, “the youths exploded.”
Another Guardian writer, Nina Power, is of a similar mind, suggesting that those condemning the acts of violence ought to look at the “bigger picture” of a country with a struggling economy, poor social mobility, and ever-widening gap between rich and poor.
The trouble is, this “bigger picture” is not on the minds of those committing the crimes. Rioters interviewed by the BBC have blamed everything and everyone from the police, to the government, “rich people,” and conservatives, and many—by their own admission—blame no one at all. There are videos of looters grabbing handfuls of clothes and shoes from broken windows, hooded men and women running from shops carrying away flat screen TVs, and one particularly abhorrent capture of a mob stealing a Sony PSP from an injured student on the street. There’s nothing political about stealing a Playstation from a bleeding man.
While there may be very real causes for social unrest in Britain, this recent destruction is not about politics, tuition or unemployment. Protesters who loathe corporatism and big business don’t torch mom-and-pop shops in their local neighbourhoods, nor do they claim to be “getting their taxes back” as they loot from local shops.
And many of the rioters, in fact, are not disadvantaged youth, but 30-something teachers, youth workers, and graphic designers. To ponder socio-economic excuses for these crimes is to give those who have succumbed to mob mentality a political agenda to fall back on. This civil disobedience is not about changing policy. It’s about a moral breakdown — and free sneakers.
Over 2,000 students protested against tuition hikes
Here’s a bit of an update on yesterday’s tuition protest in Montreal.
Five protesters were arrested. According to police they’ll be facing charges including mischief and assaulting a police officer.
According to police, a woman was injured when a small group of protesters stormed the building that houses the offices of the Conference of Rectors and Principals of Quebec Universities. Police said the woman, who works in the building, was injured in an altercation with protesters. CREPUQ had called for a tuition increase very similar to the one planed by the Quebec government.
It’s not clear why police chose to shut down the protest when they did. There were some small scuffles outside the doors of the office building, where police used pepper spray. But any violent incidents were pretty isolated and things seemed calm in the minutes before the riot squad showed up.
I’ve covered a lot of protests and I’ve never seen the police shut down an almost entirely peaceful protest the way they did yesterday. It all went down very quickly and their tactics seemed to be designed to intimidate and create panic. Police were firing stun grenades less than 10 minutes after the riot squad showed up. It was a pretty scary place to be. The Link’s Riley Sparks took a video that really shows how crazy the whole situation was.
Today, Quebec-based television network, TVA was asking questions about police conduct at the protest, after they obtained a video of riot cops knocking down a middle-aged woman.
Clearly, there are a lot of students who are angry about the tuition hikes and the fact that the protest was shut down by riot police isn’t going to help the situation any. The other key takeaway is that yesterday’s protest was very francophone and that all the student associations that endorsed the corresponding one-day strike are at French-language schools.