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  • Writer's pictureBen Westwood

The News in Poetry 03/09/2021 - A Decade On (London Riots 2011)

Here's a poem I've written inspired from the tragic events of 2011 when not only in London, but other cities in the UK there were riots after the killing of Mark Duggan in North London by police officers.


Here we are in twenty twenty-one, a decade on, and nothing much really has changed for the better. What was a nation in complete shock around this time only ten years ago, when people were looting and buildings were burning, just goes to show, that too many questions are still needing too many answers that too many people are truly aching to know.

Just one for a start is why was a guy that was liked by his whole community shot dead whilst in a car on the street? And why although the police there said there was a gun nearby did so much of the story not make sense?

What exactly is the consequence, of living in a world where a life is to be taken so easily?

And when those with the power of a gun and the law can sometimes act so dangerously, I’ll say it again then perhaps the government need to take into account the cuts, no ifs or buts, is there even enough funding now to train and support, let alone screen the police properly?

And here in so-called Great Britain what was to soon sweep through the nation, all started from outside of one police station, it was Tottenham in London where people were gathered and what was soon to become a natural air of frustration. You see, when a police officer has killed your son do you really think it’s right that you have to find out through the TV?

Perhaps then it’s time to reflect, that people really were frustrated at the blatant lack of regard and respect, so people were indeed angry and then soon as time went by, confusion, chaos, and a ‘nothing to lose’ energy then began to manifest.

And sure there were many out there that bafflingly took things way too far, what is the cost when police officers just doing their jobs are injured and homes are lost, perhaps it’s time to take a deeper look at the society we are.

You see, materialistic comforts can only keep us content for so long, because by no means can they replace the feeling within us that is so strong, an inner-aching for a world that makes sense, justice, equality, a place we belong and the paths that we are encouraged to go on actually leading us to a purposeful and meaningful place.

And perhaps it’s merely a manifestation, that the kind of people that the system encourages us to be, in its own way has no sense of sustainability.

Perhaps, just perhaps the toxic mix of consumerism and poverty leads to such a division and the false representation that if you come from the bottom of the economic ladder with a lack of education and a broken family, that you should be left wondering who am I? Why is this system so broken? And why is what we get told so at odds with our reality.

Perhaps being connected to this planet, being completely equal and united with the people around us isn’t as profitable you see.

And I know there was no need for what went on in those streets, but there were never going to be any happy thoughts or feelings of hope, no dancing to uplifting beats.

Just mindless violence, looting and buildings burning, does that ring any bells at all when you look at some of our histories.

And for those that think it’s as simple as to pass on the blame to the younger generation, then maybe it’s time to really think as a nation, then really where are some of these youth getting there inspiration?

Perhaps it’s not so bright, convincing people to be a Thatcherite, and then we’re just lost in the dark and away from the light, when it don’t matter about no one else as long as I’m alright.

Me, me, me, climbing to the top of the money tree, nobody cares about the stocks and shares or the impacts their crimes of the city has on the economy.

Are you insane to pass on the blame? Is this just another narcissistic game in denial of it’s own neglect manifesting on such a wide and grand scale.

And perhaps there wouldn’t be so many people in jail if we lived in a world with more understanding.

Perhaps instead of people going berserk, they’d grew up with faith in a world where sustainable employment, ways out of homelessness, real support for struggling single mothers and access to mental health services actually worked.

And it’s no surprise that those that haven’t needed them yet will naturally believe that all of these safeguards are in place, when there are too many so-called charities and organisations that do a really good job of putting on a charming smile and respectable-looking face, just another manifestation of this rat-race, whilst those that truly need it find out that they’ve now got no funding.

Maybe it’s time we lived in world where instead of people making their dreams through exploiting the vulnerable through cash-cows and money-making machines where corners are cut and the real goal no matter how much me we fool ourselves is to create a big pot of gold from these schemes, we decided that authentic change was going to be our exchange and that those people out there needing it and giving their time, those on the frontline we were rewarded, or at least truly supported.

Perhaps feeling valued by the very society that you grew up in is a fundamental basic need, for any human being or an actual society to succeed, and without that we unfortunately learn that some of the most damaging behaviours that some people choose, stem from the feeling that they’ve got nothing to lose.

And we need to accept that it’s ok to ask these questions whilst not condoning such behaviours, but a society that accepts its own responsibilities is what we need to grow.

But the willingness to want to change and accept that we don’t know it all, is what we need to ourselves to show and sort out this mess once and for all.

Copyright Ben Westwood 2021

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