It’s easy to condemn. It’s harder to try and understand. It’s easy, when we have money and jobs and people who love us, to label others as scum. But it’s more complicated than that.
I made a documentary series on riots a few years ago with James Brown (founder of Loaded magazine) called I Predict A Riot. We spoke to many people who had been in riots and they all spoke of the exhilaration of the mob. How exciting it was to be part of something bigger. If you are lost and unloved, the mob and rioting can be a beautiful thing. It can give you power. People notice you. They cower in your wake. You are no longer alone, you belong. We spoke to a lot of football hooligans and many started out like this. Looking for a family. Where you all had a common aim and looked out for each other.
Imagine if your heart has never experienced love; If you have never been hugged by your mother; If you have no father and no father figures or male role models in your life; If your overriding emotion is anger, an anger and frustration so powerful that you can’t articulate it; A life so devoid of education that you don’t possess the words. We don’t like to admit it but there are kids like that all over London, some growing up in council estates just yards from our nice middle class houses.\r\n\r\nI feel part of society. I feel I have an investment in it. I don’t want to smash up my local shops. I don’t want my neighbourhood to be destroyed. These people don’t think like that. They don’t have that concept. They have never been taught the rules of society. My baby drops things on the floor and laughs. Breaking things is fun. You need someone to tell you that it’s wrong. You need to learn it.\r\n\r\nI haven’t spoken personally to any of the rioters of this week but I bet there are some who come from broken lives and would describe the last few days as they best they have ever had.\r\n\r\nOf course there will also be professional criminals who are taking advantage of the chaos. And there will also be little fuckers who do know the difference between right and wrong, do have a loving mum and dad, and just are enjoying the thrill of the riot and smashing windows and looting. But if we are honest, wouldn’t many of us, when we were kids, have been tempted to join in? I know I would. It would have only been the disappointment in my mother’s eyes and the fear of what my dad would do to me that would have held me back.