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I heard the furious voices of kids on our burning streets: This was no party. But back in August , to my shame, I played a role in that summer of disorder. At the time I was living on the streets and suffering from depression. I had lost my job, my home, and I was angry with the world.

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What did I do? I threw a yogurt in the air, I pushed over a shopping trolley and I passed a bottle of stolen wine into the hands of a stranger. Sometime afterwards I presented myself to the police. Though I had injured no one, I was charged with two counts of violent disorder.

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The riots of 2011 - and other crime and justice news

I was also charged with burglary — non-domestic. Yet standing in the dock I knew I had done something wrong and so I simply pleaded guilty. I undertook 75 hours of community service. I found myself cleaning a church every Saturday. When my sentence was complete I decided I would continue my community service. Because by then I had learned, rubbing polish into an altar, that active citizenship is essential for any functioning democracy.

London riots: Looting and violence continues - BBC News

It must be earned daily through continuous acts of virtue. As I looked back at those Londoners who had come out with their brooms the next day , sweeping up after irresponsible people like me, I decided I wanted to join them. It is perfectly natural to feel rage in the face of injustice, but I learned that there are better ways to express that anger.


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I learned that only through constructive political action can we fulfil the promise of a better future in which we are able to clothe, feed, and house our families in conditions of liberty, equality and democracy. I came to realise that power can only be contested with power, not by running amok and tossing dairy products around the streets. Now the smoke has cleared, we must have an honest discussion about what happened during those depressing summer days.

Rising inequality still scars a land where the poor are left cleaning the corridors of power instead of walking them.

London riots: Looting and violence continues

Unbridled market forces have cleared great swaths of our cities of the low-paid, breaking up families and communities in the process, leaving youngsters bereft of homes and jobs. The following night, looting and rioting spread to other parts of London and by Monday, the worst night, violence was across the country from Birmingham and Bristol to Liverpool and Leeds.


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The likes of Manchester, Luton, Wolverhampton and Nottingham were to follow. Top cars of Business icons who died in The best of Heaven and Hell. TV shows of the year. The public grew ever fearful as around the clock news coverage broadcast incredible scenes of carnage, looting and burning buildings.

By the end it was estimated as many as 15, people had been involved, more than 5, crimes committed and up to 5, people are expected to be arrested eventually. Questions were raised about the police approach in the early days as officers appeared to stand by and let rioters run amok.

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It led to accusations that the police had lost control and lawlessness reigned. The Metropolitan Police would later admit it had been slow to react on the first night and did not get enough officers on to the streets or quickly enough.

A review of public order tactics is now under way and Scotland Yard has raised the prospect of introducing water cannons on to the streets of England for the first time. The courts, keen to nip any future rioting in the bud, delivered swift, tough justice with some people being jailed before the week was even up. Magistrates sat through the night to wade through growing lists of offenders and sentences were substantially higher than the average for each individual crimes.

Two men were given four years each for encouraging people to join in the rioting on Facebook, even though no one took up their offers.