Difficult times are complicated because for all the anger and disgust good people feel about the stupid and unacceptable behaviour of some, and desperate tragedy and loss: there are also stories of courage, vigour, and outright Heroism. Too often these are not reported in the media and where they are often they get either lost among the mayhem, or somehow distorted.
My personal experience of this was during a march protesting the establishment of a BNP bookshop in Plumstead in 1993. A large march which the Police diverted away from the bookshop. A small number of marchers tore down a wall and began throwing stones at the police, and the authorities charged the crowd (99% of whom were not rioting) with mounted police. The riot however ended with the 99% of marchers who were not rioting, chanting ‘no more stones’ for what seemed a long time, after which there was no further violence. This was not reported in the media, rather they just said their had been a riot which Police had subdued, something that has bugged me ever since, and I have also had a healthy distrust of media reporting ever since.
David Lammy (MP For Tottenham) For the direct, passionate and apolitical honesty he showed representing his constituents following the Tottenham riot.
Shazad Hussein Who was killed by a hit and run driver whilst showing the courage to personally defend his neighbourhood and community.
Munir Hussein Reported to be the brother of Shazad Hussein and also killed in the same hit and run incident, whilst showing the courage to personally defend his neighbourhood and community.
Haroon Jahan Also killed by the same hit and run driver whilst showing the courage to personally defend his neighbourhood and community.
Tariq Jahan, (father of Haroon Jahan) Who showed tremendous dignity in the midst of grief whilst talking to reporters following the death of his son.
All the Police injured whilst working to re-establish law and order.
All the communities who have taken to the streets to defend their communities.
The Turkish community of Dalston.
Muslim and Sikh communities in Handsworth.
Singhs Defending Southall Gurdwaras.
And those others who have sought to group together in the face of adversity.
And those who have gathered to clear up after the looting and destruction.
Hashtab #riot cleanup, which has allowed groups to gather to clean up in: Camden, Clapham, Battersea, Manchester, Brimingham, and many other places.
Yes we need to arrest, prosecute and punish those for the crimes committed over the last few days, yes there are other lessons to be learned. But we should perhaps be more interested in celebrating courage and community spirit shown by so many, especially where people have suffered by doing so.
I wonder if the highest award the British award to civilians for courage, the George Cross, should be awarded to some for their actions during these riots. But at the very least we can remember their names, and work to place them higher in the public consciousness than the lists of those who will pass through the courts in the wake of what is frankly an outrage.