Sunday, August 07, 2011

Enfield not calling

Just to make this absolutely clear.  There have been mass arrests in Enfield.  But the rumours that were spread on Twitter, and apparently repeated at the Telegraph, of riots beginning in Enfield Town are absolutely untrue.  I visited the town centre this afternoon to pick up some shopping, and saw none of the damage or violence people referred to.  The falsehoods being put about include the idea that Enfield Town library is on fire.  It's completely untrue.  What I saw was a phalanx of police vans, and a large number of arrests taking place such as this one.  The police are not arresting people because they've done anything, but because of what they were alleged to be intent on doing.  

Specifically, police and local media claim that a large number of kids from outside the area had come in after rumours on social media indicating that there would be a riot.  Shops were being closed down in anticipation of violence, apparently on the advice of police.  I was told by shopkeepers and security that about 200 young people had been arrested this afternoon. (This was about 3.45pm).  For its part, the Enfield Independent claims (at about 5.45pm) that police are targeting around 100 young people who have gathered around the train station in small groups of four or five, wearing hoods.  (For what it's worth, none of the people whom I saw being arrested were wearing hoods - as if that's against the law now.  They were just boys dressed normally.)  

Frankly, I don't find the Independent's story entirely credible.  First because 100 people gathered around the train station would be very conspicuous - it's a tiny area - and breaking off into groups of four and five would be pointless.  Second because if the area around the train station is extended to include the contiguous promenade of shops and the abutting roads and footpaths, then it's normally a well populated area with lots of young people about.  It's an assumption on their part that these were troublemakers.  Third because this paper is well known for scaremongering, and has been supporting the campaign by local Tory MPs Nick de Bois and David Burrowes to lower the age at which young boys can be jailed for violent offenses.  (By the by, it's also a scab newspaper, as management worked flat out to break a recent NUJ reporters' strike.)  It's just possible that the perceptions of whoever is manning the local rag's office have been shaped by the hysteria of police and local businesses.

At any rate, there is no evidence of anyone seeking to cause any kind of trouble in Enfield Town (except for these guys).  There is only evidence of provocative behaviour by the police.  People keep trying to justify this as a necessary preemptive step against further riots.  A far better way to prevent further riots would be to stop shooting people, don't beat up sixteen year old girls, and stop aggravating citizens with provocative bullshit.

Update: Well, there wasn't trouble before.  There is now.