This week’s riots has had us all shaken. An overriding sense of dread hung in the air on Monday as most of us rushed to get back to our homes, some of us through gangs of hooded looters, others away from the worst of the rioting. The most frightening thing of all has been the sense of our own unease.
Even those most hardy Londoners, who will walk through Brixton and Elephant & Castle alone late at night and give it not a second thought – telling mother “it’s not even dangerous” – have genuinely feared for their property. Every siren sent a shiver down the spine; absurd if you consider that living in South London, the sound resonates on any normal night.
But with any act of mindless violence and aggression, a communal spirit emerges. Those who condemn the actions of the few suddenly acknowledge each other and talk. I have spoken to people on my street and on public transport about our one common goal, to recognise and reject an ugliness that has swelled around the UK’s young people.
In Peckham, south east London, a wall of peace has emerged on the boarded-up window of Poundland (arguably a symbol for the culture of throwaway materialism that we’re all guilty of yielding to). The fact that Poundland had been looted at all is indicative of a mass act of confused, listless aggression and empty greed. The wall of post-its is iconic; it is as temporary as the smashed windows of the shops, the post-its will soon be blown away and the glass will be replaced, but it is uplifting and indicative of a commonality that renounces any act that tries to turn the community on itself.