Friday, August 12, 2011

London hits Reality

Map of Riots in the U.K. courtesy of google maps
Being in London, I can not ignore what has gone on the past week.  London has been experiencing growing amount of riots throughout the city and surrounding areas.  It all began Saturday, with the death of  man, said to have been shot by the police. Tottenham is where things began, about a half an hour from Kensington where we are located.  A lot of the rioting was by young people  including 10-14 years olds.  This included breaking into businesses and looting them and several major crimes of arson.  The riots soon began to be targeting small businesses and the more well off.  While many of believed this to be a one time thing, night after night things progressed and we were even advised to not go out with possible vandalism occurring in Chelsea and closer neighborhoods and uncertainty of what would happen next.  According the BBC news 1,103 people have been arrested from the riots with about half being charged.  Things have calmed down since then but people have become more alert and aware of the surroundings.  These areas are not all notoriously violent but these kind of things can happen anywhere.  Just one person needs to get upset to cause a scene.  Throughout the coverage of the riots, I heard many reasons why these people were fighting and one man even suggested acts of racism caused the spark.  Small businesses learned to board up their windows during the week and everything closed up quite quickly and early.  In the most recent days, things have calmed and we have had not heard of any further disturbances.

Traveling abroad, things like these incidents may cross peoples' minds.  The 'what if'.  Unfortunately we cannot predict when or where things could happen.  London is considered a safe area but I know that it is still always important to keep your eye out and to not be naive.  It is essential before going abroad to just be aware of how to contact the police if necessary and to keep up to date on current events throughout the stay.  During the riots, my group gathered and watched BBC live news cast and while we didn't know what may happen next, we were well informed of what was occurring.  All of my group remained safe throughout the riots and we were glad to know people at home were thinking of us.    

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