15 Aug 2011

Green Party councillor Gus Hoyt 'Do we build a better future or live in a police state?

By Gus Hoyt
Green Party councillor for Ashley ward

I would like to start with one important premise which has been lost in the divisive language of the last few days: to understand is not to condone. I wish to understand what has happened to our society to create the extreme behaviour of the last few days; but I do not wish to condone violent behaviour.
Many independent shops, homes and charities have been targeted in these recent events. So many people from different backgrounds have been arrested and the confusion – and therefore the need for understanding – has continued to grow. This is such a wide-ranging issue I will omit more than I can include. Such is the nature of limited space.
I am a pacifist who understands that violence begets violence and that a violent backlash against the rioters on the streets (with water cannons and plastic bullets) and in the judicial process (through exaggerated sentencing) will only create more mistrust, anger and ultimately violent behaviour in years to come.
Society should be based upon understanding, unity, compassion and understanding. It is clear that the past 30 years have seen our society move away from such ideals and head towards individualism, competition, greed and violence.
An African proverb has been bouncing around the internet the last few days: “If children are not welcomed into the village, they will burn it down to feel its warmth.” To me this sums it all up.
We have demonised the younger generation and condemned many to an urban environment where gang-rule and violence is a common language. I spent many hours talking to people on the streets after Monday’s destruction and everyone, no matter what solution they proposed, believed that the hope of practical and higher education leading to meaningful employment has almost been lost.


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