Thankfully, it looks as though most of the riots are fizzling out, but not before they caused me a huge dose of personal despair when my 19 year old daughter got caught up in the Manchester looting around the Arndale centre last night. She phoned me up on her mobile to tell me that she was locked into a Tesco Express Store because the security staff closed the shutters as a gang of hooded youths descended upon the area. This is the same gang that went on to loot the Ugg store, Foot Asylum and Diesel, torch Miss Selfridge and cause untold damage to over 100 properties in the area.
The security guards eventually opened the shutters to let out the people caught up inside during a lull in the violence and the police recommended taking the back streets out of the area. Aware of the horrible broad daylight muggings that had taken place, my poor daughter didn't know what she might encounter. She put her handbag and mobile into her boyfriend's rucksack so she wouldn't be a visible target for a mugger. They fled the scene and made their way back to where they were staying. During this time we tried to phone her and with the mobile hidden away, we got no reply. It was so frightening. As Twitter exploded with news of the rioting and Twitpics of the mayhem (including the Tesco with the frontage all smashed in) all I could do was sit and hope that my daughter was safe. I just kept having visions of some idiot setting fire to a shop and the fire spreading whilst everyone was locked in Tesco unable to escape.
Eventually, when she was safe she got in touch. She told me that most of the perpetrators were just having a laugh, taunting police and showing off their trophies from their looting spree. Kids were grabbing odd shoes from the display in Foot Asylum and running off laughing at their achievement. Megan said how frustrated the police were at their powerlessness, and how many on duty were women in oversized riot gear trying to stand their ground, but unable to respond in the way we all want them to. It was all just so pathetic, pointless and destructive.
As I relayed my story on Facebook to concerned friends and had a rant regarding the unjustified lawlessness and thuggery, a status appeared from someone who I have had run ins with in the past.
"Well, I'm bored of reading statuses from people with no sense of history, economy, politics, psychology, or anything of value beyond their own delusional utopian visions."
Our argument simmered for a while with me saying that this has nothing to do with anything except lawlessness, greed and a minority who thinks the world owes them a living. It wasn't in the name of anarchy or revolution...it was just about theft and vandalism. He blamed police violence and extolled the concept of an ideal uprising, saying my views were naive. I ranted some more.
Violence is never an answer. Mindless thuggery is unforgivable and I have no tolerance or sympathy for the perpetrators of this rioting. I would fully endorse the use of extreme measures to stop looters, something I never thought I would condone.
Am I being an over sensitive mother because my child was put in danger? Have I lost sight of the young woman who believed in class struggle and worshipped at the shrine of Sociology? Am I just old and out of touch? Or are things different now? I'd love to know your views.