Strategy of Tension – England Revolts August 2011


Tottenham Alight August 2011

As the smoke drifts away and the nation draws its breath, the questions about the English Revolts of 2011 are already being framed in the traditional way.

A definition of madness is performing the same action again and again and expecting a different outcome; this is why this cycle of revolt has come around  again and again, in ever-decreasing circles, in ever-increasing violence and chaos.

When this society works, it is a melting pot; but when the pressure is turned up it becomes a black hole, and this is why it is important to identify the causes of this revolt; as every tree has a seed, and if this environment remains the same, this poison tree will grow stronger and will consume the earth it’s planted in, the earth we all live on . . .

This article is a news article. We will not be passing judgement on any party ; we are merely trying to assemble the relevant facts which might indicate why the cities of London descended into chaos over five days in August, 2011.

The first fact is this;

On Wednesday August 3rd 2011 the police descended on the Pembury Estate in Hackney in a massive dawn raid. In an article called  Police go to The Wire in dawn raids to target London gang, the London Evening Standard reports on a massive ‘anti-gang’ raid ;

More than 300 officers swooped on the Pembury Boys gang – whose members are allegedly linked to a series of shootings, rapes, assaults and major drug dealing.

A total of 32 addresses were raided at dawn across east London in a hunt for 26 known gang members and their associates. By midday 23, including two women, had been arrested.

Searches recovered a large quantity of class A drugs, including crack cocaine and heroin, an imitation firearm and more than £8,000 in cash. Officers also recovered 40 mobile phones and more than 60 Sim cards.

Detectives likened the operation to the fictional TV series The Wire, set in the US city of Baltimore, because of its length, the fact it targeted the senior and middle-ranking echelons of the gang and its use of covert tactics.

Commander Peter Spindler, the head of covert operations at Scotland Yard, said police had thrown the “full might of covert policing” against the gang including the use of “human intelligence, technical surveillance and covert surveillance”. Sources said the arrests came after an 18-month operation, the longest covert inquiry conducted by the Met.

Most of the arrests took place on the Pembury estate in Hackney. The Pembury Boys are reputed to be one of London’s most violent street gangs.

Since last Wednesday, this ‘massive operation’ – to quote ‘the longest covert inquiry conducted by the Met’ and probably one of it’s largest mass raids ever, has not been mentioned in the press.

However, the Pembury Estate was central to the riots, and there the central focus was not looting, but a battle directly against the police. The reports on August 9th told of a battle lasting hours, in which the police repeatedly attempted to ‘take control’ of the estate, but were driven back again and again by the ‘insurgents’ on the street;

For three hours mayhem ruled in Hackney’s Pembury Estate, the centre of the violence in east London. The police were there, but there was no doubt who set the law in the estate, comprised of local authority mansion-blocks of flats.

Masked youths – both men and women – helped carry debris, bins, sticks and motorbikes, laying them across the roads to form a flaming boundary to the estate.

The crowd in Hackney – numbering at least 300 – appeared larger than any from previous nights of rioting.

Fact 2; From the Guardian on Tuesday 10th August;

Mark Duggan, whose shooting by police sparked London‘s riots, did not fire a shot at police officers before they killed him, the Independent Police Complaints Commission said on Tuesday.

Releasing the initial findings of ballistics tests, the police watchdog said a CO19 firearms officer fired two bullets, and that a bullet that lodged in a police radio was “consistent with being fired from a police gun”.

One theory, not confirmed by the IPCC, is that the bullet became lodged in the radio from a ricochet or after passing through Duggan.

Duggan, 29, was killed last Thursday in Tottenham, north London, after armed officers stopped the minicab in which he was travelling.but it had no evidence that the weapon had been fired. It said tests were continuing.

The IPCC said Duggan was carrying a loaded gun,

but of course, they had originally told the press on Friday August 5th;

A father of three died instantly after an apparent exchange of fire when police attempted to arrest him in north London, it emerged on Friday.

A police marksman escaped with his life when a bullet lodged in his radio during the confrontation that ended in the death of Mark Duggan, 29.

To continue with the revised version, which is now slipping from most people’s memories;

Officers from the Met’s Operation Trident and Special Crime Directorate 11, accompanied by officers from CO19, the Met’s specialist firearms command, stopped the silver Toyota Estima minicab in Ferry Lane, close to Tottenham Hale tube station, to arrest Duggan. He was killed by a single gunshot wound to the chest, and received a second gunshot wound to his right bicep. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 6.41pm.

The IPCC’s statement said the bullet lodged in the police radio was a “jacketed round”. This is a police-issue bullet and is “consistent with having been fired from a [police] Heckler and Koch MP5”, it said.

The non-police firearm found at the scene was a converted BBM Bruni self-loading pistol. The gun was found to have a “bulleted cartridge” in the magazine, which is being subjected to further forensic tests.The officer whose radio was hit was taken to Homerton hospital where he was examined and discharged later that night. The minicab driver was not injured but was badly shaken by what he saw, the IPCC said. His account, as well as those of the officers, is being examined along with the forensic evidence.

So in one week, in one small area of London, the police carried out mass arrests and then shot a well-known local man dead who had not – it now appears – drawn a gun on them.

And they were ‘taken aback’ by the violence ?

Broadwater Farm - 1985 -Tottenham Riots

The biggest ‘surprise’ about the riots, which spread like wildfire out from the Pembury Estate to the rest of London, and then across the country was that after those two events recorded above, that the police seemed ‘totally unprepared’ for what followed. From The Guardian August 5th . . .

After a peaceful vigil outside the local police station, where the family waited for five hours without any senior officer being sent to see them despite being promised that this would happen – dusk fell, and the street started to fill up with youths.

What happened over the next four hours is subject to debate, but what is clear is that tensions gradually escalated, as police made only limited attempts to talk to the demonstrators. Some who were present described seeing a younger, more aggressive crowd arrive around dusk, some carrying weapons. “These people were prepared,” said Bill Dow, a bystander. “They had fireworks and petrol cans.”

Protest organisers denied this, and said police failed to engage with them. Eventually a chief inspector came out and spoke to Duggan’s relatives but, organisers said, he conceded a higher-ranking officer should talk to them. Stafford Scott, a community organiser, said police were “absolutely” culpable for not responding to their requests for dialogue.

“I told the chief inspector personally that we wanted to leave before nightfall,” Scott said. “If he kept us hanging around after nightfall, it was going to be on his head. We couldn’t guarantee it wouldn’t get out of control.”

Scott said the chief inspector promised a higher ranking official would speak to the crowd. When no one came, organisers said some younger men turned their anger to two police cars, which were set on fire.

There were two notable comments by Cameron in the Houses of Parliament today.

  • One was that this was ‘gang directed’ violence – a subject that has not been touched upon previously.
  • The second was concerning the cuts to the police budget, along with changes to the pay structures and conditions of work – which numerous reviews have pointed out are excessively ‘easy’ in a ‘time of austerity’.
There are numerous questions arising out of this situation, and as in the Strategy of Tension in Italy in the 1970’s, the media, politicians and police are in a race to suggest more and more draconian solutions and exploit the climate of fear that reigned across the cities and suburbs of Britain for four days in August.
But questions such as these will have to be addressed;
  1. Was this a predictable riot allowed to get out of hand, which then spread faster than anyone could predict, and has coincidentally happened just before swingeing cuts are enacted on the police – notably the Met, who have already suffered the humiliating resignations of two senior officers [the Commissioner and Assistant Commissioner] under clouds of corruption – followed today by the resignation of their press officer.
  2. Will any serious questions now be asked about Britain’s drug laws, which are merely an extension of the USA’s Prohibition – which as we all know, made the gangsters the richest men in 1920’s America, and corrupted the whole Establishment. Of course, Prohibition [of alcohol] was abandoned – and promptly replaced by the Drug Laws to keep the Fed’s in ‘gainful employment’ – as well as many other tangential advantages for any totalitarian state.
  3. Since New Labour came in 1997, they introduced new Stop and Search laws – with an estimated 600,000 ‘stops’ PER YEAR stopped since 2001 (as part of the “War on Terror”). That’s around 6 million stops – concentrated in fairly limited urban areas – not ONE of which, as Tory MP David Davis pointed out today, has resulted in ONE arrest for terrorism. And according to Human Rights groups – surprise, surprise – the overwhelming majority are;
    1st. Black and  2nd, Asian. This is something that rarely inflicts on white communities in the suburbs, but is a constant source of anger and humiliation amongst all the youth in poor inner city communities -who already feel marginalised.
    How will this all be used as an excuse for further extensions of State power and surveillance ? Sadly, by the time that most people realise they were terrorised and tricked into aquiescing to a total, intrusive police state it’s too late to turn the clock back without the sort of Revolutions last seen in Eastern Europe . . .

 This article is not a commentary on the social or ethical causes of this riot, but merely attempting – in some way like a forensic team at a crime scene – to rewind back before the traumatic wave of chaos and find some pattern in the madness.

This investigation will continue . . .


2 Responses to “Strategy of Tension – England Revolts August 2011”

  1. keyword tools Says:

    I read David Cameron is asking former Los Angeles Police chief William Bratton to act as a special advisor to the UK police, help them implement a zero tolerance policy towards the rioters. What nonsense. Maybe we should send our guys over to Los Angeles, help them get their murder rate down to something approximating ours – anyone ever think of that?

  2. Seán MacMathúna Says:

    “We smashed the place up and Boris set fire to the toilets.” ~ David
    Cameron recalls his time at Oxford, speaking in 1986.
    courtesy of Debbie Jepson and Dave Arc-I.

    Oi R****/& all !

    Absolute madness!! Was walking around yesterday (with my kid in the buggy) – all local shops closed at the end of my road . . . so l walked up to Lee High Road (about half a mile from my house) and found a local petrol
    station with a Marks and Spencer completely trashed – with some window
    repair company people trying to repair the damage. It was clear that
    sledge hammers has been used on the windows – and they had broken down the doors and got in. God knows what happened to the (Asian) staff. Just
    opposite is a Chippy with its main windows smashed – and the cash till on
    the floor – a huge pile of 1p and 2p pieces littered the floor. One the
    broken door a calling card with “£75” written on it – it was from a glass
    replacement company!!!?!?

    Everyone very nervous. I noticed hardly any traffic on the A20 (Lee High
    Road). The people repairing the petrol station windows told me they had
    been told to flee the moment any trouble brewed up. I walked down the road a little bit and to my surprise a lone cyclist was coming up – l noticed
    he had a facemask on and was being followed by two guys (all white) on
    motorbikes who were doing wheelies – they looked like complete
    troublemakers and l wondered where they were going. I turned the corner to head home through the surburban streets and came across more (white) trash with hoodies hanging around some lockups around the back of shops – either trying to break in the back or stashing stuff looted from Lewisham and Catford. I just kept walking and they paid (thankfully) no attention to

    All yesterday and last night loads of helicopters and sirens. Apparently
    400 people running amok in Lewisham – nothing in the news. Lewisham town centre closed at 1pm. Cops everywhere . . . seen in all before – but in
    RIO :)))) so l understand the confusion in Brazil.

    Its hard to work out whats going on. So it all started when the cops shot
    at point-blank range in the chest a black guy in a cab in Tottenham. They
    then claim that he fired at them (untrue) and that he had a gun (the cops
    now CLAIM a gun – a starting pistol adapted to fire real bullets – was
    found in the car wrapped in a sock). Seems like a summary execution – why
    not surround the cab with machine guns (which the cops have) and tell to
    come out with his hands up? Why not wait for a moment for him to get out
    of the cab – and see if he is carrying something?

    Only last year it was found that cops in this area (Tottenham/Enfield)
    were accused of carrying of waterboarding of suspects (black) and LOOTING
    property from homes they had raided and selling it on E-bay. Of course,
    nothing came of this, but there is sense in London that the cops are
    out-of-control. See this link for the waterboarding allegations:

    And we have seen a long list of police killings – from Blair Peach through
    to Ian Tomlinson with lies, lies, lies and NEVER a cop held to account.

    Also since New Labour came in 1997, they introduced new Stop and Search
    laws – with an estimated 600,000 PER YEAR stopped since 2001 (as part of
    the “War on Terror”). Thats around 6 million people. And according to
    Human Rights groups – surprise, surprise – the overwhelming majority are
    1st black, 2nd, Asian. Result? well, one of them is these riots – the
    youth can’t take it any more.


    I’ve been stopped and sniffed by police dogs coming out of railways
    stations. Every day cycling along bus routes you can see at least once in
    New Cross, Peckham, Brixton an army of ticket inspectors, cops shaking
    down the “bendy buses” – where people travel for free cos you don’t have
    to buy a ticket (crazy idea) . . . and they all appear to be black.

    And we had the massive student demos against the huge increase in fees
    (£8000 a year = £24,000 to go to university). The police brutality was
    unbelievable. They were filmed attacking a guy in a wheelchair. They
    “kettled” hundreds of school children in the freezing cold until 11pm and
    refused access to their parents. They got away with it. The youth can see
    that what our generation have done gets nowhere – and for that l hold Tony Blair personally responsible. We had 2 million people on the march against the illegal war in Iraq – and they ignored us in 2003. Result? Blair took this fucking country into the illegal war and killed 600,00 people (The
    Lancet) and probably now up to 1 million (Other reputable sources).

    We then had 800,000 people on the TUC march earlier this year – result?
    they ignored us.

    Then theres all these cuts – to pay for the greed of the bankers. They
    were warned of the consequences – that there would be riots if, for
    example, they closed all the youth clubs in Tottenham:

    Even that twat Nick Clegg warned – before the election of course in 2010 –
    that there would be “‘Greek Style Unrest If Narrow Tory Win”. well, thats
    what happened and thats what we got!! See

    We are dealing with consequences of 30 years of Thatcherism. There is NO
    FUTURE for the youth. No social housing. No free education. No jobs –
    unless you want to join the army and go to Afghanistan to be killed by the
    Taliban (the UK shamefully uses a very high percentage of CHILD/TEENAGE
    soldiers in its armed forces).

    Just went from London Bridge to Lee Green on my bike. Local
    estates are saturated with cops. Saw what looked like plain clothes cops
    on bikes – stationary, just watching traffic go back. Just been through
    Lewisham Town Centre. Its under complete lockdown. Police every 10 yards.
    All young people being stopped. Patrols every 20 yards. 5-10 outside the
    entrance of the Lewisham Centre . . . cop vans everywhere. It reminded me
    of two places – Rio and Algiers.

    And they hope to keep this up? For how long? Until the Olympics are over?

    There have been widespread cuts to council music services. Loads of music staff made redundant – loads of music projects curtailed,
    drum workshop lessons stopped, Lewisham Music Service moved out of the
    Deptford Albany. Staff being told “make your own arrangements with local schools”. Absolutely fucking crazy. All to save money. All to pay
    off the money and debts given to the bankers. The Tories, those scabs the
    Lib Dems and New Labour all claiming theres no money . . . and now this,
    widespread rioting and civil disorder . . . l wake up every day . . . I
    look at my country . . . this is what the blind man sees . . .we heard
    that 30 years ago . . .we are still hearing it . . . how much is this
    rioting going to cost VS keeping all the music programmes going? all the
    after school clubs? how much does it cost to keep the youth in jail, let
    alone send them to court in the first place.
    It’s madness.

    Also very dangerous is the rise of fascist English Defence League – these
    guys are scary and they will be seeking to exploit all this. They are much
    more organised that the NF and unlike Column 88 (remember them?) they have the internet and everything to get organised.

    And the financial system has been bought to its knees (Hooray!!!!) . . .
    the final trough of Capitalism? this system has failed completely and
    everyone knows it – except the stupid politicians. America is going down
    the drain (at last), followed by the EU and the stupid Euro. We need to
    get out of US orbit, leave the EU, pull out of NATO, leave Afghanistan and
    start getting grip on things . . . if we don’t, we go down.

    People UNITE!!!!!


Leave a Reply