I’m seeing (and hearing) a lot of sentiments like this from politicians and from friends. I’ve been here almost a year now but I still feel a bit like an outsider, especially in this. I understand people are angry - I’m a bit out of the riot-area but it’s getting closer and closer every night. But I’m still enough outside that it’s not like I don’t understand what’s happening. Canada is far from perfect, but the class system is much more palpable here in the UK. As James Meek points out, though London is really “diverse” it doesn’t mean that people actually interact.
I live in a council flat (rented from the owners, but the building definitely still has council people) down the street from one of the world’s most prestigious law firms. These kinds of contrasts are all over the city. So you not only have all these kids who feel stuck and unsupported, but they are pretty much always in direct contact with all the stuff they don’t have. They may live on the streets where the riots are but they aren’t “theirs.” I’m not saying people are consciously thinking of this as a “political” action but it is still a political event.
I’m not saying that violence or looting or rioting or burning down local businesses or robbing people is something that’s okay; but it’s not incomprehensible to see kids who feel like they have nothing to lose…acting like it.