The media described the protesters as
‘the problem’ in the London G20 Summit. However, after the video emerged the media
dramatically changed the perception of the case. It resulted in focusing on
‘police violence’ rather than ‘protester violence’. This was reinforced by the
use of technology which empowered the public to publicize ‘real time’
information which challenges the official version of events. Therefore, this
allowed the media to shift the focus on the institutional failure instead. This
illustrates the changing relations between the media and the police.
Criminal Justice Act 2003 requires punishment to either, reform, deter, rehabilitate, and reduce
crime and make reparation by offenders. For example, the 2011 riots had led
rioters to harsher prison sentences as deterrence and expressing public
displeasure. A case arose of a UK rioter who was given a highly
disproportionate sentence of 16 months for stealing 2 scoops of ice-cream (The
Telegraph 2011). This method has been criticised for not preventing
reoffending, so this can lead to questions about imposing severe sentences.
However, nearly 44.7% of offenders reoffend (Gov.uk 2017) which shows prison
sentences won’t be effective.
A community based punishment would
seem suitable and cost effective when dealing with rioters. Moreover, it will reduce
pressure on the prison system. It can also be argued that the harsher sentences
are not fair and don’t represent the Criminal Justice System based on equality;
this raises questions about the justice of the sentences, as some rioters,
especially young people, have never been convicted. Therefore, young people may
feel their criminal background will affect them in the future in terms of their
employment, thus can lead them to be deviant and engage in criminal activity
rather than education. Moreover, this can lead to rioters feeling more
frustrated as they are not being heard, which can impose further violence in
the future. It can be questioned whether that will deter offenders or lead them
to express even more anger to commit in violence. It is important that a sense
of recognition is given to them as a way to show they are not excluded. The
research on public opinion has shown the public are willing to consider
alternatives for less serious offences.
To conclude, riot and protest is a
form of resistance as it is acting in opposition to government policy which is
having a negative impact on the protestors lives, as it is failing to uphold
their values and beliefs. It is a form of resistance as those in authority are
not listening to their beliefs and thus results in rioters being intolerant.
Moreover, those in authority use their power to abuse the democratic rights and
beliefs of others, which sparks outrage among individuals leading to a riot. Anarchy
is a driving force for riots. It is a state of being without a government and
authority. However, it does not encourage violence for political change.
Although it promotes freedom, some violence is used controversially by some
anarchists to attempt to destroy the system of government. Both protest and
riot express the idea of precarious life, the need for stability. However,
taking extreme practices for expressing a person’s beliefs can sometimes lead
to adverse consequences.
It is appropriate to say that riots
should be discouraged for the safety of the public and the rioters themselves,
therefore a form of protest would be a suitable alternative to express ones feeling
of dissatisfaction towards the political system. However, a protest can swiftly
turn in to a riot. For example, 300 people gathered in front of a police
station for a peaceful demonstration, for the justice of Mark Duggan (2011). However,
the racial tension between the public and the Metropolitan Police had been ‘lost’
among rioters, as it later escalated into a forceful riot which had spread
across England. It is suggested that rioters had lost their true intention as
soon as looting were involved.
The social risk was very high during
this time as 5 people were reported dead during the riots. Additionally, businesses
suffered a great loss as looting and buildings were on fire.
It can be argued that a riot is a ‘strongly
sensed feeling of protest’ (Wada and Davies: 1957: 864) which can be used to
justify their actions. For example, the injustice they disagree with can
outweigh the violence committed in a riot. A rioter can feel a sense of ‘relief’
or an act of revenge against the difficulties they have faced. Although a riot
can express ones ‘freedom’ it is still an illegal act and disturbs the peace of
the public, therefore a riot should be denied or at least a last resort in some
cases. Additionally, it is a nuisance to the society. If a riot happens
frequently or if it were to become legal then society would not function as ‘normal’.
When an individual participates in a
riot they can perhaps lose their identity, which can make them lose their
individual responsibility and at the same time gain a sense of power; this
suggests a release in tension in the expression of feelings they share with
others, which an individual cannot do alone.
protest allows the opportunity to be flexible in terms of people expressing
themselves within the law. However, protests can be shown in different ways, as
mentioned in the introduction which can be seen as ethically wrong, such as
harming oneself. Moreover