Youth educator defends London rioters: “It’s their pain speaking”

The soul searching as to why people started fires, destroyed property, looted stores, and generally caused chaos in the UK has begun. Over the four days of severe rioting, four people lost their lives.
Some British commentators are blaming social inequalities, while others have accused the rioting youth of simply being opportunists.
The government, for its part, appears to be siding with the latter camp: “There is no excuse for violence. There is no excuse for looters. There is no excuse for thuggery on our streets,” the UK’s Home Secretary Theresa May said in a speech.
Some of those who work closely with London’s youth, however, don’t agree – our Observer sympathises with the rioters' anger, saying many young people have few prospects and therefore little to lose.
Do you have a different point of view? Share it in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
Jay Kast listening to a young boy's song lyrics. Courtesy of Jay Kast.

“A few years ago, I would have been out there rioting with them. It’s their pain speaking.”

Jay Kast is a recording artist and a youth worker living in Newham, east London. He’s been on the streets observing many of London’s riots and has spoken to numerous rioters in his community.
I was brought up on the streets of east London. I’m on the side of the culture that I come from. I feel the same anger as these rioters do. A few years ago, I would have been out there rioting with them. It’s their pain speaking.
Mark Duggan’s death shocked everyone. A lot of people taking part in the riots have told me, ‘I saw the boy’s face on TV, and I identified so deeply with him – that could have been me. I have nothing going for me anyway, so I might as well go out on the streets.’
Duggan’s family says he was on the straight and narrow. So people in the community think, ‘even when we’re trying to do better, the police could still stop us.’ And that’s true.
Until recently, I worked full-time educating youth with the help of government grants. We had programs to help them write lyrics, make their own music, organize musical events. But in the last year all the programs have been shut down; there’s no more funding. With budget cuts, the youth sector is no longer a priority. That was a slap in the face to all the youth. So they just went back out onto the streets, went back to having no hope.
“Duggan’s death was the last straw, but these riots are based on years of tension”
I believe that 50 percent of the youth are still focused on furthering themselves, still trying to find jobs. But the other half, well, it’s not that they don’t want to, but they don’t understand how to. They feel disconnected from their communities, and the last thing they want to do is get a job inside these communities.
It is true that they’re hurting their own communities by rioting, but in their mind their community doesn’t do anything for them. Duggan’s death was the last straw, but these riots are based on years of tension, ever since the 1985 Brixton riots (link). There’s the frustration of not being where they want to be, frustration of seeing their family members going to jail, frustration toward the police in their communities. Gangs from different parts of London, who on a normal day would be fighting, have put their drama aside and joined forces. The enemy isn’t the people running the restaurant or the sport shop; that’s unfortunately just what they’re using to annoy the authorities.
“They don’t know how to explain themselves; that’s why they’re rioting in the first place”
When I see camera crews coming into the area, the rioters yell and shout. They don’t know how to explain themselves; that’s why they’re rioting in the first place. I know what they want to say, but they’re saying all the wrong things.
The anger is still here. It’s not going to just disappear. But I don’t think there’s much the government can do now – they’ve let it go too far. It’s like when you’re hungry, once you’ve gotten past the hunger pains, no matter what food you’re given you don’t want to eat anymore."


Reply to comment | The Observers

What's up, just wanted to mention, I loved this blog post. It was inspiring. Keep on posting!

You know....

You know, pass riots were made in anger of the government for rights of a certain freedom, like the right to vote, the right to be free from slavery, the right to be equal, the right to practice their own religious belief, the right to a fair government, however....

The London riots were nothing of the sort, there were not political, they were nothing to do with religion or right of freedom, it was purley thuggery from idiotic young people who didn't care about others.

I mean, it all kicked off after a the murder of a drug dealing gangster, what kind of example is that to say "It's their pain speaking?", if that's the kind attitude of the educatator, then someone like that shouldn't not be in education.

Their was a young "RICH" girl who practually drove around london with the rioters looting shops, what kind of message is that?!

Children as young as 8 are out rioting and some staying up as late as 11pm around the rioting areas, where the frigging parents?, I remember seeing some little on tv during riot period at 12am midnight and some kid the background jumping up behind the news presenter, if that was child, I would ground him for a year and take away all his privilages away, I would be outrage if that was my child and if the mother of that child has some dignatity, she would do the same, if it not, then she is one of the worse unfit parents to be mother.

and if I remember one of the girls who was asked a question like, "what do you think of theses riots" to only reply something like "oh, it's because they are angry and they aren't really hurting anyone"....ermmmm, hello, a guy was assaulted, mugged of his psp and games, while being fooled that he was being helped, a man was pushed off his scooter as the looters stolen it from him, cars have been set alight, a pensioner has been assaulted, a penisioner was murdered, girl was raped, familys who lived aboved shops that was sit alight are now homeless, people have been made redundant because the shops they work in are now closed and the owners can't afford to reopen them, commerical products have become more expensive, you know, could go on.

What the hell did we have to show for it, bobbys that was too frighten to fight back to set the peace, why, because they were frighten that they will be accused of assault and being racist.

London Rioters The Causes

There are many reasons for the mob running riot in London and other UK cities. It is easy to say for those of us not at the bottom of the pile "blame the parents". There is some truth in that particular viewpoint, but does it really account for those who were caught up in the looting and were in fact employed, came from a good family background. Perhaps if we strip out the minority who one could refer to as systematic opportunists who risked reputation, future and present employment prospects and being caught.
This leaves the rest as a core problem.
The core problem is a mix of both white and ethnic races and they both carry the same set of what I would call genetic failures. They come from homes where there is unemployment and income is based on social benefits. These adolescents are poorly educated, lack acceptable social skills, have little skills for employment and have effectively been swept under the carpet by successive governments of all political colours. The problem basically is embarrassing, not been robustly addressed and even when economic times where good, no sustained investment in training or resolving the problem was really attempted.
For a wealthy country in the UK, this I am afraid is a reflection on the inherent self serving greed, short sightedness and unwillingness to accept the problem. Once we accept responsibility as a country for the problem, then and only then can we start to correct it.
The full force of the law is the easy way out and does nothing to change the cause it only addresses the effects. Society as a whole has avoided meeting out justice in the case of those who have contributed to the destruction of the economies of the world; the speculators, merchant bankers, the issuers of worthless paper, the International Corporations and their wealthy clients and owners who offshore investments to avoid paying their contributions. Together with politicians’ involved in expense scandals, phone tapping and secretive meetings with newspaper barons the underprivileged have been somewhat restrained in their reaction to common thievery by their so called betters.
What have we offered youth today as examples of good manners, morals and good character? Overpaid drug taking celebrities, footballers with the morals of the farmyard, corrupt police officers accepting bribes, politicians fiddling their expenses.
Is it any wonder then that the young follow are example.
The government of today must take its share of the blame, destroying jobs in either the public or private sector to ensure the continued greed and malpractice of the wealthy financial institutions is not the way forward. For an economy to work in the interests of its citizens, it must have equitable policies that are good for all. It has a duty to provide the education and support for the less privileged even if it means increasing taxation for the wealthy. Then and only then can we be considered to be a civilised society, failure to accept this fact will lead to far more civil unrest and anarchy.

Stop Excusing and Enabling Destructive Behaviour!

As a response to what has been said by the youth worker in the article above, I want to express my disgust and sadness that any educator in the UK could ever excuse the level of violence the rioters have indulged in over the past few days. Only a few year ago, I worked as a Learning Mentor, was part of teaching English to raise achievement amongst mainly black young men in Bristol city, and taught in several inner-city schools. I know first-hand there are youth who are hurting, and I've been hurt by the system in the past too. The problem with what the said educator above has written is that he seems to think it is a RIGHT to have government funding for youth projects. It is NOT a right, it is a priviledge.

When you compare the youth of Great Britain to the youth of so many other countries outside of Europe, it is clear that many British youth are bitter, spoilt, and feel entitled to things to ease their pain that no one else in the world gets or is entitled to! To get an education in the US, many youth are forced financially to join the military, whereas education is still relatively affordable in the UK. When British youth get sick, they go to the doctor, and get the treatment they need for free or nearly so. If a young person needs a home in the UK, there are many options available to ensure housing. In some parts of the world, people are being killed for simply asking for a little more freedom.

Some elements of British youth seem to think they have to right to take whatever they want, hurting their own economy, and then they blame the government for not providing enough for them. Many such people have obviously never learned that they must TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for their own actions and life, and that part of that is the risk that they will not be able have all they ever dreamed of, because sometimes things don't just work out. That is where resilience is built in character.

What also angers me about the educator's remarks is that he seems to think this was a racial issue. Most people involved in rioting obviously could care less about the man who died- they just wanted an excuse to hurt those better off than themselves. Hating the rich or the police doesn't solve anything- and to go further, many rioters revealed themselves to be racists by their actions! Let us not forget, people DIED during these riots-defending their livelihoods, just trying to live their lives. All of those involved in the rioting are criminals, and don't excuse this as acting out of pain. I just hope there will be consequences for these evil actions, and that debate in the UK will move on from such ridiculous excuses which simply enable a nannied state of troubled youth.

What a load of rubbish

Hopefully their pain can come and speak in your immediate vicinity.


Are you kidding? The riots are oncrruicg because people there are sick of being oppressed, and they are now showing their displeasure.Twitter was just there, A tool for them to use. Without it, the outrages there would never have been brought to light. GO TWITTER!!!!!

London Rioters

The parents should also be given the death penalty for putting on this earth louts

That's No Excuse

This is not the first time rioting has occurred and nor will it be the last. Placing the blame at the government's feet is ridiculous. These kids should be staying in school and trying to make something of themselves; not descending into hooliganism. Fortunately for them, they are living in a joke of a society that seemingly doesn't believe in law and order. If that happened in Northern Ireland or the United States, those kids that are looting would be 6ft under where they belong with bullets riddling their corpses and the rioters black and blue from the riot police.

So you would like a society

So you would like a society like Syria. Why don't you go there you would be perfectly at home with the army there. You might even get the chance to shot someone.

There's a huge difference

There's a huge difference between peaceful, democratic protest and rioting. Rioting is hardly democratic or peaceful. Employing anarchy for thrills is hardly excusable. The U.K is way too PC about it. They need to take the gloves off. I applaud recent talk of stripping the rioters of their social benefits/welfare seeing as they're unproductive to start with. I don't think all the rioters should be shot, but many of them do deserve a bullet for their troubles or to be beaten by the riot police. I wish that the U.K valued the rights of its law abiding citizenry and allowed them to bear arms in their own defense of self and property.