Heroes of the frontline

Standing up for what’s right costs. The question is whether or not you are willing to pay the price.

What we have learned from people’s reactions to the wave of rioting, looting and burning hitting UK cities over the past few days and nights, is that some heroic individuals are willing pay that sometimes very high price.

People like the band of brushers. It started in Clapham in south London, now others are doing it too – cleaning up the mess – trying to restore dignity to their streets. If you want to join visit this site – www.riotcleanup.co.uk – or just get a brush. Hogwarts students welcome to bring a broom. Cost = time and effort.

People like Pauline Pearce in Hackney, east London. I posted a video of her yesterday defying and haranguing the mob. You could see her walking stick in the short film.

What I didn’t know was that she has recently recovered from breast cancer, nor that she was roughed up while trying to rescue a young white lad attacked by black youths. Cost = risking her health.

(Pauline is also a grandmother, a jazz singer, a community worker and an internet DJ.  She may not be a perfect hero – but then, who is? She’s certainly some woman!)

People like the man beaten and left for dead in Ealing, west London. He confronted a group setting fire to wheelie bins. Not sure of his identity because his wallet was stolen too. Last I heard he was critically ill. Cost = risking his life.

*** Sad news update – The man, 68 year old Richard Mannington Bowes, died in hospital from his injuries. ***

People like Haroon Jahan, Shahzad Ali and Abdul Musavir. They were helping to guard shops in Birmingham from looters when a car was driven at them, killing all three. A man has been arrested for their murder.  Haroon’s father, Tariq Jahan, has been speaking out. His message: “I have lost my son – if you want to lose yours step forward, otherwise calm down.” Cost = three lives.

I don’t suppose any of those people had heroics in mind when they left home, but heroes is what they were – are. Great to have them.



Filed under life

20 responses to “Heroes of the frontline

  1. Very moving post. Miami has suffered from these things too. Injustices suffered by Black American were legitimate and one must understand the outrage over nothing being one in our alleged model democracy. Unfortunately looters also made their destructive appearance. Hardest hit wee the liquor stores. Hmmm.

  2. I have always been drawn to two themes: Man’s (generic) inhumanity to man, and Man’s humanity or nobility… tension of the opposites

    some people are morally bankrupt; but we have to look at cultures of despair too

  3. Good for Pauline Pearce (and presumably others we haven’t heard about) standing up to the rioters and trying to get them to see things differently. Of course there have been many many heroes if you think of all those people trying to defend their homes and businesses from violent youths, or just risking serious injury as they tried to get home to be with their loved ones.

    • blackwatertown

      You’re right.
      I met one the other day who has been talking young people out of the ranks of riotersand away from the perhaps-about-to-join-in fringe. Good guy – about whom I will tell you more in the near future.

  4. This is the first post on the recent riots that I have allowed myself to comment on. My tuppence worth might have sounded as hollow as some of what I have already heard on the radio, or read online.

    I think the people you focused on today, are or were wonderful. The kind of neighbour we should all strive to be. Now where is my brush?

    • blackwatertown

      I know what you mean – can seem trite to join the the condemnation in a me too way – bad as things have been. I suppose I’m not so much trying to accentuate the positive – that could also be trite – but show that there are other possibilities – alternatives to despair or hiding. And to give credit where it’s due.
      (Oh, and thanks for the comment.)

  5. BWT, I live not far from a local riot situation and am totally in sympathy with the rioters. The political machinery here, just as there, is failing miserably all over the world. http://www.firstpost.com/fwire/maharashtra-orders-probe-on-maval-police-firing-58312.html

    Ordinary people like your heroes, you and me have to get involved in changing the situtation.

    • blackwatertown

      I would not equate the people in your case, (from what I can see) peacefully demonstrating for a decent water supply being shot at with live ammunition – with (in the UK case) rioters burning people out of their homes, stealing trendy clothing, attacking fire engines and killing people who are trying to protect property. No comparison.

      Something definitely went wrong with the police action against Mark Duggan, whom they shot dead. It seems – and we don’t know for sure yet – that the initial version of the shooting that the police released was wrong (a lie?). But regardless of whether reported drug gang member Duggan was armed or not, much of the subsequent destruction was purely opportunistic with little or no link to the purported pretext.

      Many people here no longer trust politicians, the media, churches or the police – the trouble is, who does that leave when society needs security?

      So your conclusion points the way ahead.

  6. Well said – thanks for this posting – I came to it via that pile of piffle written by the toytown revolutionaries on the so called ‘university for strategic optimism’​, so at least it had some use…

  7. If it didn’t bring out the best in some we’d be lost in despair for those in whom it brings out the worst. The riots were depressing but in the end perhaps more good will come of what happened than bad.

  8. It’s good to see a positive story about all this hate and sadness

  9. Being An Old Hippy, I Am Reminded of an Incredible String Band Lyric (something along the lines of ) “An Flower Growing On A Rubbish Heap“. Britain is in a Right Mess these days………But your post help reminds that there are ALWAYS more goodUns than BadUns.

  10. Great post! I posted a link on F/bk re the broom volunteers but this is the first post I’ve seen on W/P on the subject and it’s so good to see 🙂 I live in London and my hometown is in Manchester so it’s been very harsh to see them both get trashed, but so heartening too to see these awesome men and women getting out there and showing the true “Blitz spirit!” Let the world take note!!! 🙂

    • Yes – wreckers usually grab the headlines, so it’s good to applaud people (sadly sometimes suffering grievously for) doing constructive work. One of my mates had his car torched. Another faced down guys who were about to do over his vehicle. A third, who doesn’t have a car, was out persuading people to put down their bricks and bottles and wise up and go home.
      I think I’ll do a post on that good guy next.

  11. Peter Rudd

    Interesting post – thanks for putting faces on the event.

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