Britain considers mask ban; may use army if unrest continues


114 Responses to “Britain considers mask ban; may use army if unrest continues”

  1. snusles says:

    And while they’re at it, why not finally push through the compulsory ID card idea?  Oh, and how about a DNA database?  Grim, grim, grim.  Let’s just see how long it takes for these measures to be used against peaceful protestors and not just rioters/looters.

  2. tp1024 says:

    Actually, this has been the case in Germany for the last 26 years now.

    • Blaze Curry says:

      And can you see Germany ripping the rug out from beneath its elderly/youths/poor and then abusing those who protest it?
      That’s the difference. The problem here is that Britain WILL abuse this, and has done so many bad things that they do not deserve/cannot be trusted with such police powers.

      • tp1024 says:

        That was no apology – just a piece of information.

        As for ripping the rug out from beneath the elderly/youths/poor … wait for the current economic crisis to peter out. Germany has cut its social nets to pieces and profited from the bailouts in the rest of the EU and the USA much more than all the other countries – had it not been for those, Germany would be in a dire situation indeed. Because its economy suffered more from the depression in 2008/9 than the UK and will do so again and much more permanently in the one coming up in 2011+.

        An export led economy can easily recover from a plunge in exports – if the exports can quickly resume, e.g. after the countries it’s exporting to (and those countries’ banks) have been bailed out. But now  that bailouts are pretty much out of the question for lack of money (and the ever more staggering sums involved – to now also bail out Italy or Spain … and now even France seems to be in trouble), such a plunge becomes much more permanent.

  3. phisrow says:

    I’m assuming that the logic(to the degree there is any, I’m sure plenty of illogic is at work as well) is that police can issue verbal orders, over megaphones or LRADs, substantially faster and more broadly than they can physically make arrests. If the police have powers to order masks removed, they can issue the order to an entire crowd at a time. At that point, anybody still masked is in violation. With the assortment of interesting ‘persistent-taggant’ systems on the market(various paintballs, sprays, dyes, etc. used for mass-marking of people in a particular location) and widespread CCTV, you can then divide the crowd into the unmasked(who get identified from CCTV and charged with whatever they are doing) and the masked(who are picked up on taggant sweeps through places where undesireables are known to congregate and then charged with being masked in defiance of a lawful order)…

  4. Russell Barth says:

    make everything illegal. That is the ONLY way we can ever be safe.

  5. ocschwar says:

    In lots of the US, wearing a mask with intent to break the law is a crime (the Ku Klux Klan can pat itself in the back for getting these laws put in place over 100 years ago).

    If British progressives want to have a social protest that’s not tainted with this looting, they can copy Tel Aviv and Cairo: set up camp in Trafalgar Square and just stay there. 

  6. Nicholas Tuzzio says:

    Basically, people in this thread are going to have to pick one of two groups to side with:  a dozen people wearing Guy Fawkes masks to protect themselves from Scientologists, or a couple thousand people wearing bandannas over their faces so that they can destroy, loot, and assault people.  I’d rather see the rioters stopped.  

    • plingboot says:

      I would also like to see rioters stopped but I can’t see how enacting new laws is going to help.

      These people are burning down buildings and looting. They are already breaking laws.  

      Why do we need to  invent new ones?  Do you think the fact that wearing  scarf over your face is illegal will deter these kids?

      • Nicholas Tuzzio says:

        Yes, actually, I do think that making that scarf-wearing illegal would deter these kids.  In these videos, not all of the people are wearing masks.  Not all of the ones who are wearing masks are doing something obviously illegal.  However, given what happened in England over the last few days, I think it is extremely reasonable to say that anyone wearing a mask was doing it for a specific reason- to separate their identity from their actions.  When you see a person milling around in a mask but not doing anything at the moment, I also think it is extremely reasonable to assume that they were doing something wrong before or after that moment.  Wandering around in a mask was a good sign that you were coming from doing something bad or going to do something bad.  Cops would have liked to stop the people in masks- because they probably just broke or stole something.  If they could have forced people to remove their masks on threat of arrest, we might have more CCTV of criminals who were masked when captured by other cameras.  Additionally, if they could have arrested people who disobeyed, we would have discovered and confiscated more weapons and stolen goods.  If people know that their mask is not going to protect them from the cops, they would be less likely to do the things that they needed a mask to do.  

    • ultranaut says:

      My bandanna is strictly for protective purposes only. Tear gas is a bitch.

    • Cowicide says:

      Basically, people in this thread are going to have to pick one of two groups to side with

      I’d love to live in your simple, simple world.  But, alas, I live within the complexities of reality.

      educate yourself

      • Nicholas Tuzzio says:

        Operative word in my post being “basically”.  I understand that it’s possible that there’s a dude in England who just happened to be taking his evening Halloween-mask walk and was surprised that there were riots going on, but he’s not really relevant to this conversation, is he?  I presented what I perceived to be the best and worst of mask wearing in a way that would help people think about what they were gaining or losing by not allowing them.
        I’m starting to get sick of people responding to my comments on BoingBoing with an insult and nothing else.  

    • travtastic says:

      So, we’re either with the terrorists, or against the terrorists.

      Get on it, BB.

  7. Targe says:

    “Can you imagine a criminal activity (such as looting) where the appropriate response is to demand someone remove a mask instead of simply arresting them for the crime?”

    At the moment, the problem is that the police in any one location are significantly outnumbered by fast-moving gangs.  So you end up with fluid situations where there’s a number of policemen, and suddenly ten people in hoods and masks turn up.  The police can’t do anything with these people (arresting, detaining) unless they commit a crime, even though their intent is pretty clear at this point.  If the police outnumber the “gang”, the gang runs off to the next place, as the police can’t do anything. If the “gang” outnumbers the police, they go for the shop.

    If the masks could be removed, the anonymity disappears, and the roving groups suddenly become a bit more accountable for actions later on.

    • Wally Ballou says:

      What the non-rioting people of Britain have now re-learned is that when seconds count, the police are only minutes away.  It will be interesting to see what they do with that knowledge.

      • phisrow says:

        I’m assuming that the BNP and friends are printing up the promotional literature as we speak… 

        The DIY ethos isn’t just for ‘Makers’ and cute little instructables projects, some people are willing(or even delighted) to apply it to issues of social order, especially if they think that the cops won’t…

    • Alvis says:

      “At the moment, the problem is that the police in any one location are significantly outnumbered by fast-moving gangs.”

      I argue that personal privacy is more important than making some people’s jobs easier.

  8. sabeke says:

    The following bumperstickers come to mind:

    “Whan masks are outlawed, only outlaws will have masks.”
    “You can have my mask when you pry it from my cold, dead fingers.”
    “God, masks, and guts made Britain free, fight to keep all three.”

  9. fraac says:

    It’s summer, kids loot. Grow up and deal with it, I say. I watched an hour or so of news and it was a stream of angry parental types with no interest in communication, just wanting to spank someone. Heads of police and government no different. Our society is totally immature. 

    • ocschwar says:

      “It’s summer, kids loot.”

      I must have had a deprived childhood. Well, I actually did, homeless shelter for a summer at age 14, but never mind that. Point is, I never looted anything, and that’s just not fair.  Well, I know what I’m ddoing when it’s time for  the midlife crisis.

    • pkpk says:

      “It’s summer, kids loot. Grow up and deal with it, I say.”

      WTF???  We should accept arson and robbery, and just “grow up”???  You’re insane.

    • cybergibbons says:

      “It’s summer, kids loot.”
      Are you living in an alternate world where this happens each year? Are you totally ignorant of the adults pleading guilty to looting in court?

  10. alllie says:

    The plutocracy has to keep the people down. Now when the rich steal, it’s okay, cause they don’t wear masks. The mobs would have to loot for a hundred years before they stole as much as the bankers. When do the bankers get arrested? When does the PM call out the army against them? Oh, right, it’s okay for bankers to steal, okay for them to use “corporate” masks to hide their identities when they rip people off, cause they are the masters and we are the slaves, in all but name. We can’t infringe on the master’s privilege of stealing from the people. Still, the rioters were fools to riot in their own neighborhoods. Don’t they know where the rich people live? Do they claim it’s too far? Versailles is 10 miles from Paris but the mobs were able to bring revolution to Louis’ door, walking all the way.

  11. Chris Deke says:

    So while I identify that a lot of this riot is not necessarily being done as a legitimate protest, I’m not sure the correct response here is _more_ police powers. 

    Maybe, oh I don’t know, someone needs to open a dialogue with those who are feeling so disaffected by the current system that they seem to want to tear it down…

    As an outsider looking in, the lack of personal freedom and liberty in the UK would make me want to riot. 

    • Symbiote says:

      >  As an outsider looking in, the lack of personal freedom and liberty in the UK would make me want to riot.

      Which freedoms would those be?  You’ll notice that the three restrictions suggested above don’t yet exist.

  12. Max Hodges says:

    >Among the post-riot measures to be enacted in Britain, Reuters reports, will be controls on face coverings 

    why not just make looting illegal? oh…it already is? And they think looters will comply with a ban on masks?

  13. Mike Greco says:

    I love how so many of you clownshoes are immediately jumping to the extreme conclusion that the government is using the riots to clamp down on civil liberties.  You guys are as bad as Glenn fucking Beck.

    • Max Hodges says:

      it doesn’t seem far-fetched to me at all. As with 9/11, these riots could be used to make ‘shock-doctrine’ style legislative changes to strip away further civil liberties.

      Breaking news: British MP calls for ban on BlackBerry SMS

    • Haakon IV says:

      I love how so many of you clownshoes are immediately jumping to the extreme conclusion that the government is using the riots to clamp down on civil liberties.  You guys are as bad as Glenn fucking Beck.

      Except that the Prime Minister is citing “phony human rights concerns” and there are calls from members of his party in Parliament to scrap the Human Rights Act.  The concerns are real.  This is not a great time to make lasting policy decisions.

    • Bubba73 says:

      “David Cameron has told parliament that in the wake of this week’s riots the government is looking at banning people from using social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook if they are thought to be plotting criminal activity.”
      Not ‘convicted of’ but ‘thought to be’. 
      What size shoe do you wear Mike?

      Edit: Sorry above quote found here

    • xopl says:

      I have found you can find happiness in slavery.

  14. As long as the gap between the untouchable rich and the poor is so vast, there will periodically be riots.  As mention above, no bankers, no police and not many politicians have been jailed for what they’ve done to the UK over the last couple of years.

    A ban on masks?  I’d like to see them try.  Especially when the mask-wearers also wear these:

  15. jmcgarry says:

    Certainly the police do need more power. Imagine if you will, that the police had the power to act immediately, instead of being forced to wait those three long days.

    • snusles says:

      Why do they have to wait ‘three long days’?  Can they not just arrest the looters at the time of looting?  As far as I know, that’s how the law works in the UK.  

  16. Yes, you are correct, society is immature when folks believe it is perfectly okay to loot and steal things, and people search for reasons to support the activity.  Being downtrodden is a poor excuse for looting and burning homes down.  I agree  there is social inequality, but these actions do not advance the cause.

  17. Halloween Jack says:

    Good luck with that mask ban if/when those hyperrealistic masks drop a bit in price. You’ll have a flash mob of David Camerons and Boris Johnsons ripping the heart out of London.

    • pkpk says:

      It’s not a mask ban.  This is giving the police the ability to ask people to remove masks. 

      • Police already have the power to ask people to remove masks, and have had it since the early 1990s. This means they won’t be able to put them on again. The difference is “let me look at your face” vs. “don’t wear that mask.”

  18. SlugO83 says:

    Britain is paying for its mistakes that they’ve made since the 60′s. You really shouldn’t stuck all the poor people in separate shitty slums.

    Also they’ve allowed their police way too much unnecessary power since the 80′s Thatcher era. Riots like this have happened before and there have been unjust rulings and police brutality. That has left a deep mistrust between some of the population and the police.

    But hey, if you’re striving to become a police state then you gotta go all the way, baby!

  19. themac says:

    Hypocrites! It’s amazing the difference in perception when the insurgency is in an “advanced” country. We have been inundated with glowing reports about the Arab Spring and the amazing stand people have taken all over the world in response to economic/political/social crises but take to the streets in UK or USA and it’s a different story all together. I have heard the press/politicos refer to these folks as “feral”, “animals”, “lazy”, “leeches on the system”, “criminally inclined”. It’s disgusting code-speak for racism and class-ism. But go ahead, roll out your army (like Mubarak and Gaddafi) and clear the streets of the people the government’s philosophies/practices have isolated via poverty, cut more social resources like education and community outreach in the name of “austerity”, then it will be easier to round them up and overcrowd the prison system with more poor/ethnic citizens. Don’t waste anyone’s time trying to honestly assess what is happening and make constructive corrections, they aren’t fellow humans anyway.

    • What absolute nonsense. The riots have nothing to do with insurgency nor have they anything to do with the legitimate peaceful protests that happened last week. These are purely the greedy, violent opportunistic actions of thieves and murderers. Ask anyone in the communities they’re trying to destroy, and it’s nothing to do with “class” or “race”, simply look at the classes and races of the victims, not to mention the ones arrested and brought to the courts.

    • mguffin says:

      I too call Bullshit on your provocative – albeit amusing – excuse-ism. We’re talking criminality not Insurgency. And banning masks in a  specific time and situation, such as the looting areas this week not only makes sense, it’s covered under section 25 of the 1968 Theft Act, see below: in this case taking a mask to a loot-in is pretty clearly what’s called ‘going equipped to steal’ in the trade. Most importantly you’ll notice the Act DOESN’T cover political protest – just burglary, theft or cheating. So we can all calm down and neither pass hasty, bad laws nor increase the police state one whit, actually. Hope that cheers you up a bit.

      (1) A person shall be guilty of an offence if, when not at his place of abode, he has with him any article for use in the course of or in connection with any burglary, theft or cheat.(3) Where a person is charged with an offence under this section, proof that he had with him any article made or adapted for use in committing a burglary, theft or cheat shall be evidence that he had it with him for such use.

  20. xopl says:

    So what’s the plan then exactly with the Army? Assault or murder your own citizens?

    I just love how everybody is so quick to assume that these are just hooligans out for a laugh. “Young people out of control.” And where do you think they learned that from? Old people are out of control, and setting an example.

  21. Duane Pierce says:

    Yeah, I think we’re skipping over the really devious part:

    “We are working with the Police, the intelligence services and industry to look at whether it would be right to stop people communicating via these websites and services when we know they are plotting violence, disorder and criminality,”

    This is exactly what they did in those Middle Eastern countries to quell, what many believe to be, legitimate protests. What do you think are the odds that the exact same thing will be done in the UK?

    If a few stores have to burn so that the cops can disrupt cell phones whenever a sporting event gets too rowdy, or people get all uppity about their right to freedom of assembly (or the UK equivalent) well, that’s a small price to pay.

  22. ocschwar says:

    “Hypocrites! It’s amazing the difference in perception when the insurgency is in an “advanced” country. We have been inundated with glowing reports about the Arab Spring and the amazing stand people have taken all over the world in response to economic/political/social crises but take to the streets in UK or USA and it’s a different story all together”


    The protesters on Cairo risked their lives and did not loot a single store. And the storekeepers around Tahrir Square welcomed them to take cover whenever the Muhabarat charged in.

    The protesters in Tel Aviv are not looting.  They’re not risking their lives either, but they’re grinning and bearing with camping out on sun-blasted pavement  to make their point. 

    If these looters went to the home of one of the corrupt members of parliament who fiddled their expense reports, and relived HIM of his luxury possessions, that would be one thing. But all they are doing is looting stores based on the ethnicity of the owners. (No, really. There is a distinct pattern of targetting Indians for looting.)  They should be rounded up to an island in the Hebrides and left there. 

    • themac says:

      Thank you for perfectly exemplifying exactly what I was commenting on regarding perception. You’re right, in Tahrir they didn’t loot, instead they performed virginity tests and raped women publicly, thank god they didn’t trash some stores. In Tel aviv people are being beaten by government operatives but hooray for keeping the stores safe. So yeahs for the protesters who have NATO support and go screw anyone else. Yes, let’s exile them further away from the ghetto slums they are already “living” in because the best way to solve a problem is by hiding it away.

      • Wally Ballou says:

        If I had a (real or imagined) grievance against Themac, and as a result accosted Themac on a street corner and began to methodically beat the shit out of Themac, how many punches do you feel Themac should be required to stand still and absorb?

      • ocschwar says:

        “You’re right, in Tahrir they didn’t loot, instead they performed virginity tests and raped women publicly, thank god they didn’t trash some stores.”

        Who the fuck is this “they”? Last I checked it’s the military that performed the virginity tests, and one, specifically one incident where a woman was assaulted in the Square. Are you going to tarnish the entire Egyptian liberation with that? 

        • themac says:

          I am merely pointing out, and you are demonstrating perfectly, the fact that people look in the direction they want to look, they see things in the way they want to in order to suit their needs whether they be political, social, emotional, etc. It is all subjective.

          Perhaps for you, your fear comes from being a middle-class capitalist who feels safe within the confines of the current system whereas someone else could be a 3rd generation semi-illiterate who hasn’t found decent work in years and feels marginalized, disenfranchised, and ignored by that same system. 

          Is one of us correct and the other incorrect? Is there not room to look at all sides of the situation. When the suggestions like “exile” and “rounding them up” are predominant it is evidence of a greater problem (than property being destroyed) that needs to be addressed. 

          But back Tahrir specifically, no, I’m not tarnishing anything, many Egyptians did their own tarnishing when decided that democracy is only for men 

          FYI her name is Lara Logan, not “a woman”.

  23. This is completely unfair to the makers of Groucho glasses.

  24. TheDorkReport says:

    I wondered if Alan Moore or David Lloyd are on record about how the V for Vendetta mask design has been adopted, sincerely or otherwise, and found this short interview with Lloyd:

  25. kent williams says:

    It’s already illegal in Germany to obscure your identity in a demonstration.   Anonymity should not itself be a crime.

    I get really sick of laws made to counter the real problem — police can’t be bothered to do their job properly.  In my town, people 19 and up used to be able to enter bars to socialize as long as they didn’t drink (21 being the legal drinking age).   The local police could have made underage drinking a priority, increased their presence in the bars where underage drinking took place.  Instead, they made it illegal for anyone under 21 to be in a bar after 10PM.

    The principle here is disturbing.  Should we be making innocent behavior illegal, in the hope that it will curb actual illegal behavior?

  26. Jonathan Roberts says:

    The police in Manchester are complaining that it’s difficult to arrest people when they’re in a large group – you could be attacked by other members of the group when trying to make an arrest. Am I the only one who sees the urgent need for kabaddi training in modern police forces?

  27. jphilby says:

    It’s possible that some of us in the US are unaware that UK terrorist legislation has made people subject to search without cause at any time … and that this (and problems with law enforcement leadership) has to led to police abuse of these powers in recent months.

  28. worst of all, i can 100% confirm this, police is pulling old records of people living close the affected zones in london and just go round their houses and search their houses without warrant or any kind of evidence whatsoever. this happened to my friend whos been in prison a few years ago but he has since turned his life around and is himself employed by an organization helping young people after they come out of prison etc. they also made racist remarks during the search because hes black “its not your country anyway” and said he should be quiet since hes getting benefits for his flat and could get kicked out if they find anything. 

  29. Roberta X says:

    “…[V]ictory over himself.  He loved Big Brother.”  Eric Blair of Sunnybook-frickin’ Farm, he was.

  30. masamunecyrus says:

    More police power in response to angry riots revolting against overpowering police presences and behaviors!

    Hello from the the US, pals. Anyone up for betting which one of us two countries is going to win the race to 1984?

    • Hello from Airstrip One.  You’re asking the wrong question.  Perhaps “How long have you lived 1984″?  We have the cameras, you have the political will.  Just a bit more effort is required by our respective leaders.

  31. ZikZak says:

    Jesus, what is it with the fixation on looting?  For some reason, nothing outrages the middle class more: Poor people taking things without asking nicely for them.  Remember Katrina?  All that madness going on, and everyone rushed to condemn the looting as though it was the primary emergency.  The top priority of the police seemed to be “stop the looting!”

    Looting is not a problem here, foiks.  Out of control fires?  Ok.  Civilians being attacked?  That could be bad.  But those kind of occurrences are actually pretty infrequent – and committed by a much smaller minority of rioters – compared to the most horrible of offenses: stealing from a shop.

    I think it’s a class thing.  Middle class people are taught that stealing is wrong and one must never take something without paying for it, because that’s what makes society fair.  To poor people, everything is theft.  Their whole lives consist of being stolen from by landlords, cops, bosses, the government, and sometimes even their neighbors.  They realize that stealing is literally the only way they will get a piece of the pie.  But then when they go and do it, we get all these middle class folks saying “Shame on you, that’s not fair play!”  Motherfucker, the class system is not fair.  If you’re so upset about looting, maybe you shouldn’t allow your entire society to be based around the looting of the poor.

    • ocschwar says:

      “Jesus, what is it with the fixation on looting? ” You mean you have no idea what it’s like to save up and risk your entire life’s savings in a little corner of a city ? 

      • ZikZak says:

        No, I have no idea what that’s like.  In fact, very few people do, because the archetypical poor small business entrepreneur is in fact so rare as to be practically imaginary, compared to the vast majority of businesses owned by local rich people or international megacorps.  But I do have an idea what it’s like to live in the crushing poverty of the ghetto, suffocated by omnipresent racist police.
        Which experience do you think is more prevalent?  Which is more deserving of your sympathy?  Why do you think you so aggressively take the side of the shop owners?  Could it be that you are not in fact concerned with their fate as individuals, but rather with the fate of your own ethical framework in which property rights are a sacred cow?

        • Bubba73 says:

          Most folks who live in ‘crushing poverty’ don’t have Blackberrys and if they were out stealing surely some food would be a higher priority than a 3D TV or a pair of Nikes. 
          There are social problems that have a great bearing on the roots of the riots but let’s not turn scumbag blaggers into victims.

    • ocschwar says:

      “Motherfucker, the class system is not fair.  If you’re so upset about looting, maybe you shouldn’t allow your entire society to be based around the looting of the poor.”

      You know, I wouldn’t do it, but if somebody waited for you to go away for a weekend and announced a big housecooling party at your home, with all your stuff to be given away to guests, I would not share any tears.

      And I say this as someone from a very poor background. FUCK YOU. To poor people, not everything is theft. 

      • ZikZak says:

        Sorry, I wasn’t intending to call you names, poor use of rhetoric.  BoingBoing discussions are not a personal matter for either of us, so there’s no need for personal attacks.

        • ocschwar says:

          As someone who has spent parts of his youth in a miserable slum, I take great offence when I see someone refusing to draw a distinction between people who are stuck in a miserable slum, and people who are working to keep the slum miserable. And make no mistake, in the Western World, living conditions in the slums are largely the result of the presence of people with antisocial tendencies. 

          • waetherman says:

            Or one could say that the presence of people with antisocial tendencies is largely the result of living conditions in slums. People who live in poor neighborhoods aren’t there because they’re bad people, but living in poor neighborhoods can sure shape the life of those living there in a negative way.

            But wait – maybe by “living conditions in the slums are largely the result of the presence of people with antisocial tendencies” you meant the antisocial tendencies of those who are responsible for creating the slums in the first place; the politicians, the corporations, the conservatives… all those that “kettle” the poor in bad areas, deny them of social safety nets, infrastructure, and who don’t see the wisdom of providing education and decent paying jobs. That I would certainly agree with.

  32. we_the_people324 says:

    Yes. Instead of compromising and trying to make things right with the protesters/looters, lets enact draconian laws/rules that I’m sure won’t seem totalitarian to the protesters. The British gov is signing their death-wish, the only path they can walk now is to continue to go down the road of totalitarianism or try to find a peaceful solution to the confusion and frustration the people have in these turbulent times. Either way they’re fucked.

  33. CastanhasDoPara says:

    Poor people steal, let’s call out the army.

    Middle class people steal, put them in jail for a bit.

    Rich people steal, give them a pat on the back and even more loot.

    I know that sort of oversimplifies things and totally ignores the destruction these riots are causing but, and I am in no way condoning the mindless destruction of the rioters own neighborhoods, the destruction that was leveled on society from the rich banksters is orders of magnitude higher than what a rowdy bunch of youths are currently doing. One could even go so far as to trace this wave of destruction back to the rich and powerful that stole the youths’ future in the first place. So it seems plausible that again the rich fucks at the top are at least tangentially involved. I might even be persuaded that this whole situation was part of the plan from day one.

    It’s at least an example of what I like to call ‘treacle down economics’ (not a typo).

    • knoxblox says:

      Sure, the bankers may have put them in this situation, but then why aren’t the looters destroying the bankers’ homes, instead of their own communities? Your argument still becomes a poor rationalization for lack of judgment and criminal behavior.

      Like I’ve said before, the riotous element of former Soviet bloc countries rioted SO much better than we (Moldova 2009, Romania 1989) because they knew where to lash out (parliament and other government buildings) and who to lash out against (police and communist officials). If you’re going to condone the violence, at least be smart enough to know where to strike.

      • CastanhasDoPara says:

        First of all from the post you reply to, ‘…and I am in no way condoning the mindless destruction…’

        And yes, they should be targeting the banks and bankers and any other gluttonous pigs that went along with all that went into the making of a bad situation. But let’s be frank here, rioting is rioting and it’s not organized, rational or well thought out in most cases. It seems that what these kids are doing is acting out of frustration, rage and disgust. When things are very bleak people attack like wild animals backed into a corner and don’t care who’s in the way. What I say may explain these actions but it in no way condones them.

        Furthermore, in the former Soviet Bloc there was systematic oppression across the board and those people for one thing didn’t really have anything worth torching besides the apparatus of the state and for another thing they had known for decades that it was the apparatus of the state that had the boot on their neck. In this case, I’m not so sure that these kids know who to blame and even if they do it’s not like they have the resources to take on the state. On the other side maybe they are smart enough NOT to take the fight to the state and the rich because they know full well that they would be crushed like bugs in an instant if they did. Either way only time will tell if this riotous rage will find a more suitable target to our liking. And really this is not our fight it is theirs and given that we really don’t know what is going through their minds or what their goals are or even if they have any it’s a strange to debate where they should be focusing their efforts.

        • knoxblox says:

          There’s plenty of stuff they could have looted in downtown Chisinau, just a short distance from parliament. Nike and Puma shops, clothing stores, restaurants, and liquor stores, as well as the downtown mall. Yet they chose to storm and destroy the presidential offices in parliament.

          “And really this is not our fight it is theirs and given that we really
          don’t know what is going through their minds or what their goals are or
          even if they have any it’s a strange to debate where they should be
          focusing their efforts.”
          It’s also a strange debate to try to justify looting in the name of true protest.

          I just can’t sympathize with some young person who’s got a blackberry, fancier kicks than I do, wearing sport clothing saying he doesn’t have anything, so he’s got the right to bust up the local shops.
          If like myself, they had a broken Razr, a salvage parts bicycle, and were wearing simple clothing that’s at least 3 years old, I MIGHT take them more seriously, but yet in my position I still wouldn’t condone the looting.

          • CastanhasDoPara says:

            Friend, I’ll try this one more time, I AM NOT CONDONING NOR AM I TRYING TO JUSTIFY LOOTING. Sorry to yell, but I think that nuance may have slipped through a crack somewhere in my two previous posts. What these kids are doing is ignorant and counter-productive to their cause if they even have one. For the ones that do have a cause it saddens me to think that they think this is the only thing they can do. And the ones that know better should be trying to lead, organize or otherwise shift the focus of the groups rage somewhere more suitable. Though as stated before this may not be easy, wise or more productive to their ends.

            I’ll compare my stats with you just for grins, a sort of comparison of priorities in life if you will. My phone: a seven year old motorola v557 with wonky keys, my bicycle: a 15 year old rust bucket with no rear brakes and stiff shifters which essentially give me only two gears, my clothes: range from ten years old up to almost new off the thrift store rack. Of course this is all my choice so it may not be the same. Though I probably wouldn’t be too far off in assuming that you, like me, choose to spend your money on other things. But does that really diminish our capacity to take these kids seriously? I think it behooves us and everybody else to take them seriously because if nothing else we can clearly see that something is wrong with the world if these kids are rioting and I doubt it has anything to do with what kicks they have on or what phone they use. And I still DON’T condone them looting or setting their neighborhoods alight. I can understand and empathize even at this far remove from the real situation while not agreeing with their actions. Is it really that hard?

          • knoxblox says:

            Please understand, I am not saying YOU are justifying the looting, but the justifications the looters are inventing for themselves and their situation. If they are capable of this, then they are also capable of understanding right from wrong, and who they truly should be directing their rage at.
            When I hear a young woman telling a reporter that she’s looting a clothing store because she’s “taking back our taxes”, I don’t believe she truly thinks that’s what her taxes had gone to support. I don’t think she’s an idiot incapable of understanding her own actions. I do believe I am giving her the credit she deserves when I assume she knows that what she is doing is not truly justifiable.

          • CastanhasDoPara says:

            Fair enough. I suppose I was starting to lose a bit of objectivity there for a moment, but it sure seemed like I was being misunderstood. To make up for that slight misunderstanding let me ask you this. Does the media always strive for objectivity? The short answer is, not by a damn sight. What I mean here is that it is entirely possible that these reporters are cherry-picking rioter comments based on sensationalism, marginalization of more rational points of view, and the motivation might just be to paint the rioters as nothing but a pack of ignorant yobs out for loot. Of course that’s all speculation on my part but I know I have been misquoted in the press before and it made me look like a fool. And I know other people have been too. Sure it could go either way but in reality a lot of people in media are opportunistic slime just looking for headlines. Given all that I’m not entirely sure we can trust the media in this scenario to depict a proper picture or even refrain from going that extra mile to make these kids look like plain street scum. OTOH, they may be just plain street scum for all I know. Still though I doubt all of them fall into either category entirely, some are no doubt scum and some are no doubt at heart decent kids and most of them should fall somewhere in the middle.

          • knoxblox says:

            Yes, I do think there is some sensationalism, especially as to the scope of the headlines (LONDON BURNING).
            However, I have seen the footage of looters trying to obstruct or attack news videographers and generally trying to prevent people from being identified on camera. In my mind, this is just as heinous and self-incriminating as BP officials and the Coast Guard trying to prevent journalists from filming the Gulf oil spill. The proof is hard to deny when you see this happening on camera, even without running commentary, and exemplifies an awareness of what they are doing.

      • Antinous / Moderator says:

        …why aren’t the looters destroying the bankers’ homes, instead of their own communities?

        Because the bankers live far from these people and have guards in their neighborhoods. Witnesses said that there was very little police presence in the affected neighborhoods during the first night of rioting. The people who own society are satisfied to have poor people loot any area that doesn’t affect them. Where do you think the absent police were?

        • prentiz says:

          Really?  Tottenham is about 10 miles from Chelsea – not exactly the Great Salt March in a city with good public transport.  Plus I’m not sure I saw the story about the armies of private security guards there – do you have a link? I think, if anything is clear, it is that the Government are pretty uncool with poor or rich people looting in any area at the moment…

        • Cowicide says:

          Right and the other problem is if mobs start going after bankers’ homes, they’ll inevitably get the wrong house and torch some civil rights activist’s multimillion dollar mansion…  er, wait….


  34. HeartsinaBox says:

    If the riots have taught me anything, is that if the UK actually wanted a proper, legitimate revolution, then the government is fucked.

    This was only a few thousand people, in a few places, and the police were unable to respond. If the people of the UK had real grievances, then no extra powers will stop the people of the country.

    • catherinecc says:

      Ditto with any other country unless the leadership is willing to cluster bomb civilians. In that case your choice is also clear.

    • mguffin says:

      Er… not to underplay the acuity of your vision, but doesn’t that apply to pretty much any non-military dictatorship?

  35. extra88 says:

    Could new de-masking powers lead to facepaint street fashion as seen in some of the best distopian films? And no mere KISS makeup or something from a “reimagined” version of The Warriors but something involving dazzle camouflage techniques?

  36. Tommy Timefishblue says:

    Anyone think this face-covering thing will affect muslim women?

  37. ark3 says:

    what non UK residents may not realise is that we have many laws here, covering just about everything.  But we prefer not to use them in case we break the currently unassailable law of ‘human rights’, these rights only apply to the perpetrators though; victims have no rights…

  38. Baldhead says:

    If you are masked in a riot situation, it can be reasonably assumed you are up to no good. Of course this applies equally to any police officers who remove their own identification, and the law should reflect that.

  39. Mike Greco says:

    Did Boing Boing actually fucking censor me by deleting my reply to Bubba73?! 
    In a thread about civil liberties, at that.
    Boing Boing, please go fuck yourself.

    • Bubba73 says:

      “Did Boing Boing actually fucking censor me by deleting my reply to Bubba73?!  
      In a thread about civil liberties, at that.
      Boing Boing, please go fuck yourself.”
      No Mike the internet is self-correcting and just figured it should work around you. :)

    • Hilariously, your comments get removed now when enough readers flag them for being, well, like this. It’s awesome! 

      • Cowicide says:

        Hilariously, your comments get removed now when enough readers flag them for being, well, like this. It’s awesome!

        [cow's mouth drops in awe that none of cows posts have been removed lately]

  40. andbigdaddy2 says:

    I love this fixation on people looting their own neighborhoods that makes
    me laugh every time. Are they supposed to take the bus to a better
    neighbor hood loot then catch a bus home. If they are poor they don’t
    have a car. If they do have a car the best way to loot is get your car
    keys and 50 of your best Friends split the cost of gas all pile into
    your 4 door car drive to a nice neighborhood and loot then all pile back
    in with all your loot and drive home. Not chance you’ll get caught on
    the way. Have you ever been poor I mean actually poor? Not I cant get
    that new Ipad on launch day poor. When you have nothing you don’t go to
    wholefoods and loot. Hell you don’t even know where it is never been
    there never will go there. Most crap neighborhoods don’t have nice
    stores and don’t have a grocery store at all they have pawnshops and
    corner stores and other places where milk costs a $1.50 more than at a
    grocery store pampers cost $3.00 more where the most inexpensive meal
    you can get is fast food. Why buy an mealy apple for a $1.50 when you
    can buy a double cheese burger. Most shop owners in poor neighborhoods
    don’t live in the neighborhood. they have money not tons they aren’t
    Donald Trump but they have money which is more than the people they make
    their living off of have. When you have nothing anyone with something
    is the enemy. Even if all they have is a store in a bad area of town.

    • knoxblox says:

      The problem here is that looting isn’t the answer. If they’ve truly got a
      problem with the police and the authority, there’s at least 4 stations in or near
      Tottenham they could have gone and rioted at.

      Also, if distance is a problem, consider the rural Moldovan youth I know
      who traveled up to 30 km (a little less than 19 miles) to participate
      in the protests, in response to a simple Tweet.

      “When you have nothing anyone with something is the enemy.”

      If you can’t figure out for
      yourself about how to go after the true enemy (who is not your neighbor, or even a small business owner, but the major corporations who shape policy), then you’re going to continue to have nothing. Right?

  41. Trent Baker says:

    When will politicians stop addressing the symptoms rather than effecting a cure? This serves no purpose other than to generate punitive measures for the sake of being spiteful.
    The only positive I could see coming out of this is the acceleration of the space race so that Britain can ship its criminal class off to Mars.

    • ocschwar says:

      ” This serves no purpose other than to generate punitive measures for the sake of being spiteful.”

      Not just spite. If the looters are locked up, the rest of us can enjoy a long vacation from having to be near them.

  42. wylkyn says:

    Is there a ban on makeup? If not, facepaint would work well. What about wigs where the hair hangs down over the face? Will they ban hair? Big sunglasses? How about holding a big bunch of flowers that blocks the view of your face? Dress like a clown or a mime. When laws are made, just get creative. This is why draconian security measures are largely pointless. Those that are truly motivated will find some way around them.

    • Mike Greco says:

      “those that are truly motivated will find some way around them”

      Yeah, these measures are meant to weed out the troublemakers because they aren’t motivated, they’re opportunistic. So you’ve proven the validity of the point you’re arguing against. You fail. 

  43. andbigdaddy2 says:

    I don’t think the looters think that by looting they are fixing anything. They are expressing the rage they feel everyday. I don’t think they gather together and say “Okay the system is setup to chew us up digest us and crap us out into a nice pine box. We should loot the corner store to change all the things that are wrong with the system.”
    If you don’t trust the system and you believe the system is set up to only keep you from ever achieving more. Why would you believe the system is something you can control and have it work for you?

  44. Cowicide says:

    Prime Minister David Cameron said on Thursday, saying he would not allow a “culture of fear” to exist on the streets.

    Unless it’s state sanctioned fear, of course.

  45. Chevan says:

    “For what criminal activities (such as looting) is the appropriate
    response to demand someone remove a mask, instead of being arresting for
    the crime?”

    Why can’t they do both? Arrest someone for a crime, and if they have a mask on, make them take it off so that they know who to arrest for the crime that was just committed.

    Anonymity is a fine and noble cause for the ideological value of personal privacy, but I have a hard time getting worked up when people want to remove the anonymity of criminals. They never had a right to commit the crime in the first place; why should they just get to walk away effectively invisible?

    • knoxblox says:

      Agreed. I think some people have overlooked the specificity of the quote given…

      “So I can announce today that we are going to give the police the
      discretion to remove face coverings under any circumstances where there
      is reasonable suspicion that they are related to criminal activity.”

  46. Chris Hudson says:

    I can’t believe most people are fixated on the mask ban over the social network snooping! I agree with most of the comments above- if you’re wearing a mask in a crowd of rioters, it’s probably because you’re up to no good. Social networking ( however is (in theory) private communication and we should be entitled to a reasonable level of privacy- if they start on this, where’s the reasonable limit?
    And how different is this from the internet bans in Egypt (even if I don’t personally agree the cause in this case, if we start building the foundations for social network blocking or monitoring by the Government and police, are we not paving the roads to prevent honest revolution if it’s needed)? 

  47. kmoser says:

    Simple solution: wear a motorcycle helmet with a visor.

    It’s only a matter of time before it becomes illegal to wear a beard, baseball hat, and sunglasses.

  48. Time for a reminder that you don’t have some kind of constitutional right to get your comments published by us. We will censor your first-world-problem arse if you veer far from these comment guidelines.

  49. travtastic says:

    I feel that maybe pants and facial hair are being used to commit acts of arson and grand lootery. You know what to do, Britain.

  50. AnthonyC says:

    This reminds me of bank branches that don’t allow masks. If you’ve already decided to ignore the “don’t rob us” policy, why would you comply with the “no masks” policy?

  51. Anon_Mahna says:

    Laws to suppress tend to strengthen what they would prohibit. This is the fine point on which all legal professionals throughout history have based their job security. Radicals are only to be feared when you try to suppress them. You must demonstrate that you will use the best of what they offer.  –Frank Herbert 

  52. I’m thinking that David Cameron secretly has a lot of shares invested in a company that makes wigs and false noses. 

  53. cinerik says:

    Halloween stands a chance of being pretty dull then this year.  Usually it’s a rio… well, it’s a lot of fun.

  54. yrvafhom says:

    I wonder, does he mean face masks like this
    or this
    or this
    or this
    or this
    or this ?

  55. Winski says:

    Welcome to the next to last phase of Orwell’s world…..

  56. Andrés Valenzuela says:

    As said before, lots of eurocentrism here… Trying to compare this to the Arab spring or Tel Aviv is stupid. There, people were (and are) concerned about protecting th legitimacy of their demands by keeping on the “decent” side. It makes your movement much more powerful, since it establishes a great contrast with the repressive response of he state.

    I’ll give you one more example that has been totally overlooked by this site (allways soooo centered in what happens in fist world countries like UK or fancy exotic ones, but overlooking important stuff happening elswhere): right now there’s a huge social movement in Chile that’s demanding acces to good and free education (during Pinochet’s dictatorship the system was privatized and thrown into the most firece market system you can imagine). During the past 2 months (yeah, two months in which BB hasn’t given a sinlge f$&% about it) there has been violence, yes.. but the student’s movement has done everything possible to keep it down. Creative protests like this massive thriller flash mob with student’s wearing signs like “I died in debt” as well as others contrasted with the heavy represive nature of the government’s answer (they even used shifty moves like not letting young people ride the subway in order to prevent them to get to the mannifestations) and won over the rest of the population’s support. Now the movement has grown far beyond the original student’s demmands and has become a transversal demmand for more social justice.

    And as for the rioters and typical “encapuchados” (hood-wearers), it was unveiled that in many cases some of them were undercover police officers!!!!! (Of course not all, but this is clearl a nasty move from the police). The solution student’s have come up is kicking out the rioters hemselves from their manifestatiosn:

    Sorry that there’s no english, but as said before the north doesn’t seem to care about what happens outside the UK these days.

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