Q&A with a Young Londoner During the Riots

London Riots

It's been nearly a week since London police shot and killed a young man named Mark Duggan. Since then, what started out as an energetic protest against the police's actions has turned into nationwide rioting. The country's current violence is some of the worst it has seen in its modern history.

We asked our followers in London just what the media isn't telling the world, and 21-year-old Scott Forbes gave us some interesting insight. A sexual health advocate and founder of youth led initiative Global Forum 40, Scott has been in London seeing it all go down. Here's what he had to say:

DoSomething.org: Are people scared? What do young people NOT RIOTING do at night?
Scott Forbes: I think there has been a sense of fear, but people are determined to go about their daily business. What's worrying is the growing vigilante groups, who feel the need to patrol our streets, most of these are people who are aligned with far-right groups like the English Defence League. For those of us not rioting, we are simply at home with our family. There's [also] a voluntary curfew in place to avoid further trouble taking place.

DS: What is one thing that is happening that the news ISN'T telling the world?
SF: Yesterday saw thousands of young people come together to join forces with other members of the community [and] to clean up those areas most affected by the riots. All of this was an action organized on twitter using the hashtag #riotcleanup. The turnout was great and it showed community spirit was still high.

DS: Are people mad at the government?
SF: Our country lacked leadership at a time when we needed our government most. Our Prime Minister refused to return from holiday, the Mayor of London was nowhere to be seen, and it wasn't until we saw the worst of it that they decided to return. So yes, there is a lot of anger and frustration!

DS: Despite the violence, do you support the reason people are upset and decided to riot?
SF:These young people...are living in some of the poorest areas of the UK, where poverty is rife and 1 in 4 are unemployed. They've been failed by society and have been victims of the growing social divide.

DS: How are you doing something to combat it?
SF: I'm working with some other young social entrepreneurs, to organize a community service day in cities across England, whereby youth can come together and do something good. Whether that be cleaning up our local parks, litter picking in our town centers or just generally being of use and showing people that were not all "feral youth."

What Can You Do?

Start taking action in your community. You can strengthen community and discourage discontent by:

  • Posting a project that tells us how you're helping your local area.
  • Signing up for the Do Good, Look Good campaign. It's okay if you don't know exactly what action to take; we'll help you decide.