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London riots: echoes of the past

London riots: echoes of the past
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The United Kingdom has been rocked by the worst social unrest in over three decades.

The riots were sparked after 29-year-old Mark Duggan was shot dead by police.

Some commentators have drawn parallels with the 1981 Brixton riots, immortalised in the song “Guns of Brixton” by The Clash.

On April 10th of that year, two police officers tried to help a black youth, a suspected stabbing victim, in the south London borough.

A group of angry locals approached the officers, believing they were racially harassing the young man.

He later died of his injuries and rumours spread the police had failed to provide proper medical care.

The Metropolitan Police had increasingly used stop and search powers in bid to tackle crime in the area.

Thirty years later the young people of south London speak of similar problems.

They say tensions with the authorities remain and complain that they have little prospect of finding a job in the current economic climate.

Yet their voices have been drowned out amid the condemnation of the looting.

The reaction on social networking sites has been almost universal: Britons say poverty is no excuse for violence.