The London riots ignited a debate here on diablog. At one point I said, our politicians are mad.
Since it is easy to criticize and even easier to blame someone, I also want to suggest a solution.
Before presenting it, I would like to raise awareness to a basic principle of our coexistence, that some people seem to have forgotten.
Most of us live together in states or nations guided by the rule of law.
As part of those laws we all give up the right to use violence. With very few, strictly guided exceptions like self defense, we, the citizens, refrain from using force.
We exclusively gave the right to use violence to our governments, i.e. to the police internally and to the armed forces for defending our nation.
Thus, our governments have a monopoly on violence.
By the way, partially to balance that monopoly, the 2nd Amendment was added to the US constitution.
Now, what does that have to do with riots and our politicians?
Many of the riots in recent history had their root in government officials either abusing the monopoly of violence, or the public felt that the abusers were not held accountable. This is true for the L.A riots after cops beat up a man, the Brooklyn riots after cops shot a man, the London riots after - again - cops shot a man and the recent protest in SF, where security staff of the public transport company have the worst history of violence against people.
What the public was and is missing in all these cases is accountability.
If the people give you special powers, you better be careful and if there is just a hint of abuse, the people want to see checks and balances.
Don't try to hide mistakes.
Don't cover up out of a false sense of loyalty.
Don't underestimate the fury people feel, when they refrain from violence and then become a victim or witness of violence.
What is an appropriate reaction, when a government employee or agent uses violence?
First of all, the highest official, whether it's the head of police or the mayor, has to show up at the scene immediately. This is a crisis and that's when the boss has to show up. No matter what.
Next, whoever used violence has to be suspended immediately and that has to happen in public, for everyone to see. No transfer to office duty, no hiding, no back-room deals. If a citizen uses violence, s/he goes to jail, usually without bail. If an official or an agent uses violence, suspension is a must. People do not want that person allowed to use violence again, until the case is settled.
Next, the person in charge has to announce publicly, that an independent investigation starts right there and then. The investigators have to be named, work in public and have to report to the public. The progress of the investigation as well as its results have to be made public. Again, no back-room deals, no false loyalties.
And at the first sign of public protest against procedures or result of the investigation, again the boss has to meet the protesters and justify it.
Remember, in every democracy worth that name the people are the sovereign. The people give you your powers.
The people have the right to question your actions.
The people have to know how well you are using the powers given to you.
And the people have the right to judge you.
The alternative is canceling the social contract and taking matters into their own hands. And that means riots or revolution.