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ri m moiweison
Dy LOU ANN JONES
Although there are similarities between
the recent urban youth riots in Britain and
those of the 60s in the United States, a
conservative economic program rather than
racial tensions has provoked the outbursts,
by British youths, one UNC professor said,
"The riots in Britain aren't racially
motivated," said james H. Thompson, his
tory professor and director of the library at
UNC-C. "Both blacks and whites are
together against the establishment
"The 60s riots in the U.S. were racially
motivated in support of civil rights, public
facilities, and voting for blacks," he con
tinued. "Except for some resentment among im
migrants from commonwealth nations
against police this is basically hot the prob-
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lem or the motivation in England."
Thompson cited economic problems, par
ticularly high unemployment in the more
industrial cities of England, as a partial
cause of the social unrest among youths. He
said he perceived it as more a psychological
"The economic situation the unemploy
ment, the malaise plus the lack of govern
ment programs to modernize the urban core
causes a rotting of the industrial cities and a
deep mental depression," he said.
Thompson said he does, not blame only
the tight monetary policies of Prime Minister
Margaret R. Thatcher for the violence.
"If not just Thatcher. It goes back to the
fault of the labor governments as well as the
conservative governments now," he said.
Some political leaders believe there could
be protests against President Reagan's poli
cies in the form of riots just as there have
been against Thatcher's policies. Thompson
'Certainly there is a lesson to be learned
by us from whafs going on in Britain,'
Thompson said. If a disadvantaged class
thinks the government doesn't care, whether
it's practical or in its perception, there still is '
Anthony Jones, assistant professor of
sociology at UNC, described the riots in
Britain as class riots.
"It is a mixture of two separate groups
who'd be left out in the cold. Race and class
are mixed," he said.
Jones said he believes a combination of
three elements to be the cause of the riots.
"The first is the long-term economic prob
lem, which began in the early to middle
60s," Jones said. "The working class, the
unskilled, were left out in the cold.
"Secondly. . .Thatcher took money out
of the system and increased taxation. She '
took money frorajow income groups, which
made a bad situation worse. She had a
drastic impact She was the last straw.
"Finally, for the first time in Britain's
history, there is a fairly large non-white
population which is not as tolerant as their
Jones said another major component of
the situation was the British police.
"The police, who are openly racist, have
become the main focus of the riots," he said.
"You've got disaffected black kids, frus
trated and anxious white kids and the police.
The kids are only the tip of a large iceberg
that has been gathering at least 15 years.
"A number of us have been predicting the
British riots for years. Such a thing is likely in
the U.S. if Reagan's policies persist"
Jones noted a difference, however, be
tween the economic policies of Thatcher
and those of Reagan.
"Thatcher took money out of the econo
my," he said. "Reagan took money out. but
put some of it back in. So, there is monetary
control as well as aid. This does not have the
same effect (as Thatcher's programs)."
Jones said if the unemployable take to the
streets of U.S. cities, the outcome would be
very much the same as that in Britain.
Whereas social controls through the class
system in Britain keep things quiet, U.S.
citizens would be willing to make demands,
he said. "It would explode here sooner,"
Jones said. . .
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