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UK Police Arrest 12 Over Facebook Use Inciting Riots 369

Posted by timothy
from the where-was-prothero-at-the-time? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Scotland Yard vowed to track down and arrest protesters who posted 'really inflammatory, inaccurate' messages on Facebook, but it didn't stop at just two people. While two teenagers were arrested earlier this week in connection with messages posted on Facebook allegedly encouraging people to start rioting, 10 more have now joined them."
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UK Police Arrest 12 Over Facebook Use Inciting Riots

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  • news flash (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:00PM (#37062102)

    Inciting violence is a crime in almost every country.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:00PM (#37062104)

    If there is one thing we have learned from history, the rich and powerful never give up any of what they have without a fight, usually involving a lot of bloodshed and regular folk being locked up.

  • by LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:00PM (#37062110) Homepage

    Yeah, how dare anyone try and punish people for rioting and incitement to riot? Clearly this is RACISM!

    Idiot.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:09PM (#37062250) Journal

    At the moment, it isn't the rich and powerful, it's middle class shopkeepers who have seen their livelihoods go up in flames as gangs of hooligans loot, pillage and destroy. If the police can gain of evidence of incitement from their Facebook pages, all the power to them. Freedom, online or off, does not mean you get to organize riots and I hope they throw the book at these vile anti-social bastards.

  • by interkin3tic (1469267) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:10PM (#37062278)
    Methinks you're romanticizing the "rebels" here. The riots aren't about ideology or protests. "Everyone else is getting free stuff and having a good time burning stuff! Want!" is not a movement inspired by martyrs, unless you do it in a really heavy handed way. If they broadcast a webcam of these people being beaten to death by police, maybe.

    Taking down people for organizing some store-burning though, no. Many of the rioters seem to be cowards who were only smashing and stealing because they assumed they could get away with it, or they were going with the crowd. I suspect a few arrests will send most of the rioters to cover.

    If they forcibly break up peaceful marches and demonstrations, then sure. There are of course real issues and legitimate anger there, and the government would be wise to avoid taking a hard line with protesters who know they are doing nothing wrong. Taking a hard line against people just looking to steal TVs though will be effective. If there are similar riots here in the US with similar people involved in it, part of me hopes the police bring out the rubber bullets.
  • by gnick (1211984) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:10PM (#37062292) Homepage

    I don't know what they posted, but inciting a riot is a crime in the US too. Whether that's an infraction on Freedom of Speech or not is another debate. This is different because instead of doing it in person, they're doing it "over the Internet" and because there could be doubt over whether they actually intended to incite a riot or whether they actually had any influence over the riot starting (doubtful). Although if encouraging violence over the Internet is going to be punished, then a lot of people are in big trouble - And please go set fire to anyone who disagrees with that statement.

    Of course... It's not hard to find people in the US that have been jailed for encouraging violence on-line, but it's typically very specific violence toward a very specific target, with confidence that it will be carried out.

    Yes it seems like they're overstepping here, but complete freedom to say whatever you want isn't something we're in danger of losing - It's something that we've already given up.

  • Re:Reality check (Score:4, Insightful)

    by MightyMartian (840721) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:12PM (#37062322) Journal

    It is unclear at this moment whether the man was innocent or not, but even if he was, that doesn't really give anyone license to smash shop windows and steal LCD TVs or to use a car to mow down three young men trying to protect their property. This is pure lawlessness.

    What they need to do is bring back the Riot Act, and have a police officer with a bull horn announcing:

    "Our Sovereign Lady the Queen chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God Save the Queen!"

    Anyone still rioting an hour after that is read, well, they get what the deserve.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:13PM (#37062330)

    No, but probably useless.

    I mean, think about it. You have no outlook in life, you have no hope for progress, no hope to better your lot, and the "threat" you're facing is jail time? Compared to having what you else never will have?

    You think that's a deterrent? Think again. Punishment as a deterrent works only if people care about it. For me, even waggling a finger or the threat of being possibly, maybe jailed is enough to keep me from rioting. Why? Because I need a flawless record for my job, and my job's paying quite well, so I simply work to get what they're looting for. Legally. It's also less hassle for me. For them, facing jail time is probably not really a big issue compared to the possible gain.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:13PM (#37062336)

    If there is one thing we have learned from history, the rich and powerful never give up any of what they have without a fight, usually involving a lot of bloodshed and regular folk being locked up.

    Conversely, they wouldn't be rich and powerful if we would learn to live without them. Stop buying their products and learn to be less of a consumer. Consumerism was a mistake, it was their idea for you, not your idea for them. Stop asking them to solve your problems for you and learn to be more self-reliant, learn to embrace smaller more local solutions instead of these national and international one-size-fits-all programs. Stop being scared of every little "crisis" that was carefully engineered (yes this happens routinely, your reluctance to admit this is beneath you, get over it).

    They matter so much because you participate in their system and play by their rules. You want to level the playing field? Go primitive and learn to live off the land for say, six months. Not you personally but everyone in a nation. Yeah you will suffer some discomfort. After the six months, the "rich and powerful" will be on their knees begging for you to participate once again in their system. Their money means nothing if no one will exchange goods and labor for it. Remind them that they wouldn't enjoy a position at the top of the pyramid without a ton of people holding up the lower layers.

    You could get a similar result if the vast majority of adult people in a nation refused to show up to work for say, six weeks. They take taxes right out of your paycheck so this would mean no taxes get paid for over a month. No producers to pad the coffers of the giant corporations. What are they going to do, put 90% of the adult population in jail?

    A tiny minority controls a large majority. This system depends on one thing: that those who step out of line only do it individually, that there are always enough others who stay in line who can be sent after them to punish their non-complaince. Tip those scales and viola, you have non-violently upset the balance of power. Non-violently is the key. Otherwise you are at least as savage as anything you claim to be against.

    The power really does come from the "common" people. Only the people have forgotten this. Thus they get trampled and refuse to assert their power.

  • Re:Arab Spring (Score:4, Insightful)

    by LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:16PM (#37062358) Homepage

    Not too long ago I remember some other governments going after protesters that organized on facebook. How is this any different?

    This wasn't a protest. It was a riot. There was no purpose for any of it beyond breaking, burning and stealing.

  • by Opportunist (166417) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:19PM (#37062404)

    That's pretty much what I wanted to ask: What exactly did they post? What was the message they sent? How did that "incite" others, and to what?

    Be careful what you wish for. Until we know for sure, the message could just have been the expression of discontent with the way the UK police handled the situation, something that should be protected as free speech and expression of opinion. Else we could easily soon face laws that make exactly that illegal, under the guise of "keeping civil peace".

    In other words, were they trying to incite riots, or were they expressing their dissatisfaction? What was the message?

  • by strikeleader (937501) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:23PM (#37062448)
    I'm not rich and powerful, but if you try to take or destroy my stuff there will be blood.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:28PM (#37062518) Homepage Journal

    At the moment, it isn't the rich and powerful, it's middle class shopkeepers who have seen their livelihoods go up in flames as gangs of hooligans loot, pillage and destroy.

    That's the "divide and conquer" strategy that the "rich and powerful" use.

    Pit one economically disadvantaged group against another. It's being done here in the States and in many European countries. It's something that the political elite in Africa and parts of Asia have done for centuries. It's not new at all.

    How do you think the Tea Party started? How many Tea Partiers do you think know what the TARP program or the debt ceiling really mean? All they know that they believe the blacks and mexicans are getting something that they're not getting. One of the most "conservative" states is Texas, that has a $27 billion budget deficit and takes more Federal taxpayer money than almost any other state, yet they're mad at "big government's wasteful ways". They're a welfare state that hates the Welfare State.

    You better believe that the people who own private prison corporations are praying that we get London-style riots over here. Every time they see an arrest they're thinking "ka-ching!"

  • Looting criminals (Score:4, Insightful)

    by ronmon (95471) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:33PM (#37062590)
    That is who slashdot chooses to defend? Probably not if it was Taco's stuff they were stealing but okay if it was someone else's.
  • by Hope Thelps (322083) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @05:36PM (#37062628)

    I can post, "EVERYONE GO RIOT NOW" all day long without hurting a soul.

    Absolutely, and I can shout "get him Rover, kill kill!" without causing any damage at all or I can spend all day saying "I will give you $100,000 if you kill my wife" without any consequence but if I do either of those things as a way of actually getting someone killed as opposed to, for example, rehearsing my lines in a play then I should be locked up. Get it?

  • by causality (777677) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @06:03PM (#37062936)

    Because any reasonable person should expect injuries and fatalities as a result of the ensuing panic. Note that it's NOT a crime if there really is a fire.

    I don't think this is being questioned because no one could understand the result. I think the result itself and why it is so certain is what is legitimately questionable.

    Let's say I am in a theater. Someone beside me yells "FIRE!". My sense of smell is not impaired and I don't smell smoke. My vision is not impaired and I don't see flames. My hearing is not impaired and I don't hear the crackle of flames. Why should I assume he must be correct? If he is correct, why would I wait for him to point that out instead of acting on what I can perceive for myself?

    The fact is, we as a society have decided that passing laws restricting certain types of speech is easier than teaching average people not to be such thoughtless, panicky herd animals. That's a shame, for it would be a most worthy goal. Of course those who could make this happen on a large scale would be deprived of a great deal of their political power if more people could think for themselves independently and were not easily frightened.

  • Re:Arab Spring (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LighterShadeOfBlack (1011407) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @06:10PM (#37063006) Homepage

    One man's protest is another man's riot. I'm pretty sure, Gaddafi called his protesters rioters too.

    Actually no, that's not true. I don't think anyone at all who knows anything about this believes it was a protest. Including the rioters. Let's be clear on this because it seems a lot of (non-British?) commenters seem to think that there was some political motivation behind the riots. There was none. None. There was a protest regarding the shooting of Mark Duggan by the police. Following on from that was a riot that lasted until morning by people not involved in the protest. The next night there was another riot. The next night there were riots in a few other cities on top of London. The first used the protest as an excuse to riot but had no connection to it, the subsequent riots had no pretence whatsoever.

    TLDR:
    Nobody was saying "Let's go out and show what we can do unless our voices are heard!". They were saying "Lots of people on the street, let's destroy some shit and loot what we can while the police are occupied".

  • Mass Arrest (Score:2, Insightful)

    by umbrellasd (876984) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @06:10PM (#37063014)
    The goal isn't to arrest people. The goal is to cow the masses with a demonstration of force. Such are the mechanics of oppression.
  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Thursday August 11, 2011 @06:43PM (#37063298) Homepage Journal

    You won't lose your left-wing credentials if you admit "looting is bad".

    Unless you own a bank and you loot a nation.

  • by Cederic (9623) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @06:56PM (#37063424) Journal

    Check the footage on the news websites, the social media websites on youtube.. The looters are multi-racial.

    No white people being hunted by the police at all, sure:
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/uknews/8690951/London-riots-CCTV-pictures-of-suspects-are-released-by-the-Metropolitan-Police.html [telegraph.co.uk]

    Keep your racist bullshit off here please.

  • Re:Mass Arrest (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Flipao (903929) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @07:18PM (#37063616)
    If by demonstration of force you mean the way they ransacked a good chunk of London, set buildings on fire, stole from defenceless individuals, left people homeless, terrified neighbourhoods, caused millions' worth of property damage, disrupted the lives of millions of people, etc... then you got that right, those are the mechanics of opression.

    If you're talking about the Police, who treated the rioters with kid gloves then you got it hopelessly wrong.
  • by Flipao (903929) on Thursday August 11, 2011 @07:53PM (#37063906)

    It was fine when the protesters were in Egypt and other countries. Notice how the story has changed when free speech is exercised in a "free" country?

    In Egypt people organized peaceful demonstrations and demanded basic human rights. In England people broke into electronic stores and stole Playstation 3s before burning the place down.

  • by PopeRatzo (965947) * on Friday August 12, 2011 @12:20AM (#37065308) Homepage Journal

    You fail to appreciate that most of what keeps humans as well-behaved as most are is FEAR of punishment.

    And we have allowed the people in power, both corporate and government, to no longer have a FEAR of punishment.

    Bankers loot a country. They make horrible business decisions and then demand that the government bail them out by cutting social programs. So welfare for those that are "too big to fail" but none for people.

    You know where there are no riots? Iceland. They told those bankers, "sorry, but you got yourself into this all on your own, so fuck off". And you know what? The sun still rose the next day, or at least I think it did, depending on which season it is up in Iceland. But either way, people got up, ate breakfast, and life went on. Bankers holding their dicks instead of money from peoples' pockets.

    You're goddamn right there's anger. Even unfocused anger. Uninformed anger. But sometimes you have to work with the anger you've got. I'm sure there was a lot of pearl-clutching and tsk-tsk-ing among the powerful and rich during the French Revolution, too. What is it that the tea party likes to say? That line about watering the tree of freedom with the blood of tyrants? Well, in 2011, the notion that people, from the middle class on down, just have it too damn good so they need a little misery. A little less health care. A little less education. A little more work. A little less retirement. We've bought this because there's a huge marketing campaign to sell these ridiculous notions. Governments print money to take care of the rich and powerful, to save "markets" but if a 65 year old thinks it's time to retire, well they've just got it too damn good. Fuck that.-

I've got a bad feeling about this.

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