I’d never heard of Rudolf Brazda, until I saw his obituary today, but it gives deep insight into how the Nazis just didn’t persecute Jews, but a lot of others as well. Brazda was gay and somehow kept himself alive amongst the horrors of Buchenwald.
At first sight it might appear that just six policemen against a much larger mob in Catford wouldn’t have stood much chance in protecting stores from being looted. But the line held as the BBC reports. Here’s a bit of detail.
A police officer has described how he and five colleagues, armed only with two shields, defended a retail park from a gang of up to 50 hooded youths.
PC Gordon Murphy, 30, said despite their lack of numbers, officers charged at the mob who were trying to loot the stores in Catford, south-east London.
He said: “We decided, as they ran at us, to rush back at them, with only six officers running back at 40.
“The mad thing is, they all ran back so we didn’t even have to make contact.”
It’s all a bit far from a similar situation, I heard of years ago from a British Colonial policeman, who faced up to rioters somewhere in Africa. He said you just identified the ring-leaders and shot them dead.
I suppose that the youths in Catford, had all the courage of mice and felt that running was the best defence.
I think in some ways this story is in a way a return to old-fashioned policing, where police often stood their ground and didn’t call for massive backup.
One of my abiding memories of Liverpool is that on public order duties most Northern Police Sergeants carried long batons, when trouble was expected. They weren’t afraid to use them either. I may have seen them deployed but I never saw one used.
Another policeman in London once told me that the worst thing they ever did for policing was give officers a personal radio. Without these they had to sort the problem out, but with them they always called for backup.
At present I’ve got roadworks outside my house, as they replace the pavements. Safety is paramount on the site and we have plastic barriers everywhere, so no-one trips up. Unfortunately, last night one had probably fallen over and it tripped me over as I came in last night. Luckily I fell backwards with my bottom on the soft plastic barrier and only made myself look rather silly for a few moments.
This morning it’s raining hard and one of the workmen, is standing there unable to do anything, having a quick cough and a drag. He’s still got his high-visibility jacket, boots and hard hat on though.
He’s much more likely to die of cancer than in any accident on the site.
Perhaps as with many issues, we get our priorities wrong.
David Aaronovitch in The Times today has a powerful and sensible piece.
He argues that young men will always push the limits.
Here’s the last paragraph.
Because, yes, we have been here before, with a relatively small number of young men, high on violence and low on personal skills, finding a way to drive the rest of us mad. This analysis is both gloomy and hopeful. It suggests that, short of a world war to send them to, difficult and violent young men will always be with us. The numbers matter, of course, and we can and should whittle away at them with firmness. But we won’t eradicate them altogether, and if improvement is always slow and adapting difficult, we can — of course — make things worse quickly, by reacting with impatience, prejudice and stupidity.
As he says, all of our responses must be measured. But I doubt they will be.