1201 Protests

Julia and Todd talk about the riots in London and if the likely hood it will happen again.


Todd: OK, so Julia, I thought we would talk about social unrest.

Julia: OK.

Todd: So recently in the news there has been a lot of protest, there's been some riots and I believe in your country you actually had riots recently.

Julia: We did, yeah, in the summer last year, yeah.

Todd: That was in London?

Julia: That was in London and in a few of the other cities around the UK as well. It spread to other cities but mainly centered in London, yeah.

Todd: So what was your perspective of the riots?

Julia: Well we, actually, we were just visiting home and so we just arrived in London right as that all kicked off. So actually I was quite shocked and of course a lot of my friends here were a little bit worried because they knew we were flying into London and London is suddenly all over the news and not in a good way. A lot of violence and quite shocking imagines. You don't think, when you think of London you don't think of people wearing balaclavas and smashing windows and behaving in this violent way.

Todd: So it was pretty shocking?

Julia: It was quite shocking but after being there I think within a week it had calmed down and I think the response from the police was very good and from the public was very good and from the media generally it was also very good so it wasn't such a big deal in the end. It was, it wasn't a political movement, it wasn't people protesting anything specific, it was just a kind of unbridled violence so it didn't gain any support.

Todd: Right, so it was just basically kind of releasing maybe youthful angst or kind of built up aggression?

Julia: Tensions of some, yeah, some kind but because it was all focused around consumer goods and a desire to rob stores of products like shoes and TVs and nobody really took it very seriously. You know, I want a pair of Nikes so I'm going to smash this window doesn't really gain much momentum as a movement.

Todd: So there was a lot of opportunism?

Julia: Absolutely. I think that's pretty much all it was, yeah.

Todd: Right. So now you have the Olympics coming up, do you think it will happen again?

Julia: We do. No, I don't think it will, no, no. I don't think so, no. I think around the Olympics there's an incredible amount of optimism and maybe even national pride.

Todd: No, you know what we can't say, this is going to air after the Olympics, so I'll just say do you think it will happen again in the future? Just don't refer to the Olympics.

Julia: OK.

Todd: So do you think it's going to happen again in the future?

Julia: No, I don't think so, no, because of the way the public responded and the way it was handled, I don't think it's the kind of thing that would gain momentum again. I don't, I think it was a one off.

Todd: Yeah, a one and done deal?

Julia: I think so, yeah.

Todd: Well that's good.

Julia: I hope so.

Learn Vocabulary from the lesson



When you think of London, you don't think of people wearing balaclavas.

A 'balaclava' is a tight hat that goes over your head, face and all the way down your neck. Notice the following:

  1. The shopkeeper became very nervous when a man walked in with a balaclava over his face.
  2. You should probably wear a balaclava, because it's very cold outside.



There was a lot of violence and quite shocking images.

Something 'shocking' surprises or horrifies you. Notice the following:

  1. Michael Jackson's death was shocking to people all over the world.
  2. The fact that Italy lost the game was shocking.

unbridled violence


It was just kind of unbridled violence, so it didn't gain any support.

When something is 'unbridled,' it is not controlled or restrained in anyway. Notice the following:

  1. He's having problems at school because of his unbridled violence.
  2. It isn't safe to travel there right now. There have been big problems with unbridled violence.



It was basically releasing youthful angst and built up aggression.

'Angst' is a feeling of anxiety or anguish. Notice the following:

  1. He was filled with angst when he was a teenager.
  2. Her angst makes her not much fun to be around.

gain momentum


Violence because you want consumer goods doesn't gain much momentum as a movement.

When a 'movement' or cause 'gains momentum,' it gains force or becomes stronger because people find out about it and are supportive.  Notice the following:

  1. There have been very few social movements that have gained this much momentum in such a short period of time.
  2. They have been waiting for their product sales to gain momentum.



So, there was a lot of opportunism?

'Opportunism' is when someone takes advantage of a situation for his own personal benefit, usually sacrificing ethics or morals. Notice the following:

  1. Most of what she has accomplished has been because of opportunism, not because of personal ability.
  2. This is the land of opportunism and opportunity. 
Answer the following questions about the interview.

Vocabulary Challenge

Complete the sentences with the words below.
balaclava • shocking • unbridled
angst • momentum • opportunism
  1. The news had images of the violence happening in the city.
  2. I forgot my at home when I went skiing, and now my face is freezing.
  3. This is a situation of , and you would be silly not to take the opportunity in front of you.
  4. This music has a little too much and aggression for me.
  5. The most important thing for us to do with this project is keep the going strong.
  6. The number of people that living in Mexico City is .