Urban riots

Merci !

Annales corrigées
Classe(s) : Tle L | Thème(s) : Lieux et formes du pouvoir
Type : Écrit LV1 | Année : 2012 | Académie : Sujet zéro
Unit 1 - | Corpus Sujets - 1 Sujet
Urban riots

Séries générales • LV1



Formes de pouvoir



Sujet zéro

Séries générales • LV1

Text 1

Riots in London

These accounts were of a sufficiently alarming nature from the first; but as the night wore on, they grew so much worse, and involved such a fearful amount of riot and destruction, that in comparison with these new tidings all the previous disturbances sunk to nothing.

The first intelligence that came, was of the taking of Newgate1, and the escape of all the prisoners, whose track, as they made up Holborn and into the adjacent streets, was proclaimed to those citizens who were shut up in their houses, by the rattling of their chains, which formed a dismal concert, and was heard in every direction, as though so many forges were at work. The flames too, shone so brightly through the vintner’s2 skylights, that the rooms and staircases below were nearly as light as in broad day; while the distant shouting of the mob seemed to shake the very walls and ceilings.

At length they were heard approaching the house, and some minutes of terrible anxiety ensued3. They came close up, and stopped before it; but after giving three loud yells, went on. And although they returned several times that night, creating new alarms each time, they did nothing there; having their hands full. Shortly after they had gone away for the first time, one of the scouts came running in with the news that they had stopped before Lord Mansfield’s house in Bloomsbury Square.

Soon afterwards there came another, and another, and then the first returned again, and so, by little and little, their tale was this: That the mob gathering round Lord Mansfield’s house, had called on those within to open the door, and receiving no reply (for Lord and Lady Mansfield were at that moment escaping by the backway), forced an entrance according to their usual custom. That they then began to demolish the house with great fury, and setting fire to it in several parts, involved in a common ruin the whole of the costly furniture, the plate and jewels, a beautiful gallery of pictures, the rarest collection of manuscripts ever possessed by any one private person in the world, and worse than all, because nothing could replace this loss, the great Law Library.

Charles Dickens, Barnaby Rudge, 1841.

1. Newgate: a prison in London.

2. a vitner: a wine merchant.

3. to ensue: to follow.

Text 2

Riots in Hackney

Victims’ voices: ‘I had 100% confidence the riots wouldn’t happen on our street’

Siva Kandiah, 39, says he lost almost £87,000 when his convenience store in Hackney1was looted.

Siva Kandiah, 39, shopkeeper, Clarence Road Convenience Store (now known as Siva’s shop), Hackney, has been trading for 11 years:

“It was a Monday, 8th of 8th around 2.30 pm, we hear the high street is shutting, so I said: ‘Why should I, you know, stay here?’ Better go home. I’ve got 100% confidence the disturbances will just never happen on our street.

“I was watching the telly… Later on it’s 7.30 and they were showing Clarence Road. Sky and BBC live shows us the shop was broken into.

“The next morning I come back… My shop was completely open, the shop was open, lights on, and the shop was mashed up completely top to bottom, from ceiling to electric wire… You should ask what they left for me.

“I cried that day, Tuesday morning, cried and I just went home. I thought no more retailing.

“If you take stuff it’s different, but you take stuff… completely destroy the shop… I’m an individual man, you don’t need to come to attack me on any point, because I don’t do anything bad.

“We bought the store as a paper shop, small paper card shop, so I built this shop up as a convenience store so it’s just like this is your baby and you just work for it, 11 years and you’ve worked and somebody mash it up in 11 hours.

“I never had contents insurance either… I lost almost £87,000. I had a £2,000 overdraft, now I’ve gone up to a £20,000 overdraft… It’s hard to recover. I had to fix the shop back within three weeks… 15 of us worked to do it… Didn’t even sleep.

“Without people I couldn’t reopen this shop at all, at any point, because the government only gave me two grand2 so far… Only just gave me two grand after three months. The community, you know, set up a website called helpsiva.com, and they collect almost, within two weeks, £30,000. Thank God the people supported me, otherwise I’d be probably in the street.

“There is a reason for things, they say… God will punish them, that’s all I can say. I believe in karma.”

Adapted from Yemisi Adegoke,
www.guardian.co.uk, 8th December 2011.

1. Hackney: a borough (district) of North-East London.

2. a grand: slang for £1,000.


Text 1

1 Choose the best title for this extract.

1. A night of rebellion and chaos.

2. The destruction of Mansfield’s house.

3. Out of prison, at last.

4. Fire in London.

2 Who do the following pronouns or adjectives refer to? Find the referents in the text.

1. “they made up Holborn” (l. 7-8).

2. “their houses” (l. 9).

3. “their chains” (l. 9-10).

4. “they were heard approaching” (l. 16).

3 Two camps are opposed here. Classify the following words from the text in the corresponding box:

“all the prisoners” (l. 7) – “those citizens” (l. 8-9) – “the mob” (l. 14) – “the house” (l. 16) – “one of the scouts” (l. 21) – “Lord Mansfield’s house” (l. 22-23).


Camp 1

Camp 2


4 Say whether these statements are true (T) or false (F). Justify each time with a quotation from the text.

1. The situation got better in the night.

2. The prisoners who escaped could be traced thanks to
the noise of their chains.

3. The mob destroyed the first house mentioned.

4. They entered Lord Mansfield’s house because someone
opened the door for them.

5. The mob stole things from the houses they went into.

6. The destruction of the library is seen as a disaster
by the narrator.

5 Pick up words in the text expressing:

1. people’s fear (2 words).

2. the mob’s use of violence (3 words).

6 In your own words, explain how two worlds are opposed in this passage. (40 words)

7 What world does the narrator side with? What clues help you understand it?

Text 2

1 Fill in the grid with the information about the main character.





Sex (M/F)


2 In which country and which city does it take place?

3 In one sentence, explain what happened to Siva.

4 Reorder the events in chronological order to fill in the grid.

1. The shop was repaired. 2. Siva found the shop completely destroyed. 3. Siva saw the shop destroyed on TV. 4. Siva closed the shop and went home. 5. Siva wanted to close the shop indefinitely. 6. The high street was closed. 7. Siva opened his shop.



Monday, 7 December 2011, 2.30 pm

Monday, 7 December 2011, 7.30 pm

Tuesday morning, 8 December 2011

Late December 2011


5 Giving the line number, quote the text to justify that:

1. Siva was devastated by the news.

2. Siva wanted to give up his job.

3. Siva thinks what happened is unfair.

4. the government didn’t really help Siva.

5. Siva believes justice will be done, but not by the police.

6 Siva’s story is a good example of someone climbing the social ladder. Explain (about 20-30 words).

7 In the text, find the translations for:



3.réduire à néant.

4.un découvert.

8 Lines 24-25: “you just work for it, 11 years and you’ve worked and somebody mash it up in 11 hours”. Explain how Siva feels when he utters this sentence (about 30 words).

Both texts

To what extent are the consequences of the riot similar for Siva and for Lord Mansfield? In what ways do they differ? Explain.


> Choose one of the two following subjects, then do subject 3.

1 Siva writes a letter to one of his friends who has just opened a shop in London, to tell him about his experience and give him advice. Write the letter. (150 words)

2 Siva was at home watching TV when he saw his shop destroyed. Imagine the scene and the conversation he had with his wife. (150 words)

3 “Sometimes, violence is the only way.” Discuss. (150 words)

Texte 1


Charles Dickens (1812-1870) est un des auteurs britanniques les plus célèbres du xixe siècle. Connu pour Oliver Twist, David Copperfield ou encore le personnage d’Uncle Scrooge dans a Christmas Carol qui a inspiré celui de l’Oncle Picsou, son réalisme en fait un critique acerbe de la société victorienne dans laquelle il a vécu. Barnaby Rudge est un roman historique qui se situe en 1780 au moment des « émeutes de Gordon » à Londres, initialement religieuses (anti-catholiques, suite à une pétition de Lord Gordon), mais qui prirent progressivement un tour économique et social.

Pour en savoir plus : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Dickens

Le thème

Le narrateur est le témoin éloigné d’émeutes. Il rapporte ce que lui-même entend, tandis qu’il est apparemment terré dans une maison : le bruit des chaînes des prisonniers qui ont réussi à s’échapper de la prison de Newgate, les pillages… Le lieu où se trouve le narrateur est épargné mais, d’après les échos qui lui sont rapportés, la maison de Lord Mansfield et sa superbe bibliothèque sont mises à sac.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

Account, l. 1 (récit) ; to involve, l. 3 (impliquer) ; riot, l. 3 (émeute) ; the tidings, l. 4 (les nouvelles) ; track, l. 7 (piste) ; rattling, l. 9 (bruit de ferraille) ; the mob, l. 14 (la foule) ; yell, l. 18 (cri).

Texte 2


The Guardian est un quotidien britannique fondé en 1821. Orienté centre-gauche il fait partie de la presse de qualité. Yemisi Adegoke, journaliste indépendante, s’est spécialisée dans l’étude des émeutes.

Pour en savoir plus :



Le thème

Siva Kandiah possédait un magasin dans un quartier de Londres qui a connu des émeutes en 2011. Il raconte comment, avec le pillage de son magasin, onze ans d’efforts et de travail se sont envolés en quelques heures, et dit son découragement, ainsi que les difficultés financières qu’il connaît à présent.

Vocabulaire utile à la compréhension

To break into, l. 12 (entrer par effraction dans) ; mashed up, l. 14 (réduit à néant) ; wire, l. 15 (fil) ; retailing, l. 18 (commerce de détail) ; an overdraft, l. 27 (un découvert) ; to fix, l. 28 (réparer).

Les points de convergence

Les deux textes traitent des émeutes du point de vue des victimes : sentiment d’impuissance face à la destruction, perte irréparable de biens précieux à leur propriétaire en une seule nuit.

Le sujet d’expression 1

Pistes de recherche

Dans la lettre, vous pouvez reprendre des éléments du texte : le récit des émeutes telles que Siva les a vécues, son profond découragement, qui le conduit à mettre en garde son ami, voire à lui déconseiller de monter une boutique de crainte qu’il ne vive la même expérience.

Mais Siva peut aussi lui conseiller de choisir avec soin le quartier de Londres où installer son magasin – voire de s’installer dans une autre ville –, de prendre une bonne assurance et de renforcer les dispositifs de sécurité.

Vocabulaire utile

To advise somebody against something (déconseiller quelque chose à quelqu’un) ; to warn (mettre en garde) ; discouraged (découragé) ; powerless (impuissant) ; to take out insurance against (prendre une assurance contre) ; to set up a business (ouvrir un commerce).

Le sujet d’expression 2

Pistes de recherche

Après un court paragraphe d’introduction, le ton du dialogue entre Siva et sa femme pourra osciller entre incrédulité, colère, découragement et désespoir. On peut imaginer que l’un des deux voudra se rendre sur place pour essayer d’intervenir tandis que l’autre tentera de l’en décourager.

Vocabulaire utile

To loot (piller) ; to sack (saccager) ; to prevent someone from doing something (empêcher quelqu’un de faire quelque chose) ; to arrest (arrêter) ; to crumble (s’écrouler, s’effondrer) ; unbelieving (incrédule).

Le sujet d’expression 3

Pistes de recherche

Quand on veut obtenir quelque chose, mieux vaut d’abord essayer de faire valoir son droit, tenter de convaincre, de négocier. Notamment dans le cas de requêtes politiques ou sociales. Mais parfois, le dialogue, les mots ne suffisent pas et il faut passer à l’action.

Certains leaders comme Gandhi ou Martin Luther King ont tracé la voie de la protestation non violente, axée sur des boycotts, des sit-ins ou d’autres actions comme la grève de la faim. Mais certains groupes de résistance ont vu ces stratégies échouer (on peut penser à Bobby Sands – mort après avoir mené une grève de la faim pour attirer l’attention de l’opinion sur la situation en Irlande du Nord), et ont estimé qu’ils devaient passer à des modes d’action violents, voire au terrorisme (l’IRA, Irish Republican Army, en Grande-Bretagne par exemple, afin d’obtenir l’indépendance de l’Irlande du Nord).

Vocabulaire utile

Terrorist attack (attentat terroriste) ; a means of protest (un moyen de protestation) ; the power of speech (le pouvoir des mots) ; a non-violence advocate (un avocat de la non-violence) ; hunger strike (grève de la faim) ; to demand (exiger) ; to take action (passer à l’action) ; to fail (échouer).



Text 1

11. A night of rebellion and chaos.

21. (all) the prisoners. 2. citizens. 3. (all) the prisoners. 4. the mob (/ all the prisoners).



Camp 1

Camp 2

“All the prisoners”, “the mob”

“Those citizens”, “the house”, “one of the scouts”, “Lord Mansfield’s house”


41. False: “as the night wore on, they grew much worse” (l. 2) – “in comparison with these new tidings all the previous disturbances sunk to nothing” (l. 3-5).

2. True: “whose track… was proclaimed… by the rattling of their chains” (l. 7-10).

3. False: “but after giving three loud yells, went on” (l. 18); “they did nothing there” (l. 20).

4. False: “forced an entrance” (l. 29).

5. True: “having their hands full” (l. 20).

6. True: “worse than all”; “nothing could replace this loss” (l. 34-35).

51. “alarming” (l. 1), “fearful” (l. 3), “anxiety” (l. 17).

2. “riot and destruction” (l. 3), “forced” (l. 29), “great fury” (l. 30).

6 On the one hand, we have a world of law and order, associated with riches, art and power. On the other hand, the mob symbolises destruction, chaos, disorder and poverty. There seems to be a kind of reversal as power belongs to the mob here, and not to those who supposedly represent the law.

7 He sides with the “law”, as:

  • he uses “they” to refer to the mob, as if they were quite different from him;
  • what is going on outside is reported to him; obviously he doesn’t take part in it;
  • he regrets the destruction of the library.

Text 2







Siva Kandiah





2 In England, in London.

3 During the riots in 2011, his shop was looted.





Monday, 7 December 2011, 2.30 pm

4, 7

Monday, 7 December 2011, 7.30 pm


Tuesday morning, 8 December 2011

2, 5

Late December 2011



51. “I cried that day…” (l. 17).

2. “I thought no more retailing” (l. 18).

3. “You don’t need to come to attack me…, because I don’t do anything bad” (l. 20-21); “You just work for it… and somebody mash it up in 11 hours” (l. 24-25).

4. “the government only gave me two grand so far” (l. 31).

5. “God will punish them” (l. 36).

6 Siva opened his shop in 2000. It was a small paper shop then, but he turn­ed it into a convenience store, working hard and spending all his time there. It took him 11 years to make it what it was.

71.pillé: “looted” (l. 2).

2.réparer: “to fix” (l. 28).

3.réduire à néant: “to mash up” (l. 14 ; 25).

4.un découvert: “an overdraft” (l. 27).

8 He feels bitter and overwhelmed by the sense of injustice. He is angry and devastated.

Both texts

Both of them have had what they owned utterly destroyed in one night – all their belongings in text 1, the things that they cherish in both texts. But contrary to Lord Mansfield, Siva had built up his shop working hard, whereas Mansfield had probably inherited it all. While Mansfield stands for the law, Siva doesn’t – his shop was damaged, which he feels he didn’t deserve.


1 Guidelines

Dear Ravi,

I have heard that you wanted to come over here to England in order to set up a business in London. Well, I must warn you, you may lose everything you have, and, honestly, I advise you against it.

As you probably know, I have lost all that I had in the December riots. Those rascals looted my shop, they destroyed and stole everything. I tried to set it up again with the help of my neighbours and friends here, but it was too difficult. It’s true that not everything was covered by the insurance, and maybe I should have been more careful about that…

But still, when it happens, you feel powerless and utterly discouraged. So please think twice.



3 Guidelines

On the one hand, a lot of actions taken throughout history did not involve violence. Leaders such as Gandhi or Martin Luther King were non-violence advocates. They proved to the world that you could act with peaceful actions such as sit-ins, hunger strikes or boycotts.

But on the other hand, it happens that peaceful actions are not effective and sometimes people decide to resort to more violent means of protest, such as terrorist acts. In particular, it is the case when a group wants the independence of their country (for example, the IRA in Northern Ireland or the Hamas in Palestine).