London Is Burning

The cops shot another man, they have that kind of knack
And it may not be coincidental that he was Black
He was sitting in his car, they say he might have had a gun
What we know for sure is he had five kids — daughters and sons
Now he cannot have a family, he’ll never see his friends
His neighbors understand what kind of message this sends
Some life is worth less, some life is worth more
You don’t have to be a mathematician to know the score

Some people get shot for being who they are
Some people play with iPads and drive in fancy cars
Some people go to college, other ones do not
It depends on how much money you got
The government cuts their spending, widening the divide
Then reacts with disbelief when they face the tide
Of anger at the cuts of the futures that they rob
With each day so many have to live without a job

Now the flames are getting hotter, maybe coming to your town
London is burning down

Cameron went on TV in his suit and tie
If the riots asked a question then this was his reply
We’ll arrest these hooligans, these people without shame
They are only criminals and it’s criminals to blame
Morals have decayed among the peasants’ ranks
So let us lock them up while we bail out the banks
When that’s the way they look at it, it’s not very hard
To watch things fall apart in this house of cards


You can flip through all the channels, hear clueless people whine
These kids have too much freedom and all this is just a sign
That we need more policemen to teach them some respect
Well if that’s your line then I know just what you can expect
The class will be repeated until the lesson has been learned
All you need is some injustice to make your cities burn
All you need is the perception — whether or not it’s true
That most of us will never live the way you do


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“London Is Burning” appears in different forms on the 2012 CD, Meanwhile In Afghanistan, and the acoustic version of the CD on Bandcamp. ┬áThe band version includes Tom Morello playing lead guitar.

I wrote the song sometime not long after the riots in London and other English cities that followed the police killing of Mark Duggan.