As a young Black man from London, the recent unrest in the British capital resonated particularly strongly for actor John Boyega.
Yes, like the rest of us, he was shocked that this could happen in his city. An actor since the age of 5, Boyega says the “fed up youth” theory the media tried to put behind this whole thing isn’t something he was aware of… and he’s not the only one in that demographic who didn’t see it coming.
“I was in L.A. when I heard about the riots. I had the same reaction as everybody: surprised. It was quite upsetting I’ve always been filming and keeping busy. My ear wasn’t on the ground listening in to what was going to happen. It’s the same with a lot of young people in London.
And John says that’s not the only thing the media got wrong about the involvement of young people in the four days of looting and violence that followed and unjustified police shooting.
[But] It wasn’t just young people doing that. And that’s what the tabloids and a lot of media people got wrong. And that’s the most annoying part of it: the fact they only showed youths. And I was thinking, “What’s wrong with you people, we’re all human beings, you can see that there’s an adult there. And there’s women and men doing it.
With these kind of subjects you can’t generalize it. That’s what a lot of media heads tried to do. [And] the idea that it must have been from this, it must come from that. We don’t know. It came from a lot of things and there’s various reasons behind it. But it’s died down now, and there’s a lot of young people spreading positivity in London cleaning up their communities, so I don’t think that young people should be shown in that light again. It was so inaccurate.
But you know, that’s the way they like to operate. It’s gonna come to a certain [point] where they’re gonna have to stop. Because, you silence a generation, something’s going to happen.
In the film “Attack The Block,” which opens in six new cities today including Atlanta, Boston and D.C., Boyega’s character Moses is essentially the kind of disenfranchised teenager who would have likely been mislabeled in these London Riots and whose “F the Police” attitude is an undertone of the entire movie.
So we asked John why he thinks it is that kids like Moses have that relationship with the police in the U.K. and whether he believes that social dynamic is changing.
“I think it’s a worldwide thing, to be honest. Kids that come from those kind of circumstances and backgrounds don’t necessarily have the greatest relationship with the police. And that’s just a worldwide thing. I don’t know why it is. But it’s just a generation where you pass on what you hear about the Police. Some choose to believe it, some don’t. “Moses” is a character who believes in those kind of underground secrets about government [conspiracy theories]. I believe it’s just gonna be like that. Some kids just don’t trust the police.”
John Boyega is currently out in L.A. looking to parlay the growing success and buzz of “Attack The Block” into some major U.S. roles. Already being touted a “Young Denzel” in Hollywood circles, let’s hope that this kind of social awareness continues to be reflected in his work.
If you haven’t seen “Attack The Block” yet, click here to check out the trailer.