Saturday, August 13, 2011

The riots and the death of Mark Duggan

It seems a long time since Murdoch and the News of the World were the most important things going on in the world - yet it is only a few weeks. In the last seven days, Britain has been rocked by the unexpected and amazingly destructive riots that have taken place in many English cities.

The riots started in Tottenham in London where a young black man was killed by the police in circumstances which the police and the Independent Police Complaints Commission have successfully made suspicious. The first accounts of the incident were (probably deliberately) intended to mislead. This was the Guardian internet headline, over an article by Paul Lewis and Sandra Laville dated 13 August:

Mark Duggan death: IPCC says it inadvertently misled media

Police watchdog says it led media to believe shots were exchanged but Duggan was carrying gun that was never used

The text of the internet version of this article is at:

It is very convenient, if the police shoot a man hastily, mistakenly or by accident, to discover a gun in his pocket or near his cold dead fingers. American cops used to carry unidentifiable 'throwdown' weapons for just this purpose.

The weapon that Mark Duggan is said to have been carrying has variously been described as a converted starting pistol or a replica gun converted to fire real bullets. There was, it has been said, just one bullet in it.

If Duggan was, as the police allege, a major drug dealer and pusher, could he not have got himself a more impressive weapon? And should he not have been in a luxurious Range Rover rather than a mini-cab when he was shot?

The whole thing stinks. And it was to find out what the police would say about it that a protest march led by Duggan's family members went to the police station on Friday 6th. August.

They were kept waiting for, it seems, five hours. No one would come out and tell them what was going on, what the IPCC were doing or why the police had shot Duggan. Instead, the trail was muddied into obscurity by the misleading statements about Duggan opening fire on the police which are reported above.

That was when a peaceful demonstration turned into a riot; when supporters of the family of a man murdered or at least killed by the police sought a peaceful explanation for his death and, failing to find it, tore bits of their own community apart in protest. And a ready well of frustration in other areas, in other cities, flooded the streets with copycat violence as a result.

As I texted to a friend later, when a Cabinet full of millionaire old Etonians informs a whole nation that it is to be impoverished, that the young now have no hope and the old have no security, it is hardly surprising when mindless mob violence born of anger and frustration erupts onto our streets.

P.S. To my surprise, I find the Daily Telegraph's Chief Political Correspondent, Peter Oborne, expressing views very similar to those in my last paragraph in an excellent recent 'think piece'. You can read his views at this addresss:

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