TV news has carried some powerful images after a jury found Mark Duggan was lawfully killed by the police. His family and supporters were clearly furious and, it seems, unprepared for the verdict although very organised in terms of making their protest. The senior policeman who tried to make a statement was howled down by a mob shouting “murderer”. I think he showed poor judgement in even attempting to speak in that situation. He would have been damned if he spoke and damned if he remained silent.
There are questions the TV news did not answer.
Was Mark Duggan:
* A kind family man and father who loved his six children, supported his wife, worked hard and paid his taxes? Or
* A hardened criminal, a member of a vicious street gang and a gun runner?
The police clearly think the latter and there was a time when I would have accepted the police line without hesitation. However, I am afraid the police have demonstrated a tendency to close ranks and to conspire to protect their own. That makes it harder to fathom the truth here. I heard ex-commissioner Ian Blair say that Duggan was a member of a feared Tottenham gang. No-one seems to have countered this so I think I have to accept it. It also seems that Duggan was carrying a gun and it went missing, a few feet from the scene of the shooting, before he was shot by the policeman. In my book, someone who carries a gun and who has known criminal connections is a threat to society and runs the risk of dying by the gun.
That brings me to the community in which Duggan lived. Broadwater Farm gave us the riots of 1985 after a police suspect’s mother died during a police raid on his home. During the riots, PC Keith Blacklock was hacked to death with a machette and a colleague PC was badly injured by a mob.
The shooting of Mark Duggan set off a terrible round of riots and destruction to community and private property.
I suppose we are all holding our breath to see what follows the recent judgment on the shooting.
What is clear to me is that the Broadwater Farm estate is a breeding ground for drugs, guns, gangs and hatred of the police and of lawful authority. It is not the only such location by any means but it is a focal point. I doubt if anything can be done to dissipate its impact on law abiding people so I think it has to be erased and its occupants relocated to where they can do less harm.