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Tottenham Riot

Sunday, 07 August 2011
     

Smoke surrounds White Heart Lane football stadium, following the torching of Tottenham, by rioters last night, after a mob attacked a police station, following the death of a man who allegedly shot at police.

It began as a covert operation, as police tailed Mark Duggan, 29, as part of Operation Trident. However, police allege that he fired a shot at an officer, which lodged in a radio in his pocket. Armed police immediately returned fire killing him in Ferry Lane, Tottenham. Reports suggest that the bullet allegedly fired by Mr Duggan was actually fired by a police officer.

Mr Duggan was a father of three girls and boy. His family have expressed shock at his alleged possession of a firearm, but he may have taken to carrying one after his cousin was stabbed to death in a night club in March. He was noticeably affected by the incident.

A popular local man, Mr Duggan's family organised a vigil of about 120 people who marched from the Broadwater Farm estate to the local police station to demand answers. It seems that the police did not speak to the residents. The Met' Police commissioner was expected, by staff at the Station, to arrive to speak to the people gathered outside. He did not arrive and and shortly after dark, two police cars were hot wired from the police compound and driven into the street before being torched.

Things completely got out of hand after that, with a double decker London red bus being set alight, and both retail and residential properties being targeted by arsonists forcing people to flee for their lives. At least 8 buildings, mostly family flats, were left to burn to the ground, as fire crews were unable to gain access to the area. Dozens of families have lost everything. It is not known if all residents managed to escape and at this time there is a very real possibility of fatalities. As people returned to their homes many of them found their home and all their possessions gone. It's clearly very upsetting. Eight policeman have also been injured.

About 300 rioters found little resistance with about 15 officers originally on the ground, with reinforcements not arriving until midnight. Looting was widespread, with JD Sports and PC World being particularly targeted. The overall situation last night was one of complete lawlessness. The local Aldi supermarket was destroyed by fire, and a branch of Barclays Bank was attacked. A police community station was also breached. Cameramen at the scene were attacked.

It's been reported the return of random stop and search, which was identified as the primary cause of the riots in the 80s, by police had alienated the local community and that tensions were already high in some parts of the community before the shooting on Thursday.

David Lammy, the local MP, who does not live in the area, appealed for calm with a statement on his website, "We already have one grieving family in our community and further violence will not heal that pain. True justice can only follow a thorough investigation of the facts. The Tottenham community and Mark Duggan's family and friends need to understand what happened on Thursday evening when Mark lost his life. To understand those facts, we must have calm."

This morning, fire fighters are putting out the remaining fires and dousing down the area to prevent them flaring up again and Police are beginning to cordon off key crime scenes.

Theresa May has condemned the violence, but made no comment about the circumstances. Other politicians have been notable by their lack of response. Boris Johnson has not been available for comment.

The family of the dead man have issued a statement condemning the violence and asking for it to stop. He would not want his name associated with it.

Local community representatives have characterised the riot as an attack on the people, and businesses in Tottenham. There is real concern over whether businesses will be willing to return.

The IPCC is investigating the death of Mr Duggan.

UPDATE:

Copycat looting occurred in the Enfield and Brixton areas of London on Sunday night, and the Met' Police issued a Tweet at about 1am Monday morning announcing that Police are dealing with a significant amount of criminal activity across London.

The Guardian is reporting that analysis of the bullet found in the police radio has found it is in fact a police bullet, but this is unconfirmed at this time and may be a false report. It's certainly not possible for the Guardian to have obtained any such information legally at this time, so a certain scepticism should be maintained. FURTHER UPDATE: On Monday, Police admitted that Mr Dugan did not fire at them, and that all shots were fired by police including the one fired at a police officer. They maintain that Mr Dugan had a gun, and claim that they shot him as they feared for their lives. It is not clear whether there is any evidence to support this assertion, or indeed if the alleged gun was an actual firearm, or whether it was displayed to police.

Given recent cover ups following mistaken or arbitrary extra judicial killings by police, there is good cause for a reasonable person to question the Police accounts.

In the Charles de Menezes execution, police statements and leaks suggested that his behaviour and clothing made him appear to be a possible terrorist. It was later revealed that he was not carrying a back pack or heavy coat, which might hide a bomb as originally claimed by police, behaved perfectly normally, and surrendered fully and absolutely to police before being deliberately executed, purely on the grounds that a inattentive surveillance officer said he might look like the suspect. He didn't.

Similarly, the police suggested that a newspaper seller, randomly attacked by a policeman, whilst on his way home form work, had in some way acted in a way which justified the serious assault which led to his death. CCTV evidence available to the police at the time, showed quite clearly that he was fully cooperative, un-threatening, and simply trying to get home, before being attacked from behind by the police officer. A later investigation revealed that the officer was responsible for his death.

Previously the IPCC has cleared officers who smashed their way into a innocent man's home in Hastings, in a pre-dawn raid, and shot him to death, while he was naked in his bed, despite the fact that the man cooperated fully with police.

 

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