Mourners bid final farewell to shooting victim Mark Duggan
Friday 09 September 2011
Hundreds of grieving friends and relatives came together today to bid a quiet farewell to the police shooting victim whose death triggered devastating riots across England.
Emotional scenes played out as mourners united for Mark Duggan's solemn send-off amid simmering tensions sparked by his killing last month.
Leading the tributes to the father-of-four, his devastated partner Semone Wilson said her "first real love" was now "smiling down on us".
Mr Duggan's death in Tottenham, north London, on August 4, preceded four nights of violence and looting which spread across the country.
Today at his funeral, close to north London's notorious Broadwater Farm estate, pastor Nims Obunge called for an end to underlying disquiet and told the congregation: "It took the death of Mark to show that there's something wrong."
Earlier, Mr Duggan's body was transported through the Broadwater Farm estate in a white carriage drawn by four white horses.
The ornate cortege was adorned with flowers. Emblazoned on it were the words "grandson", "son" and "dad".
Mr Duggan's brothers Marlon Duggan and Shaun Hall led the procession up to Wood Green's New Testament Church of God for the peaceful private ceremony.
Grieving friends, relatives and well-wishers had arrived earlier to pay their respects as the sounds of Amazing Grace rang out.
Many gathered on the street outside where a speaker system had been set up for those who could not squeeze into the packed church.
In a tribute read out by her sister Michelle Palmer-Scott, Miss Wilson said: "Mark, my love, my friend and father of my children, my first real love - we laughed together, we cried together, we faced trials and tribulations together.
"We had our ups and we had our downs but through it all, I loved him."
And she said Mr Duggan, 29, would now be reunited with a baby the couple lost in 2008.
"He gave me four beautiful children and I will always love him for that," she added.
"I can't believe you're gone, I can't believe you're not here, but you will always have that special place in my heart. I don't understand why you're gone so soon."
Concluding her message, she added: "You take care of baby Kylah.
"Now you are in heaven smiling down on us and you will always watch over us.
"No matter what the people say, your love for me was here to stay."
Mr Duggan's parents, Vincent and Pamela, spoke of their son's dedication to his family.
"In many ways, Semone saved Mark and that's why he loved her dearly," his mother Pamela said.
"She loved him unconditionally, like they loved their children."
And his cousin, Donna Martin, broke down as she recalled his "special bond" with Miss Wilson.
"What a smile he had," she added.
"It used to take over the whole of his face - fantastic."
Mr Duggan, who worked at Stansted Airport, had recently applied for a job as a fireman, she told the congregation.
"He was obviously thinking about how he could help others, and what a courageous thing to consider," she said.
The moving tone became one of defiance as the service drew to a close.
Pastor Obunge drew massive applause as he spoke of tensions within the local community.
"We have seen too much blood now," he said.
"Let mothers not have to come and bury their children. Let fathers not have to come and weep for their children the way we weep today.
"We have been hurt, we have been scarred, we have been maligned, we have been stigmatised, we have been called names.
"Today we stand as one community but we say 'Not any more - it shall stop'."
To cheers, he added: "For so long we have said there is something wrong, for so long we have ached about what is wrong and it took the death of Mark to show that there's something wrong."
Earlier, senior pastor Bishop Barrington Burrell said "grave questions" had been raised by Mr Duggan's death and he condemned the ensuing riots saying: "this kind of negative reaction is unjustifiable".
And he called for a new era, saying: "On the one hand the police respectively need to change their attitude towards the black community and the black community also needs to change their attitude in response to the police. In either case, the value of human life needs to be paramount."
Mr Duggan was a passenger in a minicab which was apparently stopped by officers near Tottenham Hale Tube station before he was fatally shot.
A non-police issue handgun, converted from a blank-firing pistol to one that shoots live rounds, was recovered close to the scene of his death.
Initial reports that Mr Duggan, who was brought up close to the spot where Pc Keith Blakelock was killed during rioting in 1985, fired at police, have been dismissed by ballistic tests.
These later established that a bullet which lodged itself in an officer's radio was police issue.
Today's service came after the Home Secretary Theresa May urged politicians to refrain from rushing to judgment over the causes of the widespread violence last month.
Following the service, the congregation attended a private ceremony at Wood Green Cemetery, ahead of a reception later this afternoon at Broadwater Farm Community Centre.
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