Reaction from the streets of Tottenham: ‘There will be plenty more Mark Duggans. He won’t be the last’

 

Sarah Morrison
Wednesday 08 January 2014 21:36
Burnt out cars lie in the road after riots on Tottenham High Road on August 7, 2011
Burnt out cars lie in the road after riots on Tottenham High Road on August 7, 2011

On the streets of Tottenham, it seemed almost everyone knew Mark Duggan somehow – though most only through friends of friends. His death and the subsequent riots that swept the country have not been forgotten.

When his name was mentioned – and the verdict of the inquest discussed – people shook their heads or clenched their fists.

Yvette, 54, has lived in Tottenham for a decade. “The verdict’s really sad,” she said. “I’m disappointed in the police. They are not protecting the community. Watch this space – I think there is going to be a reaction.”

Pat Davis, 57, a mother of two, agreed: “It all depends now on how the Duggan family react. If they react, the community is going to react,” she said. “I’m not surprised at the verdict. There’s no justice, Duggan wasn’t a goody-goody and police claimed he had a gun but, however many questions you ask, you’re never going to get proper answers. They cover it up.”

The reaction in the area, for some, was anger. Through the evening, police stepped up street patrols. One man, who did not give his name, shook his head as they walked by. “There will be plenty more Mark Duggans,” he shouted. “He wasn’t the first and he won’t be the last.”

Chris Kamara, 37, who works for Network Rail, said he did not think the killing seemed lawful. “If he didn’t shoot first, why did they shoot him? They took the law into their own hands and another black guy got shot. Another life ended needlessly... this isn’t the first time this has happened but, yet again, nobody has brought to justice. It is swept under the carpet.”

But others were less sure. Michael Mitchell, a 46-year-old part-time drug counsellor who has lived in Tottenham for more than 30 years, said he knew of Mr Duggan through his son, an ex-gang member.

“The man had a gun. Police didn’t put it there. He could have shot somebody else. They could have apprehended him in private, but I go with the verdict. He had a loaded firearm.”

Another passer-by, Martin, agreed. “They should have shot him,” he said. Whatever the opinion, Mr Duggan’s death is still sending ripples through the community. One 25-year-old, who wished to be anonymous, said Mr Duggan’s death and the subsequent riots changed his life. “I used to be a person on these streets,” he said. “But it drew a line. Police on one side and citizens on the other. It made it hard to trust the law.”

He said he felt sympathy for Mr Duggan’s family, but hoped the verdict wouldn’t prompt a repeat of what happened in 2011. “It bought a lot of rage to the community and the community went down. If you took in just a little bit of that rage, you’d be dragged down too.

“I closed myself off from everything. If I hadn’t left, I’d probably have got locked up myself. What we need now is people to speak up for the community, not more violence.”

Video: The Duggan family's fight for justice

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