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Mark Duggan: No peace without justice

By KD Tait
The Mark Duggan inquest verdict of “lawful killing” shows courts will never bring Met killers to justice. Only united working class action alongside black community self defence can halt the killings and end police impunity

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A jury has delivered a majority verdict of “lawful killing” in the inquest into the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot dead by police on 4 August 2011.

The jury delivered the verdict based solely on accepting that the officer who fired the fatal shot had an “honestly held belief” that Duggan was armed.

During the inquest two officers claimed they saw Duggan holding a gun. All the other officers testified that they did not see any weapon.

The only independent witness of the shooting itself, a person who filmed the event from a nearby block of flats, said that he saw Duggan with his hands above his head holding a mobile phone when he was shot. The witness has no historical links with Tottenham and did not know Duggan or his family; he had no motive to lie.

The police claimed that Mark Duggan threw a gun wrapped in a sock over a wall before he was shot. This was despite the fact that all the officers who surrounded him at the time said they did not see him throw anything.

The gun was found seven meters away from Duggan’s body. There was no trace of his DNA or fingerprints on the gun or the sock. Mark was not wearing gloves at the time of his shooting.

Although Duggan’s prints were found on the lid of the box, though not inside it, at no point in the journey or after they were stopped did the taxi driver see him open the box, in which the gun was alleged to have been transported.

Despite rejecting the police claim that Duggan was armed by an 8-2 majority, the jury decided nevertheless that it was lawful for the police officer to shoot him because he “believed” that Duggan was armed.

It is clear that at no point did Mark Duggan have the gun in his hand. Every police witness testified that they did not see Duggan throw the gun over the wall. Despite this the police could not – and did not have to – explain how they knew where to find the gun.

The verdict comes at the end of an investigation, which has taken more than two years, during which Mark Duggan was repeatedly slandered as a “gangster” and “one of Europe’s most dangerous criminals” by both the police and the press.

Smear campaign

Yet immediately after the fatal shooting, the Met and the Independent Police Complaints Commission briefed the media that Mark was an armed criminal, out on a revenge mission, and had shot and injured a police officer first, before the officers returned fire.

Forensic evidence later proved the officer was shot by one of his own marksmen. The bullet lodged in his radio was police issue.

Soon headlines were being written saying Duggan was one of the most violent men in Europe, came from a “gangster family” and was a large scale drug dealer.

At no point during the inquest, however, did the police provide any evidence to back up their claims that Duggan was a gang member, nor did they provide evidence for their claim that Duggan was preparing to collect a gun.

It was an old-fashioned smear, which suggests two things. One: that the police knew instantly that they had shot an unarmed man and had to build a cover-up story fast. Two: that the IPCC is not independent at all.

In this case as in so many others, the family and friends, trying to find the truth and receive justice, have come to detest the IPCC, who let a lie, smearing their loved one, do the rounds for three whole days before “correcting” it, and allowed key evidence, like the taxi, be contaminated before it could be properly searched.

Pattern

The verdict is not so much a whitewash as a brazen reassertion of the right of the police to execute people with impunity.

This impunity has been demonstrated again and again. It is sadly the case that Mark Duggan joins a long line of young black men who have died mysteriously in police custody. Colin Roach, Roger Sylvester, Christopher Alder, Smiley Culture, Sean Rigg… the list goes on and is still being added to.

No police officer has ever been convicted of murder resulting from a death on duty, though many trials and inquests have proved beyond their guilt beyond doubt.

The inquest into Mark Duggan’s death proves once again that the police are held to a different standard than ordinary people; especially if they are working class and even more so if they are black. They are still –as the Macpherson Report into Stephen Lawrence’s murder found – “institutionally racist”.

They are not “just citizens in uniform” as we are taught at school but a force that stands above the people and, as far as concerns black people, other ethnic minorities and the working class majority, above the law.

This is because the police are the first line of defence for an unjust, exploitative and racist system – one whose injustice is defended by the whole apparatus of the state and justified by media monopolies owned and directed by billionaires.

In the words of Carole Duggan “we are going to fight until we have no breath left in our body” – not just for Mark Duggan, his family and children, but to see every officer responsible for the daily battery of crimes committed against ordinary people brought to justice.

Disarm the police

There can be no justice without peace. The police have intimidated and terrorised working class communities, pursued private vendettas and acted as judge, jury and executioner for too long.

They – along with politicians like local MPs David Lammy and Diane Abbott – now want the family and wider community to settle matters in a “normal” way.

When the family organised a vigil outside Tottenham Police Station on 11 January, the police lined the back streets with vans of riot cops and predicted violence. The treatment of the victims as criminals continues.

Nevertheless, hundreds turned up – black, white, Kurdish and Turkish – to show their respect and anger. How can they fight on for justice?

The police and the worse than useless IPCC cannot be reformed or made accountable to the communities they are supposed to serve.

If the police lied through their teeth and backed each other up for 16 months just to bring down Tory Minister Andrew Mitchell – think what they would be prepared to do against working class families.

The police need to be disarmed. All of them. The special firearms units and teams of spies that they send in to discredit victims of violence, like the Lawrences, need to be disbanded.

But in the end, no amount of scrutiny and reform will protect us from the miscarriages of justice, the deaths in custody, or the casual day-to-day violence and abuse in the cells and on the streets.

Working class communities need to rely on their own organised defence groups to protect them from violence wherever it comes from: police, racists or gangs. And not to forget any of the victims of the police.

No justice – no peace!

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One Response to Mark Duggan: No peace without justice

  1. Corey Mondello

    January 13, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    And I always though Europe was less racist than the USA.

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