Following the controversial shooting of 30-year-old Mark Duggan by the armed police from the specialist firearms unit C019 in Tottenham on Thursday night and the ensuing rumours that the Duggan was not killed in self-defence but in the face at point blank range and his family were unsupported and ignored for the most of the 48 hours after his death, the north of the city has become a hotbed of ruckus, rioting and robbery.
What started out as a peaceful protest outside Tottenham police station at 5.30pm swiftly escalated into full-blown rioting which saw much of north London under siege by her very own residents as aggressive mobs of youths – some as young as 10 – armed with weapons took over major high streets and retail parks, vandalised cars, tore down shop windows and looted what goods to be had from plasma TVs to trainers till the early hours of the morning.
While the Downing Street labelled the rioting “utterly despicable” Mark Duggan’s family were keen to point out they had not wanted this kind of violence as Duggan’s brother Shaun Hall told Sky news:
I know people are frustrated and angry out there. We would say please try holding it down… don’t let this bear on my brother’s life. He was a good man.”
Second day of rioting continued today with reports of rioting sweeping into the east and south London and Birmingham and and tweets of streets ablaze. residents of east London brace themselves for what the night may bring, community leaders and social commentators have already begun to offer their explanations not only on the scale and ferocity of the rioting but also on the underlying reasons.
In her articled titled ‘Did We Ever Heal Tottenham or Just Paint over the Cracks?’ in today’s The Guardian, Claudia Webbe wrote:
We are looking at a group of people disaffected by historical inequality: a high level of poverty and generational unemployment. And young people are still more likely than white people to be stopped and searched.”
According to Webbe, “time, money, investment and commitment unity will be needed to repair trust and to restore order and normal reality.” However, she also highlights the funding cuts that institutions that could help rebuild relationships between the police and the community are faced with and questions as to whether the root causes of of the 1985 Broadwater Farm riots were addressed at all or cracks just painted over:
Too many in Tottenham still face poverty, unemployment , and over-crowded housing, The haves and have-nots live side by side in London: there are wealthy areas in Haringey, yet the parts destroyed were at the heart of the ordinary community.”
Strategic policy consultant, motivational public speaker or executive coach Lee Jasper who has had a wealth of experience as a Senior Policy Director for Equalities and Policing in London and Mayor of London’s Director for Policing and Equalities, also voiced similar concerns today on Sky News:
While it is easy to condemn the actions of a disadvantaged and disinterested youth as opportunistic theft takes over the capital and spreads across to other towns, it is essential to look beyond sarcasm-tinted spectacles and JD Sport’s jokes, to the underlying reasons for such mob violence.
Following a FAB night out in Woodford on Sunday at the FAB Magazine UK Launch where the spirit of the night was a celebration of the FABness of Black, it was difficult to wake up to the aftermath of rioting by ethnic minority youths in London neighbourhoods and as we enter another night of riots spreading like wildfire, here at FAB we hope for a speedy end to the capital’s troubles and a profound look into the causes behind – in Claudia Webbe’s words – not just a “paint over cracks.” We hope the family of Mark Duggan – bereft of a husband, a son, a brother, a father and of the chance to silently grieve their loss, get their answers from the police.
Most importantly, we look forward to a Britain where disadvantaged youth do not seek street justice by looting residential and commercial property and where Black is not associated with thugs breaking into Carphone Warehouse for a mobile phone or women with tights on their heads robbing Supermalt but with FABness – as it ought to be.