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Vol. 78/No. 3      January 27, 2014

London inquest whitewashes
cop’s killing of Mark Duggan
(front page)
LONDON — More than 500 people demonstrated outside Tottenham police station in north London Jan. 11. Joined by scores of residents who lined nearby sidewalks in this working-class neighborhood, they protested the “lawful killing” verdict of an inquest jury into the 2011 police shooting of Mark Duggan.

Duggan, who was unarmed, was shot twice by an unnamed cop Aug. 4, 2011, after the taxi Duggan was riding in was stopped by officers from a special unit. Seen by many as an execution, the killing sparked protests and riots across the country. The jury ruled the cop’s shooting was lawful, but did not dispute that Duggan was not wielding a gun.

“The fight goes on for as long as it takes. We’re in it for the long haul,” said Carole Duggan, his aunt and the main speaker at the protest. “This is not just about Mark. There’s no justice in this country.”

Sharing the platform at the rally was Rupert Sylvester, whose son Roger was killed by police in Tottenham 15 years ago. The killing was initially ruled unlawful by an inquest, only to be overturned by a High Court judge.

Rally chair Stafford Scott, coordinator of Tottenham RIGHTS, reviewed a long list of prominent cases of deaths in police custody, including Cynthia Jarrett in 1985, Joy Gardner in 1993, Roger Sylvester in 1999, Jean Charles de Menezes in 2005 and Ian Tomlinson in 2009.

According to INQUEST, a charity that focuses on deaths in police custody, 1,476 people have died as a result of police action since 1990. But the last time a cop was successfully prosecuted for killing someone was in 1969.

“We may have got some solace if Mark Duggan had been the last, but since his killing there have been others,” Scott said. A close friend of Leon Briggs, who died in police custody in Luton Nov. 4, joined the platform.

“Don’t give up,” Marcia Rigg, sister of Sean Rigg, who died in police custody in 2008, told participants. “Sean’s case has now been reopened” as a result of the ongoing public fight.

Rigg’s message was echoed by Becky Shah, whose mother was among 96 Liverpool football supporters killed at a 1989 match in Sheffield as a result of police misconduct. After two decades of campaigning, the cover-up of cops’ responsibility for what is known as the Hillsborough disaster was exposed in a 2012 public inquiry report.

After the shooting of Duggan, the government-appointed Independent Police Complaints Commission said Duggan had shot first. The truth started coming out shortly afterward, heightening distrust of the commission among working people.

Police told the inquest that Duggan was a member of a gang, the “Tottenham Man Dem” that includes “48 of Europe’s most violent criminals.” The cops said they were following the cab Duggan was in because they believed he was carrying a gun related to a drug deal. The police rammed and boxed in the cab with three police vehicles. Duggan was shot after he got out of the cab.

A cop, called “V53” to conceal his identity, told the inquest that he shot Duggan twice believing in a “freeze-frame moment” that Duggan was an armed threat.

The only nonpolice witness told the inquest that Duggan had his arms raised when he was shot.

The jury concluded that Duggan probably had a gun, but had thrown it away before getting out of the cab. No witness said they saw Duggan throw anything away.

Police say they recovered a gun 10 to 20 feet from the cab. But no DNA, blood or fingerprint evidence linking it to Duggan was found.

London Mayor Boris Johnson expressed sympathy to Duggan’s family, while paying tribute to the police for their “high professional standards.”

“The majority of people in this country know that he was executed,” Carole Duggan told the press outside the courtroom after the decision.  
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