News World Vigil held for death that sparked UK riots

Vigil held for death that sparked UK riots

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Several hundred demonstrators rallied outside a London police station on Saturday to condemn an inquest that found the killing of an armed man by an officer in 2011 was lawful, a shooting that sparked nationwide riots.

They condemned the “perverse” jury verdict returned on Wednesday over the death of Mark Duggan, who was shot after armed police stopped the taxi he was in as they followed it through Tottenham, north London, in August 2011.

The jury found Duggan had a gun in the taxi but did not have it in his hand when the fatal shot was fired, having thrown it onto nearby grass.

The peaceful protesters gathered outside Tottenham police station held placards reading “Justice for Mark Duggan”, and heard from other families whose relatives had died in incidents involving the police.

Demonstrators chanted: “Who are the murderers? Police are the murderers” and “No justice, no peace”. They heard calls for all police officers to wear cameras.

A minute’s silence was held during the vigil, and 20 white doves symbolising peace were released.

Speaking from the police station steps – with few officers in sight – Duggan’s aunt Carole told supporters: “Mark is not the first person to die at the hands of the police. There are thousands more.

“There is no justice in this country.”

She said Duggan, a 29-year-old father of six, was not from a gangster family.

Duggan’s death was the catalyst for urban riots and looting that spread from Tottenham across London and then to other cities, including Birmingham and Manchester, leaving five people dead.

Tottenham is an ethnically diverse urban area best known for its English Premier League football club Tottenham Hotspur.

Diane Abbott, the first black woman elected to parliament and the member for neighbouring Hackney, told the crowd she was hosting a meeting in parliament on Monday with the Duggans, lawyers and community activists.

The meeting is “to try and discuss where the Duggan family can go from here”, she told AFP. “It’s very much down to the family and what’s legally possible.”

She added: “There are long-standing issues between the Metropolitan Police in London and the black and minority ethnic communities: stop and search, deaths in custody – and the death of Mark Duggan has not helped matters at all.”

The Duggans are pushing the Independent Police Complaints Commission to pursue a wider, more thorough investigation.

Scotland Yard chief Bernard Hogan-Howe said on Thursday the Met Police held “a particular concern about our relationship with younger members of the black community”.

However, there was a “tremendous determination” to “strengthen relationships”, he added.

Reverend Nims Obunge, who buried Duggan, was among the vigil organisers. He urged the crowd to seek “justice, peace and truth”.

He told AFP many local people felt the criminal justice system had failed them.

“It’s a combination of anger, mistrust and frustration, and people need to find a way forward,” the pastor said.

“The message is it’s not just Duggan. It’s a much wider issue and it has to be taken very seriously.

“Today is a reflection of hope. It’s not just a reflection of hopelessness. This is a reflection of people saying they want something to happen.

“Police are working in partnership to say, ‘We accept that there’s stuff we need to do.’ Let’s see what the future holds.”