The Killing of Mark Duggan 108

The Guardian has an interesting piece today on Mark Duggan, whose death sparked the initial rioting. I want to try to approach this as objectively as possible.

The Guardian piece focuses, quite rightly, on the fact that the police yet again seem to have encouraged false information to come out in the immediate aftermath of the killing, particularly to the effect that Duggan fired first. This is part of a worrying pattern – the numerous lies about Jean Charles De Menezes, the false claim that demonstrators attacked police trying to resuscitate Ian Tomlinson.

This is extremely serious because it is part of the picture of the Met, like the rest of government, being much more interested in spin than fact when it comes to dealing with the media. This in turn comes back again to that incestuous web of bungs and consultancy contracts that characterises the Met/Murdoch relationship. The Duggan death shows the police instinct to lie and cover up is as fierce as ever.

But, on the death itself, we have to face the fact that Duggan was no Ian Tomlinson or Jean Charles De Menezes. They were both innocent and unarmed. Duggan was neither innocent nor unarmed. He was a hardened gangster carrying a loaded firearm. I understand the police believed he may have been actually on the way to carry out a “hit” and that is why they stooped him in a public street. I have no reason to disbelieve this.

From the Guardian report:

“Duggan’s family and friends have said that if he was carrying a loaded weapon, they did not believe he would have fired at police.”

That is a highly qualified statement. No doubt that he would carry a loaded weapon, or that he might fire it at somebody else.

Thankfully, being an armed gangster is not a capital offence in the UK and the circumstances described above do not give the police the right to carry out an execution. Obviously something went horribly wrong in the incident, and one possibility must be that the officers, or at least one officer, decided on just such an illegal execution.

But that is by no means the only possibility, and we must also note that this went so wrong that the police injured and could have killed one of their own. It seems most likely that the bullet which passed through Duggan’s bicep was the one that ended lodged in a police radio. How somebody came to open fire when one of his own colleagues was in harm’s way is another important question, and on the face of it would seem to indicate confusion.

The police have harmed their case, perhaps irretrievably in public opinion, by their lack of immediate honesty about whether Duggan fired. But that does not mean they have no case. Duggan was not an entirely innocent man. He is absolutely not, in that sense, in the category of De Menezes or Tomlinson.

I for one do actually want the police to arrest criminals carrying loaded firearms, and I realise that will always be a risky business.

Was this an execution, a botch, or a legitimate response to a leveled weapon? We do not know. The problem is, we can be pretty sure that the well-oiled protection mechanisms that always shield the police from genuine investigation, will kick in again.

The problem, of course, with exoneration of the police in appalling crimes like their execution of Jean Charles De Menezes, is that nobody will believe them when they are in fact in the right. There is a strong possibility they were in the right on this one. They have brought general disbelief upon themselves.

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108 thoughts on “The Killing of Mark Duggan

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  • mark_golding

    Lateral thinkin’ Joe but firing a bullet into a radio with a 9mm Glock is not plausible.
    We have a more serious problem.
    Instead of a policy of consent and a close relationship between our police and the British public which HAS resulted in many looters and criminals being arrested after numerous home searches, agent Cameron wants ‘zero tolerance’ and American style policing much to the concern of police commissioners.
    This is the ‘thin edge of the wedge’ towards a British police state and a British armed police force. I believe it is time for the British public to get tough, get writing and if nothing happens, get marching in numbers.
    Police brutality has increased ten-fold since September 11th 2001(1) and many American teenagers have been brutalised, injured and shot dead (google ‘america police brutality statistics’)


  • dreoilin

    There is no connection whatsoever between you deciding he had no intention of marrying his partner and the fact that some primary teacher said he once brought a knife to school.
    (I had quoted the knife story way up this page.)
    And I have no idea what you’re trying to say about Duggan with all these *opinions* about whether he was going to marry or not, and whether he had other children. What do those matters have to do with anything?
    “You’re allowed to see more than two teams, support any combination of them, start your own, boo them all, or invent new scales to compare them on …”
    With you there, Ghost.

  • Dovidw

    Interesting to note that an event which took at most, from intial engagement by the police of the suspect to firing of the fatal shot(s say, maximum 3 minutes, maybe 5? This, we are led to believe, requires a period of SIX MONTHS to investigate? Much time to muddy the waters and indulge in some creative verbal gymnastics. Justice delayed is justice denied!

  • Clark

    I still want to know why, in so many cases, police in riot gear stood by while looting (and arson?) proceeded within their sight, and did not intervene. There are multiple reports of this from all across the country. It is almost as if the riots were deliberately permitted to escalate. “Nip it in the bud” would have been a far better approach.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Thanks, Old Mark, that’s a very good article from someone who sounds like they know what they’re talking about. The truth is, the systemic decay into effective illiteracy to which the writer refers has been setting in for several decades under both Labour and Conservative Govts. Blair’s corrupt shower accelerated and intensified it. Some of the ‘new’ experiments under New Labour in education had already been tried, and failed, in the 1980s. New Labour was not ‘left-wing’ – where has the writer been living if they think that they were? New Labour are Centre Right. But in truth, this isn’t a Left or Right thing. I mean, both capitalist Britain (once) and Eastern European Communist countries had very high levels of education; freedom in the latter, of course, was another thing. It’s about messing around with (several generations of) kids’ futures. The old methods worked, because they’d been worked-out over many years and were not subject to transient ideologies – once, we had a highly literate population who could compete anywhere in the job market. The writer is correct also in saying that all of these factors – teenage pregnancy rates, etc. – link together and perpetuate the cycle. Once the rot sets in, it’s very difficult to reverse it.

  • mark_golding

    Clark, the nature of the protest that escalated to riot meant that police commanders instructed their people to ‘contain’ rather than ‘confront’ – they believed at the time (before the arson began) that ‘contain’ equated to broken shop-fronts and stolen goods; confront could have ended with injury and death. It was a wise decision that somehow got exploited and became mob rule and reign of terror.
    I have information that SIS were on scene in London – why? – infiltrating to gain intelligence or infiltrating to stoke a fire? If the former, there was no need because the public provided the tips, if the later then perhaps a catalyst for further control of our liberties by a government serving its peerage masters who know a slow shift in consciousness is taking place, right here, right know, in your minds and many more.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Naturally, though, the Spectator writer shows their partisanship and I think that detracts a little from the power of their article. After all, while there are systemic problems with teachers and state education the way they are today in the UK – I agree with that part of the analysis – let’s not forget whose policies destroyed those jobs in industry to which the writer refers, let’s not forget who deliberately turned Britain into a service ‘industry’/ City of London banana monarchy (as it were), let’s not forget who told us that “there is no such thing as society”. And let’s not forget whose policies post-1980s successive Conservative and Labour Govts have been following ideologically blindly. We now are reaping the whirlwind from that social engineering.

  • macky

    ““You have succeeded in coming across as having a very worrying nervous breakdown, a la Christopher Hitchens over 9/11″
    Macky, in a strong field, that is quite a fantasy.”

    @YugoStiglitz/Larry you mean in Craig going off the rails on this, or Hitchens going loopy after 911 ? Anyhow don’t worry, you’re still way ahead as top fantasist/true believer, in that mother of all crackpot conspiracies theories, known as the official 9/11 narrative.

    “Macky, as far as one is aware, Craig is not having a “nervous breakdown”. I must emphasise that point. He just has views and like the rest of us, is trying to ascertain the truth from the currently limited information available.”
    @Suhayl, touching as your protective loyalty is, you would be helping Craig more, by being honest & telling him plainly that he has gone off the rails over the riots, instead of cowardly (“not by Craig, I hasten to add”) & indirectly rebuking him for throwing juvenile & petulantly hysterical tantrums; behaviour which you try to cover as “he just has views and like the rest of us”.

    Of course if you have such medical or mystical abilities as to ascertain to a reasonable certainty that Craig is not having a nervous type breakdown over this, then please state so, so that I can be reassured that despite the riots, his up to now, latent hatred for a certain urban sub-culture, does not permanently unhinged him, like 9/11 did for Hitchens, who could no longer contain & control his latent Islamophobia any longer.

  • hank

    Clark said:
    “I still want to know why, in so many cases, police in riot gear stood by while looting (and arson?) proceeded within their sight, and did not intervene. There are multiple reports of this from all across the country. It is almost as if the riots were deliberately permitted to escalate. “Nip it in the bud” would have been a far better approach.”

    I agree, check out the Youtube videos on this post to see the lack of police/fire brigade & how the Croydon fire was allowed to escalate without any intervention from the police/fire service. (Note the riot police standing doing nothing & note how there was no fire response to the burning bus, in advance of the Reeves furniture store fire – the start of which can be seen with a burning sofa in the shop window).

    ‘deliberately permitted to escalate’ describes it exactly!

  • deQuincy'sGhost

    “Once the rot sets in, it’s very difficult to reverse it.”
    It might be worth reminding ourselves that we’ve done it before. None of this would be here to fall apart if we hadn’t built it once already.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Okay, Macky, take it easy. I’m perhaps a bit sensitive about dissidents being labelled ‘mad’, or about mental instability being insinuated in political dissidents. I’ve seen it happen too often as a prelude to a symphony, or else as an ongoing melody. I realise that that’s not what you were doing in this case. Hence my response. I didn’t intend any annoyance to you. I don’t think the Hitchens parallel is fair, though, to be honest. I do sometimes disgree with what Craig writes, and say so – see ‘Cartoon’ thread from 15th August 2011, for a recent example; also some of the stuff about feminism. But to put it in perspective, here is a guy who gave up his career and social standing and put his life very much on the line for what he believed in, to try to save people from torture and death and the machinations of a malevolent (sorry, Nextus, more alliteration!) empire. And who continues to do all of that. So if I disagree with him on this or that, I say so, wihtout having to insinuate lunacy.

  • macky

    @Larry Levin, No, unless you are yet another false persona for that tedious Shill who has been plaguing this Site for years mostly under “Larry from St Louis” moniker, but now under “YugoStiglitz”.

    @Suhayl, I am glad that you realise that I was not trying to label Craig as insane or mentally unstable, otherwise your “I’m perhaps a bit sensitive” should read “I’m totally paranoid” ! The fact remains however, that his recent display of hardcore reactionary rhetoric & logic, is what you would normally expect from some Right Wing Shock-Jock, and it has, well, shocked me !. In fact, add in his obvious straw-men points, his heaps of infantile abuse & illogical generalisations, and you would think you’ve stumbled onto the Blog of some student activist member of the Young Conservatives.

    I am well aware of Craig honourable record, which in why I visit this Site, and which is why I despair to witness him thrashing his own reputation, with his bizarre & blinkered take on the recent riots; there is one small glimmer of hope, and that is his quite backtracking from parroting the Cameron & May mantra of this being “”simple criminality” without any cause, to now being a product of “”Gangsta culture”; mind you isn’t that what David Starkey said the other night ? Not much of an improvement really then !

  • Macky

    Funny enough I recently read a critical piece about the last YAB article (see here;

    This one is not too bad, but still quite shallow, in that like Craig she doesn’t seek to address root causes, instead she floats around telling us what the riots were not about, as if the cause was something that fell out of the sky, a bit like Craig’s ”Gangsta culture”, modern day miraclous Virgin Births that came into existence because just because they did !

    Two other pieces worth reading, but the second only for the reader comments;

  • deQuincy's Ghost

    “I am well aware of Craig honourable record, which in why I visit this Site, and which is why I despair to witness him thrashing his own reputation”
    Hear hear.
    I’m sure he’s a very busy man, and often has more urgent/interesting things to do than pay attention to the comments here. But, to ignore much of what’s said, leap in and cherrypick some bits while ignoring others, and then favour us all with a front-page announcement along the lines of Larry’s old “the posters here are all swivel-eyed loons who believe [caricature]” doesn’t exactly encourage worthwhile debate, it seems more to turn us all into clowns posturing for his occasional amusement.
    Plus – someone who can ask “Who cares what happens in Cardiff ?” (in the “It’s an English problem” thread) has, in my view, undermined his position to lecture us on proper responses. Hurtful, pointless, weakening, destructive for the short-term fun of it, and only a swivel-eyed loon would defend it as some sort of noble clas[contd. on p94]

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Good links, Macky. Thanks.
    Since we are all loons, let us don some purple velvet loon-pants like those sported by Twink (of the Pink Fairies et al), whom that trendy interior decorator clearly models himself on.

  • Tom

    “Duggan was an armed criminal”, followed by, “He did have a record but I don’t have details yet”. Pure speculation then.

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