Most Americans will remember the UK riots of 2011, but few will probably recall the name of Mark Duggan. Duggan was the petty thug and aspiring gangster whose fatal shooting by police led to riots which spread from London to cities across the country. Five people died, and the cost of the damage has been estimated at $330 million.
Duggan was shot after a taxi he was travelling in was stopped by police, who had received intelligence that he was armed, and today an inquest jury found that he had been lawfully killed. A gun was found a few yards from the scene of the shooting, and although the jury found that Duggan did not have a gun in his hand when he was shot, they accepted that the police marksman who shot him had a “reasonable and honest belief” that he was armed.
Duggan’s family and friends, and the ubiquitous “leaders” of the black community in Tottenham, where Duggan lived, reacted with fury to the verdict, hurling abuse at the jury, and drowning out a police spokesman outside the court with cries of “murderers” and “no justice, no peace.” Police are tonight braced for possible trouble on the streets of Tottenham, although the cold and wet weather will keep people of the streets — had the jury’s verdict been delivered on a hot summer’s day things would likely have been very different.
The BBC has, of course, led the hand-wringing over the verdict, fretting about the damage the case has done to “community relations”; as if relations between the police and violent criminals — and those who either actively support them, or who sympathize with them, protect them and make excuses for them — would ordinarily be cordial. The vast majority of the law-abiding people in Tottenham and other crime-infested areas of London are quietly pleased every time a Mark Duggan is taken off the streets, even if they would rather such men were jailed than killed.
Speaking after the verdict, a senior policeman pointed out that criminals have shot dead more than 50 people on London’s streets in the last three-and-a-half years. Most of those 50 victims were black, and were killed by other blacks, but they have received less coverage between them than has Duggan from the BBC and other media outlets.
The reaction to the case shows how tactics that were once the preserve of U.S. race-baiters like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have found their way to Britain; the veteran black Labour MP Dianne Abbott is a third-rate rabble-rouser by American standards, but she openly criticized the inquest jury, calling their decision “baffling.” Black activists have also been rehashing their complaints about young black men being disproportionately targeted in police stop and search operations, continuing to ignore the fact that young black men are disproportionately both the perpetrators and victims of shootings and other violent crime, and are responsible for a majority of violent crime in the capital overall.
The prospects for London’s black youth remain bleak so long as those who profess to have their best interests at heart continue to exhibit more anger over the death of one black criminal at the hands of the police than the death of dozens of black men at the hands of other black men. In the meantime, Londoners will be hoping it doesn’t stop raining.