The extrajudicial killing by a police officer of yet another black man Mark Duggan has caused massive outrage in Tottenham (London) where the shooting took place and across the UK. The jury came to the conclusion that Duggan had a gun (hidden in a sock without fingerprints or DNA evidence and with two witnesses testifying that it was planted by police) but threw it an unfeasibly long distance away before being shot by a police officer – even if true, that officer would have noticed he was unarmed at that point! Yet somehow the jury came to the conclusion that the killing was “lawful”.
The riots that took place across England after the shooting in the summer of 2011 led to punitive sentences being handed out to those who took part, such as six months jail for someone stealing water worth £3.50 (a Guardian poll showed 69% thinking it unfair).
Rather than writing a long item on the Mark Duggan case, I will direct people to the following newspaper articles for further information:
- An article by Stafford Scott in the Guardian (this includes the point “Even now most people still do not realise that he was only ever convicted for two relatively minor offences – one count of cannabis possession, and one count of receiving stolen goods.” and there are many comments below the article).
- An article by Paula Mitchell of the Socialist Party (including the points “Hatred of the police was one of the factors behind the riots but they were also driven by seething anger at poverty, massive youth unemployment, brutal cuts to youth services, and the removal of EMA student payments. Since 2011 nothing has improved in Tottenham. The promised money agreed by Tory London mayor Boris Johnson and local government minister Eric Pickles to regenerate the riot areas has not materialised. In fact cuts to benefits, pay, jobs and services have deepened. 41% of children in Tottenham live in poverty”).
- An article by Ken Olende of the Socialist Workers Party (SWP).
At the time of the riots following on from Duggan’s death in 2011, Hannah Sell, the deputy general secretary of the Socialist Party (that I was a member of from 1990-98) wrote a balanced article criticising the SWP, saying that rioting is no solution:
However, rioting is not the means to defeat the government, but, on the contrary, only damages the communities in which working-class people live, and gives the capitalist class an excuse to increase the repressive apparatus of the state.
The Socialist Party does not agree with those on the left who condone the riots, such as the Socialist Workers Party, whose posters in the areas affected by riots declare them to be a step from ‘riot to revolution’.
The present disturbances are an indication of blind rage against the system. Undoubtedly, some of the young people involved will have taken inspiration from the revolutions that have overthrown dictatorships in the Middle East, and the movement of the squares in Greece and Spain.
However, these movements were of a very different character to the riots. While each country has had different characteristics, all the occupations of the squares – from Spain to Egypt – were relatively disciplined mass protests which both opposed and largely prevented acts of violence against local shops etc.
This is one reason that, while all the movements largely began with young people, they were able to reach out to, and win the support of the wider population.
By contrast, while the riots have received huge media coverage, they are allowing the capitalist media and the government to further demonise young people, and to potentially divide the struggle against the government.
As Paula Mitchell’s article above points out (suggesting the following is sent as a tweet): The #Duggan family have called for a mass peaceful protest outside Tottenham police station 2pm, 11 January, #NoJusticeNoPeace (it is also a Facebook event).
While on the subject of underhand policing methods, I will direct people to some other blog items of mine:
- Infiltration of the left, attempts to smear Stephen Lawrence family and call for a public inquiry (the issue of police “institutional racism” became a big issue in the Stephen Lawrence case, and one of the undercover officers in the Special Demonstration Squad of Special Branch within the Metropolitan Police, now superseded by the National Public Order Intelligence Unit across the country, spied on the Lawrence family and friends to try to dig up “dirt” on them)
- #copsoffcampus demos against police clampdown on student protests – infiltration, PRISM & possible UK police state (big clampdown on student protests by police and courts towards the end of 2013 and it potentially being part of a move against protesting generally with the aim of a police state stopping socialism forever)
- Internationally, I have items on police repression in South Africa, including My obituary of Nelson Mandela (edited), still big wealth gap, ANC ordered Marikana massacre, new party (WASP) and Turkey.
[SLIGHT EDITS TO THIS PARAGRAPH: 12/1/14] Here, in Salford (Greater Manchester), there is a fracking (hydraulic fracturing) site at Barton Moss where the police have been very heavy handed, in arresting people mainly for “obstructing the highway” (which we look to have defeated them on since such arrests may be deemed invalid because it’s a private road, or actually public footpath as shown by police removing a sign indicating this – see this freedom of information request) with courts imposing bail conditions ordering protesters to stay away from the fracking site (now lifted). Greater Manchester Police’s latest outrage is to accuse anti-fracking protesters at the camp of lighting a flare to bring down a police helicopter without any evidence whatsoever (if only they had thought of that in Palestine!) and use it as an excuse to search the camp. I have been intending to write a blog item on the issue of fracking for a while, but in the meantime I strongly encourage you to read my post reviewing 2013 and suggesting prospects for this year at 2014: Economic & social chaos? A general strike in Britain at last? Prospects for Left Unity (which has quite a long section on the environment which must not be neglected in these times of austerity).
There is an anti-fracking protest on Sunday 12 January (marching from Salford City Reds rugby league stadium, assembling from 11.30am to leave at 12.30pm, getting to the camp to continue the protest there at 1.30pm before returning to the stadium). See the Barton Moss – Mass Solidarity Day Facebook event for more details including travel information.