Funeral of man whose death sparked English riots

9th September 2011, Comments 0 comments

Hundreds of mourners gathered on Friday for the funeral of a man whose death at the hands of armed police sparked riots across London and other cities in England in the worst unrest for decades.

The funeral of Mark Duggan takes place in the north London district of Tottenham amid lingering tensions over the circumstances of his death.

Relatives are expecting more than 1,000 mourners to pay their respects after a private cortege makes its way through the ethnically mixed Broadwater Farm housing estate, a deprived area where violent riots flared in 1985.

Around 10,000 police are on duty across London in case the tensions of the funeral boil over to other parts of the capital.

Duggan, a 29-year-old father of four children, was travelling in a taxi which was apparently stopped by a police unit investigating armed crime in the black community.

Initial reports that he had opened fire on police were dismissed by ballistic tests which showed that a bullet which lodged itself in one officer's radio was of a kind issued to police.

A non-police issue handgun, converted from a blank-firing pistol to one that shoots live rounds, was recovered close to the scene of the death.

On the eve of the funeral, Duggan's brother Shaun Hall, 42, accused officers of presiding over a "shoot-to-kill policy", questioning why police had shot him in the chest rather than a non-lethal part of the body.

A Tottenham lawmaker, David Lammy, said the dead man's family was "left floundering" by the police investigation and a "lack of communication" between the police and relatives "did not help".

Duggan's mother, Pam Duggan, 53, who described her son as a "loving boy with a good heart", has organised a private church ceremony before a reception takes place at a community centre on the Broadwater Farm estate.

A peaceful protest against his death on August 6 descended into riots in Tottenham as darkness fell, with shops and flats burned to the ground.

Violence then spread across London before disturbances broke out in other cities in England. Five people were left dead and hundreds of shops were looted, with some set alight.

A police watchdog probe into the death of Duggan, who was brought up close to the scene where policeman Keith Blakelock was killed during rioting in 1985, is expected to last up to six months.

A spokesman for London's Metropolitan Police Service said: "It is in the interest of everyone, the family of Mr Duggan, the public and the police, that the Independent Police Complaints Commission is able to establish all the facts of the events so that there is a complete understanding of what happened, and the MPS is doing everything possible to assist with that process.

"We have met with Mr Duggan's parents. In line with the family's wishes, the policing will reflect the family's desire for a local, peaceful and dignified funeral."

© 2011 AFP

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