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One month after the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin, many Americans are seething with anger over the Sanford Police Department’s reluctance to arrest Martin’s shooter.
For the family and supporters of U.K. shooting victim Mark Duggan, it has been nearly a year since Duggan was shot by police. That fatal shooting sparked the national outrage that led to London’s 2011 riots. Now a new disappointment emerges as investigators announce they will push back Duggan's investigation for another year to prevent jeopardizing “sensitive information.”
While the details of Martin and Duggan’s deaths and lives varied considerably, both cases highlight the lack of urgency with which law enforcement officials investigate incidents of fatal crime against Blacks and how, on either side of the Atlantic, Black men suspected of crimes are shot first, with questions about culpability left to be determined after the casket closes, if at all.
On the night of Aug. 4 2011, 29-year-old Mark Duggan was riding in a cab in Tottenham, an area of London, when the vehicle was stopped by officers from Scotland Yard’s Operation Trident, a special unit intially tasked with “dealing with gun crime among Black communities, in particular drug-related shootings” and armed with submachine guns. Reports say police believed that Duggan was planning to attack a man in retaliation for the stabbing of his cousin, but no crime had yet been committed when he was stopped; the alleged plot has never been confirmed.
Details about exactly what happened after the stop are still disputed. But, in the end, three shots were fired and Duggan was killed in the alleged exchange. Just two days later, violence erupted outside of the Tottenham police station as an angry crowd demanded justice for Duggan. The initial anger over Duggan’s death boiled over into a full-scale riot as many Britons expressed their resentment of increased police stops on Black residents.
Now, nearly one year later, another blow to the Black community comes as the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), the office tasked with investigating all allegations against a police officer, announced that Duggan’s investigation will be stalled until January 2013 because sensitive material related to police decision-making may have to be withheld from the coroner.
In light of the news, Duggan’s family has accused the IPCC of intentionally stalling the investigation.
“We believe the IPCC are withholding information from us which is delay tactics. Maybe they think we will go away, come to terms with what has happened, but we are a grieving family and we will always grieve for Mark,” said Duggan’s aunt Carole, according to the London Evening Standard.
While there has been debate over whether Duggan was involved in drug dealing — his family denies the claim and the police name him as a prominent gang member — the fact remains that he was the father of four children, a brother and a son. Duggan’s family and community deserve a complete and open investigation into exactly what happened at the time of his death.
After London’s riots, Black British writer and activist Darcus Howe told Democracy Now, “There is a mass insurrection. And I’m not talking about rioting; I’m talking about an insurrection that comes from the depths of society, from the consciousness, collectively, of the young Blacks and whites, but overwhelmingly Black, as a result of the consistent stopping and searching young Blacks without cause.”
Howe’s words resonate in both the riots that shook London in the wake of Duggan’s death and in the non-violent protests currently rolling across the U.S. in support of justice for Trayvon Martin. In both the U.S. and England, it is evident that the stalking of Black men must cease. The singular message that has emerged from these two tragedies and countless others is simple: Black communities will no longer tolerate being terrorized by people and institutions allegedly working to keep us safe.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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