Anger against the police burst out in Tottenham, north London last night after a protest about the police killing of local black man Mark Duggan.
Around 200 of Mark's family and friends had marched earlier in the evening from Broadwater Farm estate to protest outside Tottenham police station about Mark’s death. He had been shot dead on Thursday evening.
There were whole families with young children, some with home-made placards, and they chanted “No justice, no peace”.
As they gathered on the steps of the police station they were promised that a senior police offer would address them and answer their questions. But this didn’t happen.
Within hours, anger at the police exploded. Police cars and several shops and a bus were in flames. By 2am huge plumes of purple smoke engulfed north London as buildings burned.
Many hundreds of people took to the streets. They reflected the local population – all ages, black and white, Asian, as well as many Hassidic Jews.
One teenage woman, who was a friend of Mark’s, told Socialist Worker, “Everyone locally knows Mark, he has four children. He was 29 years old. He was not a young boy.
“He was shot at the end of my street. The police are meant to be trained, they should be able to stop someone without killing them. Why did they shoot him in the face? He had no chance.
“It’s racism. I have been stopped by the police lots of times. Just because I wear a hoodie. The police do not treat us with respect. Now they are seeing the results of treating us that way.
“This isn’t over. They keep killing people.
“When I saw Jewish people out tonight too I was happy. I thought, ‘It’s not just us'. They gave bread out to us. It isn’t just kids out tonight. It’s everyone.”
A group of young men were watching from the top of the high street. One told Socialist Worker, “The police say that Mark Duggan opened fire on them. But they have no proof. You can’t believe what the police say.”
For hours into the night there was a standoff as a line of riot police strung out across Tottenham High Road tried to stop more people joining the rioting further up. When police reinforcements drove through the crowds, the thuds and cracks rang through the air as the vans were bombarded by bricks and missiles.
Tottenham was the scene of mass riots in 1985 when local black mother of two Cynthia Jarrett died after the police raided her house. This came only days after police had shot another black woman, Cherry Groce, in Brixton, south London.
Weyman Bennett, who has lived in the area for many years, spoke to Socialist Worker as the crowds confronted the police. “The mood feels like the 1980s,” he said. “There is deep bitterness about police racism and about how the police harass local people with stop and search.
“Also the Tories’ cuts have meant youth services and opportunities for young people have been shut down. Unemployment has gone up. People feel they have no future.
“You can tell the poverty people are living in by what they’re looting. I saw people running off with big packs of toilet roll and disposable nappies.”
Jody McIntyre, who was dragged from his wheelchair by police during the student protests last year, was also in Tottenham last night.
“I can see why so many people have come out onto the streets,” he told Socialist Worker. “When the police shoot someone people are going to react.
“I don’t exactly know what happened when the man was shot – but I do know a police officer was injured and a man was shot dead. If it had been the other way round the man would be in jail right now.
“We have to police the police. We have to hold them accountable every time they attack us.”