By Annette Mackin
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Police shot unarmed Mark Duggan, but his killing ‘lawful’

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Issue 2386
Protesting against the killing of Mark Duggan outside Tottenham police station in north London last weekend
Protesting against the killing of Mark Duggan outside Tottenham police station in north London last weekend (Pic: Kelvin Williams)

The family of Mark Duggan reacted with shock and fury to the decision of an inquest jury into his killing by police on Wednesday of last week. 

The jury concluded that Mark was “lawfully killed” by police in August 2011. 

Mark was gunned down when police stopped the taxi in which he was travelling in Tottenham, north London.

When the conclusion was announced there was a moment of stunned silence in the court before outraged shouting and cries of “murderers” broke out.

For a while the corridors echoed with shouting. People moved around in an angry mass, the majority black people from Tottenham.

One woman shouted, “How can you shoot down an unarmed man and call it legal? If I’d done that I’d be sentenced to life.”

The jury reached their conclusion of “lawful killing” on Wednesday of last week with a majority of eight to two. But they also concluded that Mark did not have a gun when he was shot.

During the inquest the cop who shot Mark, V53, defended his actions by saying he had his eyes “glued” on the gun he alleged Mark was carrying. Only one of the other 12 officers present said they saw a gun.

Other evidence revealed more contradictions in the jury’s conclusion (see Questions over how gun was thrown).


Around 1,000 people gathered outside Tottenham police station on Saturday of last week. The peaceful gathering began with a minute’s silence to remember Mark. 

Some sections of the media attempted to create hype around the vigil, and David Cameron warned those going that it should be peaceful.

They didn’t point out that the vigil had been called in response to police violence—the gunning down of an unarmed 29 year old man.

Mark’s family stood together on the steps of the police station. His aunt Carole said, “The more we people come together and support each other maybe we can make a better life for our children, for Mark’s children.

“And also for all of those children who have to live in these communities that are over-policed, where they are not free.”

Sheila is a close friend of the Duggan family, and her son was Mark’s best friend. She told Socialist Worker, how she had see the police’s version of events exposed at the inquest. 

“I spent the whole next day crying after the conclusion. It’s a nightmare.


“Words cannot describe the pain. We’ve got the Justice for Mark campaign going—we have to see what we can do next.”

The Tottenham vigil also marked the 15th anniversary of the death of Roger Sylvester, killed in police custody in 1999. 

After Roger’s death his family went to Tottenham police station to get answers, and are still fighting for justice.

His father Rupert Sylvester told Socialist Worker, “It’s like reliving it all over again being outside this station again. 

“But it’s amazing to see how people have come together here today.”

Banners on the vigil included Haringey, Islington and Ealing associations of the teachers’ NUT trade union, City and Islington lecturers’ UCU union and Paddington RMT rail workers’ union.

At the end Mark’s family released doves of peace. His mother Pamela said, “Thank you everybody for being here today for Mark. 

“Mark wasn’t a gangster—gangsters have everything, Mark had nothing. Mark’s children were his life.”

Justice for Mark Duggan: Public meeting Thursday 30 January at North London Community House, 22 Moorefield Road, London N17 6PY

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