Saturday 21 April 2018

Final farewell for police shooting victim whose death sparked riots

Katie Hodge

Mourners turned out today to bid a final farewell to the police shooting victim whose death sparked the first night of devastating riots across England.

Amid lingering tensions between family members and detectives, the ornate cortege carrying the body of Mark Duggan made its way to his private funeral after passing through North London's Broadwater Farm estate.

His coffin, in a white carriage pulled by four white horses with plumes on their heads, was adorned with flowers. Emblazoned on it were the words "grandson", "son" and "dad".

Led by Mr Duggan's brothers Marlon Duggan and Shaun Hall, it was followed by a long procession of cars.

Grieving friends, relatives and well-wishers earlier arrived to pay their respects as the sounds of Amazing Grace rang out.

Others, dressed in black, gathered outside the New Testament Church of God in Wood Green, north London, where the beat of a drum was heard as his funeral got under way.

The father of four's death in Tottenham, north London, on August 4, triggered four nights of violence and looting which spread across the country.

Gentle music played out as the procession paused outside the church, before the congregation made its way inside.

In a statement handed out ahead of the service, senior pastor Bishop Barrington Burrell said "grave questions" had been raised by Mr Duggan's death.

While he said "angry responses" may be understandable, he condemned the ensuing riots saying, "this kind of negative reaction is unjustifiable".

And he questioned the Government's reaction in the wake of the violence, adding: "I do believe that drastic remedial measures need to be taken as a matter of urgency, in order to restore some degree of sanity to our society.

"The Government should be absolutely aware that proposals to withdraw benefits from convicted rioters or their parents may only heighten the problem."

Current tensions could only be resolved with a "positive paradigm shift both on the part of police and the community," he added.

"On the one hand the police respectively need to change their attitude towards the black community and the black community also needs to change their attitude in response to the police. In either case, the value of human life needs to be paramount."

Mr Duggan was a passenger in a minicab which was apparently stopped by officers near Tottenham Hale Tube station before he was fatally shot.

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

Speaking outside the solemn ceremony, steward Ken Hinds, 52, a friend of Mr Duggan's, said the occasion was fitting for "one of our fallen soldiers".

Describing the father of four as a man who "made a positive difference," he added: "It's very good, it's a great atmosphere, it's very fitting for one of our fallen soldiers.

"Mark was a family man, Mark's life centred on his children. He looked after his children and other young people looked up to him and respected him.

"That's the side of Mark I knew and that's the side of Mark I want to remember."

Mr Hinds, chair of the local stop and search monitoring group, estimated some 750 people had packed into the church.

Today's ceremony comes after the Home Secretary urged politicians to refrain from rushing to judgment over the causes of the widespread violence last month.

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

Initial reports that Mr Duggan, who was brought up close to the spot where Pc Keith Blakelock was killed during rioting in 1985, fired at police have been dismissed by ballistic tests.

These later established that a bullet which lodged itself in an officer's radio was police issue.

Mr Duggan's partner Semone Wilson paid tribute to her "first real love" in a message read out during the service by her sister Michelle Palmer-Scott.

She said: "Mark, my love, my friend and father of my children, my first real love - we laughed together, we cried together, we faced trials and tribulations together.

"We had our ups and we had our downs but through it all, I loved him."

Speaking of their four children, she added: "I will always love him for that."

She said: "I can't believe you're gone, I can't believe you're not here.

"But you will always have that special place in my heart."

She added: "I don't understand why you're gone so soon."

Concluding her short tribute she said: "Now you are in heaven smiling down on us and you will always watch over us.

"No matter what the people say, your love for me was here to stay."

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