On Saturday a small crowd including Mark Duggan’s mother and fiance gathered outside a Tottenham police station to demand a senior officer explain how Mark had been shot dead by police. After hours of waiting outside no explanation was forthcoming.
Police say Duggan, an alleged drug dealer and gang member, shot at them when they attempted to arrest him but forensic evidence for the moment points to only police ammunition being used at the crime scene.
The family left, and the small crowd’s patience exploded. Two police cars were set on fire, the first material victims and the intitial targets of local’s anger. Today the police apologised to the family for their handling of the situation.
That apology comes too late for all those small businesses facing ruin and the scores of people who have lost everything as their homes burned over the following three days of rioting, violence that might have been avoided with a more diplomatic approach.
What started as a local protest mushroomed out of control as outsiders, via social networks and mobile phones, realised there was looting to be done as an overstretched police could not be everywhere at once. As word got round robbery and rioting flared in other areas of the capital as mainly young masked people cashed in on the chaos.
So much for the purely criminal aspects, but many say other underlying causes of the riots are poor parenting, unemployment, poor job prospects, austerity cuts removing many support mechanisms, especially for the young, and poverty denying a generation the electronic gadgets and clothes it has been persuaded are essential to be somebody.