Sunday, August 07, 2011

Tottenham Police Told "This Is What You Get - Fire"

After last night's fighting in Tottenham, the media are of course quick to condemn the rioters, and to suggest that they should have waited for an 'Independent' Police Complaints Commission report into the state killing of father of five Mark Duggan. Though the full story has yet to come out, a couple of alternative perspectives have already been posted on Red Pepper and libcom. The latter is reposted in full below:

Hundreds gathered on the streets of Tottenham, North London, after the police killed local man, Mark Duggan. Barricades were set up and police cars burned as the protests ran long into the night.

On Saturday afternoon, friends and family of Mark Duggan, the 29 year old man shot and killed by the police on Thursday, marched from his home in Broadwater Farm estate to Tottenham police station. They waited for someone to come out from the police station and hear their concerns, and give answers about Mark's death, but they were ignored.

At around 9pm, Haringey Solidarity Group reported on Twitter

Riot taking place right now outside Tottenham cop shop about the guy killed by the pigs this week | 200 riot cops deployed |
As the evening continued, reports and photos came through, as about 300-500 people from across the community gathered on Tottenham High Road, and pictures of two police cars set on fire with petrol bombs filtered through to the mainstream media. Chants of "Whose streets? Our streets!" and "We want answers!" could be heard from the crowd. A protester from the original march from Broadwater Farm interviewed on BBC News said the police attacked a 16-year old woman with batons without provocation, sparking a response from the crowd who up to that point had been chanting outside the police station.

Eye witness reports described police "running and hiding" as they were unable to contain the crowds, who had built barricades and were charging police lines, using makeshift missiles and burning wheelie bins to keep the police away. A stand-off seemed to happen for some time, as police and protesters formed lines, before a double decker bus was set on fire. There have been widespread reports of looting and fires being set, including in the local job centre. By 2.30am, there are now reports on Twitter of rioting spreading into Wood Green, Turnpike Lane, and Green Lanes, as the police are trying to break up crowds on Tottenham High Road. There have been reports of Tottenham Hale retail park being looted, including JJB Sports and PC World.

Channel 4 quoted "Jamal", an eye witness, saying:
"These are our ends, we're here to tell the police they can't abuse us, harass us. We won't put up with it, this is just the beginning, this is war, and this is what you get - fire."
The BBC broadcast live footage of young people smashing the windows of an empty police car, and then asked protesters why they were trying to block the camera crew from filming. Both Sky News and BBC withdrew their camera crews from the scene as crews were challenged and attacked. BBC and Sky have quoted the local MP, David Lammy, claiming that the people on the street are not representative of the majority of Tottenham residents. However, their own live footage showed local people from a wide range of ethnic backgrounds standing together and forming lines against the police. The police have been insisting that the events are 'localised' and are not spreading beyond Tottenham, eye witness accounts are disputing this, and the mainstream media have been effectively shut out of the area.

Tottenham saw major riots in 1985 in response to the death of Cynthia Jarrett at the hands of the police. Tottenham has also been hit by recent government austerity measures, with several youth centres being closed in recent weeks.
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