Campaign launched at 200 strong community meeting in Tottenham

Fidel Santigi speaking at a #justice4mark meeting, 30 Jan 2014

The Justice for Mark Duggan campaign launched in public last night at the North London Community House in Tottenham. Up to 200 people attended through the course of the evening and heard about the struggle to uncover the truth about Mark Duggan’s murder.

Speakers included Carole Duggan, acclaimed poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and video activist Fidel Santigi of Riot From Wrong. All spoke about the long history of lies, cover-ups and media distortions associated with cases of death in custody or following contact with the police.

Mark’s family and friends condemned the media for its failure to critically examine the police narrative in cases of death in custody. Throughout the evening we heard moving words from Mark’s friends, many of whom have suffered further injustices since his death on 4 August 2011.

Zita Holbourne, Glenroy Watson, Jenny Sutton pledge support for Mark

Trade union activists were also there, including Zita Holbourne from the PCS, Glenroy Watson from the RMT and Jenny Sutton from the UCU. They promised to campaign for solidarity with Justice for Mark Duggan among their fellow workers and in their unions. Diane Abbott MP sent a message of support to the meeting.

Speakers from a different backgrounds highlighted the commonalities of their struggles against state violence, racism and austerity. They all underlined the need for solidarity between all those struggles to take them all forward.

The meeting took place at a Turkish and Kurdish community centre near Bruce Grove station. Activists from those communities spoke of their experience of police repression, and how they fought it by campaigning based on principles of unity across struggles against the violence of the state.

#justice4mark meeting, 30 Jan 2014

Joy Gardner’s mother Myrna gave a damning account of how determined police and media could be to deny the reality of the racist deaths at the hands of the authorities. Jim Curran from the Irish Civil Rights Association spoke about the experience of the Irish community during the 1970s.

Becky Shah from the Hillsborough Justice Campaign gave an emotional account of how insidiously the press conspired with South Yorkshire Police to demonise working class Liverpool fans, beginning their cover-up while bodies were still warm.

Marcia Rigg, whose brother Sean Rigg died in police custody in 2008, said that consistent campaigning could win out over bullying from press and police. At the end of last year the Rigg family forced the Independent Police Complaints Commission to reopen a criminal investigation into Sean’s death.

Carole Duggan speaking at a #justice4mark meeting, 30 Jan 2014

The meeting closed with Carole sharing a letter from an anonymous source that detailed the systematic use of police informants by the Metropolitan Police’s Operation Trident. The letter alleged that Mark’s death was linked to police attempts to protect one of their major informants. “That is what Trident do: they pay people to infiltrate communities, black and Asian communities,” she said. “I believe this is why Mark was killed.”

Winning justice for Mark will not be easy. The first battle will be to undermine the barrage of myths and lies surrounding who he was and how he died. Justice for Mark Duggan has produced a mythbuster card laying out just some of the facts:

A message from Carole Duggan to all who came to Mark’s vigil

Thank you to everyone who came to the vigil called at short notice yesterday, Saturday 11 January 2014, to the vigil called by Justice for Mark Duggan outside Tottenham police station. We appealed to you to come in peace and unity, and you did that. We face an long uphill battle to win justice for Mark and your support is greatly appreciated.

The press are estimating several hundred attended the vigil. We believe it was around 1,000, far more than what we were expecting and in the face of relentless negative briefings from the authorities claiming that there would be trouble. In the event the vigil was dignified and respectful, though not without anger at how Mark has been treated. As I said at the vigil, we were there to remember Mark as he was, not as he has been falsely portrayed in the media.

The crowd at the vigil in Tottenham

We started the vigil by holding a minute’s silence for Mark. Stafford explained why the family and campaigners believe the jury inquest verdict of lawful killing was “perverse”. He ran through the inconsistencies in the police evidence, and asked: “Are they telling us that a dead man threw that gun?”

The date of the vigil was 15 years to the day since the death of Roger Sylvester at the hands of Tottenham police. Roger’s father Rupert Sylvester joined the vigil, as did representatives of the Hillsborough Justice Campaign, friends of Leon Briggs who recently died in custody of Bedfordshire police, and Marcia Rigg who announced a new investigation into the 2008 death of her brother Sean at Brixton police station.

Stephanie Lightfoot-Bennett, whose twin brother Leon Patterson died in police custody in 1992, spoke on behalf of United Family & Friends Campaign. She held up the names of all those who have died in custody since 1969, quoting Martin Luther King.

Reverend Nims Obunge and Diane Abbott MP speaking at the vigil

Mark’s family are currently considering the next steps in their pursuit of answers and justice for Mark. Jennifer Kelleher from the Justice for Mark Campaign announced a public meeting to present Mark’s case to be held on Thursday 30 January, 7pm, at the Bruce Grove community house in Tottenham. “This vigil is by no means the end,” she said. “It is just the beginning of the mountain that we have to climb to get justice for Mark, in unity alongside his family and loved ones.”

The vigil ended around 3:30pm with words from local pastor Reverend Nims Obunge and Hackney MP Diane Abbott. The vigil closed with us releasing doves to remember Mark and promise to do right by him. Pamela, Mark’s mother, thanked everyone for coming. “We want justice for my son,” she said.