Justice for Mark campaign launches fresh witness appeal

Justice for Mark banner at the People's Assembly demo in June

For immediate release

Families of people who have died in police custody will be joining Mark Duggan’s family for a march and vigil in his memory, taking place today on the third anniversary of his shooting by police in Tottenham.

“I stand with the Duggan family in remembrance of their loved one, Mark.” said Marcia Rigg, the sister of Sean Rigg who died in a Brixton police station in 2008. “Why? Our questions are the very same even though we had never met before. Unity is the families strength and the trick is to never give up the fight, for how else will justice come?” Others attending include relatives of Cherry Groce, Joy Gardner, Christopher Alder, Roger Sylvester and Leon Patterson. Diane Abbott MP has released a statement in support of the family.

Susan Alexander, the mother of Azelle Rodney, has also sent a message of support to the family which will be read out at the vigil. The CPS announced last week it will be prosecuting Officer E7 for Azelle Rodney’s murder. He was killed during a “hard stop” in 2005. Six years later, and despite recommendations by the IPCC to review this “high risk” tactic, Mark Duggan was shot by police in another “hard stop”.

Fresh witness appeal

The march and vigil follows on from last month’s judicial review at the High Court in which the family have sought to have the Inquest conclusion of “lawful killing” quashed. The result will be know in the autumn (likely September or October).

In the meantime the Justice for Mark Duggan family campaign is launching a fresh appeal for witnesses. In a highly critical report following the Inquest, the Coroner Judge Keith Cutler, expressed concern that that “doubts about the accuracy of police accounts are not minimised”.

He identified a number of issues including the “scope for conferring” between police, the handling of the crime scene which saw crucial evidence moved, and the failure to record the scene (despite the first aid attempts being filmed by police), which may have helped with “the significant issue of how and when the gun got some distance from Mark’s body”.

Judge Cutler also identified the falsehood that Mark had shot at police first (he was in fact unarmed), circulated by a still unidentified source at the IPCC to the media, as contributing the reluctance of witnesses to the shooting to come forward.

The only independent witness to the shooting to come forward so far, “Witness B”, described Marks killing as an “execution’. The campaign hopes this fresh witness appeal will encourage people who may witnesses something come forward. Eye witness evidence has been crucial to establishing facts of how people have died in custody or following police contact in many other cases.

► The march assembles 5pm, Monday 4 August 2014, at Broadwater Farm then proceeds to Ferry Lane for a vigil from 6pm to 7pm

► Read Diane Abbott MP’s statement on the third anniversary of Mark’s death

► Download the Appeal For Witnesses jpg and the background PDF document.

Justice 4 Mark 2014 Vigil flier s2

Statement from Diane Abbott MP

Diane Abbott

Diane Abbott, MP for Hackney North & Stoke Newington, sent this message to last night’s launch meeting of the Justice for Mark Duggan campaign in Tottenham.

My apologies that I cannot be with you this evening.

The anger that followed the death of Mark Duggan was a build-up of resentment at persistent negative interactions that the black community face with the police and the justice system, from disproportionate stop-and-search to deaths in police custody.

Following Mark’s inquest verdict I held a large public meeting in parliament. The most telling speech meeting was not from one of the many lawyers or experienced activists present: it was from a young woman wearing school uniform who protested at the use of stop-and-search. She said that she and her friends had been harassed by the police since the age of 11. And she wanted to know what could be done.

The trust of young people like her are crucial in fighting crime. But instead of viewing the police as her protector she sees the force as her tormentor. As a disadvantaged group black people are more likely to be affected by crime than be the perpetrators of it. But we remain overpoliced as citizens and underpoliced as victims.

The inquest verdict has brought serious concerns and justified questions. These should not be framed as some kind of disrespect for the judicial process. The law allows for questions and challenges through appeals and judicial review. If the law itself recognises that it is not always correct, then we have not only a right but a duty ensure that its decisions equate to justice.

Let us not forget that had it not been for the Lawrence family challenging a legal ruling – and not only that but leading a campaign to change the law itself – two of Stephen Lawrence’s killers would not have been brought to justice.

I stand ready to support Mark Duggan’s family in any way that I can.

Diane Abbott MP

30 January 2014