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.
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.
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.