Archive for January 9th, 2014

Some good news for civil society

I’m very pleased to see that pressure from interest groups has not corrupted a contentious and important court case in Britain.

Violence broke out today inside the court where the inquest concluded into the death of Mark Duggan who was shot by police.
After a three-month inquest, the jury decided today that Mr Duggan was unarmed when he was killed but police were right to use lethal force.
A growing crowd gathered briefly outside Tottenham Police Station, including his aunt, Carole, to show their anger at the decision.
Supporters of the father-of-six reacted angrily after the jury ruled that he was lawfully killed by officers who stopped his taxi in August 2011.

His death sparked several days of riots in London and across much of the rest of the UK, and police fear there could be further disorder following the verdict.
The jury concluded that Mr Duggan was armed before his taxi was stopped, but they said it was more likely than not that he had thrown the weapon onto a grassy area six metres away from the spot where he died.

Police officers told the inquest they saw Duggan holding a firearm before he was shot.

(h/t Daily Mail reporters Rob Cooper and Anna Edwards)

The Daily Mail goes in to a lot of detail about the court case and the objections of Mr. Duggan’s family, but it’s not in anything remotely resembling a logical order…so if you want to read about it, it’s all there but is a tough read.

The point I would like to make is that British police are generally not armed, and the armed divisions are only brought in when there is a reasonable belief that firearms will be involved. In this case, the suspect was listed as one of the most dangerous people in the country so the presence of armed police was warranted and the behaviour of the suspect in brandishing the gun after police stopped the taxi was always going to cause Police to open fire.

The Police aren’t always right and it is important to have judicial oversight, but they are an integral part of a civil society and appear to have acted correctly and professionally in this matter. I can understand why Mr. Duggan’s family are upset, but threatening civil unrest over it (on the radio I heard them launch in to a “no justice, no peace” chant) is not going to help, and might just result in further unnecessary loss of life. Hopefully any protest is peaceful.

It is very good to see that, despite the clear risk of inflaming tensions among certain groups, the jury did their job and impartially judged the evidence. From an outside perspective it also always looked to me as if the Police behaved correctly in a difficult situation…I hope that for the sake of everyone, the upset groups come to realise this before they do anything which could lead to more violence.

Regardless of the short-term potential for unrest, today’s news is good for the long-term and the ability of people to have confidence in the institutions of British society and the good will of those institutions (especially the Police) toward those who wish to be part of civil society.


January 9th, 2014 at 01:31pm


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