Mark Duggan, Smiley Culture, Trayvon Martin, and no justice

Volunteer Journalist Angie

The Hispanic/American neighbourhood watch member, George Zimmerman had recently been brought to court to make his first public apperance after the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager, Trayvon Martin, 17, on 26th February 2012, in Sanford, Florida.

Martin was found bleeding in the nose and had a wound in his chest, while Zimmerman  argued that he shot Martin in self-defence.  It has since been argued that many Americans are prejudiced towards black youth, having a biased perception that they are dangerous to the society and thus do not grant them fair trials.

Not very long ago, similar cases happened in the UK.  In 2011, David Victor Emmanuel, better known as Smiley Culture, who was a British reggage singer and deejay, died in his house from a knife wound in his heart, while the police asserted the stab was self-inflicted.  Although the death was investigated by the Independent Police Compalins Commission (IPCC), the final report of the case was neither made available to the public nor the victim’s family.  Clearly, there was a lack of transparency in the judicial system in this respective case.

Mark Duggan, was also found dead in the UK by having a fatal gun shot in his chest in 2011 at age 29, caused by the police, in Tottenham, North-East London.  The police put forward that they were attempting to arrest Duggan on suspicion of a planned revenge attack of his cousin, and provided information that Duggan was carrying a gun with him.  The result of Duggan’s death had caused a public riot which involved a public demonstration and an attack on police vehicles in Tottenham, and later on escalated into widerspread riots in London as well as other places in the country.

Although the above three cases took place in different parts of the world, the common ground involved victims who belonged to black ethnic groups.  It is unjust that after the deaths of the victims, the respective commissions could not provide fair and independent hearings to the cases. On the other hand, it is inexcusable that our legal system allows police to continue to claim they have not found sufficient evidence to be admitted to the court.  However, should this really be the case, does it mean we have a weak and unreliable judicial system that fails to protect the rights of both the claiments and defendants?  Would our government allocate more resources to improve the situation?

All in all, I find it extremely unreasonable to believe the results and findings of the above-mentioned cases are merely coincidence. Systemic racism is found in our society where white people’s welfare are placed before black people’s.  Under such circumstances, should British citizens still place trust in the legal (both the legislative and executive) bodies, particularly in the police?  Additionally, if you are one of the non-British or non-white young people in the UK, would you still wish to reside in this country knowing you maybe treated unfaily and, in a worse situation, your life may be threatened because of this?

*All views expressed in this article are the author’s. IARS accepts no responsibility for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any views expressed in these articles and will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information or any losses or damages arising from its display or use.

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  1. Interesting article, I am from an ethnic minority so allow me to answer your last question: Yes. It’s a scary fact that my rights can be abused (as Tony Blair did with his Terrorism Act 2005) and that prejudice is still very much around – from schooling to policing. But as much as we would like to, we cannot eradicate racism completely. Our rights are protected reasonably well – especially compared to most other countries – and to be honest I haven’t been a subject of racism for a long time. So perhaps those cases you cited are more extreme examples.

    There are of courses instances where our system makes my blood boil, for example when peaceful protesters are wrongly attacked my police etc so I am not saying we should not complain or worry, everyone should be aware of the major flaws in our society. What I am saying is that we shouldn’t overestimate what a few highlighted cases suggest. I think more research needs to be done with those cases and more specific studies should be carried out before we can make judgements. Nevertheless it is still extremely important to question decisions that are made by government!

  2. sorry stop ! Any comparison of poor innocent Trayvon shot by a wannabe provocateur and Mark Duggan shot by the specialized armed police (that are only called upon when firearms are suspected to be involved in a crime , remember UK police are not routinely armed) are completely invalid. Mark did have a gun, illegally and was either prepared to use it or to intimidate with it – whether he pointed it at police kind of misses to point – he brought firearms into the equation – all Trayvon brought was skittles and ice tea.


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