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Conservative English Officials Ignore Lessons of 2011 Riots

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One year after riots rocked 66 areas across England for five days in some of the worst disturbances in that nation's history the issue that initially ignited those disturbances -- police abuse -- remains an unresolved problem.

Those August 2011 riots that produced five deaths, the loss of hundreds of businesses and homes plus overall damage costs exceeding $1-billion erupted on August 6th after police attacked a group peacefully protesting outside a London police station against police fatally shooting unarmed Mark Duggan.

Those protestors included family members of Duggan, a 29-year-old black man who was one of eight persons to die suspiciously while in custody of English police during just the first nine months of 2011.

While English officials swiftly slapped prison sentences on persons arrested during that rioting, like 16-months for a 22-year-old man accused of stealing ice cream, the official investigation into Duggan's death has progressed snail-like due largely to authorities and the policemen involved in Duggan's death erecting respective roadblocks.

No English police have received convictions for any one of the thousands of suspicious deaths of persons while in police custody since the 1969 conviction of two English policemen for killing a black man.

Last week Pam Duggan, the mother of Mark Duggan, issued a statement criticizing authorities' for failing to deliver "justice" to her family. Duggan's father died last month without seeing those involved in his son's death held to account.

"The past 12-months have been terrible. We still have no answers about why my son died," Pam Duggan complained in that statement.

"Thirty-one police officers surrounded Mark and he was shot twice. Why has none of the police officers given statements one year one?" Pam Duggan wondered regarding the death of her son in London's Tottenham section where the rioting began.

Britain's of-criticized Independent Police Complaints Commission is handling the investigation Duggan's death.

The IPCC, last August, initially declared Duggan fired on an officer triggering police to shoot him but later backtracked acknowledging that Duggan was unarmed.

While that August 2011 rioting produced professed soul-searching among English authorities including various official investigations, one year later activists around London complain about witnessing too little substantive change.

Community leaders fault the conservative elected officials controlling London and England for failing to aggressively target high levels of youth unemployment or effectively corralling police abuses -- twin issues activists and analysts alike cite as underlying last summer's outbursts.

"It's approaching one year since the uprisings last year and things are getting worse -- more poverty, more unemployment"Over one million young people are unemployed in the UK with one in two young black people unemployed," co-chair of Black Activists Rising Against Cuts Zita Holbourne said.

"In September students will pay tripled university fees effectively blocking the poorest from participation in higher education," Holbourne said.

In late November 2011 the independent panel appointed by British authorities to investigate the rioting found a "link between deprivation and rioting" noting that most of the 4,000 arrested during the riots lived in some of England's "most deprived" communities.

"Most disturbing to us was a widespread feeling that some rioters had no hope and nothing to lose," declared the Interim Report from the Riots Communities and Victims Panel.

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Linn Washington is a weekly columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune and This Can't Be Happening. Washington writes frequently on inequities in the criminal justice system, ills in society and failings of the news media. He teaches multi-media urban (more...)
 
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