8 Aug 2011

Tensions remain in Tottenham as vigil held for Mark Duggan

People in Tottenham have gathered for a multi-faith show of solidarity after the weekend riots. Channel 4 News talks to locals who say they are “frustrated, upset, and demanding answers”.

A policeman overlooks destroyed buildings in Tottenham. (Reuters)

As police in London battle a fresh wave of unrest, a resident of Tottenham’s deprived Broadwater Farm estate has told Channel 4 News that “the death of Mark Duggan was the spark that lit the bonfire”.

Derek Grayling, who describes himself as an “elder” in the community, said he believed the unfolding violence was not opportunistic criminality, as Theresa May described it, but a direct consequence of the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan by police, and a response to what he calls “continual police harassment in our communities”.

“I’ve been in this estate many years. We can’t be burning, looting, that’s not the way to deal with this, but you have to understand the youth.”

“Mark’s death was the spark that lit the bonfire, ask the youths in different areas, they don’t know him, but they’re angry, they’re frustrated, and they want answers, it spills out sometimes you know.”

Read more: Police braced as fresh clashes erupt in London

He also commented on claims that initial ballistic tests reveal the bullet fired at the police officer came from a police gun.

Mark’s death was the spark that lit the bonfire. Derek Grayling, Broadwater elder

“That was the thing that took it to another level, we saw the reports on the internet, we heard, this was a police bullet – if that is true, it is disgusting, and raises the questions we want answering.”

Reverend Nims Obunge, Pastor at the Freedom’s Ark Church, in Tottenham, and Chief Executive of the Peace Alliance told Channel 4 News the local community is “crying out for justice”.

“We want solidarity, we don’t violence but we want questions answered.”

Video of sixteen year old girl ‘attacked’ by police

Other members of the community wanted answers over a video that has emerged on YouTube that claimed to show a 16-year-old girl being “attacked” by the police.

Channel 4 News has not been able to independently verify the footage, but one man who gave his name as “John Proud”, said although he was not an eyewitness he had heard about the incident.

“I wasn’t there, but people are telling me the girl was a peaceful protester. She went up to the police and said ‘we want justice, we want justice’, then around five or six officers grabbed her and forced her to the ground,”

“I don’t know what happened to her, I heard she had serious head injuries,” Mr Proud said.

Mother of two Jenny Belgrave, who grew up in Tottenham and was returning to the visit the area, was more emotional.

“It’s sad, it’s so sad, this didn’t have to happen. It is a waste. This is a vibrant community, it has so much talent, so much energy, but look at what it has come to,”

“Police could have handled in a different way, I don’t know, I just feel upset,” Ms Belgrave said.

Another mother, ‘Mrs Taylor’, was more succinct, describing the rioting with one word: “Disgusting, it is just disgusting, that’s all I can say.”