Could Riots Happen Again In The UK As People Demand Justice For Police Brutality?

Léonie Chao-Fong

On August 4, 2011, 29-year-old Mark Duggan was shot dead by the Metropolitan Police in Tottenham, north London.

His killing sparked public protests on those same streets two days later, as his friends, family and community demanded justice for his death.

The protests were initially peaceful as a group outside Tottenham police station asked to see a senior officer. But the pent-up anger of many escalated into riots overnight.

They spread like wildfire across London, engulfing Hackney, Brixton, Walthamstow, Peckham, Enfield, Battersea, Croydon, Ealing, Barking, Woolwich, Lewisham and East Ham – and then beyond the capital, in Birmingham, Bristol, Coventry, Derby, Leicester, Liverpool, Manchester, Nottingham, West Bromwich and Wolverhampton.

Over a period of just five days, Britain saw the worst riots in its modern history. Five people died, more than a dozen were hurt, and more than 3,000 people were arrested.

US cities are now bearing witness to demonstrations on a scale not seen since the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr in 1968, fuelled by anger, frustration, despair, heartbreak and fear at yet another murder of an innocent Black man at the hands of law enforcement.

Mark Duggan and George Floyd

Rallies demanding justice for George Floyd have translated into protests in London, Cardiff and Manchester over the weekend. So far they have been peaceful – but could this change as frustration over decades of injustice comes to a head?

Labour councillor Maurice Mcleod was at the protest outside the US embassy in central London on Saturday. He witnessed the riots in 2011 and in Brixton in 1981 – and said he felt “the same tension in London right now”.

“There’s a real sense of heightened anger on the streets,” he told HuffPost UK.

Although the possibility of riots “really concerns” him, he accepted there was “every reason for certain communities to be livid” and that the coronavirus outbreak had shone a spotlight on “the inequality that has always been there”.

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