A fatal police shooting has sparked the most severe cases of civil disturbances Britain has experienced in 25 years. On the night of Aug. 11, Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old father of four, was allegedly gunned down by police in Tottenham, a Black community in North London.

Police report Duggan was shot and killed during an arrest attempt when a police unit that investigates gun crimes in African and Caribbean communities stopped the cab he was riding in. Further details are scarce, but an investigation is underway.

Protestors gathered on Saturday searching for an explanation as to why Duggan was shot, but none was given. In an interview with Al Jazeera, a protestor said, “We want answers…The family hasn’t been told anything as to why Mark Duggan was shot.”

“We don’t actually know what has happened,” Shaun Hall, Mark Duggan’s brother, told Sky News. “Whether we believe what they are saying or we don’t, there should be somebody here putting my parents’ minds at rest about what is actually going on.”

Grieving friends and family of the victim organized a peaceful protest in the name of their loved one only for it to evolve into an outbreak of violence and vandalism. Several hundred people began hurling fire bombs at police lines and cars during the demonstration, confronting riot officers with bats and pipes.

“The whole family is devastated,” said Hall. “We don’t want Mark portrayed as some kind of gangster, he’s a family man.” Hall was frustrated that the media seemed to be constantly linking his brother’s death to the surge of violence and chaos. “We are not condoning any actions like that at all in my brother’s name.”

Groups of youth have been setting fire to shops and police cars, vandalizing and looting establishments and homes, and clashing with police forces since Saturday. The violence has been spreading among the young through social media and in more destitute areas in London, prompting the assumption that there are more factors influencing these outbursts.

The past year in Britain has seen much outrage and many protests against the tripling of student tuition fees and cuts to public pension sectors. There was rioting and looting in November, December and March.

“What I was certain about, listening to my grandson and my son, was that something very, very serious was going to take place in this country,” said Darcus Howe to BBC news in an interview. “They have been stopping and searching young people for no reason,” he said.

Howe, a writer and broadcaster of African descent, claimed that his grandson was a good and honest young man, but after being harassed and searched by police countless times, he adopted a different behavior. “Our political leaders had no idea. The police had no idea,” exclaimed Howe.

Many residents still believe that the youth are just using Duggan’s death as an excuse to steal and rampage throughout their communities.

“People across the board are condemning the violence that has taken place over the last few days in London and beyond. And let’s be clear, it’s not just Black youths involved,” said Olive Vassell, a London native and founder of the Afro-European news site, Euromight.com.

“Some say the outbreak can in part be attributed to the fact that young people are becoming increasingly disenfranchised by the lack of educational or employment opportunities available to them in the UK,” Vassell wrote.

Tottenham is no stranger to civil unrest. In 1985, the racially mixed and impoverished inner city area was the center of race riots sparked from another police related occurrence that caused tensions to rise between the London police force and the Black community. This event spawned the current mistrust between the community members and the police force.

In an article written for The Guardian in Britain, David Lammy, a Black man who is a Member of Parliament (MP) for Tottenham, wrote, “The events of the last few days are eerily, worryingly, dreadfully similar,” although he believed the circumstances and motives were shockingly different.

“This is nothing like the scenes we see in Tottenham back 25 years ago,” said Lammy to Channel 4 News in Britain. “Then, there was a particular relationship with the police, this is an attack on Tottenham, on ordinary people!” he stated.

“We don’t want 25 years of rebuilding community and trust to be destroyed by mindless nonsense on the streets of London,” urged Lammy.

The riots have since spread across Britain as groups of youth continued rampaging throughout the streets into the early hours of Aug. 9. The riots have also claimed their first life, a 26-year-old found shot dead in a car, according to NPR.com.

The main areas of chaos are Birmingham, the northwestern city of Liverpool and the western city of Bristol.

Prime Minister David Cameron said 16,000 officers will be in the streets of the capital Aug. 9, almost tripling the forces present the night before. Upwards of 500 arrests have been made in London alone, and the police have announced that they will begin using plastic bullets as a tactic to ease the riots.

The recent unrest has naturally worried some since London is designated to be the home of the 2012 Olympics. Police officials and Parliament members ensure that London is still a safe place and remain excited to host the Olympic Games.

Malcolm Maurice

Special to the AFRO