It struck me in the wake of the shootings and bombing carried out by Anders Behring Breivik in Norway that the anti-Islamists were quick to muddy the waters. Posts rapidly appeared to say he was not a Christian, he was not right wing, and that his Facebook page was faked. That he called himself ‘conservative’, ‘Christian’ and published his Facebook profile a number of days earlier seemed irrelevant. I concluded that the objective was as much to confuse things and create alternative narratives to counteract the mainstream consensus, to preserve the validity of their own agenda. Perhaps mostly in their own minds as much as anything else.
It would be a mistake to imagine that I think of this as a conspiracy, I don’t imagine people of a certain point of view gathering in a room to plan how they will approach things. Rather I think that most people are now fairly media literate, in terms of promoting an agenda, and are quick to imagine how a particular take on a story might be received. I find myself imagining that many think in terms of how a conspiracy might promote ideas that are damaging to their own perspective, and how they might counter this. I suspect that many are not so literate in terms of how they receive agendas that are promoted to them, being perhaps a little to credulous if it meets their preconceived ideas.
It struck me that the one casualty of Saturday’s riots in Tottenham is likely to be any hope of discovering the truth about how Mark Duggan died. Clearly the family believe he was unlikely to have been carrying a gun, or involved with a gang. They may be right, though it is also possible that he had become involved in something unsavoury without his families knowledge. Times are hard, employment is harder to come by, it is entirely possible that he might have been tempted by a ‘one time’ deal or escapade to tide his finances over a rough patch for instance.
The police of course have their own credibility problems, the Met in particular has just experienced a night of the long knives in it’s top echelons, with possible corrupt association with News Corporation as the central theme. A commander rather than a commissioner, an assistant commissioner, or deputy commissioner, made the Met’s statements to the News hounds today. Armed officers in the Met of course have acquired a reputation for shooting first and asking questions afterwards, following the Death of Jean Charles de Menezes.
Armed police in the Met are not the only armed unit in a British police force under scrutiny at present. On the 04 Aug 2011 Five police officers from Merseyside Police‘s elite gun crime unit were sacked after the publication of a photograph showing them ”behaving inappropriately” inside a house they were supposed to be searching. It could be argued that there is a creeping ‘macho’ element making its way into the still very few members of the British Police who are armed, that might be having a detrimental effect on their performance as officers.
Another problem is that the papers in particular have waded in jumping to conclusions again. They don’t seem to have learned from their experience over the case of Christopher Jefferies, an early suspect in the Jo Yeats murder, and appear to have made exactly the same mistakes again. The Daily Mail labelled Duggan a “gangsta”. but offered no proof that he was. The Sun claimed Duggan was, known by the street name Starrish Mark, (Though what the significance of that might be isn’t clear) and also describes him as a “gangsta, and claim he was a member of North London’s Tottenham Man Dem gang, which supposedly has links to Yardies.” but evidence to support any of this is quite thin on the ground.
I suspect following this riot that the Mail and the Sun’s editorial teams might well be having long meetings with Lawyers on Monday morning.
It did occur to me that if he had been a ‘gangsta’, that the gang he had been a member of might want to confuse the narrative as it developed, as such they might have ‘arranged’ for the following story to be told to reporters of the Evening Standard by, a 20-year-old witness, who works nearby but did not want to be named. Who reportedly said: “I was coming home from work when I saw it all happening in front of my eyes.
“I came around the corner and saw about six unmarked police cars cornering a people carrier near a bus stop. I heard the police shout something like ‘Don’t move’ and I saw them drag the driver out of the car. I don’t know if they dragged the other guy out in the passenger seat. He was the one who got shot – the passenger. About three or four police officers had both men pinned on the ground at gunpoint. They were really big guns and then I heard four loud shots. The police shot him on the floor.”
Reading these things made me wonder if Independent Police Complaints Commission enquiry’s, and any subsequent prosecutions might be prejudiced by such reporting.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission of course has published its own statement: saying that police stopped a minicab. Armed police of the Trident operational command unit, dealing with gun crime in the black community, attempted to make an arrest. A firearms officer fired two shots with a Heckler & Koch MP5 carbine. A gun – non-police issue – was recovered at the scene. Both the radio and the handgun have been being sent for expedited forensic tests. The exact sequence of events is subject to the IPCC investigation. A CO19 officer was taken to hospital as a precautionary measure but has since been discharged. Which to be fair is much less prejudicial to any future case.
However following the riot, and further ones this evening/morning, Sunday 7-8-11, Monday 8-8-11, there are now so many stories washing around in the media, that no matter what answers any inquiry or subsequent prosecution come to there will always be those who are sceptical of the outcome.
I can’t deny I am a somewhat cynical person, so it will come as no surprise to hear that I wonder if this was the intent. Was the riot fermented by persons unknown, to obscure truth? Were there persons, working on the behalf of a gang to hide the activities of a gang? Or were there persons working on behalf of the police, either formally or informally, to hide a mistake? Were there agitators from both sides at work? Is there another agenda which has been hidden away by the riot, perhaps the EDL wanted it to seem like a ‘Black problem‘, and wound things up to pursue their own agenda?
Or perhaps it was just one of those things that happen when tensions come together in an unpredictable way and things happen that the majority of people would rather hadn’t?
Whichever is true, it feels like one of those events that the truth will never quite be clear to anyone, because it was followed by a riot, and now so many people have lost something and are so emotionally involved that whatever one side claims to be true the other will dispute.
So what the rioters achieved was to serve everybody’s agenda except the original grieving families, and there’s was a more important agenda than anyone else’s. It’s important to families to know the truth about why a loved one died? Now even with strong evidence they will always have that nagging doubt that the truth was lost in the fires of a riot.