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The death of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old father-of-four who died instantly in an apparent exchange of gunfire with London police on Thursday evening, has caused widespread rioting in Tottenham. Buildings and cars were set on fire on Saturday night as police officers clashed with hundreds of angry protesters. The scenes were some of the worst rioting on British territory for many years...Mark Duggan was apparently in the back of a minicab on Thursday evening when officers from the Specialist Firearms Command reportedly tried to arrest him. Shots were reportedly fired and it’s believed that armed officers fired two shots. One of the officers had a lucky escape when a bullet, allegedly fired by Duggan, lodged in a police radio instead of entering the officer’s chest. The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) has issued a statement on the fatal shooting of Mark Duggan and has appealed for witnesses to come forward and say what they saw. The IPCC statement came as police seemed to have got the situation in Tottenham back under control, at least for now. But the factors that led to the riot have not been dealt with, and seem unlikely to be dealt with fully unless the police take a fundamentally different approach to engaging with communities in Britain. Clearly the Tottenham riots are about more than just the Mark Duggan death. They are about a breakdown of the relationship between police and a significant part of the community in this part of North London. Lately, it seems that Britain’s police believe they can keep law and order solely through force. But there was a time, not so long ago, when the police recognised the need to inspire trust and confidence.
British Home Secretary Theresa May has threatened the use water cannons and even military force to quell widespread protests in London against power abuse by police. As the British capital witnessed the third night of spreading violence and the evident loss of police control over several parts of London, May said that officers would be allowed to use water cannons. The decision was soon backed by Former London mayor Ken Livingstone, who believes that police must be allowed to use 'the weapon' to disperse protesters. Livingstone said, “The issue of water cannon would be very useful given the level of arson we are seeing here.” The riot-control weapon that shoots a high-pressure stream of water was employed to control mass protests in Northern Ireland. May also insisted that in case the police fail to regain control of London streets, the government will consider the option of deploying military forces throughout the city. Patrick Mercer, the Tory MP and former Army officer, asked the Home Secretary to use water cannons to control the violence that has spread across the capital. “I find it strange that we are willing to use this sort of measures against the Irish yet when Englishmen step out of line and behave in this atrocious and appalling way, we are happy to mollycoddle them,” said Mercer. “If the police want cannon then they should be allowed to use them. I have used water cannon myself and I found them extremely effective,” he said. Several other figures also urged the Home Office to apply the so-called anti-riot weapon, claiming that in some cases cannon use was necessary. Met Police said in a statement that they used armoured vehicles to push back London protesters on the third night of spreading unrest in London. Commander Christine Jones, said, "We are using tactics flexibly to respond to the disorder we are still seeing in different areas of the capital. Anyone involved in criminality should be under no illusion that we will pursue you. We have been making arrests all evening and have a team working during the night examining CCTV images. We will follow up evidence in the coming days in order to bring anyone else responsible for criminal acts to justice."
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