Following other recent shameful verdicts, such as the Trayvon Martin case, the Mark Duggan ruling further highlights the contradictions of the law and its role as a weapon of the rich and powerful against the most oppressed layers of society. After a long drawn out inquest, in which it came to light that Duggan posed no threat to those around him and more importantly, was unarmed when he was shot, it was concluded that the murder of Duggan by the police was lawful.
The facts of the case were in constant disarray, with testimonies from the police wildly varying as new information was revealed. For instance, forensics confirmed that the supposed gunshots fired by Duggan were in fact from the weapon of the police. When this was proven, the police then changed their story to say that Duggan had only threatened them with a gun and so the killing was still defensive. The case is riddled with these inconsistencies to the extent that the police had to resort to attacking Duggan’s character to justify their crimes.
In order to consolidate the power of the ruling class, the law is utilised by judges to ensure that when innocents are murdered by the police, it is not the system that is at fault, but the individual. police are a prized asset for the ruling class, a private army for the intimidation of the oppressed. For this reason, the ruling class cannot allow them to be at risk of being found guilty in the course of their duties. They will always be, under capitalism, invincible to the very justice they supposedly enforce.
The demonisation of Duggan as having a history as a thug and a criminal, based on extremely thin evidence, in addition to his being a black man from a poor part of London (Tottenham), is enough to justify his murder in the eyes of the bourgeoisie. From their point of view, whatever the evidence says, he probably deserved it. Mark Duggan’s killing was lawful in the eyes of the bourgeois state, but not in the eyes of the working class.
The events which followed Duggan’s death, the 2011 London riots, showed the explosive anger of working people at the crimes of capitalism and police brutality. People can see that the current system is hopelessly weak and rotten to the core. We must fight to overthrow this system and establish genuine peace, justice and working class democracy.
by Alex Bollard, QMUL Marxists