Mark Duggan’s partner Semone Wilson

Smoking or not, Mark Duggan’s gun was loaded

The IPCC tells us that Mark Duggan didn’t fire on the police officer who shot him dead. Like all those who seek the truth, I’m glad this has been cleared up quickly. I’m also relieved that, as the violence spreads to everywhere where there are electrical goods on sale, we have been reminded about what ‘sparked off’ the original Tottenham violence. Maybe we should try to understand what took place there. But what caused everything after the initial anger in Tottenham can be better understood by reading this earlier Slog post.

So: the initial impetus came from the death of Mark Duggan. Mark Duggan, the IPCC has established, was carrying a loaded gun. In the UK, that is a very serious criminal offence. Under Section 19 of Weapons offences legislation currently in force, it has a minimum mandatory sentence of 12 months. I spoke earlier today to a retired Met officer who told me the average sentence handed out for this is three years.

We await further information as to whether Duggan displayed his loaded gun in a threatening manner towards police officers. It goes without saying that this would carry (at the discretion of the Judge) a much heavier sentence, and could be construed in some cases as attempted murder. It thus seems highly likely that, had he survived, Mark Duggan might well have spent ten years in jail.

Why was Mark carrying a loaded gun? Because – the evidence available suggests – he was involved in some way or another with drug dealing, and needed to protect himself against rival gangs. This isn’t me employing knee-jerk Dacre Mail bollocks: as I posted the day before yesterday, the Camerlot set consumes such drugs, and therefore shares the blame for their growing circulation via Duggan and half a million others engaged in the trade. Further, the evidence I refer to comes from sources that include both the Duggan family and our friends at The Guardian. The time has come to strip Mr Duggan down to the bare essentials, devoid of inflammatory language and innuendo:

* Duggan’s partner Semone Wilson has admitted Duggan was known to the police, and said he had spent some time on remand. They had three children together. They were not married. (Guardian)

* Duggan’s Facebook page, under his alias Starrish Mark, pictures him in a T-shirt bearing the words Star Gang, and reports suggest he may have had links to that group and allied north London gangs such as the Broadwater Farm Posse and Tottenham Mandem. (Guardian)

* The Voice, Britain’s leading black newspaper, has claimed that both Duggan and his best friend, 23-year-old rapper Kelvin Easton, known as Smegz, “had links to the Star Gang”, one of several criminal groups in north London whose turf wars have caused at least three deaths over the past few years.

* Easton, described by the londonstreetgangs website as an “elder” of a group collectively called the Farm Mandem, was stabbed to death with a broken champagne bottle at the Boheme nightclub in Mile End, east London, in March 2011. The murder remains unsolved.(Guardian)

*At the time of his death last Thursday he was under investigation by officers from Trident, the Met’s unit responsible for gun crime within the black community. (Guardian)

* Some of the messages posted by friends on his Facebook pages could suggest possible gang involvement, referring to Duggan variously as a “soldier”, a “true star boy” and a “five star general”. One of the messages left among the bouquets outside Duggan’s family home yesterday referred to “Gang N17 Farm”, the name of one of the Star gang’s allies. (Guardian)

I mustn’t be one-sided in any way about this. There are as many references in all the media reportage to ‘a loving Dad’, a man who ‘idolised his kids’, a bloke about whom Semone Wilson says, “If he did have a gun – which I don’t know – Mark would run. Mark is a runner. He would run rather than firing and that’s coming from the bottom of my heart”. I’m sure Semone’s view is entirely genuine; but we now know that Mark Duggan did own a gun. A loaded gun.

From what I’ve gathered so far, it seems unlikely to me that Mark Duggan was a hardened gangster, but almost certain that he was drug dealing in some form or another. Certainly, I cannot find any reference anywhere to another occupation via which he could have supported three infant children. But the bottom line is that he was carrying a loaded gun. The police apprehended him in possession of that gun, and as a result of a confrontation as yet only sketchily established, he wound up dead.

There are a great many in our society who would say he knew the risks, and paid the price. I am bound to say that I’m one of them.