London Riots: Who's in Charge Here?


Mark Duggan Shooting

The rioting began after the fatal police shooting of Mark Duggan by police officers attempting an arrest. An arrest team of armed officers was assigned when a police informant warned that Duggan, an alleged drug dealer and gang member whom police believed might have links to two murders, was armed. In fact, a loaded pistol was recovered from Duggan. One published report stated that a bullet possibly fired by Duggan was found lodged in a police radio. An investigation by the Independent Police Complaints Commission revealed today, however, that when Duggan was killed, he likely had never fired on police.

According to a Met Police press release, numerous police officers have suffered serious injuries in the rioting, as well as five police dogs.

"The serious criminal unrest experienced in London over the past three days has left dozens of officers injured, some seriously, "the statement read. "At the present time (17.30hrs), 111 officers have been reported injured. … Many officers are still undergoing hospital treatment, some requiring surgery. Injuries range from fractured bones, serious head injuries, concussion, cuts and sprains, even injured eyes from smashed and thrown glass.

"Officers have been attacked with bricks, bottles, planks of wood and other missiles. In some incidents, officers have been hit by motor vehicles, seriously risking their lives and those of the public," the statement read.

"Five police dogs have been injured as they have undertaken their duties in dealing with the unrest. Linpol Luke, also known as Obi, sustained a serious head injury from a thrown brick and requires further treatment. Marshfield Mia was injured after being hit by a thrown bottle. Both dogs were injured on duty on Sunday. On Monday, Minstrel Blaze, Quirk Ruby and Zach all sustained injuries, including broken teeth and cuts from thrown missiles."

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Kavanagh deplored the "scenes of devastation and violence" in London, and asked the public for help. "If you are out tonight please help us -- give us the space we need to work in." He asked parents to keep their children inside so they would not get caught up in "thrill-seeking thuggery," and thanked people who had already intervened to "make their disgust known about the activities of these mindless yobs."

Kavanagh also issued a warning to rioters. "If you have been one of those people who believe you are above the law and have the right to rob, damage and scare people let me make it clear our investigation team is determined to come and track you down"

The chaotic scenes of clashes with police, burning buildings, and shuttered shops and rampaging masked young men take place at a time when the approximately 31,000 officer Met police is effectively leaderless.

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Scotland Yard's commissioner and his top deputy resigned because of the cellphone hacking scandal that galvanized world attention. When the London tabloids hacked into the voice mail of a dead young woman in an effort to write their stories and learn more about her abduction – even deleting messages—the Met police performed a tepid investigation, leaving trash bags of potential evidence of widespread hacking unopened for about four years.

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