Mark Duggan, the suspected black man whose death sparked London and nationwide riots after he was shot by police was buried on Thursday.
In the tributes made by his mourners in front of the 1,000 people congregation, Mark Duggan was described as a man who turned his life around with the help of his beloved partner; Mark Duggan loved playing computer games with his children, he enjoyed getting “dressed up to the nines in bling” to go out partying.
Mark Duggan was a “big kid himself”, as a cousin said. And she also claimed Mark was a “peacemaker” who resolved conflicts in the community and he had recently applied to become a fireman.
Mark Duggan’s funeral service was held at the New Testament Church of God in Wood Green, North London.
Outside the church, where those mourners who could not fit inside stood on the pavement, the air was thick with the smell of cannabis. Dark glasses were the order of the day for men, short skirts for women.
Mark Duggan, 29, was also known as “Starrish Mark”, an “elder”, or senior member, of The Star Gang, who strut the streets of Tottenham where such gangs trade in violence, intimidation and drugs.
Thursday, among the floral tributes spelling out “dad” and “son”, there was also a star-shaped wreath.
During the 90-minute funeral service Mark Duggan’s cousin, Donna Martin began an obituary by repeating his nickname “Starrish” at least three times, eliciting applause from the congregation.
Donna Martin told of his upbringing on the notorious Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham and how Mark Duggan left aged 13 to live in Manchester with an aunt. There was no mention of the fact that Mark Duggan was the nephew of notorious crime boss the late Desmond “Dessie” Noonan who boasted his gang had “more guns than the police” and whose feared family are “major players” in Manchester’s underworld.
His cousin also told how Mark Duggan had lost friends in Manchester in “unfortunate circumstances” and how, after he moved back to London, he treated his friend Kelvin “Smegz” Easton “like a little brother”.
Easton, 23, another gang member, was stabbed through the heart with a broken champagne bottle at a nightclub in East London last March in a row over drugs and a woman. Mark Duggan is said to have carried a gun afterwards for his own protection.
According to another source, Mark Duggan was planning to avenge the death, which is believed to be one of the reasons that officers from Operation Trident, which investigates gun crime within London’s black community, had Duggan under surveillance and were trailing him in unmarked cars.
Mark Duggan was a passenger in a minicab which was apparently stopped by police near Tottenham Hale Tube station on the night of August 4 when he was shot.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating the shooting, said police fired two shots. One shot killed Mark Duggan, the other lodged in the radio of another police officer. Mark Duggan’s gun, originally thought to have been a converted replica, had not been fired.
Two days after Mark Duggan was shot, the Tottenham riots erupted after his family spent five frustrating hours seeking a meeting and explanation from local police chiefs. The circumstances of Mark Duggan’s death have led to lingering tensions between family members and detectives.
Thursday policing at the funeral was low-key, but at least a dozen police riot vans and their officers were spotted on stand-by.
Ten black Mercedes limos brought Mark Duggan’s relatives and friends to the church. One of his three children arrived in a white-striped suit and a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Miss You Daddy” and a picture of his father in sunglasses.
Mark Duggan’s partner, Semone Wilson, 29, paid tribute to him as her “first real love” in a message read out by her sister Michelle Palmer-Scott.
“We faced trials and tribulations together. We had our ups and we had our downs but through it all, I loved him.”
“I don’t understand why you’re gone so soon.”
Mark Duggan’s mother Pamela Duggan, 53, said:
“In many way Semone saved Mark and that’s why he loved her dearly. She loved him unconditionally like they loved their children.”
Pastor Nims Obunge made an impassioned plea for peace in the community, which he said has seen “too much blood”:
“Let mothers not have to come and bury their children. Let fathers not have to come and weep for their children the way we weep today,’ he said, to whoops and applause. ‘We have been hurt, we have been scarred, we have been maligned, we have been stigmatised, we have been called names. Today we stand as one community but we say, <<Not any more – it shall stop>>.”
Ken Hinds, a Mark’s friend, who was a steward at the funeral and is chairman of the Stop and Search Monitoring Group for Haringey, said about the police’s version of Mark Duggan’s death so far:
“It doesn’t fit in with everything that’s known on the street.
“It’s caused significant damage. It has further fuelled the tension in the community and contributed to the uprising that we experienced.”
Mark Duggan was buried at Wood Green Cemetery before a reception at Broadwater Farm Community Centre.