The August 2011 riots which quickly spread nationwide after Londoner Mark Duggan was shot and killed by police lives long in the memory mainly because Britain had not seen social unrest at that level in the lifetime of many who watched those events unfold live on TV. George Amponsah’s documentary picks up on the lives of Duggan’s close friends accused of being instigators of the riots and still seeking justice for their friend who they claim was unarmed when pulled over in a hard stop by four police cars.
Marcus Knox-Hooke faced sentencing for being the riot instigator and shared his deepest thoughts as a documentary camera followed him around his estate. Like Duggan he was brought up on the same Broadwater Farm Estate in Tottenham where PC Blakelock was killed. The gang which came to be known as TMD (Tottenham Man Dem) is, according to Knox-Hooke, just a media label and he simply regards himself as someone who hung around with the people who lived on his block. His anger and sense of injustice about the death of his friend is punctuated by more lighthearted memories as teenagers when they raced around on bikes and in cars. We are introduced to his present day life which is a bail house for offenders wearing tags until sentencing. There are fears of an eight year sentence but he eventually gets 32 months. On release he becomes a youth mentor, guiding those who are becoming disruptive in school or on the streets away from a path that might become similar to his own.
Duggan’s other close friend Kurtis Henville shuns his previous life of crime where he admits to earning up to ￡500 a day and gets a job as a park attendant in Norwich. The commute distance harms his relationship but it’s a sacrifice he takes on to keep his job. With both these men there is a sense of both redemption and injustice. They have learned the error of their ways and turned their backs on this lifestyle but still seek answers as to how their unarmed friend was shot dead even though witnesses claimed he was not only unarmed but seemed to be surrendering. None of these questions are answered in Amponsah’s documentary but the quest to make the law responsible for their actions is a tireless one.
Duggan’s mother is shown telling supporters to show tears and not anger when the Courts of Justice fail to find any of the officers guilty of anything. Closing credits remind us that since 1990 there have been 1,500 cases where people have been harmed by police in similar circumstances and not one officer has been convicted.