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Tottenham Riots...another Farm

The news this morning is awash with the overnight Tottenham disorder. Disorder of this scale isn't new to London. Since the 1980's Londoners have been faced with Broadwater Farm disorder (1985), Brixton "Riots" (1981, 1985, & 1995), Poll Tax protests (1990),  Isreal-Gaza protests (2009) and Student Loan protests (twice in 2010). The story shown on the news this morning was a familiar one. It sent a shiver down my spine, as violent disorder of this kind always does, because of the death of PC Keith Blakelock.

PC Blakelock was murdered by assailants unknown during the Broadwater Farm disorder of 6th October 1985. His murder would have been avoided had the police culture was guided by principles of proportionality, legality, and necessity.

Learning from mistakes secures a better future, has the met learned from the mistakes of the Farm?. The day before the Farm's disorder a young black man named Floyd Jarrett was arrested. He came to the attention of local officers due to an 'allegedly suspicious tax disk'. Four police officers searched the family home. I will leave you to decide on the motivation, proportionality, legality and necessity of that. In the house was Floyd's mother, Cynthia, who had a weak heart. During the search she collapsed and died. This was, in their eyes, a death at the hands of the police. YesterdayMark Duggon was shot by police firearms officers.

The relationship between the police and the black community was already very strained. The black community felt victimised by what they thought was a racist police force. History has proven them right.

The death of Cynthia Jarrett triggered demonstrations the following day, demonstrations that were aimed at the local police station. Yesterday, 300 people marched from Broadwater Farm to Tottenham police station.

In 1985 the tactics for controlling large scale disorder were weak. There was no strong command, poor decision making, and eventually all officers were withdrawn from the Farm. PC Keith Blakelock and colleagues re-entered the farm to protect the fire service while they fought fires. Sadly, Keith Blakelock was separated from his team and was brutally murdered.

The current disorder has resulted in many officers being injured. I hope that we have learned from the death of Keith Blakelock that the public will hold us to account if we make a mistake.

The problem comes when that public feels disenfranchised, all they have left is violence...