LONDON (Reuters) - Around 1,500 mourners gathered at a church in north London Friday to mourn Mark Duggan, whose fatal shooting by police sparked rioting and looting that spread across the capital and to other English cities.
Tributes to Duggan, 29, from his family, and songs and hymns were relayed by speaker to those standing calmly outside the New Testament Church of God.
In a rousing closing prayer, Pastor Nims Obunge called for Duggan’s death to be a turning point for troubled Tottenham.
“We pray for peace. There has been too much blood,” he said.
“It took the death of Mark to show that there was something wrong. We pray that his death will not be in vain,” he said.
“May his children be able to say that on the day we buried my father there was a future for my community.”
The atmosphere was calm in a normally busy suburban street which was cordoned off by police. However, anger still simmered over the killing which is being investigated by the Independent Police Complaints Commission.
Sojourna Murray, 32, a spokeswoman for local community groups, went to Duggan’s parents’ home in nearby Tottenham to see the funeral cortege leave.
“They are going after innocent people and there was no need for them to have killed this boy,” she said.
“They won’t get away with this. I’ve never heard of this happening to a white boy,” said Murray, from an African-Caribbean family, like Duggan himself.
Protesters gathered at a police station in Tottenham on August 6, two days after Duggan’s death. The protest turned violent and looting spread across London and to other English cities in the worst unrest seen in England for decades.
The funeral carriage, followed by 10 black stretch Mercedes saloons and other cars, paused briefly outside the apartment block in the Broadwater Farm estate where Duggan had lived.
More than 100 people, almost all black, were waiting and some banged on the outside of the glass carriage to mark their respects.
Duggan’s coffin was carried in a white glass-sided coach led by four white horses with plumes of white feathers on their heads. The words ‘Brother’ and ‘Grandson’ were spelt out in large white flowers on each side of the carriage.
Duggan’s partner Semone Wilson wrote a tribute to him that was read out in the service by his sister-in-law Michelle Palmer-Scott.
“I don’t understand why you went so soon. Maybe it was God wanting to take care of you,” she said.
Reporting by Keith Weir