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In August 2011, 29-year-old Mark Duggan was pulled over by police in Tottenham in a 'hard stop'—an aggressive approach used when apprehending potentially dangerous suspects. Duggan was shot twice and died at the scene. A firearm was found around 10 feet from where he died, but neither Duggan's fingerprints or DNA were on it. His death caused the already frayed relationship between Tottenham's black community and the police, to explode, and led to the 2011 riots across London and England. In 2014, a public inquest into Duggan's shooting reached the verdict of 'lawful killing'.
A new d ocumentary The Hard Stop, which is in cinemas July 15, follows Marcus Knox Hooke and Kurtis Henvill, two childhood friends of Duggan, in the two years following his death. Marcus was protesting outside Tottenham when the riots started, and has been accused as being the instigator of the violence. When the film starts, he’s on bail, awaiting sentencing for his part in the rioting. Kurtis on the other hand, is just a guy trying to hold down a job and get by.
By following the human stories, Amponsah manages to avoid preaching and gets to the real heart of the social conditions that lead to the 2011 violence. The film explores the history of the notorious Broadwater Farm estate where all three grew up, an area that 25 year earlier had seen the riots that lead to the death of police constable Keith Blakelock, and has never truly recovered from the scars caused by them. It's an important film that every Londoner effected by the riots needs to see. We spoke to the film's director George Amponsah about it when it screened at the London Film Festival late last year.