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How The London Riots All Started..... And How Blackberry BBM Played A Hand

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As the riots in London look set to continue for a third night — and to spread to other parts of the UK — details are starting to emerge on how the rioters have been organizing themselves. The medium of choice? BlackBerry Messenger.

The riots began to protest the police shooting & killing of a 29-year-old man, Mark Duggan, a resident of the Tottenham area of north London, last Thursday. A Facebook group quickly sprung up to commemorate Duggan; police and media attention was drawn to a particular post on the Facebook page which appeared to fan the flames, as well as the occasional tweet from rioters describing their deeds and where they were headed next. Some posted pictures of looting and burning police cars.

But it soon became clear that BBM was by far the most popular means for rioters to communicate. BlackBerry devices, cheaper and more widespread than iOS or Android smartphones, are owned by more than a third of British teens, according to a recent study. BBM — an instant message service for BlackBerry owners — is free, instantly available, one-to-many, and the authorities can’t immediately trace it. BBM users must exchange PIN numbers, which keeps their conversations private.

BlackBerry made a specific effort to market its product among black youth in London, recently sponsoring a "secret gig" in London featuring top U.K. rappers. So Blackberry's are very popular to London teens now.

BBM messages began circulating since the Duggan shooting.

Deputy Assistant Commissioner Stephen Kavanaugh confirmed to U.K. media that officers were looking at Twitter too as they investigated the riots, which began after the police shooting of 29-year-old Mark Duggan in the Tottenham section of North London on Thursday.

Investigators are focusing their attention on a 90-minute period during which Mr Duggan phoned his partner, Semone Wilson, to ask her to cook dinner before getting into his taxi for a trip across north London. During the journey he noticed he was being followed in unmarked cars by officers from Operation Trident, the Yard's long-running crackdown on gun crime in the black community. In a BBM text to Ms Wilson from his BlackBerry, he wrote:
"The Feds are following me."

Mr Duggan, who carried a distinctive tattoo on his neck, was a regular user of taxis. A manager for one firm said he would use its services two or three times a week to travel to Walthamstow and Edmonton. The Trident officers, backed up by a CO19 detachment, were conducting a "pre-planned" operation to arrest Mr Duggan, who went by the street name "Starrish Mark" – a name which supposedly links him to another north London criminal group with links to Jamaican Yardies.

Mr Duggan's relatives feel they were let down by a lack of communication from the Metropolitan Police in the hours after his death. Deputy Assistant Commissioner Steve Kavanagh, the Yard officer in charge of policing the riots, said:

"I want to apologize to the Duggan family. I think that both the Metropolitan police and the IPCC could have managed their concerns far more effectively."

In the meantime, as riots continue throughout London, British police have threatened to bring charges against those who use social media to incite looting and violence.

Research in Motion, the manufacturer of BlackBerry, released a statement,

"We feel for those impacted by this weekend's riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can. As in all markets around the world where BlackBerry is available, we cooperate with local telecommunications operators, law enforcement and regulatory officials." the real question is, should the police have shot & killed Duggan?

According to report, the suspected gang member was carrying a starter pistol modified to fire live bullets.

This is similar to many stories we have heard, especially within the recent weeks, of police shooting and killing suspects violently... in what some would say was not necessary.


The worst riots in Britain for decades spread to new cities on a fourth night as youths ran amok in Manchester and the industrial Midlands.

Nearly 700 people have been arrested in London alone, and about 110 of them have been charged. Even after up-ing their police officer amount from 6,000 to 16,000 police officers in the capital...the violence still continues.

A 26-year-old man found with a gunshot wound to the head in a car in Croydon died in hospital on Tuesday, police said, becoming the first fatality of the riots.

Citizens are now hitting the streets of London to help clean up rioters. But some say this has turned into a racial war within their own city.

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