With the recent spate of killings of young black men in America by the police and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, the atmosphere in America is beginning to rival the turbulent days at the height of the civil rights movement. The situation is on a knife-edge and one spark could set off a pounder keg. That’s what happened in the UK. In 2011 Mark Duggan was shot by police in Tottenham. The aftermath led to a week of riots around the UK, culminating in the worst civil disobedience in modern British history.
In George Amponsah’s documentary The Hard Stop he follows two of Duggan’s friends, Marcus Knox-Hooke and Kurtis Henville, in the 24 months following his death until the result of the public inquest. Despite no evidence to show that Mark Duggan was holding a gun, the court ruled that the police had lawfully killed him. Growing up on the Broadwater Farm Estate in the shadow of the ’80s riots, persecuted by the police by dint of neighbourhood and skin colour, their entire lives have been a struggle. Both have fallen foul of the criminal justice system.
Amponsah, for the most part, is happy to observe and passively listen to what the pair and their families have to say. They’re lively and interesting characters, both wrestling with their demons and trying to get their lives back on track. The main weakness with The Hard Stop’s is that Amponsah only gets one side of the story. There’s nothing from the police and, whilst the judgement was clearly ludicrous, these guys are hardly innocents. The most scary aspect is their anger towards the police. It’s not clear how they’re going to be able to move on with their lives.
The Hard Stop is released on DVD by Metrodome on Monday.