The Hard Stop was a serious film with a serious point to make. In 2011 serious rioting started in the Tottenham area of London and spread to other parts of the country. The act that led to the explosion of anger was the killing of Mark Duggan, a local man known to the police. What is called a ‘hard stop’ was carried out. In this manoeuvre several police vehicles surround the car they are following forcing it to stop. In this case Mark Duggan was forced from the car and in the resulting police action he was shot and killed.
The police had reason to believe Mark Duggan was carrying a gun even though he did not have one on him and the gun found nearby did not have his DNA.
This sad film follows two of his friends. Marcus Knox-Hooke and Kurtis Henville, friends since childhood, felt the injustice of the actions and they have continued to seek answers and some sense of justice since.
In following the men around, including the journey to the sentence hearing in the case of Marcus and, later, the journey home from prison on the day of his release, we learn what was like to grow up on the Broadwater Farm estate in north London, an estate made famous by terrible events in the 80s when a police officer PC Blakelock was killed in earlier riots.
The context of the film is bleak and the determination of both men to rise above their difficulties is impressive. Kurtis Henville spends most of the film trying to get interviews and then to secure a job. This is a challenge for a young man of his background and experience.
The hostility of both men to the police is understandable, especially as Mark Duggan was unarmed when he was killed. The defence of the police officer at the inquiry, that he ‘believed’ Duggan had a gun, was enough to avoid any charges for him or his fellow officers. Indeed, at he end of the film we learn that despite their being recorded incidents in thousands of people who have died at the hands of the police, no charges have been brought against any officer.
The dignity of these friends as well as the family of Mark Duggan is well illustrated here and stands up against the inevitable snipes of ‘no smoke without fire’. Well, the police ‘believed’ he was armed and that seems to be enough.
This is an important film. It is in my hinterland. What’s in yours?