Protesters blocked the road in east London’s Dalston district, attacking riot police with fireworks and Molotov cocktails, and setting makeshift barricades on fire in protest over the death of Rashan Charles following a police chase.
A group of youths in hoodies gathered around the shop where 20-year-old Charles was apprehended before being pronounced dead at a hospital shortly afterwards.
Demonstrators attempted to block Kingsland Road in the London Borough of Hackney, erecting barricades from trash, cones, and dustbins. As riot police arrived at the scene to disperse the crowd, they were targeted with fireworks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails.
Riot police, mounted police, and a police helicopter, which was seen hovering over the scene, were deployed to quell the unrest.
Videos posted on social media show officers armed with shields and batons breaking through the barricades. Some protesters fled the scene while others retaliated with fireworks.
A number of nearby shops were reportedly vandalized by the small, angry crowd, which spray-painted graffiti on walls and smashed windows. Some businesses in the area locked customers inside to protect them.
At one point, a truck rammed through a barricade, dragging a dustbin with a protester on top. The truck did not stop moving even as one of the protesters climbed on the roof of the vehicle and several others were hanging on the door.
It is unclear how many people turned up, with witnesses on social media reporting that there were no more than several dozen protesters. An owner of a local restaurant, Ferhat Dirik, told the Independent that he saw about 60 “youths of mixed ethnicity, wearing hoods and balaclavas” scuffling with police.
The protest drew mixed reactions on social media, with some people expressing support for the police and denouncing the protesters for standing up for Charles, who died under unclear circumstances. Although the official cause of death is still under investigation, there is speculation that Charles might have swallowed a lethal dose of narcotics during his arrest.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is leading the investigation into his death, stated earlier that it had obtained evidence “which indicates an object was removed from his throat at the scene.”
Riot currently going on in #Dalston in response to a lad who died after shoving drugs packets down his own throat 😑 multiculturalism innit.
— Jack Dawkins (@JackDawkinsAD) 28 июля 2017 г.
Thoughts are with the police in #dalston tonight, doing a difficult job in the face of anti-social thugs. stay safe out there
— Pablo Gad (@PorcelinaOfThe) 28 июля 2017 г.
Others pointed out that by inciting violence, protesters were disrespecting the wishes of Charles’ family, who asked everyone to refrain from “any hostile actions.”
A peaceful protest by grieving friends and family was hijacked by opportunist thugs who are now destroying #Dalston.
— Cllr Khayer C. (@KhayerChowdhury) 29 июля 2017 г.
If you ask one of tonight’s rioters; ‘who was Rashan Charles?’ They wouldn’t have a fucking clue… they’re using this to riot.
— It’s me, Michael. (@_MisterBlack_) 29 июля 2017 г.
In a statement circulated by the Metropolitan Police on Thursday, the family said they are “determined to get answers to how and why this fatality occurred.”
“We will achieve this by acting within the law, and ensure there is individual and organizations accountability,” they said.
The officers who handled the arrest insist they used force against the man in order to protect him from harming himself.
Footage of the incident, in which a police officer wrestles the suspect to the ground, has gone viral and sparked fierce debate, with some blaming the police for using excessive force.