Footage of an elderly Muslim man trying to defuse a tense situation during the Forest Gate protests armed with just a hug has emerged online.
Fires were lit and bricks thrown during the unrest in Newham on Sunday evening, in which demonstrators were calling for justice for Edir Frederico Da Costa (known as Edson) who died on June 21, six days after being pulled over by police.
In a clip posted to the Facebook page for Newham People’s Alliance, a visibly upset younger man asks the older gentleman: “Do you know I am to him? I’m his brother. His mum is my mum’s sister.”
The elder man replies with a hug, telling him: “I’m sorry bruv, I’m sorry. I feel what you’re saying.”
Still agitated, the young man continues: “There was this white police woman and she was laughing at my face. She was laughing at my face, man.” The bearded man allows him to speak, whilst holding his hand and nodding sypathetically.
The clip, which has been viewed more than 16,000 times in less than 24 hours, was posted alongside the comment: “An elderly [man] using hugging technique to defuse tense stand off with police. This is the oldest technique in history. Hug someone angry and he would calm down... #SpreadPeace #spreadLove”
Shah Abdul commented: “A hug is very powerful, people just don’t understand or know it. If only people did things like this more often.”
Nida Ahmed added: “This is humanity! One hug can change everything! #Respect.” The older gentleman was also branded a “brave, compassionate man” by Althea Stevens.
Six police officers were injured in the clash with over the death of Da Costa following a traffic stop.
On Monday, the Met said four of the six injured officers were taken to hospital, including a male police sergeant who suffered facial injuries and a female police constable who suffered head injuries.
The force said it was not aware of any members of the public being injured or any property suffering significant damage.
Four people were arrested, one on suspicion of disorder offences and three others on suspicion of arson and criminal damage. They have all been taken to east London police stations where they remain in custody.
After being stopped by police in Woodcocks, Beckton, campaigners claim 25-year-old Da Costa’s neck was broken and he was “brutally beaten”.
But the Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating, said a preliminary post-mortem on Thursday indicated there were no spinal injuries caused by police.
Protesters, some carrying Black Lives Matter posters and others with homemade placards which read “Justice for Edson + How Many More???”, marched from Forest Gate to Stratford.