Hundreds of people have joined a protest against police brutality in Tottenham, almost exactly nine years on from the police killing of Mark Duggan.
Organised by youth organisation the 4Front Project, a crowd gathered outside the police station to put forward a list of demands calling for an end to the over-policing of Black communities.
Pictures and video from the scene show hundreds of people in the street in support of the demonstration, many of them holding Black Lives Matter signs and banners.
The protest comes in the immediate wake of accusations of police brutality during what has been termed by campaigners as a ‘raid’ on the 4Front Project’s office in north west London on Friday afternoon.
Four people aged between 14 and 25 were arrested at around 2pm but all were later released, the Met has confirmed.
According to 4Front’s director Temi Mwale – who was recently named an influential activist in British Vogue’s September issue – the situation on Friday escalated when campaigning staff asked why a 14-year-old boy was being arrested and for more information to pass on to his parents. Officers refused to engage, Mwale said.
A police vehicle left the 4Front Project office and a group of 30 to 40 people followed on foot to Coldindale Police Station, where they remained. All four were later released.
Colindale police posted on Twitter: “A youth on the Grahame Park estate was arrested today for being in possession of drugs. A youth project based on the estate took it upon themselves to try to obstruct police carrying out routine duty. Hence the ill feelings from young people towards usat [sic] Colindale Police station.”
A Met spokesperson later issued a statement saying that a 14-year-old male had been arrested on suspicion of possession of cannabis, while two men aged 23 and 25 were arrested for obstructing a constable. A 19-year-old man was also arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.
It comes after the 4Front Project last month commenced legal action against the Met over “unfair” treatment of members of its team.
The protest on Saturday has been organised to mark the ninth anniversary of the 2011 riots, which were sparked by the death of Mark Duggan, a 29-year-old Black man who was fatally shot by a police officer in Tottenham on August 4, 2011.
As well as demanding an end to the over-policing of Black communities the demonstrators’ list of demands – shared widely on Twitter ahead of the protest, includes stopping the use of excessive force, tasers and Section 60 searches.
Musician and community organiser Jermain Jackman told HuffPost UK on Friday evening ahead of the protest: “When that white police officer put his knee on George Floyd’s neck it reminded us all of the times we, Black Brits have had system’s knee on our neck. Whether it’s the disproportionate impact of Covid on Black people or the amount of times Black people have been stopped, searched and harassed by the police.
“I’m joining tomorrows protest with hundreds of other voices to say enough is enough. When I think about the historical injustices where the Met especially have got off scot-free or their lack of accountability and transparency… nothing has changed at all.
“Some of the recent images and videos we’ve seen of the police’s interactions with our community, you would think it’s the 70′s or 80′s. On top of that, you have Cressida Dick, the Met Police commissioner, saying that the Met Police isnt institutionally racist. Those were the same comments made by Met commissioners before Scarmen and McPherson Reports [following the Brixton riots and police investigation into Stephen Lawrence’s death].”
He added: “All of this, [combined] with the fact that 22,000 young Black men were stopped and searched [during the Covid-19 lockdown period]... makes me believe that we are on course to see London burn once again. Enough is enough. Stop the racism, police violence and reform the Met police to increase accountability and transparency.”
Adam Pugh, an ex-police officer and anti-racism campaigner, described the significance of the protests.
“This protest is so important in light of recent events in America with the killing of George Floyd and the spotlight on deaths in police custody and police violence here in the UK,” he told HuffPost UK.
“Part of the reason that the killing of George Floyd sparked international protests was the brutal and violent manner in which a police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. It is worth mentioning that as police officers are not routinely armed in the UK, a large percentage of the 1750 deaths in police contact here in the UK (since 1990) are of this same brutal nature.
“This heavy handed, excessive and brutal policing particularly against Black communities and the growing number of people being killed at the hands of the police is exactly why this protest is taking place and why it is so important.”
“After the uprisings that followed Mark Duggan’s killing in the summer of 2011, senior politicians came out to quote Martin Luther Kings Jr speech where he famously said “a riot is the language of the unheard.” and promised that lessons would be learned and the cries of so many young people who felt unheard would be listened to,” Pugh continued.
“Nine years on it appears these lessons have not been learned and these voices still continue to go unheard. Or as Martin Luther King Jr aptly went on to say in his next sentence…“It has failed to hear that the promises of freedom and justice have not been met. And it has failed to hear that large segments of white society are more concerned about tranquility and the status quo than about justice and humanity”.”