Rashan Charles: Furious protesters march on Stoke Newington police station demanding justice for 20-year-old’s death
PUBLISHED: 22:57 24 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:02 04 August 2017
Picture: Polly Hancock
Angry crowds tonight marched to Stoke Newington police station and then back to the Dalston shop where Rashan Charles was chased and tackled by police hours before his death.
Video contains strong language
About 300 people, some carrying banners saying “stand up to racism” and “black lives matter”, stood outside the station in the high street as people gave speeches about the death of the 20-year-old black father. The crowd chanted “no justice, no peace” as different speakers took to the microphone, and a helicopter circled overhead.
Kingsland High Street was brought to a standstill as police blocked off the A10 at Dalston Junction and buses were put on diversion.
Footage circulating on social media, believed to be taken from the CCTV in the Yours Locally shop in Haggerston, shows Mr Charles struggling in an officer’s grip before apparently being pushed to the ground, held down by a second man, and handcuffed over the course of two minutes.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is investigating officers’ role in the events, said cops had been chasing a car in Kingsland Road at 1.45am in which Mr Charles was a passenger. He reportedly ran into the shop and tried to swallow something.
An object was removed from his throat at the scene, investigators say, and he died at the Royal London Hospital soon after.
Janette Collins from The Crib youth club told the crowd it was important to have a peaceful march.
She said: “I was here for the Colin Roach march in the ’70s, and we are trying to progress.
“What this has done to our society, not just with Rashan but the other young man in Newham [Edson Da Costa, who died on June 15 after being detained by police in Beckton] is it has taken us back to the ’70s. We need to stand together as a community. No matter what race, creed or colour you are.”
But not everyone agreed with her. “All of that, I believe, is nonsense,” said the next speaker.
“Let the youths speak. All these youths are going to get chased around and they are going to get arrested, so are we going to stand around and wait until it gets like America, or are we going to do something now? I’m not saying we should riot but the youth here are sad.”
Another man added: “We’ve got to stand up to racism and we’ve got to be organised. I’m sick and tired of watching those families cry.”
As the crowd marched back down the road to the Yours Locally shop, campaigner Jermain Jackman told the Gazette: “I was going to speak but it was too hostile. There are a lot of angry people.”
Mr Jackman, a former winner of The Voice, added: “Not many people understand the deep roots to this anger, and why people are so angry. People look at the symptoms of the anger and people saying they want to trash the police station or murder police officers, but we need to look past the symptoms and ask why people are so angry.
“What has the black community gone through time and time again to be so angry?
“I feel angry. But I’ve always been a person that expresses myself through song and higher aspiration to make change. A lot of people are like: ‘I want to trash the community’.”
Much of the crowd dispersed after a few speeches at the Yours Locally shop, just north of the junction with Middleton Road.
But a few people stayed on to try to block the road to traffic, and there were several calls to “shut down the city”.
The crowd became angry and started shouting and throwing glass bottles at eight policemen who turned up on motorbikes.
Crowds outside Stoke Newington police station set fire to bins in the road.
Cllr Mete Coban, who was also on the march, said many of his friends have been angry about the CCTV, but he urged everyone to remain calm.
“We should channel all of our energy and efforts to call for a robust and transparent investigation, in order to achieve justice for Rashan and to support his family,” he said.