London News & Search
Violence has erupted in east London at an angry protest over the death of Rashan Charles, who died after being chased by police.
A large gang of protesters – around 40 of whom had their faces covered – clashed with riot police as tensions came to a head in Dalston on Friday night.
The group of masked demonstrators blocked busy Kingsland Road before hurling bottles, stones and other objects at police and starting a fire in the middle of the road.
Riot police and horses were drafted in and seen rushing into the violence in an attempt to bring it under control.
Restaurants and bars also pulled down their shutters, locking customers inside.
Rashan Charles, 20, was chased into a shop by officers in Dalston on Saturday night. He was restrained on the floor and later died after apparently swallowing an object and being “taken ill”.
The police watchdog, the Independent Police Complaints Commission, has since launched a probe into his death.
Motorists driving along Kingsland Road told how they were unable to get through the makeshift blockade – made from traffic cones, wheelie bins and rubbish bags – as they were “cornered” in their cars by groups of protesters.
Around 80 people began gathering outside the shop, Yours Locally, at around 4pm on Friday.
Shortly afterwards, 15 police riot vans arrived at the scene. By 6pm, protesters had managed to push back the line of officers three times, passers-by said.
A helicopter circled overhead as people at the scene reported the street being “covered in glass”.
One passer-by told the Standard: “It’s really kicking off.
“There’s lots of police here, about 10 to 15 riot vans. Maybe 50 or 60 bottles or other missiles have been thrown.
“The police line is being slowly pushed back by the protesters. There’s lots of very angry people.”
Hours later, at around 10pm, a lorry was seen driving through the barricade, hitting a line of wheelie bins in its path.
Protesters jumped onto the vehicle, clinging to the window, while one sat on a bin which was pushed along by the lorry.
A man clambered onto the roof of the vehicle but it continued to drive as people continued to throw bottles.
Several other wheelie bins and a mattress were set alight in a burning pile in the middle of the road.
Earlier in the evening, one witness said they saw the group of people with their “faces covered” making a barrier across the road out of discarded bin bags full of rubbish, traffic cones and a wheelie bin.
“It looks like something serious could be happening,” one passer-by said. “A lot of kids moving towards the area where this barrier has been built.”
One woman from east London told the Standard the young people were “intimidating drivers”.
The Dalston resident, who wished not to be named, said: “A huge group of youths are blocking the road off with cones.
“They are telling drivers they are not allowed through the blockade.
“I ended up driving right through it as I was cornered in the car and didn’t want to u-turn as two groups of gang members appeared on either side of my car which frightened me.
“Straight ahead was a better option. Helicopter is now overhead and traffic is at a standstill. Mopeds are in road and masks are on their faces.”
A spokesman for the Met Police told the Standard their officers were on the scene and are “continuing to monitor the situation”.
The family of Rashan Charles tonight reiterated their plea for no violence.
In a statement which was recirculated today, the family said: “We appreciate all support, but any hostile actions or other events, at this stage, that may risk detracting from our current co-operative engagement with the IPCC and Met Police is unwelcome.”
It added: “We are speaking and meeting directly with the independent investigators, allowing reasonable time for meaningful progress”.
Earlier this week protesters brought traffic to a standstill at Stoke Newington police station at a #justiceforRash rally.
More than 150 people marched to the police station in fury after people said they had been left “concerned and angry” at the death of 20-year-old Mr Charles.
CCTV obtained by the Standard shows Mr Charles, known as Rash, putting his hand to his mouth as he runs into the shop, at around 1.45am.
The images then show him being grabbed by the officer who wrestles him to the floor, with the pair struggling for at least a minute.
Tributes were paid to “great father” Mr Charles, with friends leaving flowers and candles at the scene.
He was described as “a really good guy” who was “close to all his family and close to all his friends”.
Merdan Uckac, 18, whose family run the barbers next to the shop where Mr Charles was detained, said: “My friend did not deserve to die like this.
“He was a great father and is well-known in the area. He was always coming into the barbers and chatting to us. He wouldn’t have ever hurt anyone, so that’s why we are all so upset.”
London News & Search