On Saturday 25 April thousands came out onto the streets of Brixton to oppose the increasing gentrification of the area. When they later protested police violence outside Brixton police station they were attacked with CS spray - a dangerous weapon which has in the past proved lethal.
The clamping down of social and educational spaces such as libraries, colleges and venues; the on-going policy of social cleansing of working-class communities like the Aylesbury estate; and the encroaching infiltration of big corporations at the expense of local businesses, have all been a part of what has incensed locals to stand up and ‘reclaim’ their area. A day of celebration, dancing, protesting and unity amongst a massively diverse community: the turnout was tremendous.
However, the narrative that has come out in certain sectors of the media has been absolutely in contradiction with the day itself. A peaceful occupation of the town hall was met with brute force from police officers blocking local residents entering their own town hall. Dancing peacefully on the streets to music was met with two arrests, repeated police violence, attempts at kettling and the confiscation of a protestor’s stereo. Protesting the violence of the police outside Brixton police station – where Sean Rigg was murdered in 2008- was met with CS spray injuring several protestors.
CS spray is a lethal weapon whose first victim Ibrahima Sey was killed within two weeks of trials being introduced in the UK in 1986, and which between 2000-2012 contributed to 12 of 323 deaths in state custody according to the recent IRR report “Dying for Justice”.
Despite all this, certain sections of the media decide to pose the question on the terms of the ‘violent protestor’ appearing far more concerned with the small matter of a broken window at Foxton’s estate agents (which reported pre-tax profits of £42.1m earlier this year) than the deployment of potentially lethal weapons by Brixton police.
Our response should be building solidarity with any arrested or injured protestors and supporting the ‘reclaim Brixton’ movement in its future actions. We also encourage people to support the Sean Rigg Justice and Change Campaign and on-going organising against Operation Shield and stop and search (see LCAPSV for more details).
Are you a witness? Do you need support? If you witnessed police violence or arrests or sustained injuries get in touch with Green and Black Cross on 07946 541511 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Defend the Right to Protest is gathering people’s experiences of policing of protests - if you are happy to share please email us email@example.com