Brixton street party: 22 police officers injured after gathering erupts into chaos

Four arrests have been made, the Met Police said

Matt Mathers
Thursday 25 June 2020 10:29
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Lockdown-busting street party erupts into chaos in Brixton

Home secretary Priti Patel has condemned the “vile scenes” at a street party in Brixton that descended into chaos and violence, resulting in more than 20 police officers getting injured.

Hundreds of residents defied lockdown rules to attend a “block party” near Cecilia Road, Lambeth, on the hottest day of the year so far.

Footage shared widely on social media shows large crowds gathering near Angell Town, south London, at around 7pm.

The crowds appeared to be in good spirits early in the evening although video shared later online shows disorder and violent clashes with police.

Video posted to Snapchat shows a police car being smashed while officers can be seen being chased down a street.

One clip shows bottles being hurled at officers while in another a member of the public can be seen bleeding from the face following clashes with others present.

One witness, who did not want to be named, told the PA news agency: “After the police backed up, the group of people then forced the police out of the estate, throwing things at the police, smashed up a police car that they abandoned and then it moved more towards the main road. [sic]”

A bus driver named Michael, who lives on Overton Road and did not want to give his second name, said it was “very upsetting” that the violence happened in his area.

“The whole thing should have been shut down earlier,” he said.

“People who live here are not the culprits, it’s those damn fools from different areas that come down to tarnish the works and efforts that have been put into the area by the estate management.”

The Met Police said that 22 officers were injured during clashes, with two requiring hospital treatment. None were seriously hurt, the force added. A small number of police vehicles were damaged.

But Ken Marsh, chairman of the Metropolitan Police Federation, which represents rank-and-file officers, said nearly 30 of his colleagues were hurt, including “walking wounded”, and described the incident as “absolutely shocking”.

“It’s a very, very difficult situation that my colleagues are faced with, with an unlawful event taking place and upon arrival, they are met with hostility from the off,” he said.

“No one expects this level of violence and hostility to just erupt at the speed it does towards police. It’s horrendous.

“We are rufty-tufty and can deal with violent disorder but it’s not pleasant and it’s not nice to have to go somewhere where someone wants to try and kill you.”

Mr Marsh also expressed concerns about further large gatherings as lockdown is further eased – and pubs reopen – on 4 July.

He said: “It’s very concerning for us because the weather is warm and people have been unable to gather for a long, long time. My concerns are obviously as we move towards 4 July, how the public are going to respond to that, because ultimately it always seems to fall on the police’s shoulders to deal with everything.

“I would say to everybody, there is no place in society for disorder and wanting to cause violence and pain and grief towards public and police alike.”

A spokesperson for the Met said that officers were called to the scene on Wednesday evening to reports of a large unlicensed street party.

They tried to encourage the crowd to leave as large gatherings are not allowed due to the coronavirus lockdown, but “they did not engage with police”.

More officers then attended the scene and the group became “hostile” before a dispersal zone order was issued.

Four people were arrested for assault and public order offences and remain in police custody. The crowd eventually left in the early hours of Thursday and police are now carrying out stop and search orders in the area “to prevent violence”, the statement added.

Home secretary Priti Patel condemned the violence, adding she would be speaking to the Met Commissioner Cressida Dick “immediately”.

“These are utterly vile scenes,” Patel wrote on Twitter. “Just last weekend, the whole country came together to praise our heroic police officers for putting their own lives on the line to keep us safe.

“I’ll be picking up with the met commissioner immediately.”

London mayor Sadiq Khan said: “I’m in touch with the Met Police about the completely unacceptable events in Brixton overnight.

“Violence against the police will not be tolerated. Large gatherings during Covid-19 are deeply irresponsible and risk others’ lives.”

Police Commander Colin Wingrove said: “Our role is to protect the public and ensure guidelines are adhered to in order to prevent the spread of Covid-19, protecting the NHS and save lives.

“Our officers work incredibly hard to engage and explain the public health message and regulations to prevent such gatherings occurring. Last night we received numerous concerns from residents complaining about a large gathering, noise, anti-social behaviour and violence and officers responded to those concerns.

“These gatherings are unlawful, as well as posing a risk to public health and against coronavirus restrictions. The violence shown towards officers is totally unacceptable and we will not tolerate it in any form.”

Asked about the events in Brixton, prime minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said: “These are appalling scenes. Violence against the police will not be tolerated.

“We have been clear that anybody who assaults the police or our emergency services workers who help keep us safe should feel the full force of the law.

“We will shortly be launching a consultation on doubling the maximum sentence for assaulting an emergency worker.”

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