Rashan Charles protest: Riot police called to Dalston as fireworks and bottles launched at officers

Eyewitnesses see youths throwing Molotov cocktails at police officers

Will Worley
Friday 28 July 2017 22:48
Rashan Charles protest: Riot police called to Dalston as bins are set alight

A riot broke out in east London on Friday night after a protest over the death of Rashan Charles descended into violence.

Molotov cocktails, fireworks and bottles were hurled at police officers in Dalston, east London, and rudimentary road blocks were made and set on fire.

Shop windows were smashed and graffiti was painted on buildings, and late-night businesses were forced to close their doors.

Ferhat Dirik, who runs the Mangal 2 restaurant in Dalston, told The Independent he saw youngsters throwing firebombs and was forced to lock customers inside.

Mr Dirik said he saw around 60 “youths of mixed ethnicity, wearing hoods and balaclavas".

“They had Molotov cocktails with them and threw them towards the riot police when the officers came towards them.

“Then they ran off down the side roads.

“I locked up the restaurant and told customers to leave out the back. They weren’t all scared but some were quite curious and worried.

“It reminded me of the [2011] London riots because of the demographics of the people involved.”

Images from the scene showed police officers in riot gear with batons and shields on the street.

Police horses were also seen galloping in the direction of the disturbances. Dog units were also present.

The protest was pre-organised and a Metropolitan Police spokesman said there was a plan in place in the event of any disorder. A spokesman was unable on Friday night to say if there had been any arrests or injuries.

Towards midnight, the demonstrators began to disperse but police officers remained at the scene, which is also a popular nightlife area.

Earlier in the evening, when smaller episodes of disorder broke out, a Hackney Met Police Twitter account said: "Officers have been subjected to abuse and violence.

"Whatever the frustrations, this is patently NOT what the family of Rashan Charles wanted."

Mr Charles, known to his friends as Rash, died after being chased and detained by police officers in Dalston last Saturday.

CCTV footage posted online showed Mr Charles being tackled by a police officer in a shop, after he was allegedly seen "trying to swallow an object".

A struggle ensued on the ground, with another officer joined in. Mr Charles subsequently became ill and died shortly afterwards.

Since then, the local community has demanded answers from the authorities over the death but his family have asked people to refrain from violence or disorder.

Another protest is due outside Stoke Newington Police station on Saturday afternoon.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission is now investigating and released a statement on Friday.

It said: "We understand the concerns raised following Rashan's death.

"We will independently examine the circumstances of this incident, we will follow the evidence, we will consider whether there is an indication there may have been misconduct or criminality, and we will seek to answer the questions that Rashan's family and the community of Hackney understandably have."

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