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London protests erupt over death of Rashan Charles

Anger spills into the streets after 20-year-old Rashan Charles, a black father, died having been forcefully pinned down.

Rashan Charles

Protesters angry over the death of a young black father after he was restrained by an officer have faced off with riot police in east London.

Clashes erupted on the streets of Hackney late on Friday, as police on horseback armed with batons tried to disperse the protesters, some of whom held "Black Lives Matter" placards.

Authorities are investigating the events that preceded the death of 20-year-old Rashan Charles.

He died in a London hospital on July 22, shortly after he was tackled to the floor and apprehended by a white officer in a small grocery shop.

A member of the public joined that officer in forcefully pinning Charles to the floor.

The moment Charles was restrained was caught on CCTV camera and has been shared widely on social media.

Friday's clashes were reminiscent of an uprising in England in 2011, which saw public anger explode on the streets following the death of a British black man, Mark Duggan, at the hands of police.

Protesters lit mattresses on fire and smashed shopfronts of some local businesses. Some threw bottles at police.

A police spokeswoman said she could not immediately confirm the number of arrests.

Meanwhile, Charles' family has set up a GoFundMe page that has so far collected more than $1,700, all of which is going towards funeral costs.

"The family are in need of practical support in order to bury their loved one and pay the costs that they need in order to get #Justice4Rash, their son, for the brutal and unjust way he was slain," the fundraiser page says. 

In a Facebook page managed by the family, "Justice For Rashan", relatives called for calm.

"Be assured we are determined to get answers as to how and why this fatality happened," a statement posted on Thursday read. "We will use every lawful method available to achieve these ends."


Following Charles' death, besides street protests, anger has erupted on social media with many demanding action from authorities.

Twitter hashtags #Justiceforrash and #blacklivesmatter have been trending, with pictures and videos of the protests, as well as tributes for the young victim.

But some backed the police's version of events that Charles died after the officer in the video fought to stop him from swallowing an object.

The government-funded Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) said it would investigate the case "thoroughly and rigorously".

"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," the IPCC said in a statement.

Charles' death comes less than one month after Edson Da Costa, also a young black man and father, died in police custody.

In June, protesters gathered outside London's Stratford bus station and Forest Gate police station to decry the death of the 25-year-old, who they say was "brutally beaten" by officers.

Da Costa died on 21 June, six days after being stopped in a car in Woodcocks, Beckton, in Newham, east London.

The IPCC claimed that a number of packages were removed from Edson's throat.

But campaigners said he suffered serious injuries to his head and neck after he was stopped.

The IPCC said a post-mortem into Da Costa's death revealed no signs of neck or spinal injuries but the investigation continues as the cause of death is yet to be established.

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