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What did that man do to you?

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What did that man do to you?

Earlier today, we joined D's friends and campaigners from London Coalition Against Police and State Violence in a protest outside Camberwell Magistrates Court.

Earlier today, we joined the campaigners from LCAPSV and other groups outside Camberwell Magistrates Court, where the preliminary hearing for D, a Brixton resident charged with 'assaulting a police officer', was taking place.

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A group of us stood outside the court, with banners, giving out leaflets to and talking with passers-by. Minutes after we arrived, two police officers 'casually' strolled over to ask what we were doing, asking to speak to the organiser of the protest, then a spokesperson, wanting to know how many people were likely to join in, so that they could assess whether they needed additional support, informed us that, although of course we had a right to a peaceful protest, we were not to disrupt the court proceedings. One of them wasn't too happy about the 'London against police violence' banner.

This attempt at intimidation aside, the solidarity protest went well. At some point, we chanted 'We will not be silent! End police violence!' A couple of people who were also in court today told us of their own, equally disturbing experiences of being on the receiving end of the police 'justice'. Some of the women campaigners (who 'happen to be black') had also, in the past, been arrested and charged with 'assaulting' a police officer three times their size.

When D eventually came out of the court, he informed all of us that his charges of 'assaulting a police officer' had been reduced to 'obstructing a police officer'. The next hearing is to take place on 22nd July at Inner London Crown Court.

What D is 'guilty' of:

A few weeks back, D, a black Brixton man, was driving down a road when he noticed his uncle, stopped his car briefly to say sorry for not being able to visit him when he was meant to. He had noticed a police car behind him, in his mirror, noticed the police car do a U-turn but did not pay much attention to it. He started his car again, down Coldharbour Lane, then turned right and stopped the car. The police officers came over and asked 'What did that man do to you?' D was confused, not sure what they were asking let alone why they were asking him that. 'What did that man do to you?' a police officer repeated. D then wondered if the reason they were asking him was because they were concerned for his safety, in which case they could have intervened much sooner, when the alleged 'doing' was actually happening. The police officer, assuming a drug deal took place, asked for confirmation. At the same time, another police officer was trying to pull D's cousin, sitting in a back seat, out of the car. D got annoyed, put his mobile on the top of the car and did his best to peacefully prevent a police officer from grabbing hold of his arm. At some point, when he realised how aggressive the police were being, he lay down onto the pavement with his hands outstretched so they could handcuff him if they wanted to. One police officer knealt down on him, his knee in D's back, while another or even more than one kicked him in his ribs, legs and arms. Throughout all this, none of the six or seven police officers present ever said anything about why they had stopped him, why they were questioning him, let alone what D's rights may be.

He was held at the Brixton police station for almost 24 hours, suffering with a cracked rib, strip-searched (no drugs were found), released then charged with 'assaulting a police officer'.

The next hearing is to take place on 22nd July at the Inner London Crown Court. We will publish more detail as soon as it's available.

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