In the early hours of Sunday morning a young man died after being chased by police. Officers apprehended 20-year-old Rashan Charles in a shop on Kingsland Road, east London, where CCTV video shows he was held to the ground by officers for a couple of minutes, before becoming motionless.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said Charles was seen "trying to swallow an object" and that an officer "sought to prevent the man from harming himself", but that he became ill and was taken by ambulance to the Royal London Hospital. The IPCC opened an investigation shortly after, and have since tweeted: "We are making good progress, building a full picture of what happened and why."
Of course, a cheerful tweet isn't going to quell the anger felt by Charles' family and friends, or members of the local community, who came out in force yesterday to protest his death, marching peacefully from Stoke Newington police station to the scene of his arrest, where crowds listened to speeches about police brutality and chanted, "No justice, no peace" as uniformed officers looked on.
Photographer Chris Bethell went down to capture the events and speak to some of the protesters.
"Unfortunately, the people who have been arrested – the perpetrators, or suspects, of crime – can do absolutely nothing about being hurt in police custody. I was reading a piece by Joseph Campbell about the idea of what a villain is and what a tyrant is. The people who make our laws are people who systematically encourage certain behaviours, and they're tyrants. The police themselves – the people who enforce those laws - are villains, because they themselves would say they aren't evil – the idea of Blue Lives Matter in the US, or this idea of police 'just doing their jobs'. But because the rules they enforce are systematically racist, sexist – when it comes to issues like rape – it makes them complicit, and we as a society are also complicit."
"I think we have to change the plan completely against the police. The family needs some sort of justice, for the police to be prosecuted, and not to create this negative stereotype of black men, implying that he had drugs on him. Even if he did have drugs on him, what about so many of the wealthy people who constantly have drugs on them? No one says anything about them, and no one does anything to them. It's double standards. It's been a month since [the death of] Edson Da Costa, and it's the same story. It's been six years since the murder of Mark Duggan. This is just a continuation."
Jayden and Tyrese
Jayden: Personally, I'm not sure what the plan is, but hopefully we'll get justice. [I'm helping by] coming out here and supporting the Black Lives Matter movement.
Tyrese: I hope they close down this fed station.
"They need to stop. Enough is enough. I have a 20-year-old girl – the same age as Rashan. It could be her tomorrow. They need to stop, because it's too much. It's not the first time this has happened to a child – and always a black child. It makes me sick; they don't reach 25. If you do something wrong – yeah, no problem, take them to jail, but not this. I hope this will be the last example, but I don't think it will be. It's too much. It's always black children; I've never seen a white child dying in the police's hands."
"Police officers should be held accountable for their actions. They're supposed to be the peace-keepers. But day by day, week by week, you see – not just here, across the board – police officers abusing their positions and not being held accountable for it. I mean, you kill someone, you get off with paid leave – what is that? It's almost like you've been rewarded for murder. It's double standards across the board, you know? Something that really pisses me off is that people will counter those who dislike the police with the response: 'You know not all police are bad?' Which is true. But the 'good' police officers are not standing against the others, so they're just as bad, if not worse. I feel like it goes deeper than race; a group of individuals have been given power and they forget why they're there, who put them there and what they're supposed to represent for the people. If you address that and make them remember that they're supposed to be symbols of protection, for the people – all people, regardless – I think that would go towards making change."
See more photos from the protest below: