A group of youths in hoodies gathered around the shop where 20-year-old Charles was apprehended before being pronounced dead at a hospital shortly afterwards.
Demonstrators attempted to block Kingsland Road in the London Borough of Hackney, erecting barricades from trash, cones, and dustbins. As riot police arrived at the scene to disperse the crowd, they were targeted with fireworks, bottles, and Molotov cocktails.
At one point, a truck rammed through a barricade, dragging a dustbin with a protester on top. The truck did not stop moving even as one of the protesters climbed on the roof of the vehicle and several others were hanging on the door.
It is unclear how many people turned up, with witnesses on social media reporting that there were no more than several dozen protesters. An owner of a local restaurant, Ferhat Dirik, told the Independent that he saw about 60 “youths of mixed ethnicity, wearing hoods and balaclavas” scuffling with police.
The protest drew mixed reactions on social media, with some people expressing support for the police and denouncing the protesters for standing up for Charles, who died under unclear circumstances. Although the official cause of death is still under investigation, there is speculation that Charles might have swallowed a lethal dose of narcotics during his arrest.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC), which is leading the investigation into his death, stated earlier that it had obtained evidence “which indicates an object was removed from his throat at the scene.”
In a statement circulated by the Metropolitan Police on Thursday, the family said they are “determined to get answers to how and why this fatality occurred.”
“We will achieve this by acting within the law, and ensure there is individual and organizations accountability,” they said.
The officers who handled the arrest insist they used force against the man in order to protect him from harming himself.