Police slammed at East End rally over 'rough handling' arrests seen on YouTube
PUBLISHED: 01:39 30 October 2016 | UPDATED: 11:52 30 October 2016
Calls have been made for any charges to be dropped against Zakaria Hussain—the youth worker seen on Youtube being rough handled by police outside his youth club in London's East End.
The call came at a protest rally yesterday over two incidents involving police using “heavy tactics” to arrest young people in the street—including a 13-year-old girl involved in a minor playground dispute with another teenager.
Both incidents were caught on camera and posted on social media.
“Zak needs to be released from the burden of police bail and to be allowed to get on with his life,” Tower Hamlets mayor John Biggs told the rally at Whitechapel’s Altab Ali Park.
“The police acted in an overly-energetic fashion. People need to have confidence in the police—we can’t allow a situation where we have no confidence in the police.”
Zakaria, a 26-year-old law graduate with no blemish on his character, was arrested outside Stepney’s Arbour youth centre on October 8.
Just days earlier, 13-year-old Katelynn Murphy King was being handcuffed and put into a police car over a row she had with another girl outside Wapping High School.
The Independent Police Complaints Commission is examining separate videos of both incidents, showing Zak being grabbed by the head and Katelynn being dragged in a headlock across the pavement, which went viral on YouTube.
Katelynn’s grandparents Joanne Whittaker and John McDonagh were at yesterday’s rally.
Joanne told the East London Advertiser: “I was really angry when I saw the video and couldn’t understand why a grown man treated a girl of 13 the way he did—both her knees were swollen, bleeding and bruised, with marks on her back, neck and elbows.
“It was only a squabble between two schoolgirls, no physical contact. The police officers must have thought they were struggling with a grown man with a weapon, or were in America or in a movie.”
Katelynn’s grandfather was “appalled” to see the video of her being rough handled by two officers. It was like his past had come back on him—he was subject to “police brutality” at 16 when he was coshed over the head, he told the rally, but had nothing to do with the incident they were called to.
The rally was used to launch a petition to be handed to the Home Secretary calling for an end to violent manhandling of young people, suspension of the officers involved in the arrests of Zak and schoolgirl Katelynn, suspension of the Met’s Tower Hamlets Borough Commander Sue Williams and an independent public inquiry into both incidents.
Petition organiser Sheila McGregor, former school-teacher who convenes the East End’s ‘Stand Up to Racism’ campaign, said: “I thought when I saw the video ‘thank goodness the police weren’t armed’—people would be shot.
“The young girl was dragged across the pavement in an arm-lock—that behaviour is not acceptable. The officers responsible should be automatically suspended.”
Borough Commander Williams faced public criticism at a Neighbourhood board meeting earlier this month. Yesterday’s rally brought further condemnation from all political parties on the local authority.
Independent councillor Rabina Khan said: “We want the police and the Borough Commander to drop any charges, which cannot stand in the light of what we saw in the video of Zak—the images on Youtube show he was brutalised by the police.
“That is not the kind of policing we want anywhere in London or Britain.”
The rally called for “justice for Zak and justice for Kateland and justice for all”. Protesters demanded that police “earn the community’s respect”.