The Metropolitan Police Service has today, Friday, 31 July, imposed conditions on groups attending demonstrations in Brixton on Saturday, 1 August.
Numerous groups have advertised their intention to gather in Brixton on Saturday for Afrikan Emancipation Day, primarily to enjoy a family-friendly, socially distanced day of activities and learning. Officers have been, and will continue to engage with those who are involved with organising this event.
Some of those attending however have said that they intend to try and block the A23 – the primary road running through Brixton.
This is something that the Metropolitan Police Service and partners believe would cause serious disruption to the communities of Brixton and the surrounding areas. This is part of a significant road network connecting south London and is used by hundreds of bus routes and thousands of other road users.
The large diversions that would be required to accommodate this disruption would have a major impact on local residents and businesses. It is for this reason that the following conditions have been imposed.
1. Within Max Roach Park, SW9, not incurring onto Villa Road, Brixton Road, St Johns Crescent or Wiltshire Road or any adjacent footway or highway.
2. The designated area outside Brixton Police Station, SW9, as defined on the provided map and not incurring onto the adjacent footway of Brixton Road, Gresham Road and Canterbury Crescent.
3. The area of Windrush Square confined to the area within the rectangular bollards including the grassed area, with no incursion onto Brixton Hill, Effra Road, Saltoun Road or Coldharbour Lane or any adjacent footway or highway.
4. Finally, those assembling in these designated sites must finish by 20:00hrs.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, in charge of the policing operation on Saturday, said: “The decision to impose conditions on an assembly is never taken lightly and is made following a vigorous assessment of the information available to us.
“We have no intention of infringing upon a responsibly-organised community event. We only require that this is done in a way that makes use of Brixton’s open spaces and leaves the main road through Brixton open to other Londoners.”
A further condition requires that those assembling in the designated areas finish no later than 20:00hrs on Saturday, 1 August. This is in line with the time that organisers expect the event to finish. Putting a clear condition on the end time allows police to differentiate from those who are attending the Afrikan Emancipation Day and others who may be attending these open spaces for the purposes of another gathering, or for an unlicensed music event (UME), the like of which we have seen in past weeks.
Deputy Assistant Commissioner Laurence Taylor, added: “In recent weeks we have policed a number of UMEs in which loud music is played at night, disrupting local residents and posing a real threat both to property and the officers who attend to disperse them.
“We have received information that there are those intending to come to Brixton on Saturday to purposely cause disruption, and to confront police officers. This is in stark contrast to the feel of the events that will take place earlier in the day and is in opposition to the wishes of the local community. As such, officers will be in Brixton throughout the day with the aim of preventing any disorder, but also stand ready to respond should there be anti-social behaviour or disorder.”
It must also be remembered that gatherings of over 30 people will be in Breach of the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (England) Regulations 2020. Gathering in large numbers puts those groups and others at risk. The decision to impose conditions under the Public Order Act 1986 does not mean that the assembly in breach of these regulations is authorised by the police.
Anyone with information on an unlicensed music event should report this to police. If you know where one is occurring, please contact the Met by dialling 101 or by Tweeting @MetCC.
Cllr Jacqui Dyer, Lambeth’s Cabinet Member for Jobs, Skills and Community Safety, said: “Planned events in Brixton this weekend could put our residents at risk, at a time when we are in the middle of an unprecedented global pandemic, which is hitting Lambeth communities hard.
“People must protect themselves and this community by wearing face coverings and maintaining social distancing at all times, regardless of what events are taking place. While the right to protest must be respected and Lambeth council supports action to address racial injustice and inequality, now is not the right time to have large scale public gatherings. We must put the safety of our residents first."