76 arrested at Westfield shopping centre over “die-in” protest
Police have arrested 76 people after hundreds gathered to protest in solidarity with Eric Garner at a major London shopping centre.
Two “die-in” protests were held at the Westfield centre in Shepherd’s Bush on Wednesday evening, in a show of support to US demonstrations.
The peaceful demonstrations, located inside and outside the shopping complex, led to arrests when the crowd inside were asked to move outside. According to police, a number of these protesters left the main group of 600 and tried to re-enter the building.
In a statement, Scotland Yard said security staff were assaulted by the smaller group who also caused damage to property during the protest.
Chief Superintendent Mark Bird said: “We will always work with those who wish to demonstrate lawfully, as the majority of protesters did yesterday. However, we will not tolerate the small minority who offer violence or commit other criminal acts, such as that witnessed outside Westfield yesterday evening.”
One man was arrested on suspicion of assault and 75 were arrested on suspicion of public order offences.
The event had been held to denounce “the lack of consequences for Eric Garner’s murderer, as well as against the institutionalised racism of police in both the US and the UK, and the continued murders of black people that go unpunished”, according to the protest organisers.
The protest echoed those held across America, with people carrying signs declaring “Black lives matter” and chanting “I can’t breathe”, in tribute to 43-year-old Garner’s final pleas to US police at the scene of his death.
A Westfield spokesman said: “To ensure the safety of shoppers and retailers, and to allow the protest to pass peacefully, Westfield has provided a designated area for the protest outside Shepherd’s Bush station.”
The London Metropolitan police are currently investigating the incident.
Demonstrations against Garner’s death have been held across America and followed violent protests in the town of Ferguson, Missouri, following the shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.
Mr Garner died in July when he was restrained by a police officer in a chokehold after being stopped for selling untaxed cigarettes in New York.