Footage has emerged of an incident that took place in Brixton last night involving Metropolitan Police officers, Trading Standards officers, and a trader claiming to be running a charitable books initiative.
In the video, the man states that the law allows him to impart information without interference from a public authority. He can be heard saying "We showed you the charity papers to show we're not selling anything."
An officer accuses the man of "making profit" from the books, at which point he asks the gathering crowd: "Has anybody bought a book from us," to cries of "no". The officer then asks if anyone has donated money – after the crowd answers, he says "somebody said yes," whereupon the man waves an empty donation tin at him.
The officer suggests he should give away the books for free. The man asks the crowd if he has already been doing this, and the crowd responds "yes". The officer asks to see the man's identification. The man repeats an earlier point he has made to them: "If the socialist newspaper can be out here, then we can be out here."
A voice in the crowd calls out: "No one's selling books... people pick them up and put them down."
A little after this, a skirmish begins to break out between a policeman and a member of the crowd. The man is restrained by officers, and one of them appears to strike his arm in the process. Another officer appears to deploy CS spray on a crowd member.
People have been discussing the incident using the hashtag #BrixtonBooks on Twitter. There have been calls for a protest outside Brixton police station today on social media, with people being urged to bring books along to it.
In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said:
On the evening of Thursday, 1 September, representatives from Lambeth Council's Trading Standards and Lambeth Police Community Support Officers were carrying out work targeting a number of unlicensed traders operating in the vicinity of Brixton tube station.
At approximately 17:30hrs, police were called to assist following a dispute involving a trader that had escalated.
Plain clothes officers from the Met and British Transport Police (BTP) were already in the area conducting an unrelated, pre-planned operation targeting those involved in criminality in and around Brixton tube station. They attended the scene along with uniformed officers from BTP.
CS spray was deployed by one of the uniformed BTP officers.
Two men were subsequently arrested for obstruction - they remain in custody.
Due to the large number of people who had gathered at the location, further officers attended the scene to manage the crowd.
There was one further arrest for a public order offence.
Senior officers from Lambeth have reviewed the incident in conjunction with officials at Lambeth Council.
Alan White is a news editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.
Contact Alan White at email@example.com.
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