Police are investigating an incident at a hair products shop in south London where a video posted online apparently showed a black female customer being grabbed by the throat by a man attempting to restrain her.
The Metropolitan police said they were investigating the incident after being called out to the shop in Peckham on Monday, and appealed for calm after protesters gathered outside the store on Tuesday.
“We know people will be concerned about a video circulating online of an incident in a shop,” said Det Ch Supt Seb Adjei-Addoh, the local policing commander for Southwark.
The video apparently shows a man physically restraining a woman from behind. After she swings her basket towards him in an apparent attempt to free herself, he appears to grab her by the throat.
As tensions rose on Tuesday the mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I know Londoners are concerned by the recent events in a shop in Peckham. I’m in touch with the Met police and am urgently seeking further information.”
And the Runnymede Trust, which focuses on racial justice and equality, said: “We’re absolutely horrified by the recent incident at Peckham Hair and Cosmetics. We must work to root out the violence against black women, which is so normalised in our society.”
Adjei-Addoh said: “Our officers attended on Monday and continue to investigate the full circumstances of what has taken place. The investigation will include reviewing the actions of everyone involved. I would like to thank people in our local community for remaining calm and giving us the time to conduct a thorough investigation.”
Police said they were called shortly after 1pm. “It was reported that a 31-year-old woman attempted to steal items and an employee prevented her from leaving. The woman was also accused of assault. She was arrested on suspicion of assault and later bailed pending further inquiries.”
The man in the video has not been arrested, though police stressed the investigation was ongoing.
Protesters outside the shop on Tuesday demanded its closure. Police said: “We are aware of a protest outside the shop and officers are in touch with the organisers. We appeal for people to remain calm while we carry out a full investigation.”
According to the MyLondon news website, the video was recorded by Edilenny Douteo, 18, who it quoted as saying: “I went to the shop to buy some products with my friend. And I saw the lady, they were shouting at each other from the beginning. She was asking for a refund and they told her that is not possible. So she went to the shop and she told them that, if you’re not gonna get my refund, I want to get what I’m supposed to get for my money.”
The news site reported that the man depicted in the video was the shop’s owner, Sohail Sindho. He told MyLondon he and the woman got into an argument over her request for a refund, and claimed he was assaulted first.
The incident comes shortly after several others in which members of the black community have said they have been mistreated by people in positions of power or authority.
In July, footage emerged of a woman being handcuffed by two male Met officers in front of her child, who was distressed and crying. It turned out the woman was falsely accused of not paying her bus fare.
Last December, a woman said her two teenage sons were treated with disproportionate force because they were black, when they were arrested after one forgot his travel card. The brothers, aged 13 and 15, were making their way to school when they were stopped by rail staff because the younger boy did not have an Oyster card with him.
Footage of the incident that circulated online showed the 15-year-old being held against the wall by several rail staff, while – according to other reports – an officer had held him by the neck.