On Monday, September 8, a Black woman was assaulted in Peckham Hair and Cosmetics by the shop’s owner, Sohail Sindho. Later that day, a bystander who recorded a video of the altercation posted it on social media, where it went viral. The recording showed Sindho choking the woman who attempted to take replacement items from the shop after being denied a refund.
Her dehumanisation didn’t stop there. On Wednesday morning (September 10), she was arrested on suspicion of assault, while the shop owner was interviewed under caution over the incident and is reportedly facing no charges. The 31-year-old woman has now been bailed pending further inquiries.
Regardless of whether the woman in question was stealing or not, there’s no justification for Sindho’s violence. This was an act of violence that could have killed her, the same way it has historically killed countless other Black people.
The incident has prompted protests outside of Peckham Hair and Cosmetics by community group Forever Family, with support from UK domestic abuse charity Sistah Space. On Tuesday this week, protesters gathered on Rye Lane holding placards that read: “Keep your hands off Black women” and “Stop the violence against women”. Many Black people are now calling for those in their community to stop spending their money in non-Black-owned hair shops.
Cleopatra Thompson, a singer and visual artist, who was at the protest on Tuesday, told Time Out that she’s been made to feel unsafe in Asian-owned beauty stores: “I’ve been followed around and watched like a hawk in these shops in South London.” She continued: “I don’t want to spend a minute or a penny more in these shops that don’t respect me.” As a result, Thompson brought a placard to the protest that listed different Black-owned hair shops for people to support, such as Essence of Nature in Sydenham and Hair Glo in Bromley.
In February of this year, The Black Pound Report found that consumers from multi-ethnic backgrounds spend 25 per cent more on health and beauty products than any other consumer. Additionally, Black women spend almost six times more than white women on hair and beauty. In an industry that literally survives on the Black Pound, we must take a stand against beauty shops that engage in anti-Blackness and racist violence and reinvest that money within our own communities.
Currently, Peckham Hair and Cosmetics is covered with posters from protesters demanding that they close down immediately. Further protests will commence on Saturday, September 16, directly outside the beauty shop.
If you want to support Black-owned hair shops in the UK, you can find a list of them here.