Community protest as Police lose CCTV evidence of unprovoked racist attack in Willesden - Report from Robin Sivapalan
At 5.20am on Sunday 9th June, 5 white men pulled up in a black luxury car near Willesden Bus Garage on the High Road and attacked two young men of African descent, who had just got off a bus from central London.
One managed to avoid being punched in the face and was separated from the other, who was punched to the ground and kicked repeatedly.
Three witnesses across the road shouted out and ran across to his defence; the men got into their car and drove off shouting. The victim was taken by the police to hospital with bruises under his eyes and later had a broken tooth removed. One of the witnesses, Robin Sivapalan, a local trade unionist met him later at Northwick Park hospital and brought him to his house to recover.
On chasing up the incident later that day with police at Wembley, Robin was informed that the case had not yet been allocated to an investigating officer, nor had it been logged as a racist attack. He stressed to the police officer that the assault could well have been far more damaging had there not been an intervention from the public, that the attackers posed a threat to all Black people - not just the particular victim in this case - and that this was possible backlash to the Woolwich incident.
Robin and the victim went to a local business where they were shown the CCTV footage which caught the entire attack, with the car, from two cameras and they informed the police that the evidence was available.
It took till Thursday for the police to call the victim, and the investigating officer failed to reply to any of the messages left by Robin. By the following Thursday the CCTV footage had been lost. The police had been told that they were welcome to collect the recording equipment themselves while the footage was still retrievable.
The police attended the business on Wednesday 19th and discovered one set of footage had been deleted. They only collected the recording equipment and called in witnesses after DS Williams had been informed by Robin that the second set of footage had also been lost and that he would take the matter further. On Tuesday 25th June the police issued an appeal for witnesses via the Kilburn Times providing the wrong time and location of the assault, with no mention that it was a racist attack.
The case has been brought to the attention of Aslam Choudry, Brent Council’s Lead member for Crime Prevention and Public Safety, also a councillor for Dudden Hill where the incident took place. He has raised it with the police Borough Commander Matthew Gardner and the Council Leader, Muhammad Butt.
Local residents in Brent are holding a picket at Wembley Police Station, 7pm, Thursday 27th June, calling for meeting with the Borough Commander that will provide accountability for this failure to act. A spokesperson for the residents says: “We don’t believe this is an isolated incident of hate crime in the area. At Brent Council’s commemoration of Lee Rigby, the Borough Commander proudly informed us that there had been no recorded incidents following Woolwich, yet we can see here how the police fail to treat these attacks as hate crimes and are happy to lose the evidence when it handed to them on a plate. With a spike in Islamophobic and racist attacks around the country, it is shocking that in a Borough where the majority of us could face such an attack, the police can display such complacency and disregard for our concerns. This is exactly the form of institutional racism that is in the media again this week, with the discovery of the police’s attempts to smear Stephen Lawrence’s family”.