September 22, 2023

The video shows the woman being detained by the male shopkeeper (Photo: Screengrab)

The Met Police have interviewed a 45-year-old man under caution after a video of a woman being restrained by a male shopkeeper went viral.

Following the video’s circulation, hundreds of people gathered for an organised protest outside Peckham Hair and Cosmetics in Rye Lane on Tuesday (12 September), where the woman had been accused of shoplifting. Residents of Peckham have been urged to maintain calm.

In the video – which has been viewed more than a million times – a woman inside the shop appears to be seized by a larger man. In her struggle, she throws a shopping basket at the man, breaking it. The woman is then held by her arms and neck by the man.

Speaking after the incident but before the demonstration, the shopkeeper said that the video had been viewed “out of context”, and claimed the woman had become hostile after being denied a refund on items she had previously purchased.

“We do not give refunds,” he told the BBC, “we exchange items or give a credit note. So she grabbed some stuff [three packs of hair with a total value of £24] from the shelf and tried to leave. She was leaving and I was stopping her.

“I was stopping her. She slapped me in the face and grabbed a shopping basket and hit me on the head. I don’t know when my hand goes around her neck. I was keeping her neutralised. I did not hit her. The video was cropped. People are acting at the half truth”.

Police said a woman was arrested on suspicion of assault and later bailed. Sistah Space, a charity that aids women of African and Caribbean descent, criticised the police for detaining the woman.

The group told Sky News: “What we all saw in that video was traumatic. People do not understand how triggering this is to watch, much less to experience.

This black woman was attacked and there is no excuse for it, to add insult to injury she was arrested and the perpetrator was left alone at the scene of the crime. She has been failed by the police and violently attacked by a criminal with no accountability.”

Chants such as “you touch one, you touch all” rippled through the protesting crowd on Tuesday evening, with several attendees holding placards aloft with slogans like, “Keep your hands off black women.” Buses and traffic were briefly stopped while people stood in the street and chanted, occasionally sitting in the road.

Around 15 police officers were on hand to diffuse any tensions; while the protest was largely peaceful, several demonstrators were seen kicking at the storefront, which had been boarded-up for safety’s sake.

Simone Goodys, who took part in the demonstration, expressed her disbelief and rage after viewing the trending video to the BBC. “It made me feel scared, and I was shocked as well because I come in this shop all the time,” she said.

“This shop is targeted at black women. They sell all stuff for black women. We’re the ones who come here and buy their stuff, but they don’t respect us. They have no right to treat people like that.”

Both the LondonMayor and the Metropolitan Police have advised residents to maintain their composure in the wake of the video. The Met has said that “the full circumstances” of the incident will be the subject of an investigation.