AFRICANGLOBE – Two brothers behind a charity distributing empowering Black literature to young children were arrested recently while displaying their collection of books in Brixton, south London.
Police officers were heckled by spectators when they swarmed in on Sulaiman Lee and Leonegus (Leon) Darealest outside a local supermarket.
The pair from north London are two thirds of the trio behind Black Child Promotions, which aims to give children a positive view of their identity through books, were recently featured in the media for the positive work they do.
A number of bystanders took to Twitter to post footage and commentary on the incident slamming the police response as “excessive” and “unnecessary”.
Eye witness Tanika Trent Mcsherry told reporters: “I had stopped to look at the stall where a man was selling books outside Iceland. I have seen him many times before and I have often browsed his books, which are a mixture of Black history and other books. Nothing extremist.
She added: “He was approached firstly by someone who I think is a member of the council and asked to pack up otherwise it would be packed up for him. The man selling the books then produced his license proving he could be there but the council officer wouldn’t acknowledge it and then police arrived.”
Video footage of the incident shows Lee in discussion with what appears to be a plain-clothed police officer flanked by a uniformed officer as the two exchange words back and forth.
The verbal altercation escalated in a dramatic manner as “around 30 officers ran over and after a few minutes restrained him by holding his arms back,” Mcsherry said.
“One officer kicked him in the head (there is video proof of this) the man was fighting back but NOT with a weapon or his hands as his arms were being held. He was then pepper sprayed in the face and put on the ground where an officer had his arm around his neck.
“His friend was also arrested and taken away in a van I did not once see a knife as stated in another news article. I do not believe that the police acted correctly AT ALL. It was excessive force.”
Noel Kerr, the third brother who was not present, confirmed that his brother Leon had been released while Sulaiman remained in police custody.
“[Leon] is okay,” he said, “he’s just annoyed because he wants to come back but they’ve banned him from Lambeth as a condition of his bail.”
Kerr dismissed claims that either of his brothers had been involved in the alleged assault of a police officer or that they were in possession of any weapons.
“Sulaiman is not that character, he is the total opposite of what they’re trying to make him out to be. He is all about community and uplifting the community.”
The keen campaigner noted that the brothers had recently expanded their book service to include Brixton and until yesterday’s incident “everything has been fine”.
“We’ve used Article 10 of the Human Rights law before and they’ve left us alone but from what I’m hearing they came with intent. With a purpose to shut down everyone no matter what we said.”
A source close to the family raised concerns over Lee’s well-being, stressing that efforts made to ensure he receives medical attention has not been successful.
The source said: “Efforts to provide medical assistance have been resisted by the police who are making claims that he is acting in a nature that is contrary to his character and it is this that raises further concern. I have known Suleiman for 10 years now and have never seen him display signs of aggression and can speak positively of his character.”
A Met Police spokeswoman confirmed that one man was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.
Two other men were arrested on suspicion of obstructing a police officer in their line of duty.
The Met said the force had been carrying out a pre-planned operation to clamp down on drugs and weapons.
A peaceful protest is being planned at 2pm outside Brixton police station today.
By: Ade Onibada