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The BBC's Christine Stewart
"Protest organisers say they do not regret the violence"
 real 56k

Alex Owolade, Movement for Justice
"The violence that took place last night was at the hands of the police"
 real 56k

Saturday, 21 July, 2001, 13:23 GMT 14:23 UK
Violence after police shooting demo
Riot police officers stand by broken window
Riot police officers restored order after the looting
Police are meeting community leaders in Brixton after disturbances broke out following a demonstration against a fatal shooting by police.

Twenty-seven people were arrested after a number of shops were attacked and looted in what police called "sporadic acts of violence" on Friday night.


What we have seen is purely and simply criminal behaviour and has nothing to do with lawful protest.

Andy Trotter, Metropolitan police
Three police officers were injured in the violence - one WPc reportedly suffered a broken arm.

Police were meeting community leaders in Brixton on Saturday to discuss the trouble.

Senior police officers labelled the violence "mindless vandalism" and said that a small number of youths had exploited an earlier peaceful protest.

But local activist Alex Owolade, from the anti-racist group Movement for Change, said it was a rebellion against racist policing.

Boarded up exterior of Claire's accessory shop
Several shops were looted
"What happened last night was the youth and the community rebelling against years of racist repression, and years of racist injustice at the hands of the police," he told the BBC.

Derek Bennett, 29, a psychiatric patient, was shot dead by a police marksman in Brixton on Monday.

He had reportedly been seen brandishing a weapon, which turned out to be an imitation gun cigarette lighter.

The peaceful demonstration began on Friday afternoon, with about 120 protesters gathering outside Brixton police station.

Riot officers in Brixton
Three officers were injured, one suffering a broken arm
They then held a minute's silence at the scene of the shooting on the Angel Estate, before dispersing.

But police say a group of about 40 youths later become involved in isolated incidents, damaging cars and shops.

The numbers swelled to around 100 as police moved in with riot vans in an attempt to restore order.

Trouble began at about 2100BST and continued until the early hours of the morning.

'Opportunistic' looting

Deputy assistant commissioner Andy Trotter said: "The disorder and looting we have seen tonight is opportunistic and certainly not representative of the local community.

Derek Bennett
Derek Bennett was shot by a police marksman
"The vast majority of those who took part in the vigil dispersed peacefully."

Police said most of the 27 arrests had been for robbery.

Mr Bennett's death is being investigated by the Police Complaints Authority, which investigates police conduct.

Officers from Northumbria Police are to establish whether the Metropolitan Police firearms team was to blame for the death.

The inquiry team is asking for witnesses to the shooting.

An inquest into Mr Bennett's death was opened and adjourned until February next year.

Mr Bennett's parents, of Camberwell New Road, Brixton, are demanding a full explanation as to why their son died.

The witness hotline is 01661 869603.

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