Leeds city centre protest after video shows man being pepper sprayed and arrested

A protest will be held in Leeds city centre after video footage of a man being arrested prompted criticisms of "disproportionate force" by police.

Tuesday, 8th June 2021, 4:23 pm
A man being arrested in Albion Street (footage: Carly Jones).

In the video, a lone black man can be seen sat on a bench in Albion Street at about 5.45pm on Monday, June 7.

He is then approached by three police officers and later arrested.

The video has been circulated on social media websites, with Black Lives Matters (BLM) Leeds and Leeds Stand Up To Racism criticising the actions of the officers as using "disproportionate force".

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West Yorkshire Police (WYP) said that the man had been acting aggressively and was drinking alcohol on the bench, in breach of the Public Spaces Protection Order which is in place in the area, and that his refusal to provide his details is an offence under the circumstances.

In a statement, BLM Leeds said: "This innocent man did not in any way react to this blatant provocation.

"It is clear that this man is within his rights not to give the police his details unless they can clearly state why they are interrogating and publicly harassing him.

The group added: "Black communities are tired of seeing the police abuse their position by profiling and attacking innocent black people in the street for no good reason. We will not tolerate police racism and brutality.

"We demand a public apology from the police in Leeds."

In response, BLM Leeds said it will hold a protest in Albion Street at 6pm on Tuesday, June 8.

A WYP spokesperson said that officers were contacted by Leedswatch CCTV reporting a man who had been acting aggressively and had been removed twice from the Trinity shopping centre by security staff.

Officers found the man in Albion Street, and a local PCSO confirmed to them details of the incidents at the shopping centre.

WYP said that officers spoke to the man for more than eight minutes.

The man refused to provide his details, which police said is an offence in these circumstances.

When officers tried to arrest him, he resisted and incapacitant (pepper) spray was deployed.

Physical control was used to detain him.

The man was taken into custody on suspicion of being drunk and disorderly in a public place.

He was subsequently given a community resolution for that offence, which is an out of court disposal that can be issued when the offender admits their guilt and accepts responsibility.

He received no injuries during his arrest or detention, WYP said.

The man was released from custody on the morning of Tuesday, June 8.

A referral has been made to West Yorkshire Police Professional Standards Directorate so that the circumstances can be formally reviewed.

Chief Superintendent Damien Miller, Leeds District Commander, said: “We are aware that this man’s arrest has been the focus of speculation on social media, but we hope that by providing further context people will now have a fuller understanding of the circumstances leading up to officers detaining him.

“We recognise the understandable concerns that exist around police interactions with people from ethnic minority communities, and we continue to work closely with those communities through our Independent Advisory Group to improve trust and confidence, scrutinise police actions and decision making and increase transparency.

“We are also liaising with the organisers of a planned protest in relation to this incident to ensure they have the full context and understanding of what occurred. This includes inviting them to meet with us and view the officers’ body-worn footage in full.”