Hundreds of people assembled outside a London beauty supply store this week after video footage of the shopowner allegedly choking a Black woman went viral—sparking outrage across the country.
The incident occurred at Peckham Hair and Cosmetics, in Rye Lane, after the woman was denied a refund. She then tried to take the replacement items from the store but was prevented from leaving by an employee. The footage, viewed more than a million times, appears to show a Black woman inside the store being grabbed and choked by an Asian man.
In the video, the unidentified woman is heard yelling: “Get off me, he’s trying to strangle me. Get the f-ck off me. Call the police! Call the police! This man just strangled me!”
Protesters chanted, “You touch one, you touch all,” and held signs which read, “Keep your hands off Black women,” — the store closed as tensions reached an all-time high.
‘That could be my daughter, that could be my sister, that could be my Auntie!’— GB News (@GBNEWS) September 14, 2023
Chairman of Haringey Stop and Search Monitoring Group, Ken Hinds, explains the outrage behind a shop keeper 'chocking' an alleged thief, resulting in protests in Peckham. pic.twitter.com/LaVVdFkeT6
Following the backlash, the shopowner was eager to share his side of the story.
“We do not give refunds. 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,” the shopkeeper, Sohail Sindho, 45, told the BBC. “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 neutralized. I did not hit her. The video was cropped. People are acting at the half-truth”.
Speaking to the news outlet, Simone Goodys, who joined the protest, called for community shop owners to give Black consumers the respect they deserve.
“It made me feel scared, and I was shocked as well because I come in this shop all the time. 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,” she shared.
In the UK, the Black hair industry is dominated by South Asian men. It is a similar story in the U.S.
In a 2020 article published by Business of Fashion, Tobi Idowu wrote that “Of at least 9,000 shops specializing in Black haircare and cosmetics in the U.S., 3,000 are Black-owned, and most of the remainder are operated by people of Korean descent.” The statistics were taken from a Black Owned Beauty Supply Association (BOBSA) report.
Detective Chief Superintendent Seb Adjei-Addoh, local policing commander for Southwark, issued the following statement: “I would like to thank local people for their patience as we work to establish the full circumstances around the allegations made. We continue to examine various clips of footage that depict small sections of the wider incident and are working to establish what offences were committed and by whom.”
I know Londoners are concerned by the events in a shop in Peckham. I am in touch with the Met and am urgently seeking further information.— Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan (@MayorofLondon) September 12, 2023
“I know Londoners are concerned by the recent events in a shop in Peckham. I’m in touch with the Met Police and am urgently seeking further information,” London Mayor Sadiq Khan added.