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‘He didn’t need to be dead’: Hackney Heroine speaks out ahead of ‘justice for Rash’ police station vigil

Rashan Jermaine Charles

Vigil: Rashan Jermaine Charles. Photograph: Twitter

Pauline Pearce, best known as the “Hackney Heroine” after remonstrating with rioters in 2011, has spoken out in advance of a vigil to mark the death of Rashan Jermaine Charles.

The 20 year-old died on Saturday after being apprehended in a shop in Kingsland Road following a police pursuit.

Campaigners from Hackney Stand Up To Racism announced the vigil for Rashan Jermaine Charles, which is to be held at Stoke Newington Police Station starting at 6:30pm this evening, Monday 24 July.

'Hackney Heroine' Pauline Pearce

‘Hackney Heroine’ Pauline Pearce talks to residents on Clarence Road following the 2011 riots. Photograph: Hackney Citizen

Pearce, speaking as a spokesperson for Hackney Liberal Democrats said: “Rash was a young man who was well known on the estate and around this area, and he was well-loved.

“Whatever the situation, he didn’t need to be dead.

“He should have been sitting in the police station, sitting in a prison cell waiting for his case. But instead he’s waiting in a morgue to be buried, waiting for an inquest.

“There are many ways they could have arrested this young man. They didn’t need to have him so harshly dealt with. Rash should still be alive today.

“Maybe he did end up being one of the statistics, but it is in no small part due to the government’s taking away all the funding from the communities.

“It’s the bigger picture we need to look at, It’s not just another young man who has died, it’s a bigger problem of failing these kids in the community.

“We need to fix the little things so the big things don’t happen.”

Pearce came to prominence in the summer of 2011 when she was caught on a YouTube video delivering a courageous exhortation to local youths to desist from violence during the August disturbances.

A social media campaign calling for justice has been set up with the hashtag #JusticeForRash, whilst friends have paid tribute to the young man.

Yesterday Hackney mayor Philip Glanville and Cllr Caroline Selman, cabinet member for community safety, issued a joint statement on the death of Rashan Jermaine Charles, expressing their sympathy to his family and friends.

The Met Police said Charles was followed on foot after officers tried to stop a car in Kingsland Road, Hackney, at 1:45am on Saturday.

Scotland Yard said the 20-year-old man was trying to ‘swallow an object’ and an officer was trying to prevent him from harming himself.

He was pronounced dead at the Royal London Hospital.

The Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is investigating.

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