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Protesters gather outside the Duke of Wellington Pub

‘Racist’ attack on Portobello Road barman prompts pub protest

By Ed Magnus
March 10 2020, 18.00

A group of white men attacked a 20-year-old black student in a Kensington pub prompting weekly protests and calls for the pub’s licence to be revoked. 

Last month a 100-strong protest descended on the Duke of Wellington pub on Portobello Road voicing their anger against what they are calling a racist attack. 

Justice4Grenfell campaigner Yinka Innis-Charles, a friend of the victim’s mother, said the group began taunting El, a 20-year-old barman working at the pub, with racial slurs before physically assaulting him. 

In front of the pub, the victim’s mother, Eunicia Harding, gave an emotional address saying: “I want you to hear a mother’s cry. I am in pain. You made my son’s life worse. My son has PTSD.”

Eunicia Harding, the victim’s mother gave an emotional speech

Yinka Innis-Charles said that no staff or customers came to El’s aid, nor did anyone attempt to call the police. 

According to multiple protestors, El escaped with a dislocated shoulder, bruised rib-cage and swollen face – returning home to his mother who then contacted the police.

Speaker after speaker came forward with impassioned volleys of rhetoric followed up by chants from the crowd of ‘Justice for El’, ‘No to Racism’, ‘Stand up for your rights’ and ‘Duke of Wellington shame on you’.

Yinka Innis-Charles warned the pub that the protestors would be back every Saturday in greater numbers and will not stop until they have answers.

Yinka Innis-Charles speaking at the head of the protest

Speaking after the event the Labour Councillor and former Labour MP, Emma Dent Coad said: “We’re going to see what their licencing conditions are and we’re going to shut the pub down.

“They have failed in their duty of care to protect their employee and they failed to call the police. The way they have acted is sickening.”

The peaceful protest succeeded in forcing the pub to close on the night, despite the line of bouncers blocking the entrance.

Young’s Brewery, which owns the pub, said in a statement: “We share the anger and disgust of the community following the vile racist attack on a 20-year-old member of staff by four members.

“The CCTV footage immediately made available to police and viewed by them on the night shows staff trying to aid the colleague under attack.”

Felicity Buchan, Conservative MP for Kensington & Chelsea said: “My thoughts are with El who suffered this brutish attack and I wish him the speediest and fullest recovery.

“I have met with El’s mother and my team are in close contact with the police on this case.” 

Police confirmed that the investigation is ongoing and no arrests have been made at this time.

The protesters reconvened last Saturday and have said they will continue to return to the pub each Saturday until there is justice for El.

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