By Jack Graham
A Jamaican business’s eviction has been overturned after an outpouring of public support.
Chris Smith, owner of The Lone Fisherman in Tooting Market, had his stall searched by police on September 5 under suspicion of possession of drugs.
The search, which involved around 20 officers with riot gear and dogs, found nothing at his stall and no further action was taken by police, yet the market’s owner, Baron Deschauer, planned to evict the business and gave Mr Smith three business days to leave.
At the time Mr Smith defended his innocence. He said: “The only thing that has connected me to this raid is because I’m Jamaican and I have dreadlocks on my head.”
Mr Smith had been at the market for nine years prior to the raid, and said he was determined to stay there.
On September 10, the day Mr Smith was told to leave, many Tooting residents gathered in support of Mr Smith to encourage Mr Deschauer to reconsider the eviction.
The strong outpouring of support for the business saw more than 50 people appearing in protest.
Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, MP for Tooting, was able to assist by calling an urgent meeting with Tooting Market, which led to a new contract being signed and an apology from Mr Deschauer.
A statement released by The Lone Fisherman said that it “would like to close this unfortunate chapter”.
It added: “It is a time for healing, all corners of the community came forth in support in a clear sign that Tooting is an amazing place to live.”
The incident occurred on Black Pound Day, a day when shoppers are encouraged to buy from black businesses.
A petition was widely shared across the community and gathered nearly 16,000 signatures in support of Mr Smith and The Lone Fisherman.
Superintendent Roger Arditti, from the South West Command Unit of the Metropolitan Police, said: “Successful neighbourhood policing relies on trust between our officers and the community they serve. This is something we continually strive to maintain.
“In this instance we received concerns that drugs were being sold at a stall in the market. We acted upon this information and our investigation remains ongoing.
“I would urge anyone who has information about drug dealing, or any other criminality, to contact police so these concerns can be acted upon.”
We approached Mr Deschauer for a comment, however he was unable to reply.
Pictured top: The Lone Fisherman. Chris Smith is pictured second from right
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