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Bristol: Police U-turn on paddle attack calling is racially motivated

Antwon Forrest with a bloodied face, the police.

Antwon Forrest, 12, had to go to hospital for his bloodied wounds (Pictures: PA/BPM Media)

Police have gone back on their decision to stop investigating a woman who allegedly hit an autistic boy with a paddle ‘because he was black’.

Antwon Forrest, 12, was playing with friends at Conham River Park, Bristol, when a woman reportedly had a go at them and accused them of throwing mud balls in the lake.

Antwon’s dad Tyron claims the woman then hit his son with a boat paddle, leaving him with a bloody face and a deep cut.

The boy’s aunt, Antonia, believes her nephew was targeted on March 26, because he was ‘the only black boy in the group’.

The attacker was arrested but the police de-arrested her the next week, saying they could take no further action ‘based on evidence gathered at the time’.

According to a letter sent to the family by the police, the woman claimed she had ‘pushed the answer away because he challenged her and she felt threatened by him and the surrounding group’.

There has been significant backlash for this police decision, from both the public and even Bristol’s mayor Marvin Rees and deputy Asher Craig.

Antwon Forrest with a bloodied face.

Antwon’s aunt believes he was attacked because he was the ‘only black boy in the group’ (Picture: BPM)

Mayor Marvin Rees.

Bristol City Council mayor Marvin Rees said the police initially made a ‘bad decision’ (Picture: PA)

They said: ‘As it stands, we appear to have a bad decision – we are yet to be made aware of any information that would explain the decision to a reasonable level of satisfaction.’

But now, the police have reversed their choice and have classified the alleged crime as racially motivated.

The force said a review was ‘immediately launched after senior officers became aware of the decision’ and Antwon’s family’s social media posts.

Chief Inspector Mike Buck said: ‘We’re extremely grateful to the boy’s father for agreeing to meet with us and we had a constructive conversation in which we answered his questions and gave him assurances about this review and what it means.

‘We have complete empathy with his family and listened carefully to what he had to say. We gave him a full commitment to carrying out a comprehensive and thorough review and to keep him updated about its progress.

‘We’ve re-classified this incident as being racially motivated and we have a Detective Sergeant leading the review, with oversight from a senior officer.’

Mr Rees and Ms Craig went on to urge an investigation into why the police chose to de-arrest the attacker, stressing that a review’s finding’s should not be ‘detached from their historical, political context’.

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https://metro.co.uk/2022/05/10/bristol-police-u-turn-on-paddle-attack-calling-is-racially-motivated-16621397/ Bristol: Police U-turn on paddle attack calling is racially motivated

Justin Scacco

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