A white man and a 10-year-old child are among the gang of people who have been arrested following a brutal “racist” attack on a Black schoolgirl in Surrey.
Surrey Police launched an investigation into the “serious racially aggravated assault” after the girl was attacked near Thomas Knyvett College, in Ashford, on Monday. A video of the attack was shared on social media.
Officers were called following reports of a fight at around 2.30pm. Five people were arrested in connection with the incident, police said, including a 39-year-old woman, a 16-year-old girl, an 11-year-old girl, a 10-year-old girl, and a 43-year-old man.
A sixth suspect, a 15-year-old girl, is being sought by the police and has been told to hand herself in for arrest.
Officers said there will be extra police patrols in the area.
A video of the incident was shared widely online. It shows bystanders failing to come to the schoolgirl’s defence. The police have asked for people to avoid sharing the footage as the investigation is active.
Richard Beeson, the principal at Thomas Knyvett College, described the beating as a “violent altercation” and an “isolated” incident in a statement on Wednesday.
“We are aware that the incident will have caused concern among students and parents/carers,” he said. “We can reassure you that we are taking all the necessary steps to ensure this isolated incident is dealt with and that student safety is our paramount concern.”
A protest about the attack took place outside the school on Wednesday afternoon, and The Independent understands that this prompted staff members to end the school day earlier than usual.
Around 200 attendees assembled near to the college in a demonstration arranged by a community activist, known as Raspect, from a grassroots collective called Forever Family.
Forever Family, which is based in south London, will be providing the victim with self-defence classes and school tuition sessions to help with her learning, Raspect said.
“When it comes to the children, we’re stepping up,” he told protest attendees. “We don’t care if it’s gangs, police or the government – we’re taking a stand.
“We’ve seen the video. These situations that our children are facing ... they’re not going to face it alone. We’re letting the little girl know that we’re proud of you! You’re a warrior, you had five hyenas trying to bite at your ankles and you’re a lioness that stood up!
“Now we’re about tangible solutions: steppers only. We’re putting boots on the ground. Us standing here today sends a ripple effect, to every person in and outside of this community, about what happens when you try to oppress the children. That’s why we’re here.”
Solomon Smith, the CEO of Brixton Soup Kitchen, was among the people in attendance.
Speaking to The Independent, he said: “People are angry about what happened to the schoolgirl. I’m the father of a 13-year-old and watching that video was very upsetting.”
The police are appealing for witnesses or anyone with CCTV, dashcam or helmet cam footage of the incident, or any images or videos on their mobile phones, to get in touch.
Mr Beeson released a statement on Twitter saying that the school was supporting the police in their investigations.
“You may be aware that one of our students was injured in a violent altercation outside of school [on Monday] as they were making their way home. We would like to reassure you that the police were called and are currently investigating,” the statement read.
“We are aware that this incident will have caused concern among students and parents/carers. We can reassure you that we are taking all necessary steps to ensure this isolated incident is deal with and that student safety is our paramount concern.”
A 39-year-old woman, a 16-year-old girl, an 11-year-old girl and a 10-year-old girl were arrested on suspicion of racially aggravated GHB. The woman and a 43-year-old man were arrested under suspicion of child neglect and encouraging an offence to be committed, Surrey Police said.
All those arrested have since been released on conditional bail until a date in March.
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