London SE1 community website

Elephant & Castle artist shocked by ‘terror’ arrest

London SE1 website team

Artist Reuben Powell was last month arrested and held at Walworth Police Station after police saw him at work near a construction site.

At lunchtime on Wednesday 17 December the well-known artist was arrested in Amelia Street whilst taking photographs.

He is working on a project supported by a consortium of developers to record the changing face of the Elephant & Castle. His exhibition in the shopping centre has been visited by many residents and school parties.

Mr Powell, a long-time resident, says that a police officer claimed that he could be a terrorist. The artist at once showed his business card and drawings. He was also able to produce his laptop with containing evidence of his work, charcoal and a box of pencils for drawing and a Stanley knife for sharpening the pencils.

However, he was handcuffed and held at the nearby police station for almost five hours. It is understood that his release followed a call from Simon Hughes MP who had been alerted by residents.

According to Mr Powell, three residents who witnessed his arrest and vouched for him were told to go away and had their view blocked by another police officer.

The artist, who says that he had never before been handcuffed and does not like being confined, claims the handcuffs were placed on him "as tight as possible".

Speaking some days after the arrest, he said that he had still not received an apology from the Police. He expressed amazement at the treatment he experienced and said that the safer neighbourhood team of officers based at the same police station would have been able to identify him as the Elephant & Castle's artist-in-residence.

When he was stopped at around 1pm he was photographing a site owned by one of his sponsors, the developers First Base.

The Metropolitan Police has confirmed that a 42-year-old man was arrested after a knife had been found in his rucksack. He was later released without charge. The knife was destroyed by police.

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