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Tooting Market Reverses Eviction of Caribbean Food Stall The Lone Fisherman

Protests within the market community and talks facilitated by MP Dr Rosena Khan reversed the decision

Christopher Smith stands outside his Tooting Market stall The Lone Fisherman, with a table of fresh oysters and Caribbean pepper sauces
Christopher Smith standing outside his Tooting Market stall, The Lone Fisherman
The Lone Fisherman/Instagram

Tooting Market restaurant The Lone Fisherman says management has reversed its eviction, following dialogue between chef-owner Christopher Smith and the market facilitated by Tooting MP Dr Rosena Khan.

In an Instagram post on Saturday, the restaurant wrote that “An agreement has been reached with The Lone Fisherman, whereby the eviction notice WILL BE RESCINDED and a new lease offered.” It credited Tooting MP Khan for “constructive dialogue,” and credited the landlord for having “realised he made a mistake and [having] acted hastily.”

When contacted for a statement on the rescinding of the eviction, Tooting Market told Eater that, “following police-action and assurances by the police that these warrants were intelligence-led, the market initially took the decision to revoke both traders’ licences.” It then, however, said:

It quickly became clear that we had acted hastily in relation to the eviction of Chris of The Lone Fisherman. For this, we are truly sorry and for any distress that we have caused Chris and the community in the process. We were pleased that Chris felt able to enter into a constructive dialogue with us on Friday with our local MP, Dr. Rosena Allin-Khan, acting as mediator. We are happy to confirm that Chris and the Lone Fisherman will continue to trade at Tooting Market.

Tooting Police also changed its approach to the drugs raids executed on Saturday 5 September. Having initially described the search warrants as “successful” in a now-deleted tweet, it posted a statement again crediting Dr Khan for facilitating community dialogue, and apologising for the wording of the statement. When contacted by Eater on Friday, it had been unable to clarify whether or not drugs had been found at The Lone Fisherman.

News of the eviction, and its three day notice period, had prompted extensive protests in and around the market and on social media, with Tooting Market regulars and locals flooding the market’s Instagram page with comments shaming the decision. Immediately following the evictions, Smith and fellow stallholder Hughie Crawford, also targeted in the raids, said on video that they believed the evictions were a result of racial profiling. Smith said that they are “the only two Jamaicans in this area, and ... Suddenly, we’ve just got to go”; Crawford alleges that the market management had told him that the evictions were about “perception and marketing.” The future of Crawford’s stall, Artz Designer Wear, is currently unknown.

The Lone Fisherman now says that it wants to move on from the incident, and focus on the homestyle Jamaican cuisine of fried fish escovitch; oysters fanged with either Scotch bonnet and lime, or garlic and pepper sauces; patties; and city dishes like salt beef on coco bread with Jamaican hot sauce for which it is so loved:

“It is time for healing, all corners of the community came forth in support in a clear sign that Tooting is an amazing place to live, let’s heal together.”

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