Fist raised in a black power salute, a woman in a crop top and shorts poses with members of a ‘sinister’ new paramilitary-style protest group.
Imarn Ayton, 29, has been ubiquitous during demonstrations in London following the death of George Floyd – whether bringing traffic to a halt in Brixton, standing atop a van outside Westminster station or whipping up crowds in Parliament Square with her ever-present loudhailer.
In recognition of her poster girl status, Vogue magazine featured her in its current edition celebrating black activists.
But last week saw the actress and part-time drama teacher on parade with a secretive group whose startling appearance in all-black uniform and what appeared to be stab-proof vests has caused much disquiet.
Their attire – which included a balaclava worn by at least one member – also seemed to belie their wholesome name: Forever Family Force.
According to sporadic media posts, the group is ‘united in the battle against racism, inequality and injustice’.
Beyond this, its publicly stated aims – drenched in amorphous, woke rhetoric – get rather lost.
For instance, FFF says it wants to ‘mobilise, organise and centralise community initiatives to empower and support organisations with similar objectives’.
Insisting on peaceful protest, Ms Ayton has been an eloquent advocate of racial equality.
She distanced herself from Black Lives Matter protests in Britain because she says it was ‘hijacked’ by a group of far-Left activists.
And she voiced fears that some may have donated towards a fundraising campaign without realising that those behind it want to abolish the police.
But The Mail on Sunday has discovered that the FFF’s leader, Khari McKenzie, has himself some rather unsettling ideas about the police, which he appears to believe can be supplanted by his ‘security force’.
In one social media post, the 28-year-old rapper wrote: ‘Cops are the Opps [opposition]... Self Defence by Any Means Necessary.’
He boasts of 100 members trained in martial arts ‘that we know will work as a security force for the people’.
Elsewhere he adds: ‘When we need to roll out we are uniformed and we can take that energy to our communities.
'The reason why a lot of youths get into the gangs is because they see the strongest thing is the gangs – they look up to the power.’
In addition, McKenzie is accused of airing disturbing antisemitic posts, blaming Jews for slavery and describing the Jewish community’s alleged role in the slave trade as ‘the original holocaust’.
Most recently, he leapt to the defence of grime artist Wiley, who was dropped by his management following a series of horrifying antisemitic outbursts on social media.
McKenzie reasons that his group of ‘serious’ members – ‘organised, disciplined and uniformed’ – will be respected by gangs across Britain, especially if they have ‘an economic structure to them’.
How much Ms Ayton is aware of these ideas is unclear. She did not respond to requests for a comment.
She did, however, post footage on Instagram in which she parades with female FFF members, or lionesses as they call themselves, during last week’s march in Brixton for African Emancipation Day.
It is held on the first day of August each year to mark both the anniversary of the date in 1834 when the Abolition of Slavery Act came into force, and to campaign for Britain to pay reparations for its role in the transatlantic slave trade.
In the sequence, the cry ‘lionesses!’ is heard, the cue for male ‘soldiers’ to split down the middle and salute the women making their way through a central channel.
Waiting to greet them is Ms Ayton, megaphone dangling in her left hand. She then strolls back through the ranks and takes her place in front of the formation.
Once there, she drops her head in solemn repose and raises her right fist.
In response to the footage, comments by one Instagram user appear to assume that the film depicts armed militia in America.
One such group across the Atlantic – the charmingly named No F****** Around Coalition (NFAC) – has suggested the US government hand over the state of Texas to African-Americans so that they might form an independent country.
Evidently delighted by the comparison, Ms Ayton, who teaches in Teddington, South-West London, replies to the comment: ‘It’s a compliment if you thought we were the NFAC in America.’
The influence of American groups on the FFF is striking.
Comparisons have been made with the Black Panthers, the radical far-Left protest group which wore similar garb as it campaigned against police brutality in 1960s America.
Once, McKenzie referred to himself as a ‘real Black Panther’, but he has also made clear his admiration for the NFAC, sharing footage of them protesting in March in Louisville, Kentucky over the police shooting of a black nurse.
In it, NFAC leader John ‘Grandmaster Jay’ Johnson, wearing black combat fatigues and carrying automatic weapons, rallies his troops through a loudhailer.
Johnson has boasted that his men – all ex-military – are expert shooters and has said: ‘We don’t want to negotiate, we don’t want to sing songs, we don’t bring signs to a gunfight. We are an eye-for-an-eye organisation.’
Commenting on the film just weeks before the FFF made its debut in Brixton, McKenzie notes that his ‘original vision of Gang Unite has come to life’.
Gang Unite is his long-held ambition for gangs to drop their opposition to one another for a greater, but as yet unidentified, cause.
He says: ‘Can we not see the countless videos of police brutalising us every day? Is this the legacy we pass down to our children, or will we be able to look at them and say we put our differences to one side, and came together to make a change for them?
'Don’t want to talk to [sic] much on the [Insta]gram, but we have our first fifty brothers and sisters, and our training space, who’s to ready join and get organised?’
In another rallying cry, he called for ‘real freedom fighters’ to ‘get involved in the security arm’.
He said: ‘We are preparing the community to be able to defend itself from any attack.’
When his ‘security force’ was ready to make its public debut before bemused – and in some cases alarmed – bystanders in South London last week, the US influence was clear in the military-style call and response drills.
One shouted, ‘I don’t know what you been told’, to which the others cried, ‘Family’s taking back these roads!’
Journalist and free speech campaigner Inaya Folarin Iman later described the spectacle as ‘sinister’, writing that ‘their presence would not have been out of place in a dystopian land of revolutionary chaos and conflict, rather than the well-ordered streets of our capital’.
McKenzie has been vocal in his opposition to BLM UK, often criticising the organisation’s support of an ‘LGBT family structure’ in social media posts.
In an Instagram live video, he said: ‘I don’t understand having two dads.’
He also appears to have the backing of Dwayne Vincent, better known as Megaman, the leader of the former notorious South London rap collective So Solid Crew.
In a series of Instagram live videos, the pair discuss their intention to ‘have a team of people out there searching for injustice on every level’.
He also intimates that Megaman is involved in the ‘economic’ side of FFF. But in their conversations, Megaman was clearly alive to the incendiary nature of a lot of McKenzie’s dubious comments.
He told him that they needed to ‘iron up certain corners of your speech when it comes to your speaking on behalf of the organisation’.
He was clearly talking from experience. When So Solid Crew broke on to the music scene in 2000, their concerts attracted violence and they were forced to abandon their debut national tour in 2001.
After two Birmingham teenagers were shot dead in 2002, the then Culture Minister Kim Howells laid part of the blame on ‘idiots like the So Solid Crew glorifying gun culture and violence’.
However, the band was always insistent on their opposition to violence. Megaman was himself acquitted of murder in 2006.
It remains to be seen whether there will be a similar disconnect between the words and actions of Forever Family Force.
You’ll never be old and wise if you weren’t young and crazy.