Islington mothers march for action on knife crime
Protest by families of stabbing victims calls for government to hold emergency ‘Cobra’ meeting in response to deaths
19 April, 2019 — By Emily Finch
Stefan Brown, of Stop Kids Being Killed On Our Streets, with Michelle McPhillips
ISLINGTON mothers have led a protest which saw Westminster Bridge “shut down” in a message to the government that more must be done to stop knife crime.
Hundreds of campaigners who have lost relatives and friends through stabbings streamed through Whitehall on Wednesday after gathering outside 10 Downing Street.
Michelle McPhillips, one of the organisers of the protest dubbed “Operation Shutdown”, said she helped lead the march in memory of her son Jonathan “JJ” McPhillips. Jonathan, from Barnsbury, was stabbed to death in Upper Street in February 2017 while he was enjoying a night out with friends. No one has been convicted of his killing.
Ms McPhillips said: “I’m here to try to make a difference about knife crime. I’m on the streets all the time, trying to get people aware of it. The community needs to make a difference.”
She was joined by Jessica Plummer, from Finsbury Park, whose 17-year-old son Shaquan Sammy-Plummer was killed just over four years ago.
She told the Tribune that she wanted more “acknowledgement and support” for the victims’ families from the government, adding: “The minute you go to court and the trial is over, you’re pushed to one side.
“There’s so many things in place for them [perpetrators] but nothing for us. I’ve got two children and it’s four years, three months since Shaquan passed, but they haven’t had any help or support. We have too many young people being killed and we need something done to try to change what is happening now.”
Betty Braimah, 25, gave an impassioned speech to the gathered marchers about her cousin Kwasi Anim-Boadu who was stabbed to death in the Andover estate almost a year ago.
The 20-year-old from Camden Town was killed at a house party. No one has been charged with his killing.
She recalled the moment when she heard that her cousin had died.
“At two o’clock in the morning I heard my mum scream. I said, ‘what’s wrong?’ She said, ‘Junior is gone’. I called my auntie – all I heard was her chuck the phone. To this day it hurts,” she said.
Ms Braimah, who is a teacher, added: “When I go to work and see all these young boys with a persona, I look at them and say, ‘this is not what you want to do with yourself’.
“Knife crime is normal for us now, every day somebody is dying.”
The protesters, holding placards emblazoned with photos of recent knife crime victims, chanted “whose streets? our streets” accompanied by a drummer. The say they want the government to hold an emergency “Cobra” meeting to discuss how to stop knife crime. The top-level ministerial meetings, chaired by the Prime Minister, are held to discuss the government’s response to a national or regional crisis. There have been almost 40 murder victims in London this year despite it only being April.
A group of campaigners from Extinction Rebellion, the anti-climate change activists who have blocked off various bridges and roads this week, raised their fists in solidarity with the anti-knife crime campaigners as both groups temporarily merged at Westminster Bridge.
Speaking after the protest, Ms McPhillips said: “I think it went absolutely brilliantly. We’re waiting for a response from the government and the Mayor of London but we’re prepared to do more protests in the future.”