Join the family of Dorothy “Cherry” Groce, for the 30th commemoration of her wrongful shooting by the Metropolitan Police which led to the infamous 1985 Brixton uprisings. We will also reflect on the police violence that led to Cynthia Jarrett’s death and the Broadwater Farm uprisings a week after Cherry Groce’s shooting.
What happened in 1985? Why did the Police shoot an innocent mother in front of her children, youngest being 8 years old? How did the community defend and rebuild itself after the uprisings?
Come and participate in this commemorative event that will discuss the past, present and future of communities fighting for justice and peace in Brixton and Tottenham.
This will also be the launch of a new justice campaign for the family of Cherry Groce and also form the start of an oral history project which is open to young people aged between 14 and 25 years old. Contact LCAPSV for more details.
Since our last update on the incident on the 21st August, when the police shot a Brixton resident, there have been further reports in The Guardian (here) and Daily Mirror (here). Both papers named the victim as Nathaniel Brophy, a 34 year old mixed race man, and quoted remarks from his father Patrice Duval.
These reports raise new concerns
The victim was surrendering
The police and IPCC had previously emphasised the claim that they found a “non police firearm” at the site, and used this to imply that Mr Brophy was threatening them, and had to be shot to prevent him doing harm. In fact, according to his family, this “firearm” was an air rifle, and Brophy was not holding it at the time he was shot. “My son did not have a gun. He said he had his hands up,” Mr Duval told the Guardian.
The victim was shot in the back
According to the Guardian, police fired four shots at Mr Brophy, three of which hit him. The Mirror specified that these hit him in the leg, the stomach and the back.
Why were the police there in the first place?
Both reports confirm that Mr Brophy had previously been evicted, and had re-entered his flat with his old keys to collect some of his things. Just as we wrote in our last statement, this account suggests that he was not committing a crime. It’s therefore impossible to see why police came to the flat in the first place. The police should have had a reason for going to the flat, but they haven’t said what it was.
The role of the IPCC
The Guardian reports that the IPCC supervised officers writing up their statements, which they did together in the same room, to make sure that they did not confer with each other, unlike in previous incidents where the police have shot somebody. But, unless the officers involved were supervised immediately after the shooting and kept apart until the moment when they sat down to write, they could still have conferred. Given that the IPCC told a public meeting the week after the shooting that they arrived on the scene “within 3 hours”, that still allows plenty of time for the police to confer. The IPCC should release a detailed timeline of events immediately.
The video footage
Some of the officers were wearing cams. There is also CCTV footage that the IPCC have. This must be released. What are they hiding?
Serious concerns are emerging about the “botched and violent” police counter-terrorist stop and subsequent arrest of a Black man in Greenwich, just over a week after the death of Drummer Lee Rigby. After Counter Terrorism police performed a ‘hard stop'(1) on the car Husani Williams’ was driving, he was arrested for possession of a Class A drug. Williams submitted a defence statement in which he denied the cocaine possession charge and the CPS took the decision this week to drop that charge. The London Campaign against Police and State Violence (2) (LCAPSV) are now demanding that SO15 (3), the Metropolitan Police Service Counter-Terrorism Command, and SO19 (4), MPS’ Specialist Firearms Command should face an independent inquiry into their “brutal and unnecessary” use of force.
On 1st June 2013, Williams was driving through Greenwich near the Woolwich Flyover. In the car with him were his brother, Asanti, and two female friends. At around 6pm, the car was brought to a ‘hard stop’ by armed officers in unmarked cars. The officers shot out the tyres, smashed the car side-windows, and proceeded to thrust their weapons into the faces of the Williams brothers. They then dragged him and the three passengers out of the car. Officers used Tasers and ‘pain compliance’ techniques on the men, who did not resist at any point. During the arrest officers accused the brothers of being terrorists, and are accused of having repeatedly racially abused them. At the time the arrest was reported in local newspapers (5).
Due to the severity of the injuries to his head, Asanti was taken to hospital on the insistence of Paramedics and no charges were made against him. The police explained that the car was targeted because it was linked with an address associated with the Lee Rigby murder. The address in question was that of Mr Williams’ cousin, a Black Muslim, who has not been approached by police to date.
Husani was charged with possession of a Class A drug, but crucially, despite the nature of the stop, was not charged with any offence relating to terrorism. A court hearing which took place in October put the trial back on a “warned list” (6) until April for unspecified reasons. In November, Husani pleaded not guilty. At a hearing at Woolwich Crown Court on 8th January, the Prosecution formally offered no evidence in respect of this charge.
A complaint about the way the Williams’ brothers were treated is currently being investigated and they are also currently preparing to pursue a civil case against the Metropolitan Police.
Kojo Kyerewaa, a member of LCAPSV said:
“This was an outrageous set of events. From the brutal and unnecessary aggression during the police operation and the dubious “intelligence” which led to it, to the shambolic handling of the court case. This raises serious questions about the professionalism and integrity of these institutions of law enforcement.
The Williams’ brothers ordeal happened one week after Lee Rigby’s murder, and all evidence points to the fact that this botched and violent assault was based on tenuous intelligence if not mere speculation with extreme racist abuse. It looks very much like a racist assault by the Police, which could have resulted in the death of an innocent man.”
Husani Williams said:
“The decision to drop the charge against me was a great relief. This entire criminal process has been a time of incredible stress and trauma on me and my family. I’m grateful for the support I’ve received so far and I’ll continue to demand answers and fight for justice.”
(1) A manoeuvre also used by armed police in the deaths of Azelle Rodney and Mark Duggan.
Is racial profiling being carried out by counter-terrorism police in South London following the death of Lee Rigby?
On 1 June 2013, a group of friends driving through Woolwich in the early evening were intercepted by police officers apparently from the Met’s Counter Terrorism command, SO15. According to youth worker Husani Williams, who was driving the car, the officers shot out the tyres, smashed its windows and dragged him and his brother Asanti out of the car. Officers used tasers and ‘pain compliance’ techniques on the men, who say they did not resist.
Police told the two other passengers that the car had been targeted because it had come from an address associated with the Lee Rigby murder. The address in question was that of Mr Williams’ cousin, a black Muslim, who has not been approached by police to date.
Speaking to IRR News, Husani Williams stated: ‘I was in shock. The officers did not identify themselves, they just dragged me out of the car and held me down. At one point I asked them why they were doing this. They said, “We’ve got you down as Mr. Nasty, and this is what we do to Mr. Nasty”.’
One of the brothers, Asanti Williams, was taken straight to hospital as a result of the injuries sustained in the stop by police.
The arrest resulted in no charges relating to terrorism – the group were not even questioned about terrorism.
Husani has been charged with minor drugs offences. It seems likely his trial will not take place until spring next year. The Independent Police Complaints Commission is investigating the incident, but has said that its investigation will only get under way once criminal proceedings against Husani have finished.
Husani is being supported by the London Campaign Against Police and State Violence (LCAPSV). So far, the group has attended court in solidarity with Husani, and has helped to collect evidence from witnesses. LCAPSV supports the victims of police assault, and monitors the policing of communities, and of BME communities in particular.