5 Arrested In Shooting Of British BLM Activist Sasha Johnson
A friend of Johnson said the shooting may be the result of gang violence at the party.
May 26, 2021 at 11:09 pm
Update (May 26, 2021): Five men have been arrested in the U.K. in connection to the recent shooting of prominent Black Lives Matter activist, Sasha Johnson.
The suspects, between the ages of 17 and 28, were first brought into custody on separate charges, BBC reported. Names of the suspects have not been released.
Detective chief inspector Richard Leonard said the arrests show progress in the case but that it’s ultimately still "in its early stages."
On Tuesday, London’s Metropolitan Police first arrested a 17-year-old on suspicion of possession of an offensive weapon and possession with intent to supply class A substances.
Three other men, aged 18, 19 and 28, were arrested in Peckham on suspicion of disturbing a public place and possession with intent to supply class B substances which could include cocaine, Ecstasy and other drugs.
Continuing their investigation, authorities later arrested a 25-year-old on similar charges including failing to stop for the police.
Johnson, 27, was left in critical condition after being shot in the head early Sunday at a house party in southeast London, as Blavity previously reported. British authorities said she was in the house garden when four Black men arrived, discharging a firearm. Thirty people were at the party at the time.
Johnson had previously been leading anti-racist demonstrations across London. Taking the Initiative Party, a British political party focused on voicing the concerns of people who want change, which Johnson is affiliated with, said she had received death threats in regard to her activism, according to The Washington Post.
A friend of Johnson’s, however, said the shooting may be the result of gang violence present at the party.
"Local officers, supported by specialist teams, will continue to be in and around the Peckham area in the coming days and I continue to urge anyone with concerns to engage with them," said Kris Wright, the superintendent of the police force.
Original (May 24, 2021): British Black Lives Matter activist Sasha Johnson is in critical condition after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head on Sunday, according to Taking The Initiative, the political party Johnson is affiliated with.
“It is with great sadness that we inform you that our own Sasha Johnson has sustained a gunshot wound to her head,” the group wrote on Facebook. “She is currently hospitalised and in a critical condition. The incident happened in the early hours of this morning, following numerous death threats.”
The incident occurred in the London borough of Southwark, where Metropolitan Police responded to reports of gunfire around 3:00 a.m. local time on Sunday, CNN reports.
“Sasha has always been actively fighting for black people and the injustices that surround the black community, as well as being both a member of BLM and a member of Taking the Initiative Party’s Executive Leadership Committee," the post continued. "Sasha is also a mother of 3 and a strong, powerful voice for our people and our community. Let’s all come together and pray for Sasha, pray for her recovery and show our support to her family and loved ones."
Police also said in a statement that the shooting took place near a house party and they do not believe Johnson was the intended target since there have been no “credible threats against her prior to this incident.”
So far, no arrests have been made, but detectives from the Met’s specialist crime command, Trident, are working to identify the suspect[s].
"A dedicated team of detectives is working tirelessly to identify the person or persons responsible for this shooting," Detective Chief Inspector Jim Tele said.
“This was a shocking incident that has left a young woman with very serious injuries. Our thoughts are with her family who are being provided with support at this terribly difficult time,” he said, according to The Guardian.
Johnson sits on the Executive Leadership Committee for Taking The Initiative, a Black-led political party focused on “empowerment, justice and equality for all.”
According to the group’s website, Johnson is an Oxford graduate with a degree in social care.
Black Lives Matter UK showed their support for the 27-year-old, who they say was “dedicated to resist anti-Black racism,” after helping to organize protests and marches in the summer of 2020.
“BLMUK expresses our shock and solidarity over the shooting of Sasha Johnson,” the organization wrote on Twitter. “A young mother and fearless political campaigner who was at the forefront of many BLM protests last summer.”
After hearing the news of Johnson’s shooting, members of the British Parliament also spoke out to stand in solidarity with Johnson.
“Black activist #SashaJohnson in hospital in critical condition after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head,” Hackney North and Stowe Newington Member of Parliament, Diane Abbott said in a tweet. “Nobody should have to potentially pay with their life because they stood up for racial justice #BlackLivesMatter."
While the investigation into the incident is still underway, Tele asked if anyone has any leads to come forward.
Black activist #SashaJohnson in hospital in critical condition after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head. Nobody should have to potentially pay with their life because they stood up for racial justice #BlackLivesMatter pic.twitter.com/AlE4ELXiFl— Diane Abbott MP (@HackneyAbbott) May 24, 2021
He also asked that people avoid speculation into any motives behind the incident.
“Finally, I recognise that this incident will have shocked those in the local community and further afield. I would ask people to avoid speculating as to the motive or the circumstances behind it.”
Leicester East Member of Parliament and former chair op Trident, Claudia Webbe, said she was also shocked to hear of Johnson’s shooting, a phenomenon which she believes affects too many women.
“When I think of the brutal shooting of Sasha Johnson it reminds me that the culture of gun violence is all-consuming affecting whole communities & neighbourhoods,” Webbe wrote in a tweet. The bullet does not discriminate in its effect. But too many women become collateral damage in this ‘culture of fear’.”
“Shocking to hear of the gun shot to the head of Sasha Johnson; All women should be safe on our streets,” she wrote in a separate tweet. “Wishing her a full recovery. Sending love and solidarity to her family, friends and loved ones. There are still too many guns and violent weapons damaging too many lives #BLM”
When I think of the brutal shooting of Sasha Johnson it reminds me that the culture of gun violence is all-consuming affecting whole communities & neighbourhoods. The bullet does not discriminate in its effect. But too many women become collateral damage in this ‘culture of fear’— Claudia Webbe MP (@ClaudiaWebbe) May 23, 2021
A friend of the 27-year-old, Imarn Ayton, told BBC that she also does not believe Johnson was the “intended victim” in the shooting.
"As far as I am aware...this incident is more related to rival gangs as opposed to her activism," Ayton said.
According to Ayton, doctors performed surgery on Johnson which had gone well and she was "now with her parents.”
A vigil for Johnson is set to take place on Monday afternoon at King's College Hospital.
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