Sunday, 20 Jun 2021

'Nothing to suggest' BLM activist shot in the head was targeted, say police

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Police do not think a leading Black Lives Matter activist shot in the head over the weekend was specifically targeted.

Mum-of-three Sasha Johnson, 27, remains seriously ill in hospital after the shooting in Peckham, south east London, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Commander Alison Heydari told reporters this morning: ‘This was a shocking incident that has left a young woman with very serious injuries.

‘Our thoughts are with the family of Sasha Johnson who are being supported by specially trained officers.

‘A dedicated team of officers and detectives are looking to find out who is responsible for this incident. They’re making good progress but we need the public to help us.’

She said Metropolitan Police enquiries so far have established that Ms Johnson had been at a house party in Consort Road at around 3am.

A group of young black men, dressed in dark clothing, entered the garden of the house and discharged a firearm. They left the scene before officers arrived.

PC Heydari said she ‘understands the concern’ in the community due to Ms Johnson’s prominent involvement with the Black Lives Matter movement.

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Bus she added: ‘I wish to stress that, at this time, there is nothing to suggest that Sasha was a victim of a targeted attack.

‘We’re also not aware of any reports of threats made against her prior to this incident.’

She said officers are doing ‘everything we can’ to find the attackers.

‘We feel that there is someone out there who must know who’s carried out this attack,’ she said.

‘The people who carried out this attack do not deserve protection.’

She encouraged anyone with any information to call police on 101 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Ms Johnson, Oxford social care graduate, is understood to have undergone successful surgery and is now with her parents.

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It comes after the Taking The Initiative Party (TTIP), of which Ms Johnson is a member, said she had received ‘numerous death threats’ before the shooting.

But friend Imarn Ayton agrees with the police, saying she does not believe Ms Johnson was the intended victim of the attack.

‘As far as we are aware, she was at a party or some sort of gathering and this incident is more related to rival gangs as opposed to her activism, let’s just say that,’ she told the BBC.

‘There was a rival gang that may have heard about someone being in that party that they didn’t feel quite comfortable with or trusted and so they resorted to driving past and shooting into the garden. And one of those shots obviously hit Sasha Johnson.

‘This was not targeted to Sasha and it’s just unfortunate that her friends and family will have to witness this and go through it.’

She was described as ‘a strong, powerful voice for our people and our community’ by the black-led political party TTIP in a statement.

The statement read: ‘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.’

Supporters gathered for a vigil at a bandstand in Denmark Hill’s Ruskin Park yesterday, close to the hospital where Ms Johnson is being treated.

They played drums, made speeches and prayed for her to pull through while consoling one another.

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