I came across #operationshutdown on twitter, a group of bereaved mums across the capital who have all tragically lost their sons to knife crime.
A large percentage of my time as a reporter is writing about knife crimes and deaths from stabbings, to the point where virtually everyday there is a knife crime and practically every week a young person has lost their life on the streets.
I started to investigate more on Operation Shutdown and was told by Elaine their spokesperson that a group of mums would email me some quotes to go with this article. I wasn’t prepared for what would happen next.
I received three emails from Jess Plummer, Sue Hedges and Karen McPhiilips who left me in tears. These three mothers poured their hearts out speaking about the brutal and senseless murders of their sons and what they are now fighting hard for. My eyes were opened to a pain that is almost unbearable and the strengths these mothers have is amazing.
Shaquan Sammy Plummer from Finsbury Park was just 17 years old when his life was taken away from him in a horrific attack. Shaquan had set off to attend a party when his killer Jemal Williams refused to let him inside unless he hand over the bag of drinks and snacks Shaquan had brought with him to the party. Williams stabbed the teenager in the chest and left him on a driveway to die as he fled the scene.
Williams was given a life sentence in 2016.
His mum Jess has set up the Shaquan Sammy Plummer Foundation and works everyday in the tireless battle to stop knife crime. Here is her piece for The Enquirer.
“I am Jessica Plummer. I am writing to you regarding the tragic loss of my son and my commitment to putting a stop to these horrible stabbings in our community.
“I lost my son Shaquan on 30th January 2015. To help me cope with this sad loss I have been actively aiming to find solutions. This includes going into secondary schools with the police to speak to young people. I discuss the implications of carrying and using knives. I speak of the pain, suffering and loss of life opportunities for all concerned.
“Us bereaved parents would like to see a more active, committed role from the government. Also more focus on the causes of knife crimes. ”
Ricky Hayden was horrifically ‘macheted’ to death on September 13 2016 in Romford. Ricky had rushed out of his house when he saw two men attempting to steal his brother’s scooter and he jumped in to intervene.
Ricky was joined by his brother Perry and his father Paul, who had all gone out to the front of their house when they heard two men on their premises.
Ricky was wounded numerous times across this body but particularly his thigh, sustaining large wounds.
Tommy Roome from Romford was cleared of murder but convicted of manslaughter and jailed for 14 years.
Writing in the Enquirer his mum Sue Hedges speaks of the horrific pain she goes through everyday following this senseless murder of her son.
“Everyday I wake up and yet another stabbing has occurred somewhere in the country. It brings back awful memories of the night my son was fatally stabbed and killed. It’s getting out of control and police have lost control of the streets. I feel a mothers pain every time I hear of another murder, my heart is broken and will never mend.
“I don’t think there is one solution that will solve this. We have to go back to basics starting with schooling and no cautions should be given, a straight prison sentence which will reduce the number of youths on the streets and the reduction of stabbings. Stop and search is great but as long as it is done correctly.”
Jonathon James McPhillips or ‘JJ’ as he was known to his friends was stabbed to death whilst out on February 25th 2017 in Upper Street, Islington. JJ was a proud father of two beautiful girls when his life was taken from him at the age of 28 years old. The wound he suffered left JJ in cardiac arrest leading to severe brain damage. His life support machine had to be turned off five days later.
Hundreds lined the streets for his funeral, and to this day his killer has still not been caught.
His mum Karen has written in the Enquirer this week.
“I am a bereaved mother. My son Jonathan James McPhillips was murdered in Upper Street Islington in February 2017. Since his murder, my case has not progressed due to the fact that there is a murder happening every single day and the murder squad have been cut by 50% so there is not enough man power or hours or time to investigate. There are six people still walking the streets that are murderers.
“I feel that we have to do early intervention, we have to work with the children of younger ages to change the mindset of these kids so that they can realise that this isn’t the way forward. I also get deeply upset when the police bring people to justice and then the CPS doesn’t do their job and let them walk freely or give them a very light sentence.
“We need to be sentencing on the crime and not the lifestyle of the predators. A lot of families feel that there has not been enough justice for us and one of the things that we need is a voice in the court rooms. No one gets to hear about our children’s lives, we only get to hear about the people being convicted. So therefore I feel we also need to protect witnesses coming forward as there is not enough protection for them. People don’t feel safe and dont trust the system to take care of them when they do want to come forward and give evidence.”
Operation Shutdown will be delivered in Westminster on April 17 in a location still unknown. It will be a strong but peaceful protest in the heart of the capital to make a stand against knife crime.
This is a newly formed consortium of mums, dad’s and other bereaved family members and loved ones, working with and supported by other knife crime campaigners and campaigns, teachers, grassroots, youth and community groups, organising together under the banner of #OPERATIONSHUTDOWN
The mums are inviting all to help them make a stand against these atrocities and horrors that are blighting our streets on a daily basis.
“As a growing group of mum’s, dads, families, loved ones and knife crime campaigners, we are absolutely sick, tired and traumatised, by waking up daily and going to bed, after hearing more news, of young people being stabbed and murdered on our streets and within our local communities across the UK, daily.
“As mothers, we did not carry our children for 9 months, give birth, raise them, to have our children go on to kill each other and die or be hurt at the hands of one another often for senseless and incomprehensible reasons.
“We will no longer accept the war zone type environment, our children and communities are now living in, in fear and trauma.
“We will NEVER accept this level or type of violence as ‘normal’ nor get used to this, enough is enough; we are compelled to take direct action!
“We do not believe nearly enough is being done, with enough urgency, with enough priority and nor treated like the national public health UK wide emergency it is.
“We do not believe our voices and the voices of young people are heard, often enough, without filter, dilution, manipulation or censorship.
Why have we called ourselves and the protest a SHUTDOWN? We intend on the day to SHUTDOWN a central key location in Central London. We want to SHUTDOWN this violent epidemic. We want to SHUTDOWN the misery and pain. We want to SHUTDOWN the trauma and fear. We want to SHUTDOWN the lack of justice. We will SHUTDOWN further if our demands are not engaged with.”
This group of bereaved parents are calling for the Government to now take action before another life is lost.
A generation of young people are being lost to senseless violence, we know full well, the misery and pain that awaits these families, we know every new week is certain to bring newly bereaved families and this inevitably is absolutely horrendous.
“We have decided to take this peaceful, but drastic form of lawful protest, as we feel we have no other choice, we intend to make a powerful impact and to have our voices and demands heard. Because we do not believe nor feel the Prime Minister, her Cabinet Ministers and her Majesty’s Government as a whole, nor many of our own Councillor’s and MPs have acted with enough priority, urgency, care, nor consideration.
“We are astutely aware of current legislation, practice, initiatives and strategies, we believe none of it goes far enough, we won’t be fobbed off by being told enough is being done; when we know from first hand experience, that this is not the case.”
The Government are yet give this crisis, the proportionate attention it deserves, nor allocated appropriate measures and funding to start to tackle this national emergency, head on, by ensuring it is tackled effectively, proportionately or as a matter of national priority and emergency. Some of the demands are;
1. A Victims Law be introduced.
2. Those found guilty of murder and manslaughter to serve the full sentence, the maximum sentence possible in law.
3. Parliament review sentencing guidelines for repeat weapon offenders.
4. That prisons are revamped and reformed, so that every waking minute of incarceration is spent on rehabilitation.
5. The Government agree to and announce an independent public inquiry into school exclusions, PRU’s and the links to serious violence
The Crib, an initative who works with young people who are potentially at risk of offending, told The Enquirer: “We need serious consistent, cohesive and sustainable intervention and prevention initiatives for this generation and those to follow. The focus on impact of exclusions on young people’s long term associations and connections to society must be addressed, a young person feels detached from society once they are excluded as it sends a message to a young person which says you are not good enough.”