IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Islington parents will march to end knife violence

Families of stabbing victims plan to join ‘shutdown’ protest

08 March, 2019 — By Emily Finch and Samantha Booth

Michelle McPhillips, whose son was stabbed to death two years ago, Stefan Brown, CEO of Stop Kids Being Killed On Our Streets, and Elaine Donnellon, of Rise Against Violence UK

PARENTS who have lost children to knife crime will “shut down” central London next month in a bid to end violence on the streets.

Michelle McPhillips, the popular landlady of the Green Man pub in Essex Road, said people were “sick of opening the newspaper and hearing about more victims of knife crime every day”.

Her son, Jonathan “JJ” McPhillips, was stabbed to death in Upper Street two years ago but no one has been put on trial for the attack.

Ms McPhillips met with other bereaved parents and campaigners on Sunday to discuss plans for “Operation Shutdown” which will see two areas in central London closed to traffic. A march led by bereaved parents will then meet in an undisclosed location.

“It’s going to be a peaceful protest. Everyone is fed-up with knife crime,” she said.

The activists have created a list of demands for the government which includes an emergency cabinet meeting and an independent public inquiry into school exclusions and their link to serious violence.

Ms McPhillips added: “There’s no police officers to put on the street, this is part of the problem – they’ve taken so many officers off the beat that the kids don’t visibly see police. If kids were interacting with police officers on the streets there would be that liaison to try and prevent this from happening to begin with.”

She explained that parents, activists and charity workers came up with the idea for “Operation Shutdown” after various meetings and discussions on WhatsApp.

Lucy Martindale, a youth worker who is helping to organise the protest, said witnessing gang violence “completely ruined her life for 10 years”.

The 29-year-old, who is from Wandsworth, saw her cousin stabbed in the head with a screwdriver when she was just 10 years old.

“I’ve had 10 friends and relatives die because of violence,” she said. “It gave me post-traumatic stress, anxiety, and a lot of mental health issues. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, and that’s why I’m trying to stop the violence.”

Elaine Donnellon, from anti-violence charity Rise Against Violence UK, said: “What I’ve learned, speaking to mums, every single day they wake up and go to bed on a diet of basically knowing more children and young people have been stabbed to death or shot.

“It is on top of their own traumas and own experiences. A lot of the mums are trying to fight their own causes and cases while trying to prevent it from happening to other people.

“We’ve got a growing group of people and we are forming a wide ­consortium to reach out to bereaved families, frontline workers, teachers, knife-crime campaigners and groups.”

Stefan Brown, CEO of Stop Kids Being Killed On Our Street, said: “There’s no one under the umbrella of an organisation where there’s mothers that have gone through the pain, organisations doing the grassroots, and people that understand what the reality is on the street.

“We are doing it because we’ve had enough and decided to make sure the people around us are a team.”

The exact location of the protest, in central London at 1pm on April 17, will be announced nearer the time on ­Facebook and Twitter using the hashtag #OperationShutdown.

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