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Knife crime: ‘Stand strong and stop the wrong’ appeal

‘The community has had enough... one death is too many,’ murder victim’s mother tells protest

12 May, 2017 — By Emily Finch

Michelle McPhillips addresses marchers

THE grieving mother of stab victim Jonathon “JJ” McPhillips issued a heartfelt plea to the community to “stand strong and stop the wrong” at a rally against knife crime on Sunday.

Hundreds of marchers, many carrying placards with faces of knife victims including Ben Kinsella and Alan Cartwright, flocked to Islington Green to hear speeches before the “Enough is Enough” march through Islington and Hackney.

Michelle McPhillips, whose son JJ was knifed to death in Upper Street in February, called on ordinary people and community organisations to work together to halt the knife crime epidemic that is gripping the capital. In the past two weeks, 11 people have been fatally stabbed in London.

“The community has had enough, and basically the community is pulling together to help try to prevent any more unnecessary deaths, innocent deaths on the street,” Ms McPhillips told the crowd.

JJ’s daughter Lexi-Jae with her “Justice for Daddy” T-shirt

“One death is too many. It will not always be someone else’s problem. It is here, it is now for every one of us. No true friend needs to or should carry a knife, or a weapon or encourage you to carry one. Be strong within yourselves.

“When a life is taken on a street, it is not just one life that day, it is the start of a ripple that goes through so many lives. The law needs to change.”

She added: “I personally need the help of a community around me pulling together, to help me start making our streets safer, by starting to talk to each other and working with the authorities. Educating their children, to keep the rest of my family safe.

“Let us as a community stand strong, and stop the wrong.”

JJ, a 28-year-old father-of-two, was stabbed outside Islington Assembly Hall, close to his home. Those responsible for the killing remain at large.

His friends, family, and partner Kennedy Parker took part in Sunday’s demonstration, organised by The Crib youth club in Hackney.

Daughter Lexi-Jae, 4, wore a hand-decorated shirt with the words “Justice for Daddy”.

In 2016, there were no fatal stabbings in Islington. But four Islington teenagers lost their lives in knife attacks in 2015.

Another Islington teenager, Shaquan Sammy-Plummer, 17, was stabbed to death outside a house party in Enfield in January 2015. His mother Jessica, from Finsbury Park, addressed marchers on Sunday.

Getting down on her knees, she said: “Children, please, I’m begging you, think twice before you pick up a knife.”

Councillor Andy Hull, the Town Hall finance chief who took part in the march with his young son, said Islington Council had put an extra £2m into schemes which aim to prevent young people from committing violent crimes.

“I wanted to let people know that the council and police have a coordinated plan in place, over the summer in particular, to try to take knives off the streets, keep people safe and catch some of the bad guys who sit behind this crime,” he said.

“There are organised criminals in the background who are responsible. In the end, unless we can get to them, we’re just scratching the surface of the problem.”

The Met launched a 100-strong taskforce last Monday to target knife crime as part of Operation Spectre, its anti-knives initiative. More than 300 knives and 15 guns were recovered. Anyone with information about JJ’s murder can call the incident room on 020 8345 3775.

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