The brother of a knife-wielding black male shot dead by Irish police — or Garda — said of the officer involved “I want him terminated… I want him finished” to cheers from protesters.
George Nkencho, 27, was slowly followed to his home by around a dozen officers of the Garda Síochána — “Guardians of the Peace” — after incidents at Hartstown Shopping Centre in Dublin and a Eurospar convenience store in which he is alleged to have threatened members of the public with a knife, with a store manager suffering “facial injuries” in the latter case.
Officers from the Blanchardstown Armed Support Unit (ASU) fatally shot Nkencho, said to have lunged at them with a blade, in what the Guards have described as a “graduated policing response” after efforts to Taser and pepper spray him into submission over an extended period of time proved unsuccessful.
The shooting has sparked fury among many in the African diaspora community, who have compared George Nkecho to George Floyd in the United States and are protesting using similar ‘Justice for George’ and ‘Black Lives Matter’ sloganeering.
“I want that fed, whoever he was, that shot him, I want him terminated… I want him finished, because, just know, Garda, when we find him, yeah? Just know,” his brother Emmanuel told street protesters in a video circulating on social media, eliciting cheers from the crowd.
Another video appears to show him saying “F*** the 12” — a reference to American police drugs units, which, like the habit of referring to police officers as “feds”, has crossed the Atlantic — and “we don’t like these pigs”, but such comments are absent from accounts of his statements in Ireland’s mainstream press, despite quoting him at length in several articles.
The Guards have acknowledged the seeming threats, if obliquely, but seem loath to act on them, saying the situation is “sensitive” and that they are “aware that emotions are running high and that the family and friends of the man who died are of course very upset”.
They have also put a heavy emphasis on their concern that “lies” are being spread about Nkencho — for example, that he has a long list of criminal convictions, which appears to be untrue. His family say he simply had “serious mental illness”.
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“We are aware of and are closely monitoring social media. We have concerns about escalating racial tensions,” a “well-placed security source” told the Irish Independent.
“On the one hand, there were threats being made against the garda who fired the shots. On the other side, lies are being circulated about the man who died claiming he was a criminal when he was not,” they said.
“Unfortunately these lies went viral and lots of right-minded people in society think the dead man was a criminal when he was not. All of these things stoke the fires of racial tension,” they warned.
While video footage online does appear to show demonstrators engaged in acts of disorder, such as attacking a public bus marooned by a street protest, pelting police vans with missiles, and leading a hostile march through a shopping centre, the authorities claim the extent of the unrest is exaggerated.
“There’s not exactly riots out there. It’s not that bad,” a senior source claimed in comments to the Irish Times.
“But our diversity officers have been very active in engaging with community leaders and pastors out in the area in the last few days,” they added.
The shooting is being investigated by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).
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