Sasha Johnson’s Political Party Criticise Cops, Question Reports Gang Shot Her Accidentally

Sasha
JUSTIN TALLIS/AFP via Getty Images

The political party of BLM activist Sasha Johnson is furious that her shooting “has been portrayed as a ‘black on black crime’ and a ‘gang crime’,” criticising the police and suggesting she may have been the victim of “a hate crime or a targeted attack at worst”.

Johnson, a member of the Taking the Initiative Party’s Executive Leadership Committee who is also linked to the separate New Black Panther Party UK, was shot in the head at a house party in the early hours of Sunday morning in Southwark, London, leaving her in critical condition.

Some on the British left were quick to suggest she may have been a victim of a targeted, politically-motivated attack — with Labour’s Diane Abbott MP tweeting that “Nobody should have to potentially pay with their life because they stood up for racial justice”, for example — but police have said that, while they are “aware of Sasha’s involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK and… understand the concern this will cause to some communities… at this time there is nothing to suggest Sasha was the victim of a targeted attack.”

Indeed, as of the time of publication their description of the shooting as they understand it lines up with early media reports that it was likely gang-related: “Around 3 am a group of four black males dressed in dark coloured clothing entered the garden of the property and discharged a firearm.”

The Taking the Initiative Party (TTIP) has challenged this “narrative”, however, and in particular, the police claims that they are not aware of Johnson having received any “credible threats”:

The irony, is in the fact that the police have stated that there is no clear evidence that Sasha was the target of the attack, and that there are no credible death threats made towards her; however, how have the police come to this conclusion without being able to speak with Sasha regarding the death threats and investigate? Do the police know who the target of the attack was, in order to conclude that Sasha wasn’t? How does one manage to shoot someone in the head accidentally? Surely, to end up in hospital having sustained a bullet shot to the head, makes a death threat more credible.

In a TTIP press release, founding member Charles Gordon alleged that he had “even been contacted by various officials asking us (TTIP) not to acknowledge that this is a targeted attack.”

“I would like to say that we need to stay cautious and aware; the truth is that we don’t know what has happened here, but we do know that an attack on one is an attack on all. We need to remain vigilant; as I explained to other activists, pretending that the problem doesn’t exist, does not make it any less real,” he added.

The party said it was “disgusted by the way that this narrative has been portrayed as a ‘black on black crime’ and a ‘gang crime’, not acknowledging that this is a hate crime or a targeted attack at worst,” and laid much of the blame for said “narrative” on BLM activist Imarn Ayton.

Ayton, of the UK Black Reformist Movement, told the BBC that “As far as we’re aware [Johnson] was at a party and there was a rival gang that may have heard about a person being there that they didn’t feel comfortable with, or trusted, so they resorted to driving past and shooting into a garden, and one of those shots obviously hit Sasha Johnson, but I don’t believe she was the intended target.”

TTIP said that Ayton “had no authority to give a statement on the incident” and that they “would like to clarify that this individual is not a friend of Sasha’s, despite claiming to be”.

The party says that Johnson is currently in critical care and has “recently undergone an operation and is in recovery post-surgery; we do not have any further information in relation to her recovery and/or if there is any permanent damage.”

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