Black Lives Matter activist injured in shooting is facing prosecution for racially abusing police officer

·4-min read
Sasha Johnson was shot in the head on Sunday morning as she attended a house party in Peckham, south London
Sasha Johnson was shot in the head on Sunday morning as she attended a house party in Peckham, south London

A Black Lives Matter activist who was shot in the head was being prosecuted on charges of racially harassing a police officer during a protest last year, it has emerged.

Sasha Johnson, 27, was injured on Sunday morning as she attended a house party in Peckham, south London, and is currently in a critical condition.

Ms Johnson initially appeared at Lavender Hill Magistrates Court in London on December 7 where she faced one count of causing racially aggravated intentional harassment to the officer in Brixton on August 1, 2020.

The alleged offence occurred during the Reparations Day march, when BLM demonstrators occupied Windrush Square protesting against racism.

Ms Johnson was bailed to appear for trial in April 2022.

Details of her prosecution emerged as her fellow activists accused the Metropolitan Police of “exercising damage control by underestimating the severity of this incident”.

Watch: Who is Sasha Johnson? The 'fearless political campaigner'

On Sunday, police were called shortly before 3am after a group of “four black males dressed in dark coloured clothing” discharged a gun at a garden party attended by Ms Johnson and 30 other people.

Ms Johnson was shot in the head and another man in his 20s was injured with a knife before the offenders fled the scene.

Friends of Ms Johnson have said that the BLM activist had previously received death threats and her car was vandalised four weeks before the attack.

But the Met Police has insisted there is no evidence that suggests she was the intended target of the shooting, attracting criticism from Ms Johnson’s political organisation Taking The Initiative Party (TTIP).

Police forensics officers search for evidence in drains in the street near where Ms Johnson was shot
Police forensics officers search for evidence in drains in the street near where Ms Johnson was shot

“We believe that the police’s statement regarding Sasha not being the intended victim is an attempt to pacify the hundreds of thousands of people around the world that are infuriated by this attack,” Charles Gordon, one of TTIP’s founding members, said.

“We are appalled by the dismissive tone of the Met Police statement and urge them to take this incident seriously and see it for what it is; an attempt of murder.”

Mr Gordon also contested the Met’s claim the incident was carried out by four black men.

“We have multiple sources present at the incident who have confirmed to us that the attackers were all wearing balaclavas,” Mr Gordon said. “How were the police able to ascertain that the attackers were four ‘black men’ if they have no footage and no evidence to support said conclusion?”

In a statement issued on Tuesday morning, Commander Alison Heydari, of the Met Police, said: “From our enquiries so far, we have established that Sasha had been at a party at a house on Consort Road in Peckham early on Sunday morning.

Watch: Black equal rights activist was shot when group of men opened fire at party

“Around 3am a group of four black males dressed in dark coloured clothing entered the garden of the property and discharged a firearm.

“They had left the scene before officers arrived.

“We are aware of Sasha’s involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement in the UK and I understand the concern this will cause to some communities – however, I wish to stress that at this time there is nothing to suggest Sasha was the victim of a targeted attack.

“We are also not aware of any reports of threats made against her prior to this incident.

“I want to take this opportunity to reassure you that we are doing everything possible to identify those responsible and to bring them to justice.”

Diane Abbott, the former Labour home secretary, was criticised on Tuesday for a tweet in which she suggested that Ms Johnson was the target of the attack because she “stood up for racial justice”.

“Black activist Sasha Johnson is in hospital in critical condition after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head,” Ms Abbott wrote on Monday. “Nobody should have to potentially pay with their life because they stood up for racial justice #BlackLivesMatter.”

A Home Office source described the comments as “irresponsible”, and that they “risk increasing tensions in the community.”

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