We support the Nkencho Family in their call for an independent inquiry into the killing of George Nkencho
We share their concerns with the ongoing investigation by the Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).
No more delays! Independent public inquiry for truth and justice
On behalf of the family of late George Nkencho and the numerous groups that have come together under the umbrella of George Nkencho Coalition also known as the 30th December Movement, we wish to convey the feeling of shock and devastation over the fatal shooting of 27-year-old George Nkencho by the Garda Síochána Armed Response Unit, in front of his house, on Wednesday 30th December 2020. This needless and violent death of a young man in his prime in our community has shattered the cohesion that generally existed in our multi-cultural community – despite incidents of racism – before the tragic killing. As many of us saw in several print and social media accounts in the aftermath of the killing, questions around race and ethnicity, class, equity and inclusion are now being freely expressed as a matter of concern. The indignation felt by our community is further orchestrated by the mental health illness of late George Nkencho and the anguish and trauma his family now experience.
We therefore join the George Nkencho Family to decry the pace of the ongoing investigation by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC). The family and community is hurting very badly and only justice can mitigate the present feeling of despondency. We must realize that justice delayed is justice denied. Additionally, we expect that the investigation process would be transparent, thorough and fair. As a universal practice, we also believe that the officers involved in the fatal shooting should be suspended from normal duty until the investigation is complete. This would engender more confidence in the investigation process. There is a need for this suspension to be confirmed by An Garda Síochána and the media.
CALL FOR INDEPENDENT PUBLIC INQUIRY
Furthermore, we call on the Minister for Justice Helen McEntee to intervene by launching an independent public inquiry into the fatal shooting. It is imperative that the current operating policing procedures are reviewed to find out if the procedure is faulty. A public enquiry would offer insights into the current process and determine if additional measures should have been deployed in the George Nkencho tragic situation. This process would also help determine what additional measures may need to be introduced to allow for a more thorough process to de-escalate a similar situation by safely demobilizing the target of stand-offs without inflicting fatal wounds. The process would identify and offer solutions to any deficiencies in policing especially concerning minorities or persons with mental health challenges. Such inquiry also needs to deal with bias and racial profiling that many people of colour and minority background are concerned about. We need to be reassured that the state institutions are free of any forms of racial discrimination. Pressure by organisations defending our human rights and liberties, such as the Irish Council of Civil Liberties can help pushing the demands for an independent public inquiry.
GEORGE NKENCHO – ONE OF OUR OWN
The first thing we all need to say, especially if we are ordinary working class people who live in the Dublin15/Blanchardstown area, is that George Nkencho was one of our own. This is not a matter of black or white, skin colour or place of birth. You can be white as snow or with Irish ancestry going back to Brian Boru and still be a super rich and ruthless exploiter of Irish workers or a corrupt billionaire tax exile, a specialist in brown envelopes, who robs the state and the people on a daily basis.
George was one of us because he was an ordinary lad, like so many others, doing his best to cope and live his life in very difficult circumstances, in an area that suffers disproportionately from poverty and deprivation. Whatever allegedly happened in the local shop on the day of his killing doesn’t change this. We don’t know whether George waved a knife or not. Regardless of the details, these things don’t make it all right to kill him. He had left the area of the incident and was on his way home. The fact is. he was shot at his own doorstep in front of his family. How many young men and women in our community have got into scrapes and conflicts, and trouble with the Gardaí at some point? They don’t deserve to get shot five times for it. In this case de-escalation of the situation should have been the action by the Gardaí.
That’s why all of us should be standing with George’s grieving family and friends and demanding Justice for George. Justice doesn’t mean revenge. It means finding out the truth and that means an independent inquiry, not one wing of the Gardaí investigating another wing. It means those who killed George should be held to account. That’s a basic democratic right.
That is why we call for justice and solidarity and we should all call for it together.
RACISM IS A POISON THAT DIVIDES OUR COMMUNITIES
Racism is a poison that divides our communities. It must be called out and denounced and where necessary actively mobilised against. This is vital. Racism must not be allowed to become normalised or acceptable. We reject all forms of racism and continue to build strong unity in our communities. We also reject the scapegoating of migrants, minorities and refugees for economic and social issues in our society today. Politicians and public representatives that use racism for electoral gains are also responsible for the spread of racism. Institutional racism must be recognised and stamped out. We the ordinary people have more in common that unites us than divides. Our diversity is our wealth.
FAR-RIGHT LIES and HATE
We are heartened that the peaceful cooperation between the members of the Dublin 15 community has remained intact, despite this tragedy. Unfortunately, the events of the 30th of December have shown a dark side of our community which have been exploited by racists, fascists and far-rights elements to whip up negative sentiments in our beautiful communities. Their antics have emerged strongly on social media and some of the reporting in mainstream media. To rebuild cohesion and trust in our community, there is a need to promote a healing process through engagement and dialogue. We call on our political and religious leaders to strongly condemn any racist rhetoric emerging from these fringe groups and publicly declare that such discourse has no place in our country. There is also a need for engagement with affected members of our community to reassure them that some good can come out of this unfortunate and tragic event.
CALL FOR INCREASED MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
This tragic incident has also shown that there are gaps in the mental health service in the state. It is widely acknowledged that the current COVID pandemic and its attendant social problems are having an adverse effect on members of the society. Anecdotal evidence posits that young people might be impacted more than others. We therefore encourage the government to fund a public mental health awareness campaign that would offer free psychotherapy assessment for young people and indeed anyone who might be struggling with mental health issues.
Another concern being expressed in our community, especially by our young people over the George Nkencho tragedy is in wondering if this unfortunate incident is an indication of a new strategy in policing. Emerging evidence from members of the Black youth and the African community indicate a growing worry over Garda profiling of African youths and double standards in policing strategy. Although we feel that racist policing methods are not employed widespread by members of An Garda Síochána, we need to be vigilant to ensure that racial biases are not allowed to flourish and subsequently, form a new policing culture.
We further ask public officials and the An Garda Siochana to work in concert with community leaders in order to ensure that policing in our communities is done with hearts and minds to promote restorative justice.
We call on all members of the Dáil Éireann and especially on the Dublin West TD’s, Leo Varadkar, Roderic O’Gorman, Jack Chambers and Paul Donnelly, your intervention and representation on this matter will help move Ireland forward to establish a fairer, just and inclusive society for all.
Justice for George Nkencho
Signed by The George Nkencho Coalition (Aka) 30th December Movement