30 years ago today, 28th September 1985, Metropolitan Police officers in Brixton burst into the home of Dorothy Groce, known to her friends as Cherry, and wrongfully shot her while she was in her bed in front of her young children and family. Soon after the shooting, members of the local community came out to find out what had happened. As they got no answers, many gathered outside Brixton Police Station where some began to chant “murderers”; others demanded disciplinary action.
The police came out in response with riot gear and running battles followed. Dozens of cars were turned over and set alight to form barricades, a police dog bit a photographer, a young man fell unconscious and bled for several minutes after being hit on the head by a truncheon and the police chased away bystanders who offered to help. Though many at the time thought Cherry had died, she survived the shot in her chest but was left permanently paralysed. Riots spread from Brixton to Peckham and to Toxeth in Liverpool.
A week later in Tottenham, the police broke down the door of another African-Caribbean family and the mother present, Cynthia Jarrett, aged 49, died moments afterwards. Her daughter claimed that a police officer had pushed her to the ground before she died. Similarly this sparked enormous outbursts of anger and resentment towards the police and started what was known as the Broadwater Farm (Tottenham) uprisings of 1985.
In both cases, no police officer was disciplined or charged for the death and injury caused.
This Saturday, join Akala, Reni Eddo-Lodge, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Stafford Scott, the people behind All Black Everything and Lee Lawrence, a son of Cherry Groce, who are hosting an evening event to celebrate their lives but also to question whether the police have changed and continue the family’s campaign for restorative justice. Please share and sign the petition in support of the family’s new campaign: 30 years still no justice for Cherry
Date: Saturday 3rd October
Time: 5:30pm – 9pm
Venue: We are 336, 336 Brixton Road, Brixton, SW9 7AA
Registration Website: EventBrite
We will also reflect on the police violence that led to Cynthia Jarrett’s death and the Broadwater Farm uprisings a week after Cherry Groce’s shooting.
What happened in 1985? Why did the police shoot an innocent mother in front of her children, youngest being 8 years old? How did the community defend and rebuild itself after the uprisings?
Come and participate in this commemorative event that will discuss the past, present and future of communities fighting for justice and peace in Brixton and Tottenham.
This will also form the start of an oral history project which is open to young people aged between 14 and 25 years old. Contact London Campaign Against Police and State Violence for more details.
Lee Lawrence led the successful campaign to get an inquest into the events that led to his mother’s death and a public apology from the police. Watch the video of him talking about the police shooting here