George Nkencho’s state killers walk free – demand truth and justice 

CW – racism, graphic racist violence & murder

By Myriam Poizat-Marouki

On Wednesday, 30 December 2020, George Nkencho was shot and killed by the Gardaí. After three and a half years of what has been a travesty of justice – from refusing to suspend George’s murderer upon investigation, to delaying examining forensics and interviewing witnesses, to postponing a far-from-transparent inquest and its report – the DPP (Director of Public Prosecutions) has finally come out with the disgraceful decision not to send evidence to trial. 

Moreover, it has given no explanation or justification for its decision. And if media reports are true, the two armed Gardaí present on the scene of the crime were told they would be in the clear before the Nkencho family was even told anything. This system is rigged and rotten – and must be brought down.

No truth, no justice – no peace

Anyone acquainted with the basic details of George’s killing would know that there is more than enough evidence to warrant a trial. While an autopsy found George was shot twice in the back, the heartbreaking video many of us had to watch to bring out the truth about George’s death also showed that he was shot at least five times (with a significant gap between the last two shots), within 20 minutes of engagement with the Gardaí.

The treatment George received – when he needed help and support for his health and wellbeing – was instead lethal measures, which were not used against white men in similar situations. As a matter of fact, the actions of the 13 trained Gardaí present on the scene wearing stab-proof vests, starkly contrasts with the approach of de-escalation and arrest that was adopted a few months later, in the same Dublin 15 community, when a white man armed with a pistol shot at Gardaí from his bedroom window.

The lack of accountability for the Gardaí means that all members of that institution can continue to act with complete impunity. It also means no answers or justice for the family. The disgraceful treatment of the Nkencho family is testament to the deep disregard and dehumanising attitude the state holds towards people of colour, migrants and working-class families.

Racism at the core of the Irish State

Each year since the Black Lives Matter explosion in 2020, new reports have come out to show the discrimination people of colour, migrants, Travellers, and all ethnic minorities experience with the Gardaí. Last week, a report showed that for the first time in Ireland reports of racist hate crimes to the Gardaí have topped all other forms of hate crimes.

This comes as little surprise. In the past year and a half we have seen an increase in racist attitudes and violence in Ireland, whipped up by dangerous far-right agitators spreading racist lies and rumours about people of colour, refugees and migrants. Their aim is to blame us for crises we did not create, particularly dehumanising brown and black men as predators as a way to justify their capitalistic rhetoric that there aren’t enough resources to house everyone – a farcical argument in a rich country where eleven billionaires have seen their wealth grow by more than €15 billion last year. 

These are the tactics the far right also used back in 2020 to justify in the most inhumane and disturbing ways the killing of George. Back then, members of the Socialist Party, of YARI (Youth Against Racism & Inequality) and others opposed that through campaigns aimed at countering the racist myths. We brought the truth out about George, the incidents preceding his killing and the role of the Gardaí – all of which made it all the more necessary to have an independent, public inquiry.

The decision of the DPP shows that this type of campaign is vital in the fight for racial justice. Anything less than that would mean continuing to allow the Irish State to feel safe using the increase of the far right to harden its own racist policies and cover up deep injustices. 

Many may have hoped the state would do the right thing and hold the Gardaí accountable after such a long process, and in light of such an abundance of incriminating information. However, the 43-year-long Stardust campaign for truth and justice shows that the establishment has contempt for working-class people fighting for their rights and will do all it can to protect the powerful. 

‘If there is no struggle there is no progress’ – Frederick Douglass

The Stardust families finally received the state apology just a day before the DPP announced its decision about George’s case. They were told that ‘never again’ would another family feel the injustice they felt for 43 years. Yet, the Nkenchos are now faced with the same lack of truth and justice. The cynicism of the state must be exposed.

Justice for George’s family, friends and community won’t be won quickly or easily. It is therefore vital to support the appeal of the DPP decision – not only for George’s mother, father and siblings, but also for all minorities and people of colour in Ireland, for whom a chilling precedent has been set. 

Leaving a migrant, working-class family on their own against the power of the state won’t cut it. We have seen in the US, with the conviction of Derek Chauvin, George Floyd’s murderer, the crucial role movements of solidarity like BLM play in the fight for justice. Never before was a racist cop murderer convicted as efficiently as Chauvin was. It took the pressure of a historic mass explosion to make that happen – a real possibility in Ireland where young Black and Irish people, and migrant workers, have started leading important anti-racist struggles. 

We must fight for justice for George Nkencho. We cannot allow the Gardaí to act with such disgusting impunity. We must demand a new independent, public inquiry into Geroge’s death.

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