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Shooting of George Nkencho: 27-year-old had suffered from mental health issues

DUBLIN: There has been widespread protest over the killing of a mentally ill young man George Nkencho in a Garda shooting. Protesters, including women and young people, gathered near the Blanchardstown Garda Station, created a tense atmosphere. A section of the youth has reached the stage of becoming violent. Protesters also accused the garda of making various threats in the wake of the shooting death of innocent George Nkencho.

“All every well-meaning person should be asking for is justice and an end to this type of killing,” Emeka Ejezie, an Igbo community leader said. “The right message is that what happened to George shouldn’t happen to anyone, regardless of race,” Ejezie added.

The protest march took place at the Blanchardstown Garda Station as well as at the Hartstown and the local marquee shopping centre. When the protest march reached the place where Mr. Nkencho’s violent incident took place, people became angry. At about 3pm, the Eurospar in question abruptly closed. As protesters gathered in front of it, some were trapped inside the store.

Most of the protesters were young people and teenagers. Several Garda cars arrived on scene within seconds. One of the vehicles was surrounded by protesters and attacked. However, Garda did not make any arrests in the incident.

Protesters blamed Garda’s anti-minority attitude for the incident. Would it have happened to a white person with mental health issues? They also ask why George Nkencho has been labelled a “thug” by certain parts of the media? What is to be done about how the gardaí police these communities?

The Nkencho family said George “was not a thug nor a criminal”. “George was suffering from serious mental illness and those who knew him know the type of person he was,” they said. Greg Umeh, from the local Igbo community, which includes Mr. Nkencho, said he hadn’t seen him behave aggressively. “As far as I can understand, George was known to gardaí, in that they had been to his premises for incidents concerning his mental health in the past,” he said.

There are many incidents involving people with mental health problems and many of them were killed. Garda fired brutally at George Nkencho as he was standing outside his home with a knife. Five bullets were found in Nkencho ‘s body.

An investigation by the Garda Ombudsman, GSoc is going on. Our youth are telling us that they are scared, that they are afraid to leave their homes because they are being racially profiled, picked up for no reason,” Greg Umeh said.

Garda is on high alert in and around George’s home on nearby Manorfields Drive. A local woman says George’s murder was the result of racism. “This isn’t about this one incident, or an individual garda, nor should it be,” said Dr Lucy Michael, a sociologist with Fingal Communities Against Racism.

The cause of the problem is the conscious bias of the police. The problem here is that there is no law to criminalize racial profiling. “[Garda Commissioner] Drew Harris will have to make a stand on this, GSoc won’t be enough,” she said. “Every child in this community knows what GSoc is,” she added.

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