One of Britain’s most well-known Black Lives Matter activists is fighting for her life in a hospital after being shot in the head at a London house party.
Sasha Johnson, 27, became a familiar face as an organizer and speaker at anti-racism demonstrations that spread from the United States to Britain last summer. The political group she co-founded, the Taking the Initiative Party, said in a statement that Johnson was shot early Sunday morning, and said the attack came after “numerous death threats” against her—although police say they have no evidence of a credible threat.
“Sasha has always been actively fighting for Black people and the injustices that surround the Black community, as well as being both a member of BLM and a member of Taking the Initiative Party’s Executive Leadership Committee,” said the TTIP statement. “Sasha is also a mother of three and a strong, powerful voice for our people and our community.”
In a Sunday night statement, London’s Metropolitan Police confirmed that a 27-year-old woman was in a “critical condition” at a hospital after a shooting at a south London house party, but added: “At this stage, there is nothing to suggest that she was the subject of a targeted attack or that she had received any credible threats against her prior to this incident.”
Imarn Ayton, one of Johnson’s friends and a fellow BLM activist, appeared to support that theory, telling BBC News that her friend had been caught up in random gun violence, and saying that she believed the incident was “more related to rival gangs as opposed to her activism.”
Ayton went on to say, “There was a rival gang that may have heard about someone being in that party that they didn’t feel quite comfortable with or trusted and so they resorted to driving past and shooting into the garden, and one of those shots obviously hit Sasha Johnson. But I don’t believe she was the intended victim.” Ayton also said that Johnson has undergone successful surgery since the Sunday morning shooting.
Black Lives Matter U.K. paid tribute to Johnson in a statement on Sunday, writing: “We are saddened to hear that Sasha Johnson is fighting for her life after a critical wound and following numerous death threats. While Sasha wasn't part of our organization, she impressively founded a new Black led political party and was dedicated to resist anti-Black racism. Any attempt to intimidate or silence her, is an attack on all of us.”
TTIP said a vigil will be held for Johnson outside Kings College hospital in London later on Monday, writing in an announcement: “Let’s show our support and stand against senseless violence!”
As of Monday morning, no arrests have been made.