Residents of Blanchardstown and other parts of north county Dublin say they have endured 24 hours of violence and intimidation following the death of George Nkencho, an African man who was shot by Gardai after he attacked staff at a Eurospar armed with a knife.
According to eyewitnesses, Mr Nkencho punched a manager in the store, and threatened staff with a knife. Gardaí followed him out of the shop to his home, repeatedly asking him to drop his weapon. The Armed Support Unit fired fatal shots after Mr Nkencho lunged at them with the knife.
Political figures such as Paul Murphy TD, Senator Lynn Ruane, Ruth Coppinger and others seemed keen to make race an issue in the shooting, with Murphy asking “Did the fact that he was a black man affect the decisions the Gardaí made?” No evidence has been proffered to date to suggest that race had any bearing on the Gardaí actions
Protests were held at Blanchardstown Garda Station yesterday, which were reported as being largely peaceful, but locals say that violence and intimidation quickly followed as large groups of protestors attacked shoppers, buses, gardai in hours of mayhem across the area.
One woman told Gript.ie that people were “trapped in their homes” and “terrified” on New Year’s Eve as gangs of protesters engaged in a lengthy stand off with the Gardaí around Hartstown.
“We were afraid to leave the house. We felt terrified. The people in the Spar had to be locked in earlier, and people were being threatened. There was a garda helicopter over the area for hours, and they were throwing rocks and fireworks at the Gardai,” she said.
She asserted that racism “wasn’t the issue here” and was strongly critical of what she described as a “media blackout” on the disturbances accompanying the protests. Some of the videos posted on social media have been described as disturbing.
The protest at the Blanchardstown Garda Station was tense at times.