This article is dedicated to Dea-John Reid, aged 14.
On 31 May 2021, Dea-John Reid died, not in an incomprehensible act of nature but a brutal act of racism and aggression. Fanatically murdered, dying from a stab wound to his chest, where he lived in Kingstanding, Birmingham.
In a crime that is hauntingly tantamount to Stephen Lawrence’s horrific murder in 1993, five white men & boys hunted Dea-John down like an animal, purely based on the colour of his skin and killed him in broad daylight.
Two 14-year-old boys, another boy of 16 and two grown men aged 35 and 38 murdered Dea-John, who was confirmed dead at the scene. I’ll let that sit there for a minute. Two grown men, Michael Shields, 35 and George Khan, 38, killed a child in cold blood.
Before they murdered him, they chased and racially abused him. On hearing this story, what I felt was pain, the pain of even thinking about a child so scared, so petrified, knowing what the likely outcome would be for him as a young Black man. I cannot even begin to imagine how his mum will cope with those dark thoughts, that no doubt will come flooding in after the grief, the tears, and the anger at the injustice of her child being so cruelly taken from her.
Of course, as any rational person, you would think the outrage would have poured out thick and fast, that the national news would have got a handle on this story and the public would be shouting from the rooftops at the injustice and callousness of his death. Surely, after George Floyd being publicly murdered in 2020 and the recognition and global outrage of the inequity and racism in society, of the plethora of news & social media articles regarding Black Lives Matter and how things ‘must change’, what we would have witnessed was another public uprising? Or just a similar level of noise compared to other recent murders in the UK.
But no, it was barely reported and alongside that, there was little to no public outrage for a child murder, which historically in this country elicits high energy and attention. The Black community mainly picked the story up on social media.
It took 3 days for Sky news to pick the story up, alongside local news, with what I can only call a pitiful write up. On the 4 June, the Sun’s headline for Dea-John was ‘‘GONNA KILL YOU’ ‘Armed vigilantes’ threaten revenge attacks this weekend after boy, 14, stabbed to death in ‘racist murder’. A deflection if I’ve ever seen one. Between 6-8 June, Yahoo, the Independent, the Daily Mail and the BBC again wrote monosyllabic pieces, factful and devoid of emotion. On the 8 June, ITV talks about the vigil the family organised to remember Dea-John. By 9 June, no mass media pieces. The news had simply gone away.
I watched his mum, and two family members give an appeal on national TV, with zero support from any agency. No police detectives, no social workers, no professional presence. Absolutely no-one supporting the family in any capacity. How is this even possible, compassionate, or fair? It definitively isn’t equitable.
If we are looking comparatively, to the awful and brutal murder of Sarah Everard, who went missing on 3 March, with her body found a week later – a quick google check shows that even as far as the 8 June the Independent were continuing to report on her murder. And you will find at least 6 pages of related search articles on the BBC.
So, God forgive me, the next time someone says to me ‘all lives matter’. Because clearly, they do not. Evidently, looking at the press alone, Black lives do not matter as much. Can you imagine if this case were the other way around and five Black men and boys hunted down and killed a white 14-year-old boy and how the news would portray them, their families, their distant relatives? No stone would be left unturned to convince the public that the death would be too good for them. Vilification would be the least of their worries.
How long do Black people have to be terrorised, having to consistently and daily consider if their colour is going to be an issue? When we talk of lived trauma and living in fear, this is what we are talking about. All the while knowing the repercussions will not meet the severity of their white counterparts gone before. Nothing has been fundamentally learnt in the UK since Stephen Lawrence’s murder. I categorically stand by that statement. Dea-John’s murder is heart-breaking and testimony to the fact that the progress on racism in this country is moving at a glacial pace.
My heart and soul go out to Dea-John Reid’s family and to all of those gone before him simply because they were Black.
Rest in Power Dea-John Reid.
2 thoughts on “In Cold Blood”
Johanne, this is a powerful article that puts the country to shame. We knew that all lives matter only when they are white. And the under reporting of this story about a black child murdered by white adults, is testimony to that fact. Thanks a million for publicising.
The imbalance is jaw smacking and soul pulverising. And unacceptable. People don’t know until they know so your writing needs to be shared. Thanks Jo.