Sasha Johnson, a UK-based Black Lives Matter activist, is fighting for her life after she was shot in what police have described as an attempt on the life of the 20-something-year-old activist from London. On Wednesday, UK media reported that five males aged between 17 and 28 are in police custody as part of investigations.
Johnson was shot at a party, according to the London Metropolitan Police on May 23. It is not clear if all the five people were at the party that Johnson attended however, a detective at the Special Crimes Unit said the arrests show “progress is being made”.
“However, I would continue to appeal to those who may hold information about the events that led to Sasha receiving her horrific injuries, or about those responsible, to do the right thing and come forward and speak to police,” Chief Inspector Richard Leonard reportedly said.
The incident of shooting was reported globally due to the prominence of the victim and suspicions that she was targeted as a result of her activism. Some pro-BLM politicians in the UK were accused of making the latter connection, including Dianne Abbott, one of the few Black legislators in the UK parliament.
On Monday, Abbott tweeted: “Black activist #SashaJohnson in hospital in critical condition after sustaining a gunshot wound to the head. Nobody should have to potentially pay with their life because they stood up for racial justice”. Abbott was criticized for what her detractors thought was an attempt to create an atmosphere of racial tensions in the UK where about 5% of the population identify as Black and/or African.
According to The Guardian, Johnson graduated from Ruskin College, Oxford after a Community Development and Youth Work program. As a result of this connection to Oxford, she is thought to have nicknamed herself, “Oxford’s Black Panther”. She was known to support the UK’s Labour Party, the major center-left party although her personal politics has been described as Marxist.
Johnson also volunteered in soup kitchens and was part of the movement that was dubbed Rhodes Must Fall. The movement continues to call for the removal of the statue of British colonial entrepreneur Cecil Rhodes in Oriel College at Oxford. She was key in organizing Britain’s own version of the Black Lives Matter protests that swept the world in 2020.
The activist has also been credited with a founding member status in the establishment of the Taking The Initiative Party (TTIP), a political party with the sole aim of seeking racial and social justice. The TTIP fielded candidates in the just-ended local elections in London.