Cherry Dorothy Groce

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I walk pretty much everywhere I go in London.

I find sights like this blue plaque very interesting, and when I do come across one, once back indoors, I research the name to see what I can find.

This particular plaque pretty much says it all, but I had to dig a little deeper.

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‘Dorothy Groce, known as Cherry, in hospital after she was accidentally shot by police’ ~ telegraph.co.uk

The Brixton riot of 1985 started on 28 September in Lambeth in South London. It was the second major riot that the area had witnessed in the space of four years, the last in 1981. It was sparked by the shooting of Dorothy “Cherry” Groce by the Metropolitan Police, while they sought her 21-year-old son Michael Groce in relation to a suspected firearms offence; they believed Michael Groce was hiding in his mother’s home.

~ Wikipedia

Ms Groce survived the shooting, but she was paralysed from the waist down, after the bullet first passed through a lung, then her spine.

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brixtonsociety.org.uk

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afropop.org

She died in 2011 after contracting an infection leading to kidney failure.

In March 2014, the police eventually apologised for the wrongful shooting of Mrs Groce. In July of the same year, an inquest jury concluded that eight separate police failures had contributed to Mrs Groce’s death, for which the present Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe subsequently “apologised unreservedly for our failings” to the family.

~ Wikipedia

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There were rioters at the bottom of the stairs too, wearing masks or crash helmets, and carrying knives, baseball bats, bricks and petrol bombs. As the firefighters and police ran out of the stairwell toward a car park and a patch of grass, one of the firemen, Trevor Stratford, saw that Blakelock had tripped: “He just stumbled and went down and they were upon him. It was just mob hysteria. … There were about 50 people on him.”

The rioters removed Blakelock’s protective helmet, which was never found. Rose writes that the pathologist, David Bowen, found 54 holes in Blakelock’s overalls, and 40 cutting or stabbing injuries, eight of them to his head, caused by a machete, sword or axe-type instrument. A six-inch-long knife was buried in his neck up to the hilt. His body was covered in marks from having been kicked or stamped on. His hands and arms were badly cut, and he had lost several fingers trying to defend himself. There were 14 stab wounds on his back, one on the back of his right thigh, six on his face, and his jawbone had been smashed by a blow that left a six-inch gash across the right side of his head. Bowen said the force of this blow had been “almost as if to sever his head,” which gave rise to a rumour that an attempt had been made to decapitate him (according to Rose, the autopsy photographs did not support this).

~ Wikipedia

Needless to say, this plaque has one of the saddest reasons behind it.

I remember being a little girl of just five years old when the first riot broke out in 1981, and nine years old when the second one took place in 1985. My mother and my older sister were at my grandparents house (their house was situated a few yards from the path of the riot). We stayed there and could hear the destruction up and down the main road. We were petrified. Thankfully, it didn’t reach us. But only just missed us, and not by much.

When it was safe to leave, the damage was beyond words. Local businesses we frequented were ruined. Burnt beyond recognition. One particular business – a timber yard – was so badly destroyed, we never thought it would be repaired back to it’s former state.

We were grateful, even at the ages my sister and I were, that no-one we knew was hurt. I am talking about the 1985 riot at this point, as we understood more what was going on than we did the first time.

Unfortunately, I cannot see mankind has evolved from this behaviour. Maybe one day, but no doubt, when it is too late.

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24 thoughts on “Cherry Dorothy Groce

  1. I’m a little lost. Who was Blakelock? Riots (or more like it, demonstrations that turn ugly) are certainly becoming more frequent over here in the states. I remember hearing about the riots about the Vietnam War but I never witnessed one. What this old world is coming to….is a crying shame.
    The story of “Cherry” is so heartbreaking. And, years after she died, what good did that “apology” do? I guess I’m just too cynical.

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    • PC Blakelock was a police officer who was called in to help with the riots. He died in the most horrific way – hacked to death (is one way to put it). I cannot imagine the fear he felt, nor the pain before his life eventually slipped away… Regarding Cherry; I wish I could have made right for her the wrong she endured. My heart is heavy, not just in her death, but for going through the unfortunate circumstances she did, which left her paralysed. I have no words for her for her son. Smh…
      A photographer also lost his life in all of this. Coming across this plaque has bothered me for days after my research. For some reason, it has clinged to me like a disease that won’t go away.
      I would give my soul to the devil if I could change this world for the better. I almost wish I had never been born. Maybe I was born in the wrong era or something. My heart cannot take any more despair.

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      • Persia, you musn’t say you would give your soul to the devil. The devil is who is causing all of this…but I do understand.
        Hating these slices of injustice are what people have criticized me for…for years. Even Loser had to tell the court about my “incredible sense of injustice and how it helped ruin our marriage.”
        Stories like this get to me too. Why didn’t a criminal get shot? Why didn’t a mass murderer get slaughtered like the police officer? We can ask ourselves those questions forever and there will never be an acceptable answer.
        You have done Cherry a justice, just by writing about her story. I didn’t know about her…now I do. So, in a sense, you are carrying on her legacy. There’s nothing wrong with that, Persia.
        As long as somebody even speaks your name, you are not forgotten.

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      • I know not what else to do. Sometimes, I find myself despairing for the world/mankind. I know this may sound crazy, but I do not like what I see and hear. Really? Your ex said/believes that?! Thank you. Finding this plaque made me feel even worse than I usually do, due to the crap going on on a daily basis. Smh.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I cling to the hope that there are still good people out there. I know there are…you for example. Injustice is going to occur. The time to really fret is when NOBODY gives a damn. I still give a damn. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

    • I heard about the riots regarding the Vietnam war in recent years. How returning soldiers were spat at, etc. I need God to answer my prayers to help mankind. Although these events took place years ago, the same shit is happening today. Lord, please hear my prayer.

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      • The spitting, the name calling “baby killer” and the atrocious treatment were part of the reason I have such affection for those veterans. I saw and heard it first hand. I almost got my butt kicked a few times, because I stood up for them. I feel that way about all veterans, but the Vietnam Veterans were so badly mistreated…and forgotten. I still wear my MIA/POW bracelet for my young man who never came home. (He wasn’t mine, of course, but I wear his bracelet.) If and when he ever does come back, I will try to return it to his family.

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      • I know many committed suicide. Please tell me, friend… when will all this end? Good for you for standing up for the veterans. Someone had to.
        I remember your post about your young gentleman. I am so sorry. It’s nice you remember him and still wear his bracelet. xo

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      • Many of them did commit suicide. Many of them STILL do. The ones coming back from Iran, are killing themselves and one of the main reasons is because they can’t get the help from this wonderful government that they need.
        You know, go over to a foreign land, fight and get killed, so that we can all feel safe…but when you come back, your duty is done and you need to go away.
        People spend millions every year, buying the same lipstick that the fucking Kardashians wear, but they leave homeless, sick veterans on the street.
        I don’t think it will end, Persia. I think we’re on a destructive path that only the end of time will fix. It’s an instant gratification, “all about me, me, me” world. And don’t forget, if you can start or participate in a riot, you make headlines. You get your fifteen minutes of fame. Why not get your fame by helping others and preventing violence? BECAUSE NOBODY CARES ABOUT THE GOOD THINGS. Good things don’t make the 6 o’clock news.

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      • The sad truth. It is like they are cast aside like trash. Humans have become incredibly selfish. You’re right; “Me, me, ME!”. How did we allow ourselves to get to this point? Deep down I know it won’t end, but I still have to remain hopeful. It’s all I have left to hold on to.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I didn’t know about the 1985 riot there. Thank you for educating me. Poor Cherry, PC Blakelock and everyone else who suffered because of this! I lived through the 1968 riots and it was terrifying.

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      • There were riots in several cities in America after Martin Luther King was assassinated. My family lived very near Detroit. There was so much violence there and around the country. Arson, looting, and general mayhem. A “typical riot” I guess.

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      • Oh my. I definitely think the era of which you speak was worse (although I believe they are all bad). Martin Luther King Jr. was back in the 60’s. The riot(s) I wrote about was in the 80’s, yet there were more riots still in 2011. Geez…

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  3. There is so much history in London and much for us to learn if only we open our eyes to it! Great article and well written πŸ™‚ Keep up the good work!

    If you’re interested in Charity shopping in South London, I’ve just written a review on Octavia Foundation, Tooting. Have a read and spread the word on the good work that they do: tootinghustle.wordpress.com

    Happy blogging x

    Like

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