Walls of Silence?

I’ve just received this story in my inbox from the Black Information Link and was immediately struck by the apparent parallels with the Robert McCartney case

Wall of silence? The cops are the bricks

Community leaders in Birmingham have hit out at police claims of a “wall of silence” over the New Year shootings of teenagers Charlene Ellis and Letisha Shakespeare.

Victims Charlene Ellis, 17, and Letisha Shakespeare, 18 died in hail of gunfire.
As four youths were convicted of the double-murder senior detectives blamed the Black community for refusing to testify against the gang members.
But local community leaders say police have only themselves to blame for failing to develop a lack of trust and confidence with Birmingham’s Black population.
Campaigners admit the community’s fear of gang retribution was a factor, but say that’s only half the story. The poor relationship between West Midlands police and the Black community was a major reason why witnesses were reluctant to testify.
Marcus Ellis, 24, Michael Gregory, 22, Nathan Martin, 26, and 20-year-old Rodrigo Simms were found guilty of the murders on Friday.
They were believed to be members of the feared Burger Bar Boys gang. The New Year shooting was part of a murderous tit-for-tat feud between this gang and the Johnson Crew.
Today the four were handed life sentences with a recommendation they each serve at least 27 years behind bars.
Police claims of a wall of silence were seen as an attempt to deflect criticism over unprecedented levels of identity protection for a key witness known as ‘Mark Brown’.
Defence lawyers complained they were not able to properly question this witness because they did not know who he was. ‘Mark Brown’ was hidden behind a screen, his voice was electronically distorted and the public gallery was cleared.
It has since emerged that he was a junior member of a rival gang, the Johnson Crew, and was paid £5,000 by the police for clothes, a living allowance plus a deposit and rent for a new flat.
Maxie Hayles, of the Birmingham Racial Attacks Monitoring Group, rejected police claims of a wall of silence.
He said: “All this thing about the wall of silence is really about the lack of trust we have in the police.
“They didn’t even appear to use Black police officers in the initial enquiry. There is an uneasy relationship with police and more needs to be done to forge greater understanding with the community.”
Another Birmingham campaigner, Bini Brown, went further. “In the past, when people went forward to give evidence, they [the police] would give away their name and the gang would come round and threaten to kill them.”



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