Memorial for murdered police officer
Charlotte Newton A popular Muswell Hill police officer who was brutally murdered in the Broadwater Farm riots 23 years ago, was remembered in a memorial service on Monday. Keith Blakelock, 40, was a community police officer in Muswell Hill, a much-loved h
A popular Muswell Hill police officer who was brutally murdered in the Broadwater Farm riots 23 years ago, was remembered in a memorial service on Monday.
Keith Blakelock, 40, was a community police officer in Muswell Hill, a much-loved husband and doting father of three, when he was hacked to death on October 6, 1985. The riots were sparked by the death of a middle-aged black woman, Cynthia Jarrett, who died from a heart attack during a police raid on her home.
On Monday, PC Blakelock's colleagues and members of the Muswell Hill community stood shoulder to shoulder in front of a commemorative headstone on the Broadway.
In keeping with tradition, the youngest probationer from Haringey Police, 21-year-old PC Jamie Snell, laid a wreath.
A Tottenham pastor, Nims Obunge, spoke at the memorial service.
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He said: "Today is a painful reminder of what happens when community relationships with police go wrong.
"The community must work very closely with police officers. It's true that some have said it was 23 years ago, but it's 23 years that we must never forget.
"The scars of what happened to Keith still remain with his family and friends but we pray that we never lose another officer in this borough again. God bless you all and thank you for what you do."
Winston Silcott, Mark Braithwaite and Engin Raghip were convicted of Mr Blakelock's murder in 1987, but they were cleared in 1991 when their convictions were quashed by the Court of Appeal. Mr Blakelock's killer has never been found.
Relations between residents on the Broadwater Farm estate and police have been transformed since the riots, and emotions among the police officers who witnessed the attack are still raw.
PC Miles Barton, 47, who now works in Wood Green, was on duty with PC Blakelock when he died. They were among a team of 10 young probationers and PCs who were sent to protect firemen as they put our fires on the estate.
But the atmosphere quickly changed and the 10 men found themselves under attack from a mob of hundreds of knife-wielding, missile-throwing rioters.
PC Barton said: "We were there to protect the firemen. But all a sudden we were confronted by a mob of hundreds of screaming, chanting people with balaclavas on.
"Our exit had been cut off and they started throwing petrol bombs and stones at us.
"They were also waving machetes and bread knives. Keith Blakelock was one of the first out and they treated him like a rag doll on the floor, beating, stabbing and kicking him."
PC Barton said that while he was the only person who was physically uninjured in the attack, he has suffered post traumatic stress.
"The hardest part of that night for me was that I thought I was going to die and then I didn't," he said.
"It was also the ferocity of the attack on Keith - that someone could do that to him when he was just doing his job."
The investigation into PC Blakelock's murder is ongoing. Anyone with information should call Crimestoppers on 0800 555111.