The family of a teenager killed last weekend will hold a lunchtime protest outside Barking Town Hall on Friday against the lack of action and support from the local authority. The family and friends of 19-year-old Hasan Özcan are angry at the perceived indifference of local councillors and officials, who have not reached out to the family following the young man’s murder near his home in East London.
Last Saturday, 3 February, police and the London Ambulance Service were called to an incident at approximately 22:10hrs in Abbey Road, Barking, where they found Hasan Özcan suffering from multiple stab wounds. The teenager was pronounced dead at the scene at 22:55hrs.
A murder investigation has been launched following the fatal stabbing and at the time of writing, no arrests have been made and enquiries are ongoing. Detectives from the Homicide and Major Crime Command (HMCC) have asked witnesses to Hasan’s murder or anyone with information that may assist the investigation to contact HMCC officers via 101, quoting ref 7838feb03, or they can anonymous by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
Hasan was one of three men killed in the space of 48 hours in London in unrelated incidents. Youth worker Kwabena Nelson, 22, was also stabbed to death when he was ambushed walking home in Tottenham in the early hours on Saturday. A day later, Juan Olmos Saca, 39, died in hospital six days after being stabbed in Peckham.
Upsurge in London stabbings
The 2018 murders continue an upward trend in 2017, when 88 people were stabbed to death in the capital. According to a report by Channel 4 News, at least two thirds of the 260 suspects for the fatal stabbings are aged between 13 and 24 years old. Over half of all those under investigation are young black males; in three quarters of the cases involving a black male victim, their assailants were also black. In another striking statistic, 75% of the victims had themselves been suspects in separate criminal investigations.
Although the Turkish teenager can be seen posing with friends with the super-imposed word ‘GANG’ in his Facebook cover photo, the Özcan family are adamant Hasan was not involved in any gangs. They have also told Turkish media that it was young black men, their faces concealed, who had chased Hasan across the estate they lived on and stabbed him multiple times on Saturday night.
The oldest son of three, Hasan was studying criminology at Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent. The family, originally from Gaziantep in southeast Turkey, immigrated to the UK in the late 1990s having lived in North Cyprus since 1976.
“[Hasan] was home over the weekend and told me he was handing out CVs to get a weekend job so he could help our family like we helped him. I was so proud of him”
His father Abdullah, 43, told the Evening Standard that the family had been left traumatised by his death: “He was a friendly, popular boy, everyone knew him around here. Everyone is devastated.
“He was home from school over the weekend and told me he was handing out CVs to get a weekend job so he could help our family like we helped him. I was so proud of him.”
Hasan’s father, who works in a fish and chip shop, was given the tragic news after finishing his Saturday evening shift. He asked: “Why are our children killing each other? It must stop. Every day they die on the streets. I don’t want any other fathers going through what I have done. Our hearts are broken.”
The family have told Turkish media they are deeply unhappy with the local authorities for failing to take preventative action before Hasan’s killing and their lack of support since. Talking to Eurovizyon a day after the stabbing, Hasan’s uncle Fadıl Sönmez claimed the teenager was targeted before by the same people they suspect of killing him. The report states that the young man had been cut across his head with a long knife, and although his assailants had been arrested, they were released due to a lack of evidence.
Mr Sönmez said, “They [the authorities] knowingly sent my nephew to his death. Unfortunately in this country there is no security of life because the police do not pursue the culprits. And this encourages those who commit crime. The police’s shortcomings have a big hand in Hasan’s death.”
Açık Gazete editor Faruk Eskioğlu penned a column published today after visiting the family earlier this week. His article paints a bleak picture of the area and council estate where the family live: “barren concrete dwellings that are alien to the rural roots of the many immigrants now living there”.
“If an immigrant had killed an English youth, they would have turned the world upside down”
Another of Hasan’s uncles, Ali Sönmez, takes the veteran journalist to the spot where his nephew was murdered and said, “This is where the lowlife cornered him. Had he escaped, he would have turned 20 in May.”
He complains that “not a single person from Barking Council has come to offer their condolences” to the family, which he says “is not on.” He also criticised the British press for their lack of interest and coverage, claiming that, “If an immigrant had killed an English youth, they would have turned the world upside down. Isn’t that so?”
At their modest council flat, distressed father Abdullah told Açık Gazete’s editor, “My son Hasan was a university student. He came home for the weekend. He had nothing to do with gangs. I don’t want another household to go through this suffering. Let the murderers be found and be punished as they deserve.”
“Not a single person from Barking Council has come to offer their condolences”
Mr Özcan also remarked on the huge support the family had received from Turkish community since his son’s death: “Many people from the community have been in touch. The Consul General [from the Turkish Embassy], and even a [government] Minister from Ankara have also called. Yet our council and British press have been rude [in showing no interest].”
The perceived lack of concern from local officials has led to friends and relatives deciding to mount a protest. They will be demonstrating outside Barking Town Hall, Town Hall Square, 1 Clockhouse Ave, in Barking, IG11 7LU, at 2pm on Friday 9 February.