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Jodie Chesney: Community demands 'justice for Jodie' in Romford march to remember Dagenham teenager

PUBLISHED: 00:19 08 March 2019 | UPDATED: 00:32 08 March 2019

Family and well-wishers marched from Fitness First to Romford Police station in support of Jodie Chesney, 17 who was fatally stabbed in Harold Hill. Photo by Ellie Hoskins.

Family and well-wishers marched from Fitness First to Romford Police station in support of Jodie Chesney, 17 who was fatally stabbed in Harold Hill. Photo by Ellie Hoskins.

Ellie Hoskins Photographer www.elliehoskins.com ellie@elliehoskins.com

Up to 2,000 people have marched through the streets of Romford demanding justice for Jodie Chesney and an end to knife crime.

Friends and members of Jodie’s family joined supporters who filled the route from Atlanta Boulevard walking in peace and solidarity but with one clear message: enough is enough.

At the start of the march a woman who only wanted to be known as a friend of the family delivered a powerful speech describing knife crime as a disease which had to be cured.

“Knife crime is not something confined to gangs. It has no colour, no faith, no sexual orientation. Just victims – it’s the girl next door. It’s the promising young, student. It’s the people who will go forward from this day and build the future. Our futures.

Police estimates numbered the crowd as being up to 2,000. Photo by Ellie Hoskins.Police estimates numbered the crowd as being up to 2,000. Photo by Ellie Hoskins.

“It’s time for us to stand together to bring about a change. A change for generations to come.

“This march shows the ripple effect that knife crime has. It touches all of our lives.

“Tonight we march peacefully with love in our hearts. For our children. For our children’s children. For our young people. And for justice for Jodie.”

Marchers filled the route and brought traffic to a standstill. Photo by Ellie Hoskins.Marchers filled the route and brought traffic to a standstill. Photo by Ellie Hoskins.

Parents from across Havering, Barking and Dagenham and further afield wore purple ribbons or held onto purple balloons – Jodie’s favourite colour.

They marched sombrely pausing only at the corner of Western Road to listen to a band play the rugby anthem, World in Union.

Mum, Hayley Munday, on the march with her husband, Alex, said: “{Knife crime] is a big concern for us every time our sons leave the house.

People who had never taken part in a march before joined in a march through Romford last week. Photo by Ellie Hoskins.People who had never taken part in a march before joined in a march through Romford last week. Photo by Ellie Hoskins.

“If there’s anything we can do to protect our community, we will do it.”
Alex added: “We’ve got to get a grip [on knife crime]. Enough is enough.”

It was a message filled with sadness, anger and frustration echoed by the hundreds of ordinary mums, dads and youngsters many of whom were taking to the streets in peaceful protest for the first time.

Nineteen-year-old Olivia Meikle from Romford said: “The whole community has come together. Everyone is against knife crime.”

Many felt sadness, anger and frustration about knife crime and what happened to Jodie. Photo by Ellie Hoskins.Many felt sadness, anger and frustration about knife crime and what happened to Jodie. Photo by Ellie Hoskins.

At the end of the march, youngsters tied purple ribbons to a railing outside Romford Police Station as onlookers stood in silence holding placards saying, ‘Lives not Knives, RIP Jodie’.

Three petitions were taken inside the station and handed to borough commander Ch Supt Jason Gwillim as marchers chanted, ‘No more knives, no more knives’.

The Chesney’s family friend drew the march to an end saying: “I am sure the family will be honoured that so many of you turned up tonight.”

She then called for a minute’s silence for Jodie and all victims of knife crime.

“Rest in peace Jodie,” she said.

A-level Jodie was listening to music with friends when she was stabbed in the back in Amy’s Park close to St Neot’s Road in Harold Hill last Friday.

The Explorer Scout’s death has shaken whole communities with flowers, cards and messages left close to where the attack happened.

Ribbons and balloons in purple – Jodie’s favourite colour – have also been put up across the borough by well-wishers.

Her father, Peter Chesney, said today (March 7) that Jodie “was the nicest person any of us know” and she “wouldn’t have done anything to deserve this.”

He said his daughter’s death has torn the family apart and that they are “a mess”. He told Sky News: “We don’t know how to deal with it.”

A 20-year-old man was arrested in Leicester on Tuesday on suspicion of the student’s murder. An application to extend his detention was sought today (Thursday) and granted.

Det Chief Insp Dave Whellams described the man as a “white male” who “continues to assist us with our enquiries”.

He added: “I ask the public and those in the local area to contact us if they suspect anyone of having any involvement in this terrible incident.

“Is there anyone you know who is acting differently from usual? Have they become withdrawn? Maybe they’ve become nervous and have shown character changes that are unusual.”

Anyone with information is asked to call 020 8345 3775, tweet @MetCC or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

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