You’ve probably seen the name “Shukri Abdi” trending on your social media as of late. You’ve likely heard the story about how the 12-year-old Black girl was found dead in a river in Great Manchester after having been surrounded by a group of children. But what you might not know is that Abdi’s death was not recent; her body was pulled from the river on June 27, 2019. In fact, on June 27, 2020, eight cities around the UK protested in the streets in observance of the one year anniversary of Abdi’s drowning. So why have your social media timelines recently been plastered with her name?
The recent fervor surrounding the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement is the answer. The BLM movement has been in existence since 2013, but as with many movements, it was quickly shadowed countless times by mainstream media and the rapid turnover rate that comes from its constituents. Though subscribers to the movement marched, protested, and pleaded with the public to care about the killings of Black people each time a Black life was taken, within mere days their voices would be eclipsed by other news.
But the high profile murders of citizens like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Tony McDade, amongst others, have created a fervor that, even after two months, has yet to die down. And in the midst of demanding justice for the Black lives taken in the U.S., the movement has gone international. Anti-Blackness is not a phenomenon individual to the U.S. Rather, it happens all over the world. And Abdi’s case shows that it begins at childhood.
Abdi, who was a Somali refugee, was said to have been a victim of bullying within her school. But rather than taking that into account, the inquest that opened for Abdi was later adjourned as it mainly focused on the events of the day of her death — ignoring her history of being a victim to classmates. The police force deemed Abdi’s drowning an “accident.” But members of the BLM movement refused to take that as an answer once they discovered this case left as is.
An entire year later, protests to demand “Justice for Shukri” are as loud as ever before — perhaps even louder. Along with the eight cities in the UK, Los Angeles and Toronto joined in on the call to justice. Malcolm X’s daughter, Ilyasah Shabazz was one of the supporters echoing her support at protests.
We still demand justice for Abdi just as we still demand justice for the long list of Black people who have been murdered by systems founded on hate and anti-Blackness. Abdi, like the others, was failed by the institutions that should have been there to protect her. And despite members of her own government failing to give her case the attention it deserves, the BLM movement will not leave her on her own. It was only after the resurged interest in Abdi’s case that Great Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham called for “the widest possible investigation” into her death. Had Abdi been left to the devices of her city, her case would still remain closed.
While it is unclear whether Abdi will ever receive the justice her and her family deserve, one thing is for sure: No one is left behind in the BLM movement. Even when the rest of the world has looked away, the calls for justice will not die down.