source: BBC News
published: 1 July 2020
Lee Lawrence was just 11 years old when his life changed forever. He had fallen asleep in his mother’s room and was awoken by a loud noise. She went to investigate but moments later he heard a gunshot.
His mother, Dorothy “Cherry” Groce, had been mistakenly shot by police officers in an incident which left her paralysed and sparked the Brixton Riots of 1985.
Now 45, Lee remembers his mother crying out that she could not breathe – words which now resonate with those uttered by the black American George Floyd as a police officer knelt on his neck in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Like Floyd’s death, which saw people take to the streets around the world, Cherry’s shooting led to unrest.
But once the riots – or uprising as Lee calls it – died down, he was left with the “huge responsibility” of being a young carer for his mother, who was now in a wheelchair.
“It changed my life forever and robbed me of my childhood,” he said. “Just two weeks later I was back at school, we had no therapy for what happened and no one spoke to us about it, so when I went to school no teacher ever spoke to me about it, no one ever said ‘how do you feel’ about what happened.”