Jody’s Bench – National Hate Crime Awareness Week
This year’s National Hate Crime Awareness week, representatives from the Met Police, Lambeth Council, and community leaders, from both Wandsworth and Lambeth, gathered to remember Jody Dobrowski.
 
Jody was tragically murdered on the 14th October 2005 as he walked back from his job at Battersea Jongleurs/Bar Risa club (Now the Four Thieves) on Lavender Gardens.
 
This event led to the formation of the Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum and several other community forums across London.
 
After the Soho bombing of the Admiral Duncan in 1999, The Met LGBT Advisory Group was formed. One of the group’s first actions was to call for the introduction of LGBT Liaisons Officers to build a better relationship between the community and police officers which had previously been broken down by decades of homophobia.
 
However, in 2018 LGBT Liaison officers were cut under the Met Police BCU (Base Command Unit) restructure. Previously there was 32 policing areas in London but now there are 12, which are divided into Areas. Wandsworth is now policed as the ‘South West Area’ alongside Kingston, Merton, and Richmond.
 
As part of the London LGBT Forums Network, a project that brings together all the existing London borough forums, Wandsworth successfully campaigned with members the Network and the Met Staff LGBT association to re-introduce the LGBT Liaison Officer role, which are now called LGBT Advisers.
 
Nicholas Hackett Peacock (a SW Area LGBT Advisor and Chief Inspector) wanted to show his respects to Jody’s memory by showing the memorial bench some TLC.
“It was incredibly poignant to mark this year’s National Hate Crime Awareness Week by restoring the bench of Jody Dobrowski with a LGBT+ Adviser from a neighbouring BCU to commemorate the 15th anniversary of the tragic murder of Jody which resulted in the first UK conviction for a Homophobically Aggravated offence”.
Nicholas Hackett Peacock (Neighbourhoods Chief Inspector, LGBT Adviser – SW Area)

 (Pic by Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum – October 14th 2020)

The bench was first installed on the 14th October 2012 after a fundraising campaign led by the 17-24-30 No To Hate Crime Campaign, in partnership with the Two Brewers, the Metropolitan Police and other local organisations and community representatives at the 2 Brewers on Clapham High Street. 

£2,700 was raised, with the first £1000 committed to pay for the bench and the remaining funds in support of 17-24-30, who were organising the 4th London Vigil against Hate Crime in Trafalgar Square and the first National Hate Crime Awareness Week across the UK. 17-24-30 have since registered as charity with the Charity Commission and are now known as ‘17-24-30 National Hate Crime Awareness Week’

17-24-30 fundraisers
Teddy bear on Jody's bench

(Pics by 17-24-30 from October 7th (L) and October 14th (R) 2012)

The bench was last restored in October 2018 by PC Mams Yassine (in honour of Jody’s 13th Year anniversary) with help from local community representatives at the Forum and Clapham Common Management Advisory Committee.

(Pics by CCMAC and Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum – October 2018)

This restoration in 2018 was followed by a crowdfund campaign to plant a tree in memory of Jody as part of the ‘The Friends of Clapham Common – 101 Memorial Trees’ project. The tree was planted on the 5th December 2018 and was the 7th tree to be planted in the scheme. A list of the tree dedications hangs on the wall in ‘La Baita’, the café by the Clapham Bandstand. 

Pics by Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum (L) 5th December 2018 (R) 14th October 2020)

At present there is no active Hate Crime Forum in Wandsworth after the previous Hate Crime Forum folded in 2018. 

“Over the last 2 years, the Forum has been lobbying Wandsworth Council to reintroduce the Hate Crime Forum to the borough. It has been a long process and things appear to have stalled again, no thanks to COVID-19, but we are confident that it will be revived. Now is not the time to drop the ball on hate crime and the Hate Crime Forum is the most relevant place for local authority, police and community representatives to come together and work to combat hate crime all year round, not just for a week in October.”

(David Robson, Chair Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum and London LGBT Forums Network).

Other Wandsworth events during National Hate Crime Awareness week included an online webinar for each of the different strands of hate crime, led by the Met’s Hate Crime Co-ordinators.  

“This year as part of National Hate Crime Awareness Week, officers from the South West and West Area boroughs joined forces to organise a LGBT+ webinar, which was well attended by partner agencies, police and other members of the community, who contributed to the discussions, which included some interesting facts and stories about the history of the LGBT+ communities from around the world, past and present.”

Claire Wilding (Hate Crime Co-Ordinator – SW Area)

The Wandsworth LGBTQ+ Forum co-hosted ‘Queer Question Time – In Profile with Florence Eshalomi’ at The Royal Vauxhall Tavern. The event was sold out and attended by the community as well as representatives from the Met Police, Lambeth Links, Merton and Sutton LGBT Forum. 

The issue of LGBT Advisers and Hate Crime being one of the hot topics of discussion as well as the impact of the 10pm curfew on LGBT Venues.

The forum raised £222 in donations from attendees.

(QQT In Profile – RVT October 10th 2020 Pics by Ian Volger)