A heartbroken mum and sister have made an emotional plea from their murdered son and brother’s graveside, urging young people not to carry knives.
In this interview, filmed at the cemetery where 17-year-old Ezekiel Clarke is buried, his mum, Julie Jones, and one of his sisters, Shimea Anderson, speak about the impact his death has had on their family and make a direct appeal to young people to consider the consequences of carrying a knife.
Their heartfelt pleas come as Nottinghamshire Police gives its support this week to the national Operation Sceptre campaign to tackle knife crime.
Ezekiel died on 19 February after he was stabbed twice in Churchfield Lane, Radford. His killers were locked up in August.
Julie said: “Ezekiel was a happy boy who loved life. He was very caring and funny and he loved his music. He always had his headphones on.
“His other loves were cars, bikes and quad bikes – anything he could ride on he just loved it.
“I miss everything now he’s gone – his noise, his laughter, doing his hair, him running up and down the stairs, playing his loud music and even the arguments we had.
“The last time I saw him was before I went to work that day. He was having a laugh with his brother in the hallway because he was trying to do press-ups. That was the last laugh we had. Since he’s been gone I’ve realised how quiet the house is.”
Shimea said: “A couple of weeks before he died Ezekiel mentioned to me that he wanted to start his own business and get into property development.
“He enjoyed doing anything with his hands and he had applied to see if he could get onto an apprenticeship scheme in construction.
“Two weeks after his murder we were told that he was successful and had got a place which is what he really wanted to do.”
Julie described the horrific chain of events when she heard her son had been stabbed and soon after realised he was dead.
She said: “A neighbour came banging on my door and said Ezekiel had been stabbed. When we got to the scene they were taping it off.
“Police said they didn’t know who the victim was but doctors were working on him. I was walking up and down praying, saying ‘please let him be okay’.
“I called my daughter Shimea who was crying her eyes out and asked her what was going on? I told her not to tell me and put the phone down because I didn’t want her to say the words.
“From her crying I said ‘I think he’s gone’. I couldn’t breathe so I had to stop myself from crying. My body was just shaking in disbelief. All I was thinking about was my poor son.
“I know Ezekiel isn’t here but even today I still don’t believe it’s real. It’s been a horrible journey for all of us and I wouldn’t wish any mother or family to experience the pain that we have.”
Shimea added: “That night continues to repeat. All I remember is the police officer’s face when they looked at me and said ‘I’m so sorry’. I didn’t even hear what they said after that.
“That’s something that stays with you every single day. The shock and pain was horrible.”
Julie and Shimea have made a direct plea to young people to not carry a knife and urged them to talk to someone if they find themselves getting drawn into knife crime.
Shimea said: “If you go out carrying a knife you not only become a danger to others but to yourself as well.
“There’s that chance that you’re going to bump into someone and use that knife and then that’s somebody’s life that has gone and your life that has gone.
“It doesn’t just have an impact on the victim and the victim’s family, it has an impact on you and your family as well.
“Those responsible for Ezekiel’s murder are affected and so are their families. It goes so much deeper.
“Even if you struggle to speak to your parents, family members or friends, there are so many organisations out there that are there for you and can support you.
“Knife crime can come into anyone’s life. We never thought we’d lose Ezekiel and there are other families who have been in our situation.
“We all need to come together as a whole community and work together to stop this knife culture from taking over.”
Julie added: “Just talk to someone if you’re having problems. If it’s a situation you don’t think you can get out of just speak to somebody, whether it’s a community worker, youth worker or someone else.
“Just don’t get to the point where you end up destroying somebody else’s life and your own.”
In August a 16-year-old boy, who can’t be named for legal reasons, was locked up for 13 years after being found guilty of Ezekiel’s murder and also guilty of robbery and possession of a bladed article in a separate incident.
Jaheim Williams, 19, formerly of Trafalgar Close, Radford, was locked up for seven-and-half years after being found guilty of manslaughter.
Nottinghamshire Police is standing shoulder-to-shoulder with communities and partner agencies to tackle knife crime in support of Operation Sceptre.
Operation Sceptre, which launched today, is just a snapshot of the ongoing year-round work being carried out to combat knife crime in Nottinghamshire which involves police, partners and local communities all working together.
During the week of action, the force will be showcasing some of the key projects already up and running in the county which are working to prevent violence and steer young people away from crime.
There will also be a focus on the ongoing partnership work that is helping to make our communities safer through a mixture of education, engagement and enforcement.
Activity taking place will include virtual educational sessions on knife crime for schoolchildren, community weapons sweeps, patrols in knife crime hot-spot areas and proactive operations.
The force’s new Operation Reacher teams will be deployed to support the proactive knife crime work going on in the city and county.
Nottinghamshire Police’s Assistant Chief Constable Kate Meynell said: “The force and its partners work incredibly hard all year round to tackle knife crime and reduce violence, but this tragic incident resulting in the loss of Ezekiel’s young life is a stark reminder of how just one offence can have devastating impacts on so many people.
“I’d like to thank Ezekiel’s mum, Julie, and sister, Shimea, for supporting our efforts. Their messages are powerful and if their own moving accounts deter just one person from carrying a knife then it will have been worth it.
“We all have a role to play in stopping young people carrying knives and getting weapons off our streets. It’s not just about Nottinghamshire Police’s response to the knife crime, it requires a collective response.
“We all need to make it clear that carrying a knife should never be seen as acceptable and that knife crime will not be tolerated.
“We urge parents and carers to talk to their children about the dangers of carrying knives and the terrible impact that knife crime can have on them, their family and friends and their community.
“Nottinghamshire Police continues to work tirelessly all year round to tackle knife crime, catch offenders and prevent people from becoming involved in knife crime in the first place.
“As we will be highlighting during Operation Sceptre week, I’m pleased that so many partner services, agencies and communities across the county are now working closely together with us to tackle the issue.
“I am really positive about the impact this joined-up effort is having but the hard work carries on.
“Every knife crime is one too many and we will continue our efforts with our partners and communities to drive down knife crime even further in our communities.”