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Asake pays tribute to Brixton Academy crowd crush victims with poem at concert at London’s O2 Arena

Afrobeats musican Asake has paid tribute to victims killed in a crowd crush at a concert of his at O2 Brixton Academy in December, in his first UK gig since the tragedy.

Mother-of-two Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, and security worker Gaby Hutchinson, 23, were fatally injured when ticketless fans tried to force their way into a concert by the Nigerian artist, on December 15.

Eight months on from the incident, a 21-year-old woman who was seriously injured remains in a critical condition in hospital, police confirmed to the Standard on Monday.

On Sunday, Asake took to the stage at Greenwich’s O2 Arena, for a sold-out one-off concert.

He began by playing a two-and-a-half minute video played to the 20,000 person crowd, featuring clips of footage from the night of the crush, and a poem written and read by performance artist Aina More.

Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, who died following a crowd crush outside an Asake concert at the O2 Academy Brixton (PA Wire)
Rebecca Ikumelo, 33, who died following a crowd crush outside an Asake concert at the O2 Academy Brixton (PA Wire)

She said in the video: “15th December 2022 - observe, respect, where respect is due. I don’t know what you’ve been through but let’s hold space for something true.

“A Brixton night took place we cannot forget. I know some feel loss, and some regret. Some came out that night and ain’t returned.”

The video featured audio clips of newsreaders talking about the tragedy.

“Up at 2.30 thinking Gaby Hutchinson could be me,” Ms More continued in the video. “Rest well, and be free. Rest in peace Rebecca - our sister, a mum-of-two, and we all have mums too.”

She finished by urging Asake fans to contact the police if they have information about what happened.

“The Met Police want to hear what you have heard, so if you have the word any info that helps justice be served, please get in touch,” she said.

The video ended with an image of a solitary, flickering candle, and was met with cheers across the darkened arena, while people dressed in white then processed across the stage carrying bouquets of flowers.

Gaby Hutchinson was named as the second person to have died after the crowd crush (PA Wire)
Gaby Hutchinson was named as the second person to have died after the crowd crush (PA Wire)

Met Police officers were outside the venue, handing out flyers to concert-goers, urging anyone with information to get in touch.

Gaby, Rebbeca, and the 21-year-old who remains in hospital had been in the foyer of the O2 Academy Brixton when the crush happened.

The south London venue has since been shut, while the Met Police continue a “vast and complex” investigation into what happened.

The families of both those killed have spoken of their heartbreak.

Rebecca’s mother Yetunde Olodo, father Anthony Ikumelo and aunt Mary Ikumelo, speaking together, said: “This has broken us. But we are standing as one, as a family, trusting in the process of justice and trying to be the greatest support for the children that she has left behind.

“All we want is justice for her, because her life was cut short. We are appealing to anyone with any information, who saw anything, who has any video recording, this is the time to come forward to police.”

Gaby’s mother Christina Hutchinson and sister Nina Hutchinson, speaking together, said: “Mum and Dad have lost their youngest baby, and it’s not something you should ever have to do, putting your daughter to rest before you. As siblings we have lost growing old together. We have lost that because of what happened that night. It has been stolen.”

In the Met’s update on June 15, six months after the tragedy, Detective Chief Inspector Nigel Penney, senior investigating officer, said the force remains “absolutely committed to finding out what happened that night”.

“It is of the utmost importance that we work out why the surge happened, for the families of those who never returned home, and those who were injured and traumatised,” said DCI Penney.

The scene outside Brixton O2 Academy following the crowd crush (PA Wire)
The scene outside Brixton O2 Academy following the crowd crush (PA Wire)

“We know there were thousands of people there and that many will have seen what happened.  Footage shared on social media immediately after the incident showed dozens of people filming on their phones.

“We are grateful to everyone who has come forward so far, but we still need more information from those who were there that evening. Please do not assume we have the information or images you are in possession of. We are especially interested in video footage from that evening.

“If you were there and recorded or saw anything, please think of the families who are struggling to come to terms with their loss, and share what you saw with my team who are waiting to hear from you. We need your help to establish what happened so that we can provide answers to the families and loved ones of those who were so seriously, or fatally injured.”

You can get in touch with police by visiting https://mipp.police.uk/operation/01MPS22U62-PO1, where you will be able to upload information and video content to this portal to assist the investigation. Or you can phone the Operation Wickmar investigation team direct on 0207 321 9425.

Alternatively, to remain 100% anonymous, contact the independent charity Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111 or visit Crimestoppers-uk.org.