Heartbroken parents of a seven-year-old girl who was stabbed to death have begged protesters not to use her photograph during their marches to spread hate.
Protesters who have demonstrated across the UK to counter the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement have used the picture of Emily Jones, who was stabbed in front of her dad on Sunday March 22 – Mothers Day.
Eltiona Skana, of Somali descent, has been charged with her murder and remanded to custody until September 15. She is being detained under the Mental Health Act.
But Emily’s distraught parents Sarah and Mark Jones said today the use of the photo is “incredibly upsetting”.
In a joint statement, the parents, of Bolton, Greater Manchester, said: “We are aware that many people are using the picture we released of our daughter Emily, when we publicly paid tribute to her following the worst day of our lives, as part of recent protests and campaigns.
“Today we kindly ask the public to stop using the picture of our Emily from one of her days at school.
“We hold this picture dear to our hearts and to see it being used in this way is incredibly upsetting – Emily loved everything and everyone, regardless of their race, gender or beliefs.
“As we’ve said before, she was beautiful inside and out and had a heart as big as her smile.”
Emily was killed in a “random and unprovoked” attack on Mother’s Day in a park in Bolton.
Greater Manchester Police were called to the park to reports a child had been stabbed shortly before 2.35pm. Emergency services attended and found that Emily had been attacked by a woman with a knife. She died a short while later despite the best efforts of her family and medical responders.
Sarah and Mark said they are still grieving and seeing the photograph only adds to the distress.
They added: “We can’t thank people enough for the support we have received as we continue to live through the nightmare that is life without Emily, but we’re still grieving over the loss of our beautiful daughter and seeing her picture being used as part of recent protests is causing us huge distress.
“A woman has been charged with the murder of our daughter and we want to ensure that we respect the legal process and ask people not to speculate over the circumstances surrounding her death.
“We thank you for your support with this matter and hope that you can respect our wishes. We wish everyone health and happiness at this uncertain time.”
An inquest into her death heard how Emily was playing on her scooter during the Mother’s Day trip to the park when she was attacked.
Coroner Alan Walsh said: “In my 20 years as a coroner this is one of the most tragic deaths that I have dealt with and the loss of a beautiful, innocent, lively, intelligent and lovely seven-year-old in these circumstances is an unimaginable tragedy.
“I appreciate that Emily’s parents are beyond devastated and my sincere thoughts are with them at this enormously sad time.”
In a tribute, Emily’s parents described their daughter as “always full of joy, love and laughter”.
The investigation continues.