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Year 2009 No. 35, May 20, 2009 ARCHIVE HOME JBBOOKS SUBSCRIBE

Fatal Stabbing in South London:

The Youth are Not the Problem
They are Determined to Take Control of their Future

Workers' Daily Internet Edition: Article Index :

Fatal Stabbing in South London:
The Youth are Not the Problem
They are Determined to Take Control of their Future

Saturday 23 May – Stop Police Violence, Kettle New Scotland Yard!

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Fatal Stabbing in South London:

The Youth are Not the Problem
They are Determined to Take Control of their Future

Two teenage boys were stabbed in Larkhall Park in south London last month, tragically ending the life of one, while the other was injured.

Much has been made recently in the media and by the big parties of what has been called a surge in youth violence. It is reported that the stabbing took the number of teenagers to die violently in the capital this year up to seven.

It is asserted that the youth are the problem in society. The issue is made one of "values" on the one hand and law and order on the other. Youth are supposed to be "diverted" from violence and "anti-social behaviour", which by implication is their natural tendency.

Workers’ Weekly Youth Group has received the following email from a person local to the scene of the incident, an eye-witness of the actions and concerns of the people and police in the immediate aftermath both of the stabbing and an earlier road accident. The real experience breaks through the presentation of the problem as coming from the youth. Rather, the email hits the nail on the head that the youth are blocked from building a bright future for themselves. The only conclusion can be is that it is the youth must take control of their future, which is not to suggest a quick fix, but a deep-going break from the role young people are assigned in society, their marginalisation and the degradation of their cultural level.

"Shortly after the stabbing happened, everyone was looking out to see what was happening with a helicopter circling low over the area. The police started cordoning off the pavements along our block, where there was a trail of blood with occasional pools. Then they cordoned off the whole road as a crime scene. After this was done, the police started calling at each premises, just taking names and addresses in case of further enquiries.

"The concern among the people is what kind of country are we leaving the youth. Larkhall Park has been beautified as part of an EU scheme, while the pubs opposite which used to be the hub of life, and where I used to go, have closed down only recently. Meanwhile, the campus of the South Bank University was closed down some years ago and is being transformed into luxury apartments.

"The point is that the youth have their pride and energy, but are being blocked from taking control of their future. This is the nub of the issue. They are being told they are the problem, and they are failing to grasp the opportunities society is providing them with. What lovely facilities and then they turn to knife crime!

"Just earlier there had been an accident by a local pub; it looked like somebody had been knocked down. What struck me was that one youth, while others were gathering round the person in the road and phoning, was directing the traffic which had been snarled up. In other words, the problem is not with the youth.

"Even the attitude of the police is interesting. They unilaterally take control, while regarding everyone around, residents, passers-by, etc., as obstacles to their operations. They are the ones that give themselves the right to do whatever they think fit, while everyone else are regarded as the wrong-doers, and the discussion is what tactics should be employed to deal with them – brutal or not-so-brutal. That is, they are the ones that act with impunity.

"The issue is who is in control, and what future."

Article Index



Saturday 23 May – Stop Police Violence, Kettle New Scotland Yard!

United Campaign Against Police Violence

Saturday 23 May – assemble 3pm Trafalgar Square, March via Downing Street to New Scotland Yard

The United Campaign Against Police Violence has called a national demonstration to highlight the issues of police violence and demand justice for those who have died in police custody.

The police tactic of "kettling" demonstrators – essentially detaining protestors and bystanders without charge – will be turned on its head on the protest, when we kettle New Scotland Yard.

At the end of the protest there will be a naming of the dead for those who have died in police custody, led by the families of the bereaved who have yet to receive justice. Over 1,000 people have died in police custody in the last 40 years – yet no one has been found responsible.

Protesters will demand the disbanding of the Territorial Support Group, the resignation of "Independent" Police Complaints Commission chair Nick Hardwick, justice for those killed in police custody and for the right to protest.

John McDonnell MP, chair of Labour Representation Committee, said: "Increasingly, evidence demonstrates policing of major demonstrations has got out of control and specialist police units have been acting with virtual impunity.

"This campaign is about achieving democratic control over policing and securing protection from state violence and harassment for members of our communities."

Mark Serwotka, General Secretary, Public and Commercial Services union, said: "The right to protest is a fundamental right which in these times is more important than ever. That's why everyone should support this campaign to ensure people can protest without the threat of brutality."

The Sean Rigg Justice and Change Campaign, said: "We believe in standing up for our moral and human rights and for speaking for our loved ones who can no longer speak for themselves – Christopher Alder, Brian Douglas, Roger Sylvester, Azelle Rodney, Mikey Powell, Ricky Bishop to name a few... They are among thousands who have received no justice for their death and their blood is crying out from beneath the grave – these lost lives must not be forgotten, their cases need to be re-opened and re-examined, like that of David Oluwale, so that true justice can prevail.

"For Sean Rigg, Paps Ullah, Ian Tomlinson and many others we expect independent investigations that are robust, fully competent and unbiased towards the police in their search for the unequivocal truth – the IPCC are not fit for that purpose. Overall we demand full accountability of police officers who kill due to violence or negligence – why should they have impunity from prosecution? No Justice, No Peace!"

Jenny Jones, Green Party member of the Greater London Assembly and Metropolitan Police Authority, said: "This is a demo with a difference – we are going to show the Met that we are tired of the illegal imprisonment that they call 'containment' and that we want them to change their attitude to protesters and become law abiding themselves.

"Change is hard, but the Met is losing public confidence and it's time they understood that their job is to reduce violence, not add to it."

Chris Nineham, Stop the War Coalition, said: "What happened at the G20 was part of a trend. In recent months the police have attacked many of our protests. They have raided the homes of people who came on our demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza. They are trying to prosecute others who protested against George Bush's visit in 2008. This is a very important demonstration because the attempt to criminalise protest and intimidate protesters must be stopped."

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