Headline, April05, 2014

"' O" LONDON ! AND OH? : 


"" LONDON, "" John Berger once wrote :

"Is a teenager, an urchin,  and, in this, hasn't changed since the time of Charles Dickens."

When Dickens himself described the disorder of  19th century, London, he could also have been describing it in the 21st.

Like any teenager, London is piratical, creative and rebellious, but also prone to the other dimension of adolescent life : compulsive behaviour, low-self-esteem and wilful self-destruction.

Recently, London's teenage life has made its presence felt by turning it on itself in  way's darker and uglier than even Dickens could have imagined.

Only a few years ago  -during just 12 days of the month of one February, three teenagers/students  were shot dead within a few miles of each other among the innards of South London.

The tragic trilogy made news because while overall gun and violent crime was falling, it illustrated some trough truths that the age of gun crime victims was also falling, while youth involvement in shootings was rising.

According to operation Trident   -the Metropolitan Police division dedicated to black-on-black gun crime  -31 per cent of victims in  2006 were teenagers. In the first six months of  2007, 15 teenagers died from stabbings and shootings in the capital.

The deaths combined the mundane and the macabre. On Valentine's Day, 15-year- old Billy Cox, a young offender who lived under  curfew in his parent's flat on the Fenwick Estate at Clapham North:

Was in his bedroom when he was shot in the chest. Eight days earlier, the Churchgoing  15-year old Michael Dosuninu was shot on his home on Diamond Street in Peckham, a short walk from where Damilola Taylor was murdered in 2000.

And the same year 3rd Feb, James Andre Smarrt-Ford was shot in a disco at the Streatham Ice Arena. The  16 year old collapsed onto the ice as partygoers rushed the exits, and his blood mixed into the slush.

Political and media attention immediately intensified on the area triangulated by the murder site, a complex, unpretty swathe of the capital where grim social  housing estates halt abruptly at gentrified streets.

In parliament serious questions were raised and proposals made to toughen firearms legislation. New stories carried stories of gangs of tooled up hoodies, some barely into their teens, who flagrantly dealt drugs:

Wore their ASBO's with pride and openly mocked visiting politicians. When they weren't terrorising commuters, it was supposed, they were busy waging war on each other with knives and guns.

Same year Feb, Operation Trident found itself working  "beyond capacity" in Lambeth. Patrols from CO19,  the Met's specialist firearms unit, were dispatched into the toughest areas.

South London, one newspaper said, was  "nihilistic anarchy" . Media execs duly dispatched the hardman of soap, Ross Kemp, and the Rt Hon Ann Widdicombe as mediagenic peace envoys to the ravaged estates of:

Myatts Fields and north Peckham. And although Lambeth  -with 277 gun-related crimes in 12 months up to June 2007-  is always near the top of the Met's forearm offences index-

The same  "nihilistic anarchy"  headline remained unrecognizable to the vast majority of Lambeth residents.

After the media-political-circus moved on, London life continued. A shrine to Filly Cox with a graffiti mural was improvised on the Fenwick Estate, some residents complained it would reduce property values.

The mural was defaced, then repainted. the teenager's presence lives in his "Remer"  tag, sprayed on walls and fingered  into drying cement on the pavement.

Then in June, Met Chief Inspector Sir Ian Blair announced the launch of Operation Curb, targeting gang violence, after five teenagers across London were left dead in a fresh wave of stabbings and shootings.

In one week alone, Martin Dinnegan, 14, Ben Hitchcock, 16, Annaka Pinto, 17, Abu Shahin and San Simpson, both 18, all died. As ugly as February's events were, June proved that the violence didn't stop there. Nor did it stop in Lambeth or even start in February, and in fact:

Many considered and thought that London's secret teenage conflict would not end  before Operation Curb did.

In June 2006,  a year before this latest wave, Fabian Ricketts,  18, was gunned down at a barbecue in Battersea and Alex  "Tiny Allen"  Malumba Kamondo, 15, was stabbed to death in Kennington.

In October Jamail  "Big Show" Newton, 19, died outside a Camberwill nightclub in a hail of bullets from a Mac-10 sub-machine gun. In March 2007, fellow pupils Adam Regis, 15, and Paul Erhahon, 14, were both knifed to death in east London.

Across town, 16-year old Kodjo Yenga was murdered in Hammersmith Grove by a group of youths,  some of whom were heard to shout  "kill him, kill him"  as he died. In May, Dwaine Douglas, 18, was stabbed to death in Thornton Heath.

These are only some of the events that got reported. Many others didn't.

So many asked : Is it   "war" , this  day-to-day  sense of threat and violence? To some teenagers who choose to escape its effects by attending Raw Material, a youth media and music project  in Brixton-

Some of whom who knew Billy Cox  -the sense of being in the midst of conflict, was widely felt:

""We are on the Battlefield,  we're soldiers," said J-Hero, an MC. "Youths are used to it. Someone I guarantee was being  shot last night. It's like here we go again. It's not gonna stop."

True! All the way right through to  2007!

This uniique Post continues. Don't miss the next gang work:

With respectful dedication to all the Headlines and Headstones. With respectful dedication to all the readers. See Ya all on !WOW! -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

"' Teenage Trigger "'

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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