Headline, April06, 2014



"It's not even a shock no more when someone dies,"  says Simon, an enigmatic young rapper. "I have lost count of the names. It's an everyday thing:

You think in your head, 'Oh, that's bad.' But you get on with life."

Indeed, it's not hard to find other teenagers/students who live everyday as if they are on the front line, overcast with overvigilance. They fear being shot, stabbed, robbed or assaulted for :

Reasons as insubstantial as looking the wrong way, knowing the wrong person, or being in the wrong place.

Nineteen-year-old Sharlene, for example, a former gang affiliate now going through a rehabilitation process, was shot at one day on Acre Lane in Brixton. It made her angry, even though it wasn't the first time.

She recalls standing on the roadside waiting for a friend. Some buys rode up on bikes. "There was bare (lots of) smoke, so I'm looking up and thinking. "What's happening," she says.

"I dropped onto the floor  -I don't know why because I never saw the gun. God knocked my legs down and the bullet went......... ffffffwwwww over my head. People thought I was dead."

"People getting shot in front of me or me being shot at is no longer shocking," she adds. "I've been shot at so many times that God only knows why I'm still here."

But what kind of war is this? An indication came on 7 June when "Don't Trigger", a new initiative on gun crime awareness, was launched at London City Hall. Addressing the audience, Pastor Nims Obunge of the Peace Alliance:

A community organization working to reduce crime-, made a correction: "These aren't gunmen," he said.   "They are gunboys,"

The police reports also reveal how the violence is atomised and sporadic and, to many people, largely invisible, for one reason. If violence is a disease, it feeds on the young.

David Gustave, a key worker at Kids Company, a youth support charity in Camberwell, points out another way in which the  "war"  is lived in South London today.

"It's war to make it out there. The guys who come here will tell you the fact is that they have to get money. We're on the front line here."

Gustave understands only too well young people who emerge from violent backgrounds are those who get on to violate others. Some of these arrivals, he argues. even exhibit symptoms associated with:

Post Traumatic stress disorder. "They've been at war basically," he says. "We see the same things in soldiers coming back from Iraq: antisocial behaviour, aggression, hypervigilance.

We have brutalised our young people to the point where we have the highest levels teenage pregnancy and drugs and alcohol abuse in Western Europe.

We've swept a whole generation under the carpet:

""These kids are damaged and they're programmed for collapse."

Guns are far from the only source of the recent disorder, but their growing presence on the street is inevitably a central cause of London's teenage war.

Replica guns can be bought legally for Pound 35 and converted for several hundred more.

Altogether more purposeful weapons can also be sourced.

Indeed, asked how many of the south London gangs carry guns, Aaron, 17, a lean, afro'd former member of  "Bloodset" , a gang tied to the estates around Brixton Hill, says, "All of them got guns-

But only the olders have got the  "Machine Guns" .

Youngers have only got stupid  guns  -.22s and replicas.

"They are too easily accessible," he says.  "You can buy a .38 brand new in the box for pound 500. How much is that? Nothing. The only way this  shit's gonna stop is to get all the guns out of the country."

Aaron experienced the violence at close hand. He became a gang member,because, "Basically, you have to join. I seen all these kids/students dying and I thought:

I'm not going to let that happen to me. I thought, If I affiliate myself with a gang, there's some chance I will live."

He was a friend of the recent casualty Dwaine Douglas, and I knew Alex "Tiny Allen" Malumba Kamondo, who was killed in 2006.

"When Tony Allen died, I felt in my heart for him," he explains. "When Dwaine Douglas died, I wanted to.................Kill Someone."

Aaron's life then got spent under an   "Intensive Surveillance and Supervision Programme"    (ISSP) , an alternative to custody, where these events got him to stop and rethink his life.

He spent three nights in Brixton police station after pistol-whipping someone and was told that he was facing six to nine years. It scared the daylight out of him.

"From the day I was released," he now says, " I've done nothing wrong. For the past many,  many months I've stayed from everything. Not involved no more. I just threw it all out of the window."

""Who will buy this? I dare ask?!""

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With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

"' ^Like Nothing Else^  "'

Good Night & God Bless!

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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