CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Camden Against Violence: hundreds join march demanding action after knife killings

Demonstration follows night of horrific violence that left two dead and another seriously injured

22 March, 2018 — By William McLennan

The victims’ families led crowds through the streets of Camden 

Parents, teachers and children turned out in their droves this afternoon as around a thousand people marched across Camden to call for action to end knife violence.

Crowds snaked for several hundred metres down the road as the procession, led by the mother of two of the latest victims, made its way from Queen’s Crescent, through Kentish Town and Camden Town.

At the front, carrying a banner that declared: “stop the violence, invest in our youth”, stood Fowsiya Abdi, whose son was one of two young men killed during three linked knife attacks across the borough last month. She had lost another son to knife crime six months earlier.

The event was organised under the newly formed Camden Against Violence group, which was set up by Reene Horsford and Elaine Donnellon, who were moved to after watching the violence unfold last month.


Fowsiya Abdi, right, lost two sons in six months 

Fowsiya Abdi paused the procession at the spot that her son Sadiq Aadam was killed in Malden Road. He died at around 10pm on February 20, less than two hours after Abdikarim Hassan was stabbed to death near his home on the Peckwater Estate.

Police believe the two killings were linked and have also connected them to a third stabbing in Somers Town that evening that left a 17-year-old “lucky to be alive”.  The horrific night of violence unfolded just two days after Lewis Blackman, who grew up on the Peckwater Estate, was stabbed to death in west London.


Sharley Peet-Newitt, right, and children from the NW5 Play Project

The procession ended in Harrington Square, next to the site that Ms Abdi’s other son, Mohamed Aadam, was killed in September last year.

She stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the boy’s uncle, Aydarus Ahmed, whose son Mohamed Abudllahi was murdered in York Way in 2013. All three young men were aged 20 when they died.

Mr Ahmed said: “We were all devastated. The pain and the agony that we have been through as a family over the years, there is no cure for it, but we have to live with it.”


Sadiq Aadam, left, Mohamed Aadam and Mohamed Abdullahi

Abdikadir Ahmed, of the Somali Youth Development Resource Centre, said: “There are a lot of communities in Camden, but we are one community and it’s clearly shown here tonight and we need to come together to sort this issue out.

“It’s something that is going to have to come from parents, from the community and the council in terms of how we can find solutions.”


Aydarus Ahmed, centre, with event organiser Elaine Donnellon,  council leader Georgia Gould and Keir Starmer MP

He added: “We need invest in our youth, but also look at what is working and what is not working and how we can work with these young men.”

Ms Donnellon said: “We can not as a society that any young child should have their life taken away from them and just accept it at as the norm. We are here to say this is not the norm. We want investment from central government.


Luis Sanchez and Sarah Humphrey with children from the Kentish Town Community Centre

“We need investment for our community, family services. Over the last seven years our social services, statutory services, youth and voluntarily services have been cut to the bone.

“We need investment in our young people so they can go on to live long, full, prosperous lives.”

The event was supported by the National Education Union and teachers from schools across the borough joined marchers.


English teachers Andrew Dwyer, Rose Riley and Sintya Bokaa from La Sainte Union with Claire Ozkaya from William Ellis

Claire Ozkaya, a school development officer at William Ellis, said the loss of a pupil was “truly awful” and had “lots of repercussions,” adding: “The kids are scared, the kids are angry. It’s difficult.”

She said the government had failed to get to grips with the problem because “none of them are living with it on their doorstep”.

 

She said: “You can’t keep shrinking a budget and not expect thier to be a repercusion. I want the police back, they’ve been taken away. I want my education budget brought up to where it should be so we can work to the best of our ability, which we can’t now.”

Olivia Okoro, a pupil at La Sainte Union, said that when she learnt about the killings she thought “this needs to be sorted now”.


Charlene Whaley and her daughter Olivia Okoro 

She said: “We are in education but we are not getting taught how to prevent these things. All the youth clubs that have been cut aren’t helping the problem. Kids my age are going out going to gangs, getting involved with knifes. It should be fixed.

“When we were in primary school there was so many youth clubs we could go to and I felt like more of a community. As I’ve grown up it becomes more distant. I blame the cutbacks and I think the government should help. They Mayor of London said it’s going to improve, but nothing’s improved yet, so I question if it’s ever going to happen.”

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