CamdenNewJournal

The independent London newspaper

Snubbed by Sadiq: Mayor urged to visit knife violence community

Mayor of London turns on the New Journal when we pass on message from families and youth workers in Kentish Town

03 May, 2018 — By William McLennan

Sadiq Khan salutes Labour campaign teams in West Hampstead, but has still not visited Kentish Town

THE Mayor of London yesterday (Wednesday) accused the New Journal of attempting to “make political capital out of a grieving family” when he was asked why he had not been to visit Kentish Town in the wake of a night of horrific violence that claimed the lives of two young men.

While Sadiq Khan has yet to come to the scene of the Camden murders 10 weeks ago to meet a community in shock and grief, he appeared on the other side of the borough yesterday to rally support for Labour’s council election campaign in Fortune Green, where the ruling Labour group are trying to unseat the last Liberal Democrat councillor.

When asked why he had not yet been to visit families affected by violence on February 20, he said: “I think it’s inappropriate, I say this to you on the record, for a journalist to try to make political capital out of a family grieving.”

The call for Mr Khan to visit Kentish Town has come from relatives of those who died, alongside community groups and youth workers trying to deal with the causes and effects of Camden’s bloodiest night of knife violence in recent years. Asked the same question by a reporter from another newspaper, he said: “I’ve met many families in the last two years, I’ve been to many funerals and I’ll continue to do so, not because I want to make the Camden New Journal happy, but because it’s important as the Mayor that I understand some of the pain families are going through.”

After the exchange with reporters, his office said that they had not received a formal request from the victims’ families, but would be happy to arrange a meeting in the future. On February 20, Abdikarim Hassan, 17, was stabbed to death in Bartholomew Road, a short walk from his home on the Peckwater Estate. Less than two hours later, Sadiq Aadam, 20, was chased and killed in Malden Road.

The murders are being linked, and the investigation includes the stabbing of a 17-year-old in Somers Town on that same evening, who was said to be “lucky to be alive” afterwards. Mr Aadam’s brother and cousin were both killed in street stabbings. Some Labour members are staunchly defensive of the Mayor’s approach, while others are at a loss to explain why he has not found an opening in his diary for more than 10 weeks and were “disappointed” he did not visit.

Mr Khan has repeatedly been asked to come to Kentish Town, with an invitation to join an anti-knife crime protest in March made by Labour councillor Abdul Hai. Mr Khan had prior commitments that day, attending the memorial of the Westminster Bridge attack.

He did not join Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, shadow home secretary Diane Abbott and Keir Starmer, the Holborn and St Pancras MP, on a visit and community discussion last month. Fowsiya Abdi, Mr Aadam’s mother, and his uncle Aydarus Ahmed, said yesterday (Wednesday) that they would both like to see the Mayor visit Camden.

Mohamed Farah, who established the group Somali Parents to help co-ordinate the communities response to the killings, said they had contacted the Mayor’s office to request a meeting. He added: “All these issues, gang stuff, drug selling and killing, we are the major community that has been affected. We want to meet [the Mayor], explain the situation and what we can do about it.

Gemma Fox, of Save Our Boys Save Our Girls, which was set up in the days after the violence, said the Mayor should come and “listen to our pain and what we on the ground think needs to happen”. She added: “It will not only show compassion and empathy, but it’s needed.”

Elaine Donnellon, from Camden Against Violence, a group of mums which organised the march, said: “He is our mayor. Many of us went out in our droves to vote for him. It’s really important to us that he hears direct from the horse’s mouth.”

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