Grieving mothers of Marcel, Charlie and JJ lead peace march urging end to knife crime
PUBLISHED: 17:17 08 May 2017 | UPDATED: 10:12 09 May 2017
Mothers who have lost children to knife crime led hundreds of supporters on a "phenomenal" march from Islington to Hackney on Sunday, calling to end the "killing that is going on every single day".
The mother of teenager Marcel Addai – who was just 17 when he was brutally murdered in Hoxton in 2015 – addressed the crowd, days after appearing on the Gazette’s front page calling for an end to the bloodshed.
Other mothers joined her including Keeley Burns, whose son Charlie was 19 when he was knifed in the chest near Victoria Park, and Michelle McPhillips, whose son JJ was stabbed in Upper Street in February.
Organisers say 2,000 people joined the rally, which walked from Islington Green to Hackney Town Hall in Mare Street.
They came from all over London and as far afield as Luton and Clacton-on-Sea in Essex.
Janette Collins, founder of The Crib youth club – which organised the march – said: “It was phenomenal. It was just breathtaking. All the people who came out to support those parents were on the same page.”
On Monday night a 17-year-old was fatally stabbed in Walthamstow – the 11th person to be fatally stabbed or shot in the capital in just a fortnight.
Janette’s daughter Kelly Reid, who also works at The Crib, gave support to the mothers while they were on stage – who she said “showed amazing strength”.
“It can get emotional up there and people can get upset, but there were some amazing speeches and it was very powerful,” she said.
“The mums were saying to parents that it’s important to listen to your children and to be aware of their friends and the parents of their friends, so you know who they are going around with on a daily basis.
“Some of the mums said their children had made new associates and their sons spiralled out of control and got involved with the wrong crowd.
“One of our members, Tamilola, wrote the most beautiful poem about how she feels (see below), and we ended the march with her reading it.
“We thought it was important to listen to the voice of the future after we listened to the parents.
“Some of the young people were talking about how they feel about going to school, and one boy said: ‘It would be really nice if my mum could let me go to school and not spend all day praying if I will come home.’
“We couldn’t have done it without the young people from the Enough is Enough team, the parents and support from cross borough organizations - as a community we can create change.”
She continued: “The march was a lot bigger than we thought it would be, but it’s not it’s not about saying: ‘Woo hoo, we have done the march and we’ll stay stagnant.’ We need to get onto the next steps.”
The organisation is putting in funding applications to set up a place where vulnerable young people who need immediate intervention could stay for six months and take part in intense workshops and mindfulness sessions.
“It’s about positivity and having a nice loving home to go to,” explained Kelly.
”At the minute you have someone who is 14 or 15 who has carried a knife twice – which they shouldn’t – but often it’s because of fear.
“And instead of throwing those young people in prison where they will come out with a criminal record, we want to give them intervention through some kind of borstal.
“It’s about dealing with the issue rather than plastering over it. We would work with these young people to help them be better adults.
“There are some kids out there going through some really tough times. You have children with substance misuse, or where older kids go in and take over their house. No one is minding out for them.”
Cllr Ian Rathbone added: “It was highly emotional for us to hear, yet again, the pleas of the grieving parents and friends for something to be done. This is their way of speaking out. I hope the Government is listening.”
A poem of pain by Temilola Olatunbosun, 11 (From The Crib)
The pain inside can not hide
Parents have pain and more young people have died
Monsters in the streets with their face covered with deceit
They take their anger out on our youths
They have no mercy for our future
We was blessed with a life, not to pick up a gun or a knife
I just know if we stick together hackney will get better
And me and other youth will not live in fear and our parents will finally let us leave the house with a cheer
A cheer that nothing will happen
That their child will be safe and will not come back late