‘Search your kids’ bedrooms for knives’: Mama Hackney urges action on stabbing victim Marcel Addai’s birthday
- Credit: Polly Hancock
Parents should be searching their kids’ bedrooms for knives and drugs to prevent deaths on the street, the youth leader known as “Mama Hackney” has urged.
The advice from the founder of The Crib youth club, Janette Collins, came as Marcel Addai’s family returned to the spot where he was stabbed to death to unveil a plaque on what would have been his 20th birthday.
Marcel was 17 when he was knifed 14 times on the St John’s Estate, Hoxton, in 2015.
Following the death of Moses Fadairo three weeks later, The Crib launched its “Enough is Enough” campaign to promote peace. They also set up the Parents’ Voice group to empower parents in the wake of the tragedies.
“We teach parents to search their child’s bedroom,” Janette said after the gathering.
And she urged parents reading the Gazette: “Every so often you go in that bedroom and you give it a thorough clean. They don’t know when you are going to do it – you just do it, even if you are busy.”
Marcel’s plaque must stand as a symbol to say “never again” to knife crime, Rev Graham Hunter said as it was unveiled yesterday.
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Marcel’s mother Philippa, his grandmother June and grandfather Matthew fought back tears at the emotional ceremony, also attended by two more grieving parents: JJ McPhilips’ mother Michelle, and Shaquan Sammy Plummer’s mother Jessica.
JJ was fatally knifed in Islington in February, while Shaquan was stabbed to death in Brockley the day before Marcel’s death in September 2015.
“It’s two years and three months since Marcel’s death and there’s not a day that goes by where you won’t remember him with sadness, with grief,” Rev Hunter from St John’s Hoxton told the group.
“I hope when we walk around this corner and see this plaque we will remember Marcel.
“We will also pray for those that have suffered the loss and the grief, but we will also look forward with determination to the kind of community we want to live in, where people don’t get set upon, where we learn how to love one another.”
But June told the Gazette time had not lessened the family’s grief.
She said it “wrenched her heart” to see the plaque on the wall.
“It’s a nice thing that Enough Is Enough and the TMO have done for us, but it’s upsetting as well,” she said.
“It’s hard to go down this road. I have to go down the longer route because it’s too heartbreaking. You stand there and you freeze.”
She described how she will often imagine she is living a bad dream.
“The times I have sat there waiting for him to walk in,” she said.
“Sometimes you can’t hold back the tears. Some days you are weak and numb and angry. You get all those mixed emotions. It’s too much for anyone to bear. You wouldn’t wish this on your worst enemy, to live it day in day out, every minute of the day.
“You feel so guilty having a sip of water, laughing. You feel guilty eating.
“You are lying down trying to sleep, and you think: ‘Why am I doing this when my grandson isn’t here?’ When you see his friends it hurts even more.”
But while things are bad for the adults, June described how it is even harder for Marcel’s younger sister, now 10.
“When it’s birthday time she says: ‘My brother isn’t here to buy me presents or pick me up from school,’” she said.
She agreed Marcel’s plaque should become a symbol promoting peace on the streets.
“Something needs to be done,” she insisted.
“They need to be educated and do something with their lives, not walk the streets and kill someone – where is the pleasure in that?
“And then they go and laugh and say ‘we did this’ or ‘we did that’. Why? What do they get out of that?”
Janette Collins, founder of De Beauvoir youth project The Crib, told parents to search their children’s bedrooms to uncover knives or drugs.
“We are busy people,” she admitted. “We are running up and down trying to make ends meet. If your child is being rude at school you have to run to the school and do all the school stuff as well.”
But she insisted: “It’s all about staying the distance. No one said it was going to be easy in life.”
Tatum Defreitas, 18, who attended Urswick secondary school with Marcel, would like to see a memorial bench in his memory where his friends could lay flowers.
“We could sit where he took his last breath and remember him,” she said. “People don’t always want to go to a cemetery.”
Tatum, who has named her own son after Marcel, added: “Marcel was just so unique. The way he walked and the way he did his hair – he was amazing.
“He was so humble from the way he spoke, and the way he walked. I just miss him lots and I don’t think it’s fair the way he died. We have all lost a piece of us.”
Tracey Prescott’s son was best friends with Marcel Addai.
She now runs the Enough is Enough campaign.
“They weren’t in a gang,” she told the Gazette. “They were just friends. To say it’s a gang is giving it a status, and the real gangs love that.”
Referring to Agnes Sina Inakoju, who was shot dead through the window of a Hoxton chicken shop with a sub-machine gun in 2010, she said: “They were all friends at some point, and when Agnes died, that’s what caused the rift.
“It’s ridiculous – no one owns a postcode, but you can’t go certain places. You’ve got to take a cab everywhere. My son doesn’t know what it’s like to go on a bus. Someone could see him on the bus and come and stab him – that’s what they do if they realise you aren’t from that area.”
She believes youths carry knives out of fear they will be stabbed – which ultimately makes them more unsafe.
“They feel they need to protect themselves just in case,” she said, “but if someone comes up with them with a knife they‘ve not got a chance.”