BY MARCI CAPIELLO
In 1977 I remember the campaign to stop “Sus” initiated by parents from South London to protect innocent young black men. There were so many men who were subject to the humiliation of “Suspicion” stop and search processes for no reason.
Mavis Best was the leader of the Scrap Sus Campaign in London which was supported by Paul Boateng. He was the first mixed race cabinet member to become the chief Secretary to the Treasury in May 2002.
The police under the sus law could stop and search anyone on suspicion of them committing an offence. They could also search and potentially arrest people.
In 1999 The Macpherson inquiry, some twenty years later stipulated that police stops should be recorded to give some accountability to the process. This was a recommendation that was finally implemented in April 2005.
On reflection Black men in the 1970s felt discriminated against and singled out and it was apparent that many were being stopped and searched with no evidence of crimes being committed. Parents became tired and frustrated for their children and insisted that this abuse of power be brought to an end.
In looking at the soaring statistics of knife and gun crime it is obvious that there has to be a way to retrieve weapons that are being carried by young people.
There have to be positive initiatives and safe spaces to allow young people to express feelings of anger and frustration that are safely supervised and channelled in a positive way. The concerns of course are just how and what would be the best way to do this without creating further conflict.
We do not want to see a repetition of the Brixton riots where feelings of prejudice and discrimination between young black men and the police reached an all-time high.
We want there to be law and order on our streets to feel safe and for people of all generations to be able to walk the streets.
This should be without fear of being stabbed or shot. We want our young people to be mentored and appropriate community initiatives to be supported.
We cannot completely understand what goes on in the mind of a young person who pursues a life of crime, but we should have a voice and respond to our concerns as it continues to affect our communities. These are hugely worrying statistics with rising death tolls that do not seem to be subsiding.
Young people seem to be restless, bored having unrealistic expectations about what they can achieve by doing very little. It concerns me that the world of drugs seems to offer a quick and easy path to wealth with little educated efforts, toll or labour.
They believe that through imposing fear and intimidation onto others that they are somehow in control of their own universe.
There is little moral sense of community nor responsibility. There are skills involved sure i.e. negotiation, maths and great organisational skills these are unfortunately not being put to the best and most appropriate use.
Tony Lloyd a boxing coach and friend of ours would say that through his boxing activities he allowed young people to believe for a brighter future where they could feel safe and secure and be kept off the streets.
K and GC Victim Support Group want all our young people to take pride in themselves have a sense of purpose and a positive sense of identity.
We want to encourage and protect our young people so that they appreciate just how to make an important contribution to society so that the next generation benefits and does not just focus on immediate and present rewards only.
The virtual world of Facebook and snap chat offers something of an illusion and a fake reality of how to communicate, how to express emotions sometimes unsafely.
One on one is needed and now more than ever mentors like Tony and those of us of an older generation who have sacred knowledge of how our elders raised us, have to pass on that knowledge to young people to enable and empower them to thrive, teaching them how to be successful.
We need to be able to offer a future an alternative to a life of crime where education and career are accessible and of interest.
To those looking for a life less ordinary where a life of crime appears to be glamorous and more interesting, we must promote safer and better alternatives.
It is important for all our children to feel warmth, love and acceptance. This is vital for their mental health and emotional well-being, their personal development and their future.