Community leaders have joined the Mayor of London Boris Johnson to denounce the horrific disturbances across the city at the weekend and call for calm to be restored.
Using the network of community contacts that have helped the Mayor deliver his engagement programmes and regular face to face meetings with the black community, the Mayor has asked community leaders and representatives to use their power and influence to call for calm and deter young people from participating in the mindless violence seen over the weekend.
The Mayor wants to reassure the community that the events leading up to the disturbances are being thoroughly and swiftly investigated. Over the past year the Mayor has held an unprecedented series of face to face meetings with the black community in areas of serious youth violence to work together on solutions. The Mayor’s mentoring scheme is currently placing hundreds of vulnerable black boys with strong positive adult role models. The Mayor is encouraging people who feel anger and frustration to choose an alternative to violence.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson said: “The scenes of violence and destruction over the weekend are utterly appalling. People have lost their homes, businesses and livelihoods through mindless violence. I understand the need for urgent answers into the shooting incident that resulted in the death of a young local man, and I’ve sought reassurances that the IPCC are doing exactly that. But let’s be clear these acts of sheer criminality across London are nothing to do with this incident and must stop now. The Acting Met Commissioner has assured me that the police are doing everything they can to resolve this situation, they will be making further arrests over the next few days and are working tirelessly to identify every criminal involved.”
Pastor Nims Obunge said 'We need to rebuild the community. I call for calm and peace so we can begin work rebuilding the families, communities and businesses that have been destroyed. I’ve walked around Tottenham and the damage is disheartening, we’ve lost the post office, the job centre, we’ve lost local businesses. Young people need to understand they are ruining our communities. We can't allow London to burn. We can't give up. We need to rebuild hope and look for solutions for our young people. This should not be allowed to happen again.'
Bevan Powell, Chair of the Metropolitan Black Police Association said: “I’m calling for calm, people are losing their homes and businesses because of rioting and it must stop now. The community need to work with the police to stop the chaos. We recognise tensions with the police have been in the community for significant period of time and this needs to be addressed. However there is no excuse for the violence and destruction over the weekend. Community leaders need to come together and denounce this disorder and make sure it doesn’t spread across our city. “
Shaun Bailey, youth worker said: “Let’s be clear we need to separate these crimes from the original demonstration of Mark Duggan’s family and friends. The family have said they don’t condone this violence and it shouldn’t be used in his name. This is not about the black community and the police, it’s about young people and the police. I’m a youth worker and I know the relationship has improved and in fact it is the best it’s ever been. It’s vry unhelpful to look back in time and focus on how bad things used to be. And let’s not beat around the bush and pretend this is some type of social justice protest - it’s sheer criminality. The youngsters I work with are keeping me in the loop with what’s going on via blackberry messenger - people are saying let’s meet up and break into this shop. It’s theft – plain and simple. We need to knock it on the head now. We must remember this is a small minority of young people giving the majority a bad name.”
Richard Taylor, Damilola Taylor Trust said: 'Members of the community should exercise restraint, patience and refrain from getting into violent activities. They should not forget that we are a community. They should not take matters into their own hands and destroy their own communities. I urge community leaders to refrain from issuing inciting statements which will ignite more trouble. We all need to work together to address concerns and we give local authorities and the Mayor a chance to deal with situation at hand.'
Former England Football star and the Mayor’s Mentoring Champion, Ian Wright added his voice to concerns over the disturbances.
Ian Wright said: “I don’t want young people to ruin their lives by getting involved in the opportunist violence we’ve seen this weekend. We know a lot of young people are disaffected and feel isolated, that’s why I help push the Mayor’s mentoring scheme to try and turn around the lives of our young boys. Whatever frustrations you feel destroying our communities is not the answer and it must stop now.”
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