Monday, 20 October 2008

Ashley Kemete death in Kennington

I don't have any further news on Ashley Kemete's death in Kennington, which is unusual as I was hoping that due to the number of witnesses, somebody/people might have been taken in for questioning by now. The news hasn't entirely sunk in with me yet. I know that violent crime happens all over London (this is the 5th? violent death since I started the blog), but there has been nothing in SE11 (thank goodness) for over a year, especially not gun crime.

An anonymous comment left on this blog notes:

The location of the shooting is a cul-de-sac that separates Kennings and Penwith Manor Estates. Poorly-lit and with no CCTV, it's a gift to local dealers servicing the demand from local pubs and elsewhere. Whether there are 5 gangs in the immediate location, there is a drug problem that nice parts of Kennington don't see. Police have now cleared off, and there's a shrine at the spot where the shooting took place, so it appears there's something to the gang link.

I'm not clear on how a shrine points to the gang link, but I wish it didn't take deaths for poorly-lit, unobserved alleyway areas to be brought to public(?) or council (?) attention. Of course, that presumes that somebody is paying attention at all. I've often used that particular cut through from Kennington tube station (and will continue to do so), but I admit that I tend to use it before dark, because it sometimes does involve walking past groups of youths. I refuse to be intimidated by groups of people, but I can see why some people might not like it.

I've been doing a little questioning of the "5 gangs" in the area figure, quoted by the unnamed source. It seems that two things are at issue:

a) What exactly "this area" refers to. The local estate? (which is what I was presuming). Kennington? Kennington and Oval? Kennington and Vauxhall? Further out to encompass Camberwell, Peckham and Brixton, as well as Kennington? I was thinking that 5 gangs sounded too high for the local estate. However...

b) The guy who runs The Assha Project blog (a blog about a gang conflict mediation programme in Tower Hamlets) has pointed out to me that the unnamed neigbour might have been using a wider definition of "gang" than I was anticipating. I was using "gang" to refer to a group of people that routinely hang around together with some criminal intent. I wouldn't use the word "gang" just to describe some friends who hang around on the street, with no criminal intent. I realise that there is a fine line (especially because groups comprise some people who might have some criminal intent, and others who might not), but it does seem that the former involves illegal elements, whereas the latter is actually still legal. A group of friends who hang around on street corners might be disapproved of by some UK citizens, but I figure that freedom to congregate peaceably hasn't been made illegal yet. If the unnamed neighbour is using the word "gang" in this looser sense, then I concede that there may well be 5 gangs on that particular local estate.

One issue that I really appreciate the anonymous poster commenting on is drug supplies to local pubs (and I believe that Camila Batmanghelidjh brought this up in one of my favourite interviews for the BBC) when she said:

Adults - it's y'know, adults - some people who work in the city running crack dens y'know, to make extra money. And it blows my mind, because the people who ring the 'phones of my kids are city workers, who ring for their drugs. And yet they're the same people who judge these children y'know? But they keep the drug trade going.

And I was thinking that a lot of libertarian type people who don't object to taking drugs, or having friends who take drugs, might not think about the people whose hands the drugs pass through... Theoretically, in one guise, I'd be one of those people who said something like, "well, if people choose to take drugs, and they're not harming anybody else, then it doesn't bother me that they're doing something illegal". But it seems that drug-taking is harming other people, just not the people actually taking the substances in question. (This of course, raises more questions about whether any drugs should be illegal?)

Being that Vauxhall, and its numerous gay clubs are around the corner, continually fueled by newer and more ingenious ways to get high, it can't be an accident that we'll end up with shootings in the area as well. The whole supply and demand chain is on our doorsteps.


Anonymous said...

I grew up with Ashley (all the time I knew him he was never involved in any dealings with drugs,past 2 years I can't speak for)and other people around the area, they don't sell drugs because its a career choice they feel its the only way to get things they want from life fast.
There isn't five gangs around, theres just groups of friends or dealers that chill out together(trade drug links, work together) and obviously some groups dislike each other which is where the shooting and drug territory killings begin!Its not a blood and crips situation in kennington and I challenge anyone that says different after living and being friends with these "gangs"all my life I believe I know!
I could sit here all night and try and explain the environment in which I grew up and why I understand it but what you need to see is that...
Yes a lot of young men around there sell drugs but anybody that lives around that culture is left vulnerable and exposed to it at some point the same way I was.
Don't assume that he was wrapped up in this whilst we were growing up he was always a nice guy that attended school and wanted to do right now I think we need to say a prayer for his family that they lost a great son, he may be just another statistic to some but to a mother thats a child missing.

We used to chill in that alleyway simply because there was nowhere else to go...the park was full of mums and babys, or old yardies smoking the youths you pass in the alleyway are just wanting a place to sit and chat...maybe we need to address the issue that many kids around there had come from single parent homes with no support and mums that worked extremely hard to raise them were not home as much as other families so couldn't be sure what they were up to... who's fault is it? not the kids...

We need community support in the shape of youth centres, drug rehabs etc
This can help to bring drugs out of our communitys!
Supply and demand...those classy looking business men you see coming home from the tube station aren't always as clean cut as you think!
R.I.P Ashley xxxx N

Anonymous said...

He was killed by a guy called shak corleone from cfr

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