‘How many more?’ A response to knife crime

Knife angel credit Janet UlliottKaren Campbell, a United Reformed Church (URC) Related Community Worker (CRCW) for Grassroots – a Luton-based ecumenical charity that supports community work through its involvement with the Bury Park Beech Hill Council of Churches (BPBHCC) – reflects on the tragic and violent loss of teenagers due to knife crime.

Karen’s poem is a response to a Huffington Post article that lays bare harsh statistics which shows across London ‘the victims, and perpetrators [of knife crime], are mainly poor, and they are disproportionately black.’

For years, the families of murdered teenagers have appealed for more to be done to tackle the violence, and gang grooming, but to no avail.

In the year to March 2018, knife killings in England and Wales rose by 34% to a 72-year high.

karen campbell final

Karen asks:

HOW MANY MORE?

One more for the statistics;
One more laboured sigh;
One more half-hearted pause;
One more half-hearted ‘Why?’

One more young life is wasted –
Countless futures torn apart;
One more fam’ly shattered;
One more mother’s broken heart.

One more damning indictment
Against the problem boys
And their broken problem families
With their deaf’ning social noise.

One more time to count our blessings,
Say ‘Thank God, that isn’t me!’
And ‘Why, in heaven’s name,
won’t they contain their savagery?’

One more time to turn our face away;
One more issue to let slide –
As long as trouble doesn’t knock my door
So many truths denied.

Some see the colour of the problem –
Those who rage and those now dead –
But the colour of the problem
Is the blood which spatters red.

So, where’s the power, the resources,
Or the will to foster change?
For the blinkered and the privileged 
Such questions wax quite strange.

So just one more for the statistics;
One more blood-soaked urban day;
One more tragedy unregistered
As one more child slips away.

©Karen Campbell, March 2019

Sky news statistics

In January 2018, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence who was stabbed to death in a racist attack in 1993, predicted that if more victims were white, only then would knife crime be taken more seriously.

The Revd Dr Michael Jagessar, URC Secretary for Global and Intercultural Ministries, says: ‘Following the tragic, violent, and senseless deaths of two teenagers – Jodie Chesney on 1 March, in Havering, and Yousef Ghaleb Makkie, on 2 March, in Greater Manchester – there are now high-profile calls for a knife tsar, increased policing, a petition for a Royal Commission to improve and protect policing, and Savid Javid MP, the Home Secretary, to make plans with police chiefs from the parts of the UK most affected by knife crime.

‘This is the response needed to tragic situations, yet it leaves many wondering why this suggested action was not taken before?

‘All of these young lives matter. I pray that the response needed to tackle the violence is appropriate, addresses the systemic issues and is far-reaching so that no more lives will be lost in this senseless way.’

Knife angel full Janet Ulliott

Top Picture: A 27-foot high sculpture, by artist Alfie Bradley, was made at the British Ironworks Centre in Oswestry, as a memorial to those whose lives have been affected by knife crime. More than 100,000 knives surrendered and collected from  nationwide amnesties between 2015/2016 were used to create the sculpture. Courtesy of Janet Ulliott

Middle pictures: Karen Campbell, the URC’s Luton-based CRCW, and a Sky News infograph showing a racial profile of, from left, the population, muder victims and murder suspects.

Bottom picture: The Kinfe Angel. Courtesy of Janet Ulliott

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