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19 May 2012

News to Novels #17

Gang related articles this week.  Blame The Freedom Writers.  It's one of my favourite films and as I was watching it today I thought it'd be interesting to look up articles on teen gangs:

The first hoodies: Warring yobs and utterly powerless police. No, not 2009, but a Victorian England terrorised by teenage gangs
At 9.45pm on Sunday, August 3, a gang of youths from North Manchester went to war.  Armed with knives and heavy-buckled belts, they left their regular stamping ground and marched for a mile-and-a-half to meet their enemy.  Their grim determination drew stares from bystanders along the way, but apart from the odd cry of defiance, none dared intervene. 

For when the armed mob from Harpurhey arrived at their destination, a pub in the Ancoats area of the city, the purpose of their mission became apparent.  There, gathered round the door, stood a cluster of members of the Bengal Tigers, the most notorious gang in Manchester, named after the street in which most of them lived.   Within seconds, the opposing gangs charged at each other, swinging the heavy buckle ends of their thick leather belts above their heads. Several of the youths fell to the ground. One, who caught a blow to the head with a belt, felt his right eye haemorrhage, just weeks after he had lost the use of his left eye in a previous street fight. Those still standing pulled out their knives and plunged the blades into the necks, shoulders and backs of a dozen or so gang members. The wounds, like the confrontation itself, were carefully planned; the purpose was to maim and disfigure, not kill.

Within minutes the fight was over. The gang had achieved what they came for and quickly dispersed into groups of two or three to make them less conspicuous on their walk home.  The bloody, vicious encounter might well have occurred in any of Britain's major cities on a typical weekend last summer in 'knife-crime Britain'. In fact, it took place more than a century ago in 1890 and heralded the explosion of Britain's violent youth gangs.

Abandoned by their parents, betrayed by schools, young boys are now turning to criminal gangs for protection and a sense of belonging
With their hierarchies and strict discipline, street gangs are nothing more than a distorted mirror image of the house system common in private schools.  Loyalty and team effort are all-important. As one young gang leader from Kilburn, North-West London, told me chillingly. 'You have to know the people, you have to trust the people, because you do everything together. When you stab, you stab together.' Most boys who join gangs aren't irredeemably evil. They are teenagers from low-income families who have been let down by their schools, their parents and other adults.

Count yourself VERY lucky Charlie
This week Charlie Gilmour emerged from Wayland Prison in Norfolk. He has served just four months of the 16-month sentence handed down to him in July for swinging from the Cenotaph and violent disorder while high on drugs during last year’s student protests over tuition fees.  With a cigarette tucked jauntily behind his ear, he was met by a chauffeur-driven car and his no doubt relieved father, the Pink Floyd guitarist Dave Gilmour.  Like the Gilmours, I have tried to support a young man — in fact, two young men — making their way through the criminal justice system during the past year. But I have seen it from a very different perspective.

Rape is normal and part of being accepted into a group, says reformed female gangster
Street gang girls will risk being raped in return for their membership of a group - according to a reformed woman gangster.  Isha Nembhard, former member of an 80-strong gang in Peckham, south London, said being sexually abused when associating with male gangs was becoming normalised for many young woman.  The 20-year-old said: 'It is about low self esteem and a craving for attention. Even if they know it's wrong, they will do it to get acceptance.'

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