Asif Karim is one of three Respect councillors in the Green Street West ward of Newham, east London.
This is close to where 14 year old Paul Erhahon was stabbed to death on Monday of last week.
Aged 27, Asif is one of the youngest councillors in the borough and sits on a variety of committees that relate to young people. He spoke to Socialist Worker.
“We are facing a media onslaught here. They are saying that Newham has become like the Bronx ghetto in New York.
“They want people to believe that kids in this area are out of control and that armed gangs wander the streets.
“That is absolute nonsense. Most young people in this area are very intelligent and law abiding people.
“But we do have a problem with a minority of kids who are alienated and disaffected. We must find new ways of reaching them.
“Most politicians are talking about a clampdown, but that won’t solve the problem.
“We have to start a dialogue with young people, one that allows them to express themselves and talk about their concerns.
“We also need a lot more youth facilities. The ward I represent doesn’t have a youth centre.
“But my ward is not unique – it is the same story across most of London.
“Young people can’t simply be regarded as a problem, they have to be part of the solution too.”