Some 2,000 people turned out for an anti-knife crime rally in London last Saturday, called by the families of some recent victims of gun and knife crime.
It stared as a peace walk from north and south London and finished in Hyde Park, where many celebrities such as Richard Blackwood, DJ Ironik, Bashy and Asher D made a plea for young people to put down knives and guns and end gang wars.
There was an impressive line up of acts and it was obvious that the organisers had made a real effort to attract young people. It seemed to work—a lot of the people at the rally were aged 20 and under.
From the stage the organisers of the rally called for harsher sentencing and stronger deterrents, such as national service in the army.
But many of the people in the crowd, mostly wearing T-shirts showing pictures of their lost loved ones, seemed to be opposed to giving the police more powers.
When recorded messages from London mayor Boris Johnson and Gordon Brown was played you could barely make out what they were saying over the chanting of the crowd to get it off.
People seemed angry that politicians and the prime minister didn’t find it important enough to turn up and show their support.
One group of protesters in the crowd told Socialist Worker, “We don’t think the government is going about the situation in the right way.
“For starters they need to listen to the people—the real people who are affected by the gun and knife epidemic and not just the statistics.
“We went to a meeting about it with then London mayor Ken Livingstone and we didn’t get a word in edgeways. He just didn’t seem to care what we thought.”
Another young person from Hackney, east London, said, “It’s got really bad now and the government isn’t helping—all they’re doing is sending police in to harass young black people and that’s just getting us angry.
“Look at the stage—the families are from many backgrounds, not just black. They need to realise it’s not just the black kids—this affects everybody.”