Community leaders call for peace after gang-linked murder of Tanesha Melbourne
Crowds congregated across London to appeal for an end to street violence after the 47th murder in the capital this year
Community leaders in north London united for a peace march on Tuesday night in an effort to stop what many see as an escalating gang war taking the lives of young people.
Marchers filled the streets between Seven Sisters underground station and the supermarket in north London where CCTV caught Tanesha Melbourne, 17, walking with friends just minutes before she was gunned down on Monday night.
A 16-year-old boy was shot in the face in Walthamstow, east London, just 30 minutes later and died on Wednesday. Both victims are believed to be innocent casualties of escalating gang wars.
Videos posted to social media show local leaders of Guiding A New Generation – a youth outreach movement commonly referred to as G.A.N.G – imploring young men in the area to abandon violence.
One 15-minute video posted on the YouTube channel Content Over Everything captured the emotion with which many in the area were begging for peace.
Talking into a megaphone in front of a crowd of young men, some of whom had covered their face, one leader said: “We’ve got aunties out here who care about you lot. I care about you lot. If no one ever tells young men that they love you… I f**king love you. I f**king love you. You understand me? Nobody’s going to beat this love.”
Shouting up to the overlooking balconies on the Northumberland Grove housing estate, he continued: “If you just took a life. If you lot know who killed that girl. Even if you’re standing there, God will forgive you.”
In a later speech, artist and public speaker Raspect Fyahbinghi took over the megaphone and said: “I’m not gonna say something as simple as ‘put down the gun, put down the knife’, because I know what grief feels like. I know what grief feels like.
“So I’m not gonna come with no simple solution, because there isn’t one. But if there is a start to a solution, then this is it.”
Dozens of people from across the capital met outside the Seven Sisters tube station earlier in the evening to share their experiences and encourage a greater community spirit.
One speaker stressed is hope to “save everyone, even the dutty little boy who’s selling crack”.
“He’s my son,” he added. “All children are my children. Your son is my son. You are me, I am you.”
The crowd then walked north to the area where Tanesha Melbourne was killed.
At both sites G.A.N.G leaders led a reading of The Kings Peace Treaty, a document calling for peace between warring urban communities.
“When anyone comes as a stranger from a neighbouring area I will embrace him and treat him like a king,” they said in unison.
Pictures and videos posted online showed similar meetings between communities across north London.
The Press Association made multiple attempts to contact community and G.A.N.G members, but have yet to receive a response.
Ms Melbourne is the 47th person to be killed in London this year. Her murder came just hours after a video of a fight at a central London eatery was posted on Twitter, with many people suggesting Tanesha’s murder was revenge for the restaurant attack.
In an interview in The Times on Saturday, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Cressida Dick linked a rise in youth violence in the capital to spats on social media which can quickly spill out onto the streets.
“There’s definitely something about the impact of social media in terms of people being able to go from slightly angry with each other to ‘fight’ very quickly,” she said.
The Government is finalising plans for a new strategy to tackle serious violence, which is expected to be published next week and will include measures to examine how online material may illegally encourage violence.
A spokesman said: “The Government, voluntary sector and other partners are working with social media companies to ensure measures deliver real results and raise the level of online safety for users.
“We are clear that internet companies must go further and faster to tackle illegal content online.“