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Londoners march against gun crime

22 February 2007

by Bill Bowder

A WALK for Peace past places in south London where young people have been murdered in the past month was due to take place last night.

A torch-lit walk from Peckham Square to Windrush Square in Brixton was already being planned by a coalition of Black Churches and other Christian leaders. But it was brought forward in response to urgent calls from the community for an end to violence that has claimed the lives of two 15-year-olds in a fortnight, on top of several other murders in recent weeks.

The walk was timed to coincide with a meeting between government ministers, the police, and other experts to assess what could be done to halt gun crime.

On Tuesday, the Revd James Jelley, Vicar of St Luke’s, in Commercial Road, Peckham, said that the key group was young teenagers. Michael Dosunmu and Billy Cox, the two 15-year-olds, had been murdered in his parish.

Mr Jelley was bringing forward plans to open a youth group for ten-14-year-olds, and will distribute 1000 leaflets about the project later this month.

Michael Dosunmu was a member of the Celestial Church of Christ.

He was shot dead while in his bed in his home in Diamond Street on 6 February. Billy Cox was shot dead in his home in Fenwick Close on St Valentine’s Day.

Mr Jelley said: “Two of our church people live in Diamond Street, and they felt under siege when the road was cut off with police tape. Local people were asking whether their front doors were strong enough, and if they should reinforce them, because the front door in Michael Dosunmu’s home was kicked in.”

The new youth group would be able to cope with up to 50 young people meeting for two hours on a Tuesday night, he said. “We had been planning to do this in September, but what has happened has given the project more urgency. We now hope to open after Easter.”

The Revd Katei Kirby, chief executive officer of the African and Caribbean Evangelical Alliance said that although the shootings happened in the black community, everyone should work together to tackle the problem.

The Evangelical Alliance welcomed the announcement of more armed police in the area. Churches were already doing much through groups like Street Pastors, Gunz Down, and Mothers Against Guns, said its public-policy director, Dr David Muir.

The campaigning group, Mediamarch, linked the killings to the spread of violence in films, DVDs, video games, and rap music that “de-sensitised” young people.

The result was “this dreadful rise in adolescent aggression and murder, where youngsters are increasingly both perpetrators and victims”, the group’s co-founder, Pippa Smith, said.

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