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"We must stop our kids being killed" - Quamari Barnes event

MOURNERS: Hundreds gathered for Quamari Barnes' funeral on 11 March

FOLLOWING THE murder of north London schoolboy Quamari Barnes, parents and community activists came together to discuss ways of tackling youth crime.

The 15-year-old Capital City Academy pupil was was stabbed in the chest outside his school as he was on his way home.

His funeral took place on Friday March 11.

The panel discussion, called Stop The Street Killings Now, was arranged and convened by community advocate Lyndon Walters otherwise known as ‘the mental farmer’. The event was aimed at serving as a platform for families and individuals to express their concerns about youth violence.

Walters told The Voice:

“Saving lives is our responsibility; especially when it is the lives of our own children.

“By encouraging families towards the philosophy of 'questioning more', we can support families into gleaning more valuable information from themselves as well as their children”.

Ras Minty, one of the event’s seven panellists, remarked:

“The system has instilled a self-destructive behaviour in our young people. By launching this event, we are looking at what can be done to reverse this.”

SLAIN: Quamari Barnes

During the discussion panel and audience members spoke about the importance of addressing issues such as family, education, the importance of economic opportunities and the role of the church.

The views expressed during the discussion echoed those at a vigil which took place outside Quamari’s school in the immediate aftermath of his death.

Dr. Beverly Goring, Lecturer at London Southbank University also formed part of the panel. A member of Quamari's family was present.

During the January 29 vigil which drew 300 people his cousin Rachel Odunton said:

"He wasn't in a gang. He wasn't running the streets. He went home and did his homework.

"We need to get people off the streets now, it's not safe. Quamari wasn't involved in any of this.He was a good boy and he was humble and he loved everybody in his family…this sort of thing needs to stop now. Wherever you are from it doesn't matter. We are one community and we need to join together now because this matters."

His grandmother, Lovers Rock singer Sylvia Tella said:

"We are not taking control. This is something that has to be changed. The police, no matter what they do, unless we help, they can only do so much."

She added:

"You do not expect to hear that your child has been stabbed outside his school. This is not a black life, this is all lives."

Figures from the Mayor’s office released towards the end of last year showed that knife crime is rising - London's epidemic of stabbings and knife injuries is at its highest rate for five years - with 11 people being injured in attacks each day.

The latest Met police statistics show more than 4,000 people suffered knife injuries in the capital in the last 12 months, a rise of 4.4 per cent on the previous 12 month period.

Ras Minty, who has been working in the local community in various capacities said:

“The youths have ‘swag’ as they say. They can use that confidence and apply it to business, developing themselves. We have some geniuses around us who are channelling it in the wrong way”.

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