Tuesday, 27 April 2010

Work in Hackney

Hello there,

Here's my most recent work for Ventnor Blog:
Bluebyrds & Sundown City to play IW Fest
Veterans in Prison

Subsequently, I did a week's placement at the Hackney Gazette and kept myself busy. Ents coverage was fun. I had a good dance to Dreadzone and slightly fell in love with Dalston at the Land of Kings Festival, during which I interviewed indie popsters Yuck, who made me giggle. They can be found wandering Stoke Newington's streets, hugging one another, possibly to the croon of harmonica…

Georgia from Yuck on Vimeo.

I also interviewed Hackney-based director David Bond about the release of his new film Erasing David, in which he tries to hide from a team of private investigators hired by his producer to track him down. The idea is that this game of cat and mouse reveals just how much information about you is available in the public domain.

Personally, though, my most important work came on a rainy Sunday, marching with mourners to Stamford Hill, where Godwin Lawson was killed.

Making a stand against knife crime, members of the Ghanaian High Commission, local politicians, freelance photographers and youth activists attended. I was the only reporter present and his family kindly thanked me for coming.

Being professional is not the same as being detached and this event climbed onto my back quite hauntingly. I'll definitely be following what happens.

The most eloquent speech came not from local MPs or ambassadors, but from 21-year-old Symeon Brown, chairman of a group called Haringey Young People's Empowerment.

I did my best to use as few words as possible, but there was no space for Symeon's speech in the printed version of the report, which hasn't been published online.

Here is my copy:

Marchers mourn Godwin

Hundreds marched in the rain on Sunday to the place where 17-year-old Godwin Lawson was fatally stabbed on Stamford Hill. Ambassadors, politicians, schools and youth activists joined with his friends and family to protest against knife crime.

Godwin’s aunt, Romana Lawson-Wobyl organised the protest in his memory. ‘If we can save even one child’s life, it will all be worthwhile,’ she said.

Leading members of the Ghana High Commission and the Ghana Union also attended: ‘We have to send a message to young people that knife and gun crime is alien to our culture,’ said Edward Cofie, Counsellor of Consular Affairs.

The marchers sang, prayed and chanted anti-violent slogans, but drew quiet as they reached Stamford Hill. Mourners wept. A one-minute silence was followed by speeches, a release of red balloons and the lighting of candles.

Diane Abbott, Labour MP for Hackney and Stoke Newington said: ‘Speaking as a mother, I have tried to support too many who have said goodbye to their sons. We cannot afford to lose more men like Godwin in this cruel way.’

Symeon Brown, 21-year-old chairman of Haringey Young People’s Empowerment (HYPE), remembered playing football with Godwin:

‘There was so much to admire in him. He was a young leader of London, and still is. We need to be led by his legacy. I don’t want to hear anybody crying, I don’t want to hear anything being said unless we are going to work. We are marching to build a safer London and a safer community. If we are not here to do this, then what are we here for?’

The crowd made a vow to work against knife crime and Godwin's parents embraced those that stood with them at the place where he died.

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