Friday, July 04, 2008

In the Land of the Gunless, the Knifeman is King

England continues to experience fatal violence despite its strict gun bans:
A teenager called out for his mother as he lay dying in the street after being chased and cornered and then stabbed in south London.

Shakilus Townsend, 16, of New Cross, was attacked off Beulah Crescent in Thornton Heath at 1.45pm on Thursday by three boys and a girl armed with knives and a baseball bat. He became the 18th teenager to die violently in the capital this year.

Known as Shaki to his family, Townsend was pronounced dead just after midnight yesterday. A woman who went to his aid said he told her: "I want my mum, I don't want to die."

Yesterday the Metropolitan police announced it was setting up a dedicated 75-strong taskforce to target gangs and knife crime.

Witnesses said Townsend was chased down a cul-de-sac by youths wearing scarves around their faces, who shouted "get him from the other side" before cornering him at a block of flats. Police said the youths appeared unfamiliar with the area, and were not treating the murder as gang-related at this stage. They described the group as black and in their mid-teens.

Dee Bamina lives in the block and came to Townsend's aid before the ambulance arrived. She said: "I was about to watch the tennis and I heard shouting and I looked out the window. I saw [them] running and they were shouting 'get him from the other side' because he had run round the building. They were wearing black-and-red scarves which were covering their faces, you could just see their eyes. The girl was talking on her mobile behind them.

"He was still alive when I got there, and I spoke to him - that's the saddest part of it. He said he didn't know them, and told me his name. I asked him twice if he knew them and he said no. I used a towel to compress and try and stop the bleeding but mainly I just comforted him.

"He said 'I want my mum, I don't want to die'. He looked terrified."

Fellow teenager Richard Higgins, 17, also came to help after he heard the commotion. He said he saw a large kitchen-type knife. "My neighbour went out to see people chasing one boy. I think it may have been something that set off with a girl.

"He tried to run back towards the flats. I think he thought he had lost them but when he came out they attacked him. They bludgeoned his head with a baseball bat, and used the knife to slash his side then stabbed him around the stomach.

"My neighbour shouted at them to stop it, and she came out. She ran outside to tell them not to kill him. I came out to see him laying in a pool of blood. He kept saying 'I want my mum' over and over and 'I don't want die'. He said his mum was called Nicole. He tried to get up a couple of times but he couldn't. I'm shocked. I'll never forget what I saw."

Police said they recovered two knives at the scene.

Detective Chief Inspector Cliff Lyons described the murder as "another senseless incident in which a young life has been taken away by a knife". He urged witnesses to come forward.

The attack came as three teenagers were charged with the murder of Ben Kinsella, the 16-year-old knifed outside a nightclub in north London on Sunday. Juress Kika, 18, Michael Alleyne, 18, and Jade Braithwaite, 19, were remanded into custody by Highbury Corner magistrates court yesterday.

The Met's deputy commissioner, Paul Stephenson, yesterday emphasised that tackling knife crime was the force's "No 1 priority".

Speaking at a Metropolitan Police Authority meeting, he said the gangs and knife crime taskforce would be deployed to the worst-affected of London's 32 boroughs "with immediate effect". Teams of officers have already been deployed to troublespots since the launch of Operation Blunt 2 in May.

Armed with wands and knife arches, the officers have been carrying out searches using powers under the Public Order Act, which allows them to act with the presumption of reasonable suspicion.

London's deputy mayor for policing, Kit Malthouse, said: "Yet another death on London's streets means we must redouble our efforts to protect young people and deter them from carrying knives. I am extremely pleased that the Metropolitan police are ramping up their already significant efforts on Operation Blunt 2.

Will the illogic of gun control ever sink in? In a land where guns are nonexistent, a man, or a boy, with a knife can rule the streets. If you think eradicating guns from a society was tough, how tough will it be to eradicate knives? Does any sane person think that these task forces can quell street violence by preemptively seizing knives?

When people are empowered to defend themselves, perpetrators of violence must always face the existential question posed by the famous street philosopher Dirty Harry: "am I feeling lucky?" It isn't their possession, or lack thereof, of deadly weaponry that makes a perp feel lucky. It is the prospect of possession, or lack thereof, of deadly weaponry of his would be victims, as well as the willingness to use them.

This doesn't help the matter, either:
The risk from violent crime is now so high that people should walk away if they see someone else in trouble - in case they end up losing their own life.

That was the depressing warning yesterday from the Mayor of London, Boris Johnson.

He said he would tell his own children to 'look after themselves first' rather than help a victim in distress.

The comments follow the knife murder of 16-year-old Ben Kinsella after he tried to break up an argument outside a North London bar at the weekend.

In another example of violent, broken Britain, a former soldier died yesterday after being attacked on a bus by thugs he had asked to stop swearing.

Father-of-three Stan Dixon, 60, politely asked them to stop using bad language in front of his partner.

To avoid trouble, the couple decided to get off early.

But as the bus doors opened, two men pushed Mr Dixon violently to the ground, leaving him with massive head injuries.

Mr Johnson's warning is a dramatic change from his stance last year - when he told citizens to 'take a risk' and tackle thugs, saying the chances of being stabbed were 'microscopic'.

Since then, there has been been a horrifying death toll of innocent people simply trying to stop violence.

One high-profile victim was Harry Potter actor Robert Knox, 18, stabbed to death outside a bar in Sidcup, South London, in May as he tried to protect his younger brother.

There are worse things than dying.


Blogger Harry Eagar said...

18? In a city of 15 million?

If that were the total in Chicago, half the size, the police would be crowing about the most amazing improvement in street safety.

And how do you account for cops getting shot with their own guns?

July 05, 2008 10:25 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

Proclaiming the COLLAPSE OF BRITISH SOCIETY is the raison d'etre of the Daily Mail. It has been foretelling it since 1896. Two incidents is a 'spree', three is a 'crimewave'.


Arguing against gun prohibition in US because of unique place of gun in American culture = sane.

Recommending introduction of nationwide proliferation of guns into Britain as remedy against inner London knife crime = insane.

No takers.

July 06, 2008 12:32 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

The lack of guns isn't so much the problem. It's the growth of the underclass.

July 06, 2008 6:05 AM  
Blogger David said...

Actually, there seem to have been 167 homicides in London for the twelve months ended May 2008.

In Chicago, there were 414 homicides in the year ended May 2008.

During the same period, London had 92,605 burglaries while Chicago had 23,676.

The population of London is about 7.5 million and the population of Chicago is about 2.8 million. So, your chance of being the victim of homicide is 6.6 times higher in Chicago than London, but if you move from Chicago to London, your chances of being killed drop by only about one hundredth of a percent. A Londoner is 1.5 times more likely to be burgled and can reduce his chances of being burgled by three tenths of a percent by moving to Chicago.

July 06, 2008 6:46 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

Ali, its always the underclass. That's why I have a gun, because of the underclass. Well, not primarily. I mostly have one because they're cool and I'm a geek. But if the underclass ever gives me trouble I'm covered.

Harry, cops shooting themselves is an occupational hazard. Just like chefs burning themselves, or bond traders jumping out of windows. No one is suggesting that we do without hot meals or capital formation because of the unnecessary deaths.

Brit, I'll forgo the usual arguments. But don't you think Boris Johnson's reaction to this underwhelming crime wave lacks upper lip stiffness? And the police response is to confiscate weapons, as if they are the problem. The problem is the thugs, not the weapons. If three thugs gang up on a 16 year old boy, they can beat him to death with their fists.

Give regular people the leeway to defend themselves. If you won't let them carry guns, let them carry knives.

July 06, 2008 7:29 AM  
Blogger Harry Eagar said...

Duck, I was not thinking of cops shooting themselves with their guns but of arrestees shooting cops with the cop's gun.

If the mere chance that somebody in the crowd might have a gun (and the much lesser chance that he could hit anything with it from a distance more than 6 feet) is supposed to deter violent actors, then the presence of an openly armed, trained officer ought to foreclose it for sure.

July 06, 2008 12:27 PM  
Blogger David said...

And, of course, Chicago has a draconian and possibly unconstitutional gun control law.

July 06, 2008 5:57 PM  
Blogger conscious robot said...

US : 0.042802 murders per 1,000 people

UK : 0.0140633 murders per 1,000 people

Clearly what the UK needs is less gun control.

Be careful what you read in the press, I live in London and have yet to come across anyone who is concerned with or has been a victim of knife-crime. It's all a media storm created to fill the slow news days during the summer holidays.

I also read on another blog about an American student looking to buy a stab vest before he came to study in London out of fear for his safety. I was incredulous when I discovered that it was not a joke and he was actually seriously willing to spend thousands of dollars to protect himself from such a minuscule threat. Not to mention looking like a complete idiot and boiling himself alive on the tube.

Guns are controlled in this country not to prevent you from getting mugged but to stop a re-occurrence of events such as the Hungerford massacre and the Dunblane massacre. Guns don't seem so cool when you have sixteen toddlers to bury.

Of course I suppose the teacher should have whipped out the AK she had strapped to her back and blasted Thomas Hamilton into oblivion in a real civilised society right?

July 16, 2008 5:16 AM  
Blogger Duck said...


Welcome to the debate. If this is such a tempest in a teapot, how do you explain Boris Johnson's hysterical reaction? He pretty much said "abandon ship, every man for himself". What's become of that stiff upper lip?

Of course I suppose the teacher should have whipped out the AK she had strapped to her back and blasted Thomas Hamilton into oblivion in a real civilised society right?

If it would have saved some lives, yes,but a .45 would have sufficed.

There is a saying that unusual, extreme cases make for bad law. If there is a case to be made for gun laws, the exceedingly rare but horrific mass homicides are the wrong cases to base them upon. The more mundane but numerically greater one on one homicides between acquaintances would make for a more compelling rationale.

July 16, 2008 8:07 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

The knife-man isn't king.

There is no knife-crime wave.

It is entirely contrived by the media.

We don't need to carry guns or knives to protect ourselves.

Here is the reality.

July 17, 2008 6:52 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

This is an odd stat "Gun crime is up 2% and "all homicides" up 3%." Doesn't go along with the rest of the trend. Wassup wid dat?

July 17, 2008 6:15 PM  
Blogger Brit said...

No idea. I'm getting weary of theories that exist independent of any facts.

Everyone has a theory about why crime is soaring, youths are lawless, society is breaking down... I blame secularism/education/lack of discipline/loss of respect.

Except crime is falling. Give us your theories about that, you misanthropic old buggers, you.

July 18, 2008 1:57 AM  
Blogger Duck said...

It's falling, except where it's not.

I blame Amy Winehouse.

OK, so maybe Britain isn't Thunderdome just yet. What else are we going to talk about? How's the British space program progressing?

July 18, 2008 4:55 AM  
Blogger Brit said...

How about: why is crime falling?

Seriously, I want to hear somebody's grand overarching bloody theory.

Or how about: why do people mistake misanthropy and pessimism for wisdom?

July 18, 2008 6:04 AM  

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