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'It's time we accept responsibilty for our failings'

WE HAVE been here before, and let me make it abundantly clear that it’s not black youths rioting – it's youth and further, it's nothing to do with exclusion from school, police brutality, SUS Law etc.

The manifestations we are witnessing in our cities are primarily to do with criminality and young people using the opportunity via the unfortunate death of Mr Duggan to vent their frustrations and steal whatever they can.

Unfortunately the media and so-called 'experts' are coming out of the woodwork with the same analysis and conclusions expressed in 1981 and 1985.

My question are – Where are the parents of these young people? Where are the black leaders and churches? Where are the law-abiding members of our communities and where are the politicians, locally and nationally?

All of the above has a role to play if society is to remove this ugly and destructive menace from our streets and communities. For years myself and others have been calling upon the black churches and leaders to come out against anti-social behaviour, gun crime, illegal drugs and criminality in general.

Their voices are not heard, they are not to be seen, in fact they have abdicated all responsibility to their congregations, their children, and communities and to society. In other words they have handed over responsibility of their children, congregations, communities to the very same institutions that they are blaming for the failures and problems – the schools, police, government etc.

We can not continue to lay blame or transfer the issues affecting the black community on to the shoulders of others, we have to stand up and come out of the self-imposed isolation bunker we have dug.

We are parents, community members, teachers, preachers, police officers, lawyers, doctors etc, and we have a voice. We must be come more involved in the life of our young people, not just as parents, but as responsible black people with hopes and dreams of a better tomorrow for all black people.

We have to join and support those organisations in our communities working for the elimination and eradication of the malaise affecting our communities. We can not sit on our hands, ‘see no evil and speak no evil’. If that is to be our attitude and response to what is happening in society we will have a far greater price to pay in the long term.

All the evidence seems to suggest that the present cuts in the budget of local authorities up and down the country are having detrimental consequences on provision such as: youth club, social care, libraries, after school activities, anti-social projects etc.

However, if that is the case, we have to find ways of creating space, programmes, and opportunities for all young people if we are not to experience similar behaviour in 20 years time.

The social conditions prevailing in the 1980s that gave rise to the riots then, are the same today and suggest that we have learnt nothing from the 1980s.

Yes, money was thrown at the manifestations then, but a fundamental mistake was made. The local community had very little to with how that money was spent. We can not make the same mistake again.

Local people must be involved in all the processes from beginning to end. Only by this approach will the right and appropriate solution will be found. We are all stakeholders and therefore should be given the opportunity to participate in how we extricate ourselves from this unholy and destructive menace.

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