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Mark Prince for Mayor

UNITED FRONT: Mark Prince wants to get communities together

EVERYWHERE I GO people are shouting out “MARK PRINCE FOR MAYOR of London 2020”.

I kid you not. I was down in that are of north London the other day ewhere has managed to bring peace and love. And they were saying: “MARK PRINCE FOR MAYOR.”

I was was down at a youth club in west London a couple of days back and they were saying the same thing: “MARK PRINCE FOR MAYOR.” David in Croydon, the ex-squaddie whose white colleagues left him for dead when they were on military exercises in the
Arctic Circle when he was still a teenager, called me on the phone saying the same thing: “MARK PRINCE, MARK PRINCE, MARK PRINCE” – he’s the only one who can tackle knife crime and homelessness, which are the two biggest problems that London is facing.

And down in east London they are saying the same thing. The joke about it is that Dr Mark Prince OBE has not given any indication that he will be standing against the incumbent Sadiq Khan when Londoners return to the polls to elect a new chief executive of
London PLC.

I don’t even know if his mind is on it, but I know that he must have heard the same thing over and over and over again. Out on the streets, it would seem that he’s the people’s choice, and if he were to throw his hat in the ring he would give all other rivals, including our own Shaun Bailey (Conservative) a run for their money, if not beat them hands down.

In fact, the only places I go to where they’re not crying out: “MARK PRINCE FOR MAYOR”, are the middle class places where they don’t think that they can be touched by knife crime and where they’ve never heard of Mark Prince or his son Kiyan Prince or the Kiyan Prince Foundation, which the father set up when his 15-year-old son was murdered at his school in 2006.

For the benefit of those of you who don’t know, before that fateful day when his life was shattered from losing his son, a promising young footballer signed to QPR, by way of a single lethal knife wound, Mark Prince was doing youth work to try and stop young people with that mindset to take a next yute's life.

That’s the irony of it. He had retired from professional boxing after his career was cut short by an injury. At the time, he was the champ. The number one in his division (light-heavyweight) in this country. But he wanted to put something back into the community that he came from, so he took up youth work.

By all accounts he excelled. Not just because he knew what it was like to be homeless on the streets at 15 and having that same mindset that you can’t understand – how a man can just kill a man. But because he developed programmes for the young people with that mindset.

The kind of programmes that made sense to them and that worked for them. For example, boxing programmes and life coaching mentoring. Those are the kinds of disciplines that make a difference with young people of that mindset.

But he’s got a much bigger plan than that. Mark Prince takes a much bigger holistic approach to how to change the mindset than most people. He believes that we all have a part to play in changing the mindset. It’s like that old African saying about it taking a village to raise a child.

And he reckons we are all part of that village – whether it is you and I or the media and the schools and the police and whoever else you might consider to be stakeholders in the village, i.e. all of us.

Like I said, one fateful day in May 2006, the irony of all ironies destroyed his life, when the messenger of doom knocked at his door to inform him that his beloved son had been taken from him at the hands of ignorance. That is putting it mildly.

I cannot tell you the dignity that this power machine of a man has shown in the face of such a trauma. Oh, it still haunts him, even as he goes from school to school, from youth club to youth club, from gathering to gathering to talk to young people about what he has gone through.

Of course he could have got ignorant himself. And he will tell you about the things that went through his mind when the police caught his son’s attacker.

UNDEFEATED

And, yes, of course, he had the wherewithal to get ignorant, not just because of what he himself had gone through in his life but, like I said, he was/ is the champ. Undefeated in that respect.

Though, to see the pain in his soul, yes, you really can see it when he talks about that fateful day and what he has gone through every day and night since then, you wonder how he has managed to remain undefeated.

There is something deep within him that Londoners see that makes boys and girls weep when he goes to their school and shares his testimony, and gets them and their parents who can see the difference he makes cry out: “MARK PRINCE FOR MAYOR.”

Particularly when he talks about the solution to bringing an end to this plague of our times and the effort he is prepared to put into representing the narrative for our children.
“After what I have been though,” he says, “when there’s another stabbing people always ask me, ‘Doesn’t it bring it all back? Are you not reliving what happened to your son all over again?’

“And I say, no not really because I have never come away from it. I’m in it constantly – 24-7. I’m always having to deal with my son being murdered at school and I’m always using it to go and reach other young people’s mindsets. I live in the scenario constantly.
“It makes me keep pushing harder than I’m doing. I’m drained and I’m tired, to be honest with you.

“My wife is always telling me to ease up and to spend some time to just chill sometimes. But my mind is always on how can I improve things. Then I’ll go and do media work and presentations and I’ll have meetings and anything else to make this happen. The OBE that I was awarded in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List enables me to make more of an impact – instead of this just being a one-man show.

“I want to get more communities together to be able to get together as one unit to solve this problem. There are too many people working individually when we have to work together.”

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