Comment: Boris Johnson and youth violence in London

April 24, 2012 in Blog

"Stop n Search at Notting Hill Carnival 2011", by belkus (Flickr)

On April 23rd, The Guardian published an article entitled “Boris Johnson ‘has done virtually nothing to tackle youth violence’“. Professor Gus John commented on the news story, saying:

Ron Belgrave is finally lifting the lid on the sham that passed as Boris Johnson’s engagement with the issue of serious youth violence in London and in particular the relentless spate of killings of young black people by their peers.  The ‘Time for Action’ strategy had a grand title but was never going to deliver very much because the Mayor was clearly committed to two courses of action that are typical of the political class, irrespective of the colour of their rosettes.

The first was to treat young black people’s involvement in knife and gun enabled crime as if it arose from their congenital propensity to evil and had nothing to do with the state of Britian and the material conditions and structural marginalisation in which that generation and their fathers before them were nurtured and continue to exist.  The second was to indulge in a crude form of benign racism by attaching to himself a black special adviser who had already been publicly discredited and made to resign his post as Deputy Mayor, someone who had no proven expertise to match the complexities of the task facing any Mayor in getting to grips with the scandalous number of murders of black young men and the similarly troubling number of their assailants being given life sentences for those murders.  Read the rest of this entry →

Open letter to Prime Minister David Cameron

August 13, 2011 in Gus talks, Open letters

This open letter was sent to the British Prime Minister, David Cameron, on August 13th, 2011.

Dear Prime Minister,

I write as someone whose contribution for more than four decades to the struggle for quality schooling and education for all and for racial equality and social justice is a matter of public record.  I write as a former youth and community worker, community development officer and director of education and leisure services whose work has been predominantly in urban settings.  I am a social analyst and professor of education.  I am interim chair of Parents and Students Empowerment, an offshoot of the Communities Empowerment Network which for the last twelve years has been providing advice, guidance and advocacy in respect of the one thousand (1,000) school exclusion cases on average we deal with each year.

It is with profound sadness that I write to you.

Sadness at the events the nation has witnessed since Thursday 4th August 2011 when a police operation in Tottenham, North London, resulted in the killing of Mark Duggan.

Sadness at the lives lost and families traumatised as the civil unrest spread across London and elsewhere in the country.

Sadness at the number of young people who are now being taken through the courts, most of whom will doubtlessly end up with criminal convictions, if not prison sentences, thereby compounding the social exclusion that had already engulfed many of them. Read the rest of this entry →