Ross Kemp on Gangs

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Ross Kemp on Gangs

Post by Lou on Thu Aug 21, 2008 4:15 am

The Sun wrote:ROSS KEMP views the rising toll of teenage knife and gun victims in Broken Britain with ever-growing unease.

The tragedy of lost young lives shocks us all. But he has witnessed the extremes gang culture can reach – and knows things can get worse.

For the latest series of his acclaimed Sky One documentaries Gangs, Ross went to hotspots in Belize and LA.

He also filmed much closer to home – on Merseyside.

Tomorrow is the first anniversary of the shooting of Liverpool lad Rhys Jones, 11, and the trial of a teenager accused of his murder is due to start in October.

Sky will not broadcast Ross’s look at the city until that trial is over, but he talked to us about the time he spent there with hoodlums involved in a vicious turf war.

“It’s the last thing I want to happen in my country, or any other, but I have seen the growing racial and economic divides around the world and in the five years I have been making programmes on gangs I have seen things getting worse.

“As we head for a global recession I think it will lead to more gangs. The poverty I have seen in the UK has shocked me, while the gap between the haves and the have nots gets wider.

“The reasons for gangs apply just the same all around the world: Protection, identity, influence ... and there is a massive problem here with illiteracy.

“Many of the boys who join gangs have opted out of education at an early age. A teacher has to come to a decision. Does she concentrate on the two feral kids in her class or the 30 who want to learn?

“It’s natural selection. So these kids will leave and wander the estates. And guess who they are going to meet on the streets – other kids like them.

“Maybe the other guys will be two or three years older; they’re running for drug dealers and the next minute the kids will see these guys have mountain bikes and a few quid in their pockets. They think, ‘How much money could I make?’

“When they start making money they need to protect their territory. But they’re only 14 or 15, so they need a weapon . . .”

“It’s the same in El Salvador or Belize as it is in London, Liverpool, Birmingham or wherever.

“If you live to 23 in the tougher streets of Los Angeles that’s a success story. I don’t want to see that situation develop in my own country – but it is happening.

“Every time I go to interview gang members in the UK they say, ‘You think we are bad? You should see the ones coming up!’ Apparently gun crime is down, but people doing the crime are getting younger and younger.

“One thing about the people I have met, they are bright human beings. All those young lads in Liverpool have some potential. But when you see it knocked out of them from the ways the cards are dealt, it can be very upsetting.”

And from Merseyside to LA and beyond, Ross admits: “I have grown to like some of the people I have interviewed.

“I don’t condone them. How could I? But if you spend a month with these people. . . you don’t get the interviews from them unless you join in, share a drink with them, spend time earning their trust. Whatever my own feelings about what they do, it’s not my job to judge them. All I can show to the audience is what the camera sees.

“A lot of gangsters see being interviewed as a way of writing their own epitaph. These people live very short lives.

“It’s up to the individual viewer to come to his or her own conclusion.”

But Ross said he had seen good work being done, including the Staysafe scheme in Liverpool. This involves police and council staff targeting kids on the streets who they think are in danger and taking them to be interviewed by social workers before returning them home.

Ross, 44, the son of a police officer, was shocked by the hatred of the cops from youngsters in the city. He said: “With that kind of reaction for authority we have a long way to go.”

Ross has also been to Belize to film and he said what he found there was a great advertisement for NOT joining gangs.

The former British colony in central America has been flooded with drugs and guns by smugglers.

He said “We went on a police raid of a corrugated metal house in a slum.

“The police were looking to find a gun on a guy whose younger brother had been shot by gang rivals two years ago and was in a wheelchair.

“This young lad’s legs had withered to matchsticks and he had a colostomy bag which was full.

“His flesh was septic where the tube went through his skin.

“He had a hole in his upper leg through which you could see the bone. His brother helped me turn him over and his backside had gone! He was rotting from MRSA.

“He told me, ‘I used to cry every day for two years but now I don’t feel any more pain. If you think guns are cool, go and smell him.’

“Knives are no different. If you carry and use a knife it is no different from pulling the trigger of a gun at close quarters.

“The repercussions are the same. You will kill someone and ruin your own life at the same time. It’s hard to get that through to people when they are young.

“But people who are caught carrying a knife should get a custodial sentence. What other deterrent do you have?”

Yet Ross added: “It is rare that prison rehabilitates.

“Being in prison only reaffirms the fact that you are not part of the normal structure of society, so when these kids come out they turn to gangs for support.”

Ross reserves his wrath for the manufacturers of imitation guns indistinguishable from the real thing, the people who convert replica guns to fire bullets and the people selling military-style hunting knives.

“They are dealing in other people’s misery,” he said.

“They are as culpable as the person who pulls the knife or pulls the trigger.

“These are the people who should be in jail.”

I've only watched a couple of these in the past, but it looks like he takes his life in his hands to film. Granted there maybe security around that we dont get to see, but even so some of these gangs get to people they dont like months or years afterwards, so he takes a risk everytime he says something negative.
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Re: Ross Kemp on Gangs

Post by HiJo on Thu Aug 21, 2008 4:17 am

It looks like Ross Kemp is making a bigger effort to get to the heart of this than the government is. In their cossetted lives, they're not likely to ever meet up with a teenage gang armed to the teeth. :wall:

I think Ross Kemp is taking a big chance, if I was him I'd stick to soaps or other dramas. Its safer. Sad
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Re: Ross Kemp on Gangs

Post by Lou on Thu Aug 21, 2008 4:26 am

The government couldnt give a rats about the working and under classes. All they care about is making as much money as they can before getting found out, then selling books about it afterwards Mad

I think you've got to admire him for bringing it to the public attention. But like you say he should stick to dramas, its another sad reflection of society when a soap star does more than the authorities.
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Part 2

Post by Lou on Fri Aug 22, 2008 6:12 am

IN Norris Green, a mile from where Rhys Jones was killed, there’s a pub that used to be called The Royal Oak.

In the early hours of January 1, 2004, just as a New Year’s Eve party started winding down, a masked man entered the function room where 19-year-old Danny McDonald was sitting, pulled out a gun and shot him.

No one was ever charged with his murder but police could tell immediately that Danny McDonald most likely knew his murderer.

And it was not lost on anyone that he had a reputation as one of the leaders of a prominent gang in the city.

Fast forward two years. At the nearby Altcourse prison Liam “Smigger” Smith is visiting a friend doing time.

He gets into an argument with another man. As Smigger leaves the man is overheard saying to an inmate: “Give us the phone. I’ll get the lads to pop them.”

As Smigger exits the prison a gunman jumps out of the bushes and shoots him in the face with a sawn-off shotgun.

It was seen as a gang revenge killing and the funeral of Liam Smith was one of the largest Norris Green had ever witnessed.

Smith was considered by many as a soldier, a casualty of the bitter turf wars being contested by gangs.

A group of Norris Green gang members agreed to meet me at a secret location — and to bring some of the weapons they have ready to use to defend their patch.

I never got to see their faces.

They all wore what appeared to be almost a regulation uniform of black trousers, black hoods and they had their faces covered by the high collars of their black anoraks.

Their voices, though, did not sound exactly elderly.

They sat in a line. Two of them carried samurai swords, a third was wielding an evil-looking weapon with two curved blades.

I asked them what would happen if one of their rivals walked in.

They answered instantly and viciously: “We’d chop his head off. Stick this through his neck.

“And then I’d still carry on stabbing him even though his head weren’t still on his neck.”

Their voices were dripping with contempt and aggression.

Where did this hatred come from? I put it to them there wasn’t much in the way of a drugs trade in the area. “There was at one time,” I was told, “But it’s dying down now.”

The people involved? “They’ve all been nicked. Or shot.”

So, if not drugs, what were they fighting over?

“It’s just gangs. ****ing different gangs, arguing. It’s like that everywhere in the world.” And do they see any end to it? “No. There won’t be an end unless everyone ****ing dies.”

I arranged to meet another young lad who had been a member of a Liverpool gang. Like the Norris Green crew, his hood was up and his face was covered.

Our man was 14 when he first joined a gang and he admitted to me he only did it because he was “young and stupid”.

He saw older kids with money and weed and wanted what they seemed to have.

I asked for an example of the sort of things he was asked to do as a 14-year-old new recruit. “Sell drugs, get guns, go and shoot people, anything like that. You can get a shotgun for fifty quid.

“Go and blow someone’s head off with it, dead easy, can’t you.”

He said he had been shot at “loads of times”. From an early age he had lived a dangerous life.

“But it felt good,” he explained. “You’re in a firm. You’re all together. All for one and one for all and all that.”

What was it, then, that persuaded him to get out? “Going to jail too many times,” he admitted.

Leaving a gang is a bold move. He said off camera that he was constantly looking over his shoulder, half expecting a violent reprisal.

So what now? “Just try and stay on the straight and narrow.”

We got word that members of another gang were prepared to talk to us.

We met in a park. There were seven of them — not including the dog one of them kept on a short leash.

To my eye there was absolutely nothing to distinguish these young men from the ones I had interviewed in Norris Green.

They wore the same regulation black clothes, the same label, and to a man had their hoods up and their faces covered in the same way.

I’d been told these lads had gone to the same school as the Norris Green lot.

It wouldn’t have been a huge leap of intuition to suggest their home lives weren’t a whole lot different either.

And yet it was clear the hatred the Norris Green gang had expressed towards them was fully reciprocated.

‘ They're all scumbags... they rape our women ’

Arch rivals on Norris Green

They stood in a line, shifting edgily from foot to foot as if they were nervous about being caught talking to me.

None of them had jobs. I asked how easy it would be to get one. “Not easy at all. We’re not even allowed on the f***ing dole because it’s in Norris Green.”

So what did they think of the Norris Green bunch? They trotted off a list of abuse but gave no inkling as to why they thought that way.

“They’re scumbags. They rape girls. They rape our women.”

They had done a very good job of telling me how much they hated, but they still hadn’t told me why.

I asked them again why they wanted to kill other lads their age. A brief pause. “We’re not prepared to tell you.”

I couldn’t help feeling it wasn’t so much a case of not being prepared to tell me as not knowing.

It would be a misrepresentation to claim Liverpool is overrun by gangs, and to forget the many positives of this wonderful city.

The gang problem is not restricted to ethnic minorities or localised communities.

The murder of Rhys Jones tells us that, as does the ease with which working-class white kids all over the country can — and do — get hold of deadly firearms.

Gangs and guns in the UK are not a black problem. They’re not a white problem either.

They’re a social problem. They’re a youth problem. They’re our problem.
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