Story by Rob Smith
Young people now fear being enrolled into violent Burngreave inner city gang feud.
Since an internal Burngreave feud has been left unresolved we have had months of tit for tat reprisals that has now led to the death of a 16 year old young man.
Shots on Melrose Road
Shots at Burngreave, Sheffield, Wednesday 17th October, and gunshots around 4:15.pm on Melrose road Burngreave sounded like poppers. Local youths later describe others were shooting after them in an attempt to target those fleeing out of their range.
Youths began to barricade themselves inside one of the Arches houses on Melrose Road. Observed clearly by workers and people around the nearby Adventure Playground, a pursuing gang of four youths all carrying guns stood waiting and popping shots towards those appearing from the house they'd all entered.
Public meeting with police
At 5pm a meeting arranged some months prior to discuss a way forward in better relations between community and the policing authorities, took place in the new Vestry Hall. This meeting initiated by Burngreave New Deal for Communities (BNDfC), was attended by a full turnout of our local Police Team, Community Police and Wardens, local community activists and about 14 members of the public who'd bothered to attend and raise concerns.
By 8pm the peace of that meeting's conclusion is interrupted by the BNDfC Police team making a rapid exit. Gunshots have been again fired this time on Nottingham Cliff Recreation playing fields, no less than a mile away from the Vestry Hall.
Tragedy in Nottingham Cliff Park
This time these shots have deadly consequences. Reports from those on the scene speak of a red beam laser light that shone from the dark, before the shots began raining towards them. For the second time that evening this same group began to run in fear of their lives. Only this time the shot had met its mark, hitting one of those fleeing in the back the head.
As community leaders with local law enforcement try to facilitate a way forward, the truth of the matter is being played out less than a mile away. Venomous (also known as VenDawg) was a local 16 year old Black Microphone MC with potential who is now dead and many of our community's young members are both shocked and very angry.
I was also at that meeting in the Vestry Hall and like many a Black parent and father I held my breath in hope it wasn't mine.
From the capital city streets of London to our inner city communities our youth gangs are leaderless, jobless, seemingly unemployable and out of control.
Now as we try to make sense and come to grips with the spiralling situation the truth at the same time again sadly reaches home. Today in Burngreave, Sheffield we have reached another new level in an inner city internal warfare that is seeing young people firing guns as though playing a video amusement game with life.
Venomous was only 16 and on October 17th 2007 his life was crudely taken for being in the wrong place in the wrong company, and in that company that bullet could have been inside a number of young people.
Stand up and be counted
As an active member of this community I can only reflect the sadness I now feel for this young life that has been sadly and needlessly lost yet again to the gun crime. Now undoubtedly an epidemic out of control and unless we come out stand up be counted, stand up and be parents, stand up and show we truly care, stand up and show we know right from wrong, then this shame of children needlessly killing children will continue unabated. While we have a situation of children running around with guns, whether fifteen, sixteen, eighteen or twenty goes on unchallenged, this harsh reality will come home every time and continue over and over again. Only next time that bullet may well be ending your life or the life of one of your own.
So next time you hear the rallying call, don't just sit in your house and think it doesn't affect me, this time. Next time you hear the rallying call don't just say and find other things to do.
If leadership is the answer then we must find that answer, if it is strength in numbers we must find those numbers and if we don't challenge this present status quo then it can only intensify and continue needlessly taking our young people's lives.