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Read All About It! 2004

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Capital of Gun Crime

Capital of Gun Culture - a gun is pointed in a liverpool St

Liverpool has seen an increasing amount of shootings and the numbers of unsolved murders is growing. Years ago, the number of people engaged in crime who owned guns was fairly limited. If guns were used, they were used generally in the pursuit of gaining ownership of some individual or businesses money and very rarely fired. The average bank robber or suchlike would be very reluctant to discharge a firearm, and if we look at crime figures for the 50's and 60's, there was certainly little need for a policeman to wear body armour or carry weapons. An armed robber would not be bringing his shooter down the local pub or carrying guns as a matter of course, unless engaged in theft of money etc. Carrying guns and threatening rival gangs with shooting was not seen as particularly clever. Drugs changed all that.

Athletes rejected, governors corrected

Gangsters, thugs and smugglers are thoroughly respected

The money gets divided

The women get excited

Now I'm broke and it's no joke

It's hard as hell to fight it, don't buy it!

Song: White lines. Artiste: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

The Straightener

Years ago, up until the 80's and the drug explosion, if there was a dispute between members of various gangs, the easiest way to sort it out would be for a 'straightener', which is basically a meet up and fist fight between the two parties in dispute. A natural selection of the hardest took place and most men, after a few fist fights with rivals, and sometimes mates, would know the limit of there strength and accept there place in the scheme of things. The blokes who had an argument/dispute/grudge with each other were encouraged by the rest of the gang, if the dispute could not be resolved by words, to fight the person man to man, generally in a field or some deserted out of the way place. If you were beaten fair and square, you'd be expected to shrug it off, to shake hands and for the dispute to be settled. Losing a fight back then was no big deal; many a man took his hiding and no-one thought any worse of him. Many a Kirkby lad has ended up flat on his back on St Kevs fields or woke up in Fazackerly Hospital after some old haymaker specialist or young 'up and coming' makes them see stars mid afternoon or early morning. I'm not saying that it was a great idea that we had lads fighting each other - but to be honest, it was better than having them shooting each other or mobbing up with baseball bats, knives and other assorted weapons of choice. Sadly, the days of 'straighteners' are vanishing. Queensbury rules are out the window.

The Devils right hand

The Devils right hand

Mother said a pistol

Was the Devils right hand

Song: Devils Right Hand. Artiste: Johnny Cash

The Same Level

Once guns enter the arena, almost everyone's reduced to about the same level. A skinny 15 yr old is as 'hard' as the hardest man in Liverpool and even the biggest most well connected of gangsters will be troubled by the fact that there's more risk once the tit for tat shootings begin. More risk that they or friends and family may be shot, and more risk that subsequent police attention stops the cash flowing. The rate of shootings here in Liverpool is at a level which will almost certainly see surveillance stepped up dramatically on hundreds of known 'targets', who will be known to police and other concerned agencies. We've even had the Sunday papers printing maps of the 'owners' of the various territories and drug dealers making the Who's Who list of the rich and famous.

The Coroners Verdict

Andrew Rubello is Liverpools Coroner. He is a busy man these days, more so than he should be. Whilst we talk or read about the killings, he is the one who investigates all the details of the young men turning up dead, generally from gunshot wounds although other more horrific killings have been investigated. One case he recently looked at was that of a teenager shot down dead by 3 bullets in his Kitchen. Michael Singleton, aged only 18, was killed in a house in Wykeham Way, Kirkdale. An 8 yr old child witnessed the killing and Andrew Rubello asked the question "Who knows how this will affect her in later life?" Sadly, the impact of gang related violence in some areas has already deeply affected local kids, some of whom almost worship local gangsters and lads with reputations and look to them as role models. Recently it was revealed Michael Singletons 17-year-old girlfriend is expecting a child within a month. Another child who will grow up only one day to learn that his or her father was gunned down. How many kids on Merseyside have to go through this?

There's a wild child

Contemplates his retaliation

Can't run, there goes another one

Another son

Falls at the hand of another gun

Song: Babies making babies killing babies. Artist: Confrontation Camp. Album: Objects in the Mirror are closer than they appear.

Celebrity Status

Some gangsters achieve almost celebrity status and they have all the trappings of success. Make it big enough and you may not be as famous as the local 'soap stars', but you'll likely be earning more than them. In the poorer working class areas in Liverpool, the odds of a local kid making it as a drug dealer is sadly, more probable than that of them excelling in academic achievements. Of the generation I grew up with, it almost certain that more of us landed up in trouble through crime than landing a degree and donning a cap down Liverpool University. We have produced more heroin addicts than professors, more dealers than qualified doctors and more lads in need of solicitors than those qualifying as a member of the legal profession. This is the reality we need to deal with and one so far which escapes the middle class commentators who would surely gasp with horror if their kids were in danger of using guns to settle disputes.

I see my future

Begin to crumble

Get out of my way

Unless you want to rumble

Artist: Johnny Dowd Song: The Butchers Son. Album: Wire Flowers

Following America

In the drug explosion of the 80's, it was easy to see that the massive profits would see the usual carve up of areas between gangs. We only need look to the USA's drug ravaged communities and 'projects' to see that even in America, the World richest Country, the war against drugs was and is failing. Sentences in the States for even possession of small amounts of drugs could see people serving serious time, the '3 strikes and out' rule has seen people doing life for perhaps being caught 3 times with a few dollars worth of some illegal substance. The system there means that anyone who can afford a smart lawyer will likely walk. If money can buy Justice in a society, that society is failing us all.

A street kid gets arrested, gonna do some time

He got out three years from now just to commit more crime

A businessman is caught

With 24 kilos

He's out on bail and out of jail

And that's the way it goes

Song: White lines. Artiste: Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five

Read Between The Lines (don't snort them)

In the scheme of things, most of those involved, will know there place in this multinational business, though they won't know who the top players really are, nor, you suspect, would it be too good for your heath to actually have such knowledge. It's a 'need to know' set up, and for working class people, there role is at the retail end of the business to a greater or lesser degree. The Tories, or Maggie Thatcher, the Grocers Daughter from Hell, always said England was a nation of shopkeepers. In some ways a new generation finds a substitute camaraderie and belonging in the drugs retail game, just as there fathers found it in working in Tate and Lyle or Fords or the Docks. Dealing drugs is just seen as another job, though unlike most jobs, it's expected that those engaged in the trade by the very nature of there 'trade', will cause some harm to their communities to get rich. We need only look to the 'projects' in the USA to see that a pretty grim future awaits Englands working class estates if we allow the situation to deteriorate. This is a problem which is almost exclusively happening in working class estates in England or the poorer parts of any town in the World. Drug use itself affects all classes, but the odds of two gangs meeting up to shoot each other in the posh areas of England are low. Figures from Kirkby, when compared with other regions of the UK show harrowing statistics which see us reach top of the leagues for truancy, drug abuse, obesity, crime and poverty. The growing divide between rich and poor in the UK hardly gives you confidence that the war against poverty can be effectively won. To speak of making war on drugs, or those who use them, without tackling the causes for so much of the abuse of drugs, is a war doomed to failure.

Jihad Profit

Compared to the white collar fraud and scandals which go on in the City Of London, and the wholesale theft of our natural resources by both home grown and foreign financial vampires, even the alleged fortunes of every gangster and there dog in Liverpool amount to a grain of sand on a beach when we look at the financial input that drug revenues bring on an international scale. Another article, soon to published here on Kirkby Times, explains how Afghanistan supplies the heroin for England. This has made the news only recently as yet another 'warning' (or advert) is given as to the imminent arrival of so much 'gear' that prices may well come down. Some people over there in Afghanistan are laughing at us as our lads shoot each other and communities fall apart. It saves them the time, trouble and effort of messing up England in person. Afghanistan was bombed by the UK (or Tony Blair) so now they're getting equal by sending over there special little surprise in the form of good old cheap strong Afghan heroin.

'The West say making heroin is wrong and damages human beings, but they drop bombs on innocent civilians. We have no other way except to destroy the USA [and UK] through narcotics. They shall drop bombs on us, and we shall send them this gift.' Haji Daulat Mohammad, an Afghan shopkeeper telling us why local heroin addicts in England and the USA are 'collateral damage' from the Afghan War.

Social Experiment gone wrong?

Street sign, with bullet holes and blood drops, says 'murder street'

Liverpool is like some social experiment gone wrong in parts. In Everton recently, we saw police giving out free personal attack alarms to anyone interested. This isn't knocking the police efforts, but it hardly makes you feel safe in your own community when the cops have to actually hand out attack alarms to the vulnerable. One Estate has seen a reported 250 arrests by the police, the target of some of the raids are people suspected of selling class a drugs and allegedly using intimidation and violence. Weapons have been seized, and in one raid elsewhere a snipers rifle recovered. Whether this was working is not known. Residents on the Estate are sick to death of seeing what was once a decent community fall apart. We could have stopped the lads getting nicked now, when they were kids. All we need is the will and a good deal of cash carefully invested, not misspent as usual. Kirkby Times has to keep making the point that absolute openness and careful management and allocation of funds is vital to stop kids growing up to take the first steps towards not giving a damn for anyone except for themselves. Little wonder the Country itself is going down the plughole when what resources we have are wasted and squandered by those who are supposed to be leaders in the community.

Where the well loved flag of England flies

Where the homes are warm and the mothers sigh

where comedians laugh and babies cry

where criminals are televised, politicians fraternized

journalists are dignified and everyone is civilised

and children stare with heroin eyes, heroin eyes, heroin eyes

Song: Old England is Dying. Artistes: The Waterboys.

250 Arrests On One Estate.

Police in the Everton area stated they would wear bullet proof jackets after a spate of shootings and murders, some of which still remain unsolved. A recent raid, the 250th on the Estate, made the front page of the Liverpool Echo and a beaming local Inspector delivered that day's edition to local residents. Kirkby Times has run articles which may criticise the police at times, but if 250 people are being nicked, you can't say they are sitting in the canteen doing the Daily Mirror crossword all day. But nicking people is one thing and persuading them that there ventures and activities in the community are morally unacceptable, is the difficult bit. The cops hands are tied as much as us in this respect. The biggest problem the police and the people of Liverpool often have is the law itself. The police know that if the communities in Liverpool were given a real chance to actually rewrite the law-books, we'd see a lot of change. This change would benefit greatly both the working class communities and the police. The law, for the most part, is a joke. We know it, the cops know it, the magistrates know it and every last career criminal and repeat juvenile offender and there smart Alec solicitor knows it. The law is supposed to bring Justice. A quick chat to the next 10 people you meet will likely lead you to conclude the law isn't bringing Justice.

Teenage Warning

There are seemingly a good number of people with guns, certainly with access to them, and a constant new influx of young lads who seem willing to use guns to settle sometimes stupid disputes that simply get out of hand. Some of the lads are teenagers, but this is the most dangerous age for many lads, a time in life when they're trying to prove there worth to the world. Sometimes being a teenager or young man can be a contest which the Liverpool 'Through The Wind and Rain' fanzine editor, Steve Kelly once described as the 'Kings of Sickness'. (Link to fanzine here ) Young men often think it's cool to be cruel. Being a teenager is a time when many will simply follow the older lads, who have sadly already shown that using guns, when it suits them, is perfectly ok. For many teenage lads, the lads a year or two older with the first foot on the ladder of crime seem 'cool', especially if they have a nice car and a few bob and the inevitable good looking woman. Only this past week or so, we have seen a spate of shootings in Liverpool, with a teenage betting office worker shot by a shotgun in a robbery attempt, plus another lad being shot twice, he survived. The latest shooting is a lad of 16, shot once, fatally. Sadly he is another caseload for Andrew Rubello now. Another young teenager of Liverpool who ended his life before it ever really began, and who is, for now, the latest gun casualty, killed in another execution type killing. As I write this reports are coming in of another body found, whether this is a murder by shooting is not yet known. A youth of 16 and a man of 27 are in custody. Another shooting on Friday 25 June saw a man shot in the back in Wirral, though this was 'only' a 'bb' gun, it is reported the man may never walk again.

Like Ireland: Without A Cause

Each year when our kids leave the World of School, there will those who the system has failed. Kirkby's teachers for the main, do an excellent job, they try hard with limited resources and genuinely want to see the kids they teach amount to something more in life than the previous generations who never made it. Maybe the teachers should take All Saints and all the other schools along for a daytrip to hear the long term prisoners of Walton nick tell them they'd give anything to start again. There are men in there, for whom, one moment of madness has cost them dearly. However, people who kill others, for no reason other than vendettas or monetary gain, have put themselves in jail. We get one chance in life (believers in reincarnation may argue otherwise) - but carry a gun and you could be looking at seeing the best years of your life amount to 20 years or more of the worse. Kirkbys police, sadly, will already be able to predict the kids of 11 or 12 (and much younger) who will be the most likely contenders for jail. Knowsley councillors, if they were on the ball, should also have a clue about these kids and what to do. Past experience shows that once they go to jail a few times, they'll simply be educated in criminal matters and likely come out of jail eager to put this knowledge into practice. In Liverpool, we are already at the stage where guns are being fired on a regular basis, we've had a nail bomb thrown into a crowded pub, (luckily it never exploded) and we've had improvised car bombs going off outside nightclubs and in residential areas. The largest explosion in England since the IRA's demolition of the Arndale Shopping Centre, was an improvised car bomb here in Liverpool, other recent finds of more improvised explosive devices have been made only recently. (July 2004 - search Liverpool Echo and other publications online for reports ) Liverpool is a bit like Ireland without a cause. The victims of shootings could be shot dead due to any number of reasons, ranging from the inevitable gang/drug disputes, to merely being related to someone in a gang or being friends with someone at odds with a gang. An insult to the wrong person in a bar could get you shot, or bearing a resemblance to a gang member could see you shot down in cold blood. It could all boil down to being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It's a gamble we don't need. It's a problem which needs tackling at all levels obviously, but particular attention ought to be paid towards stopping the kids of today becoming the gangsters, or apprentice gangsters, of tomorrow.

Waiting for the next one

Only a fool would say this is the end of the shootings, we may see a lull in this particular episode but there's bound to be more and most of us would be surprised if the next couple of weeks never saw another death by shooting. Some readers may have grown cynical about the victims, but we must never make presumptions that every lad shot is somehow a gangster. Many are young kids caught up in impossible situations; they are kids who could easily be sitting in Liverpool University doing a degree in criminology rather than giving the students studying there another few statistics to add to the thesis. This isn't excusing the people carrying guns and dealing class a narcotics like crack and heroin, but as ever Kirkby Times must make the class based arguments pointing towards an increasingly under resourced and poorly led community. We are seeing communities in meltdown, and when the police are nicking 250 people on one estate, it may be a success for the police, but the average copper is likely going to concede that a community which can actually have council wards with this many people being arrested, is a poorly led community indeed. Kirkby Times has noted the lack of any real initiatives from local councillors, obviously, to some point, they've let things get out of hand and Liverpool City Council, it seems, cannot bring itself out of the 'capital of culture' spin that they have so eagerly tried to project. Liverpool, once an area noted for the radical working class left wing having a power base in our communities, is a completely different kettle of fish in 2004. Our councillors and political leaders have few answers if any to the continuing decline of the very fabric of our communities.

Gun murder figures: These figures were on the Michael Moore documentary 'Bowling for Columbine' and will be dated by a year or two now. Following American culture is hardly the way forward judging by the numbers shot over there. Blair and new labour keep pushing the 'special USA relationship', but look at the list below and you can see which countries are setting an example to follow and which country is setting a bad example.

Australia: 65 per year

Canada: 165

France: 255

United Kingdom: 68

Germany: 381

Japan: 39

United States: 11,127.

Link of further interest - USA and Contra crack cocaine.

You can access an electronic briefing book compiled from declassified documents obtained by the National Security Archive, including the notebooks kept by NSC aide and Iran-contra figure Oliver North, electronic mail messages written by high-ranking Reagan administration officials, memos detailing the contra war effort, and FBI and DEA reports. The documents demonstrate official knowledge of drug operations, and collaboration with and protection of known drug traffickers. Court and hearing transcripts are also included. (Link here )

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