Friday 11 April 2008

Fourteen Months On And Five Convicted Of Kodjo’s Murder

Five teenagers, aged 14 to 17, were found guilty of murdering Kodjo Yenga (See pic) at the Old Bailey on Tuesday. All were from the Hammersmith and Shepherd's Bush area. They will be sentenced next month. Kodjo Yenga was fatally stabbed in Hammersmith Grove in February last year by a group armed with knives, hammers and baseball bats. Some were shouting “Kill, kill, kill”. You can read the Evening Standard’s report here.

It’s hard to believe that this happened just over one year ago. I have never seen such collective anguish across a whole community before. Shops started collections; the Holy Innocents Church arranged a well-attended memorial service; people were shocked that this could happen in their neighbourhood and wanted to do something to help in some way and show solidarity with Kodjo’s family.

There was a community meeting in the days following the killing. The police, educationalists, council officials, youth workers and politicians were all there, trying to explain and reassure, but I must admit, I still find it hard to understand how those particular young people could have taken part this vile murder. Promises were made that lessons were being learnt and that actions would follow.

Sadly, Kodjo Yenga’s murder was one of a number in recent years. Concerns about gang culture and the twisted values and behaviour of a very small minority of youths can sometimes obscure the fact that most of our young are people that their families and teachers are very proud of.

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