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Parents of Brent knife crime victims join #OperationShutdown protest calling for government action

PUBLISHED: 15:31 18 April 2019

OperationShutdown campaigners blocked Westminster Bridge calling for action on knife crime

OperationShutdown campaigners blocked Westminster Bridge calling for action on knife crime

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Bereaved parents from Brent were among hundreds of anti-knife crime campaigners who gathered in Downing Street to call for action over rising violence.

Tracey and Brooke Hanson with Quamari's father Paul Barnes on Westminster Bridge as part of the OperationShutdown demonstrationTracey and Brooke Hanson with Quamari's father Paul Barnes on Westminster Bridge as part of the OperationShutdown demonstration

The parents of Josh Hanson and Quamari Serunkuma Barnes joined #OperationShutdown campaigners to demand that the government's Cobra committee tackle the surge in rising crime.

They marched to Downing Street then onto Westminster Bridge which they blocked for an hour yesterday afternoon.

The group had 15 demands including calls for an independent investigation into school exclusions, better rehabilitation of prisoners to stop them going on to kill, and for full jail terms to be served for murder and manslaughter.

Tracey Hanson, mother of 21-year-old Josh Hanson, who was fatally stabbed in 2015, and one of the organisers, said: “The silent protest and then the shutdown of Westminster Bridge that was attended by families who have lost their loved ones was to send a clear message to government that the knife crime epidemic needs to stop now.

Quamari's father Paul Barnes marching outside Downing StreetQuamari's father Paul Barnes marching outside Downing Street

“Our children no longer have a voice but we, their parents and siblings, do – and today we spoke for them.”

She added: “Communities need to come together and fight for change. We need the council and the police to work with us, the families who have been affected by knife crime, to help us to help them to make changes.

“Until we all work together to focus on prevention and education on knife crime, more and more lives will be lost and more parents and families will have to endure the pain that we face every single day.”

Paul Barnes, whose 15-year-old son Quamari was fatally stabbed by a teenager the same age, said: “We shut down Westminster Bridge for an hour which was good. Climate change campaigners moved right out the way for us – I think they saw this was an important issue as well.”

Quamari's father Paul Barnes marching down Whitehall with #OperationShutdownQuamari's father Paul Barnes marching down Whitehall with #OperationShutdown

He added: “I've always called for longer jail terms for kids. If a young person commits an adult crime like murder they should get an adult sentence.

“Quamari's mother Lillian and I have got a life sentence. It's unfair that these young boys can commit murder and only get 14 years. It's a joke; they are laughing at the system.”

The government has pledged £100million to fight crime in the areas worst affected by knife violence as well as boosting stop and search powers.

Mr Barnes added: ”Where does this money go? It doesn't go to grass roots level.

“This government is failing our kids in a big way.”

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