Fear and loathing after 'racial' murder: Gangs of teenagers have vowed to avenge the death of a white schoolboy stabbed by a group of Asians in Somers Town, north London, on Saturday. Mary Braid reports on the mounting tensions

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'ABOUT 60 of us went up Somers Town on Sunday night to look for Asians,' said Paul , 14, sitting with four white friends at the end of Robert Street, near London's Euston Station. 'It doesn't matter if we get the ones that killed Richard. Any will do.'

The Bengali boys hanging around the Surma Community Centre down the road do not need to see the quartet's 'tools' - a hammer and a baseball bat - to know they mean business.

Sunday, the day after Richard Everitt, 15, was stabbed to death after being attacked by 11 Asian youths, was a beautiful day but there was hardly an Asian boy to be seen. Most stayed indoors or out of the neighbourhood.

'My mother rang me and told me not to come home because white men and boys were out on the street,' said Nasim Ali, a Surma youth worker.

'They passed right under our flat. Fortunately all the Bengali boys were home from work by the time. But it's really tense. Two guys passed the community centre today in baseball caps and sunglasses and whispered to two staff that there would be revenge for Richard Everitt's death.'

The school holidays have heralded the start of the annual violence between Asian and white youths from the mixed Regent's Park and predominantly white Somers Town estates. The only surprise this summer, said Paul, is that it has taken three weeks to get the aggro started.

As police strengthened street patrols yesterday in an effort to prevent revenge attacks, Richard Everitt's mother, Mandy, refused to appeal for calm. She claimed an Asian pupil had previously threatened her son with a knife at South Camden Community School which she insisted was rife with racial tension.

Paul and the boys, still fuming at the way police broke up their raiding party on Sunday night, are still bent on revenge. They blame the Asian boys for trouble. 'They 'firm up' during the holidays by getting their friends down from other estates,' said Mark , 14. 'We don't go looking for trouble but we can take them on.'

According to John , 15, there has been trouble with Asians in the area since his father was his age. 'They shouldn't be here. They take our jobs and our houses.'

The boys are astonished at the suggestion they might attend the Surma summer youth club. White boys attend the Samuel Lithgow Boys' Club round the corner.

They also say they would never attend the South Camden Community School - which was yesterday mourning Richard's death - because there are 'too many Pakis'. Couples who do not observe the racial divide are particularly hated. 'She's dirty,' says Mark pointing to a house near by. 'She's going out with a Paki.'

The British National Party recognises the area's potential. According to community leaders, the party tried hard to set up a local branch in the area before its attention was distracted by this year's local council elections. But the boys are not keen on the group. 'The BNP comes down here, gets everyone whipped up and then when the trouble starts we get it and they run away. We want nothing to do with them.'

The police say that there have been 117 racial attacks in the area in the past eight months and that only seven have been on white people. Paul insists the police usually ignore the racial element in attacks on whites.

Bengali schoolboys Miah and Ali, both 16, say they are shocked by Richard's death. Miah said: 'The boy seems to have had nothing to do with trouble. We are so shocked that Bengali boys could do this. It is the innocent increasingly who are suffering.'

But they are not surprised that gangs of youths - Bengali and white - are going round with weapons. 'Our parents say keep out of trouble,' said Ali. 'But they don't realise how bad it is because they are scared to go out. They have always been called Pakis and insulted.

'The tension isn't any better or worse just now. It's been as bad as this for years. What has changed is that Asian boys don't just take it any more. They are also prepared to fight.' The boys have white friends at school but say socialising with Bengalis is simply safer.

Yesterday the Bengali Workers Action Group, which runs the Surma centre, condemned the murder of Richard Everitt and said it was concerned at the high level of racial violence in the area.

Geoff Conway, deputy headteacher at South Camden Community School, said yesterday there was a danger that the tragedy of Richard's death would be swallowed by the race issue. He said racism was a not major problem at the school - where 50 per cent of the pupils are Bengali and 25 per cent Afro-Caribbean - and pupils generally got on well together.

(Photographs omitted)

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