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 Breakfast with Frost
Rt Rev Dr John Sentamu, Bishop of Birmingham
Rt Rev Dr John Sentamu, Bishop of Birmingham
BBC BREAKFAST WITH FROST INTERVIEW: RT. REV. DR JOHN SENTAMU, BISHOP OF BIRMINGHAM JANUARY 19TH, 2003

Please note "BBC Breakfast with Frost" must be credited if any part of this transcript is used

DAVID FROST: Well now later on today thousands of people will gather at the Aston Villa football stadium in Birmingham to pay tribute to the two teenage girls shot dead nearby a fortnight ago. Their murders were a shocking demonstration of how street violence and gun crime are growing in Britain today and the Bishop of Birmingham, John Sentamu, will be leading the event at Villa Park this afternoon. He joins us now, we've got the line through to Birmingham, Bishop, good morning.

DR JOHN SENTAMU: Good morning, Sir David.

DAVID FROST: What is it about the reaction in Aston and in the areas around?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: The reaction, the reaction particularly from young people, who are leading this particular thing this afternoon, is that enough is enough and their strapline is Youth Cry Life, Not Death. The reaction has been one of really engaging and determination that violence will not have its upperhand.

DAVID FROST: And in terms of who should be doing more about this situation, to combat it, you could say is it the police, is it the politicians, is it the community, is it the church? Who should be doing more to try and combat this situation?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: I think at the heart of it is the community, because you see there are far more community members than police, far more than politicians, so at the heart of it, it is really got to be the community because in the end violence can only be overcome by the community itself - because we have discovered that these guns are loosely affiliated, they are geographically aligned, they go to school, family members are involved, so in the end it is the communities that have got to do it really.

DAVID FROST: And what is the explanation for people finding such joy with guns, joy in using them or joy in brandishing them as a sort of fashion accessory? Is that a new phenomenon or -

DR JOHN SENTAMU: It is absolutely new and what is actually shocking is that at the moment the people who are carrying these guns and committing these kind of crimes are all British born - they don't come from outside - so this is a gun culture that has grown up thinking it is cool to carry a gun and the message of the young people who have actually been at the heart of organising this event this afternoon is that enough is enough - we will not accept to have this kind of cycle violence, we've got to break it, cycle of fear, we've got to break it. And the police, recently have discovered that in the Aston area there's been what you call invisible crime where young people have been victimised by people who carry guns and telling them you tell the police, you tell your family, you tell the school, we will come back and get you. So there's been an intimidation really that has gone on. Now they've broken out and they're saying we've had enough.

DAVID FROST: And is the situation there in Aston and Birmingham that there are more black gangs than white gangs?

DR JOHN SENTAMU: The gun culture, unfortunately, is not all that defined. They move in and out of one particular gang, they join another gang and they go into another place. I think this is why we are going to break the cycle of violence is in the sense that because they are not clearly defined and they move in and out of one particular gang to another, it is very easy to break it because the community is now determined that we are not going to have this any more. So whatever has grown up, they've all been born in the same area, grown up in the same area, they are known to members of their families, known to schools, known now to the police. And because of the intelligence that the new chief constable is putting into place, I'm absolutely certain this is going to be cracked really, and pretty fast.

DAVID FROST: Thank you very much indeed, Bishop. I'm so glad we were able to talk to you and we wish a tremendous emotional wave of support for you all this afternoon. Thank you very much indeed.

INTERVIEW ENDS


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