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 Sunday, 19 January, 2003, 21:03 GMT
Community says 'enough is enough'
Charlene Ellis's mother Beverley Thomas (right)
Charlene's mother was comforted during the concert

The people of Birmingham came together on Sunday for a concert in memory of two teenagers shot dead in the city and to send out a strong message that they had had enough of gun crime.
Two and a half weeks after this community was rocked by the deaths of 17-year-old Latisha Shakespeare and her 18-year-old cousin Charlene Ellis, it came together at Aston Villa Football Club on Sunday to send out the message that "enough is enough".

The words were repeated again and again in this three-hour tribute to the teenagers - by the Bishop of Birmingham the Right Reverend John Setamu, by singers Beverley Knight and Ms Dynamite and by members of Charlene Ellis's family.

And at one point the 8,000-strong crowd stood to chant the message enough is enough in unison.

What gave you the right to take her away from us that night

Charlene Ellis's brother Michael
This was a memorial to the two young women and a rally against the gun culture which has been taking hold in Birmingham.

It was also a chance for the black community to come together and show its strength at a difficult time.

Tearful tributes

Pastor Calvin Young, from the council of black-led churches, stood and demanded that the gun violence must now stop.

With his powerful and emotional voice silencing the crowds, he said: "I don't want to see young sisters killed on the streets of Birmingham ever again."

The crowd fell quiet again when the Ellis family came on stage to pay tribute to their daughter.

Ms Dynamite
Stop falling in the traps, start loving instead of killing each other

Ms Dynamite

There were tears in the eyes of many as her brother Michael Ellis read a poem in which asked of her killers: "What gave you the right to take her away from us that night?

"What gave you the right to take her life?

"What gave you the right to take away her last breath?"

Charlene's Aunt Norma Ellis spoke of healing and forgiveness.

This was a message supported by Mr Setamu who called on the people of Aston to put the past behind them and to unite to tackle the evil of gun culture.

Multi-cultural event

This was an event attended by many in the black community but also by local Asians and white people.

One woman, who has taught in the area in the last 30 years, said it was important for everyone to come together.

"We have to show we all mean it when we say we have had enough," she said.

Friends and relatives gather
The community came together for the event
Another women, who was about the same age as Latisha and Charlene, said: "This will help bring people together and make them aware of what is happening and how we need to resolve it."

There were now cheers for Beverley Knight, Ms Dynamite and Pato Banton but also for the local musicians who had known the two girls and had composed songs especially for them.

Two of their friends sang a rap number which asked: "How many more will have to die?

"Come together as one, stand shoulder-to-shoulder and make a change right now."

It was a message ringing in everyone's ears as they left the stadium.


Click here to go to BBC Birmingham Online

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19 Jan 03 | England
18 Jan 03 | England
09 Jan 03 | Politics
07 Jan 03 | Politics
07 Jan 03 | UK
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