Last Tuesday the Walney School stabbing shocked our community. Such unpredictable acts of violence have a profound impact on our feelings about our safety and that of our families. Even before that, voters often asked me about knife crime after seeing stories in the media. The fact is we don’t have a major problem here, but even a fall can be so devastating that we feel the threat is everywhere.
The leadership shown by John Richardson, Principal of the Walney School – working closely with the parents and community – has been fantastic. It is important now to give friends and family space to process all of this and give the police time to fully investigate the circumstances. And we should also remember that this was an isolated case.
On Thursday I revisited the Knife Angel statue on Duke Street. By the time you’re reading this, it will have moved to its next location, but I hope you’ve seen it. Designated a National Monument against Violence and Aggression by the Home Office, it is a testament to the futility of stabbings.
Carrying a knife, whether out of anger or in defense, is never a viable option. Results are tenuous, ranging from “equipped” offenses to OB, arrest and passage through the justice system. The Knife Angel is a stark monument to that. But we will work together as a community to ensure this sad incident does not happen again. As awful as it was, we can learn from it and teach our children the aftermath in the hope that something good can come of it.
Also on Thursday we celebrated Holocaust Remembrance Day. I signed the Book of Commitment in the House of Commons on behalf of my constituents. I felt an enormous sense of responsibility. The lives of more than six million Jews and millions of others were lost to hatred and bigotry during the Holocaust. If there isn’t a lesson there about why we should remember them and continue to stand up against injustice and stand up to bullies, then something is wrong with our moral compass.
Like many of you, I lit a candle in my window Thursday night while watching the memorial service online. Though years have passed since the Holocaust, it still has an unsettling resonance.
Just hours before Memorial Day, two Jewish men who were simply locking up their north London premises after work were attacked and beaten. Hatred – whether based on creed, colour, politics or other distinctions – clearly persists and we all need to look within ourselves to combat prejudice. It is so much better to come together as a united community than to let our differences smolder.