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Memorial wall to stabbed teenager painted over despite thousands signing petition for it to stay

Deputy youth MP 'deeply disappointed'

11 October, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

The memorial wall in August 

A CAMDEN youth MP has said she is “deeply disappointed” after a mural painted in memory of stabbing victim Alex Smith in the Regent’s Park Estate was painted over this week.

Friends and family had been using space to pay their respects to 16-year-old Alex, a former Acland Burghley student who was fatally stabbed in the estate in August.

Pictures, flowers and trinkets were left in memory to the teenager and beneath council signs that say “no ball games” and “no dogs”, “no knives” was painted. 

As the New Journal previously reported, a petition – now up to more than 4,000 signatories – had been set up calling for the memorial to stay. 

However it was painted over by Camden Council this week, claiming concerns over anti-social behaviour.

A friend of Alex’s family said young people are “distraught” and have questioned where all of the keepsakes laid at the memorial have gone.

 

The wall as it looks this week

Asma Maloumi, Deputy Youth MP for Camden, tweeted last night (Thursday): “I’m deeply disappointed that Alex Smith’s memorial was taken down & painted over as if it meant nothing to our community. 

“What was once a harmless way for his friends and family to come to terms with their loss has been taken down and painted over like it never existed.

“I can’t put into words how much this mural meant for his beloved ones. Young people in particular would frequently come here to reflect. 

“It was a raw, resonating reminder of the realities of youth violence.

“But now lies a blank wall with no recognition and no message acknowledging the youth violence that has affected so many young people in Camden.

 “In short, this was a catastrophically inconsiderate decision that is desensitising the impact of youth violence on our community.”

The mural, depicting Alex sat on a bike under a blue sky, was near where he was fatally stabbed. Two men have been charged with murder.

Councillor Nadia Shah, Cabinet Member for Safer Communities, said in a statement: “This is a really sensitive situation where we have to consider a number of factors, along with the family’s wishes, who we remain in regular contact with. As always our main consideration is to keep our young people safe and this guides our actions.

 “This immediate area has been causing some concern to us and the police, as well as local residents, as it has become a focus for incidents of anti-social behaviour. With tensions already high, both the council and the police have to be particularly vigilant in responding to these incidents and how they might occur.

“We understand the strength of feeling in the local community, of which Alex was a really valued member, and the importance of keeping Alex’s memory alive.

“We will continue to support his family and those that knew him, looking to ensure that together we find ways to end the violence that has been affecting young people in Camden, to offer them better opportunities and keep them safe.” 

The council added: “Our arts and youth teams are organising to meet with young people and the local community to discuss working together on a project to remember Alex.”

The New Journal asked where the items left at the memorial have been taken. A council spokesman said: “The family were informed prior to the removal that we will be storing the items until they decide what they want to do with the them.”

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