Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jesse Jackson: You Must Launch War on Poverty to Stop Teenage Killings

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Jesse Jackson: You Must Launch War on Poverty to Stop Teenage Killings

Article excerpt

Byline: JOE MURPHY Political Editor

INTERVIEW CIVIL RIGHTS VETERAN TALKS OF BLACK HOPES ON VISIT TO LONDON

LONDON will never defeat the scourge of teenage gang killings until it beats poverty, American civil rights campaigner the Rev Jesse Jackson said today.

In an exclusive interview with the Evening Standard, the charismatic black activist urged: "There must be a war, not just on knives but on poverty and illiteracy." He also issued a challenge to next week's G20 summit, gave his verdict on Barack Obama's first two months and revealed why he thinks Britain has yet to have a black prime minister.

Mr Jackson, 67, is in London to give evidence to a home affairs select committee inquiry into Britain's epidemic of knife crime and violent youth gangs.

He has promoted projects to ban knife-carrying in schools and to educate youngsters about the dangers, but he said the real issues were about social justice.

"Most violence takes place among the poor and the alienated who do not feel they have a stake in society nor a future," he said.

"Many are driven more by fear than hope.

"They fear their future prospects and their present environment.

"Often, people will fight fear by seeking a false sense of power, and the gun, the knife and the gang can provide that false sense of power. Our challenge is to offset fear with hope." The Baptist minister is an iconic figure after four decades in the civil rights movement.

Arriving for our interview in Leicester Square, he was constantly embraced by passers-by, among them Daniel Mogorosi, 91, who left his native South Africa 50 years ago.

He recalls Mr Jackson marching to Trafalgar Square to campaign for Nelson Mandela's freedom.

Mr Jackson believes police here and in the US have not focused enough on money launderers behind the illegal drugs industry.

"All the focus is on kids with guns and knives and not on the source of what I call a form of economic exploitative warfare," he said. "Drugs are a form of money and weapons are a form of control." Raised in South Carolina, Mr Jackson attended a segregated high school before working for Martin Luther King. …

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