Friday, November 2, 2007

Sophie's memory to live on - Whitby Today

Sophie's memory to live on - Whitby Today

The goth and Gazette teams mark a minute's applause in tribute to Sophie before the football match
The goth and Gazette teams mark a minute's applause in tribute to Sophie before the football match

GENEROUS fund-raisers over Whitby Gothic Weekend have raised almost £3,000 to pay for a bench and plaque in memory of a goth girl who died in August.
It was hoped £1,600 could be raised in memory of Sophie Lancaster (20) from Lancashire who died following an incident in a play park, while her boyfriend, Robert Maltby (21) was left fighting for his life.

But generous Whitby fund-raisers have exceeded expectations and collected a staggering £2,800 over the weekend.

A stall was set up in the Pavilion selling small black ribbon roses in Sophie's memory and any funds left over will be pledged to reforestation schemes in the UK to plant trees in her memory.

A goth teddy bear was also raffled off at Sexy Sunday at The Met and Justin Coope from the Chocolate Box in Church Street helped to organise raffle prizes including many donated by local businesses which raised £474.

Martin Coles aka DJ Martin Oldgoth who helped organise the fund-raising said he wanted to stay a big thank you to everyone who donated money.

He said: "I've had a fantastic weekend as ever but even more so from seeing not only the goth and alternative communities come together in the face of something so tragic, but from the generosity of the town that for most of us is a second home
and the Whitby Gazette which has helped publicise the collection and done so much for us over the years.

"People have been incredible. Meeting Sophie's mum on Sunday was a special moment, such a strong woman in the face of something so terrible and I'm glad we've helped to do something positive for the memory of her daughter."

Mr Coles said it is hoped the bench will be in place in December and he is planning a formal ceremony to take place at next year's gothic weekend in April.

A minute's applause was held for Sophie before the Whitby Gazette versus the Goths football match on Sunday.

And a raffle after the football, organised by Diana Campbell, raised £180 for St Catherine's Whitby Day Hospice.

If you want to leave your own personal tribute to Sophie or comment on the fund-raising efforts, you can do so by registering and following the instructions to register as a user.
Last Updated: 02 November 2007 1:13 PM

The West Memphis three appeal launched

The infamous case of the West Memphis Three, widely regarded as a miscarriage of justice, has a new appeal launched a few days ago with new genetic evidence. Supposedly expert testimony on the case in 1993 helped support an ongoing idea in the media that heavy metal and goth was closely connected with blood thirsty occult crime. The conviction was mainly made on the basis of a inconsistent confession, which may have been obtained under police duress.

Lawyers file DNA motion in Ark. murders - Los Angeles Times:

"Attorneys seek to overturn the convictions of three young men who were found guilty of brutally killing three Cub Scouts in 1993. By Henry Weinstein, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer October 30, 2007 Attorneys for a death row inmate found guilty of killing three 8-year-old boys in Arkansas in 1993 filed a motion in federal court to overturn his conviction based on new evidence, including DNA test results that found no genetic material on the victims' bodies from his client or two others convicted with him. The sensational case in West Memphis concerned three Cub Scouts whose bodies were found submerged in a drainage ditch not far from their homes; one boy's body appeared to have been sexually mutilated. Two of the defendants frequently dressed in black and were described as 'Goths.' Accusations of satanic rituals were presented in court testimony...

The new petition includes analyses done by seven forensic scientists, including Dr. Richard Souviron, chief forensic odontologist at the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner Department, who played a significant role in Florida's successful 1979 prosecution of serial killer Ted Bundy. All of them challenge prosecutors' claims that Christopher had been sexually mutilated with a knife.

The forensic pathologists and odontologists, who separately reviewed autopsy tests, photos and trial testimony, state that the evidence strongly indicates that after Christopher was killed by blunt-force blows, animals ate parts of his body.

The brief also states that some of the key testimony asserting that the teenagers were part of a satanic cult -- something they have denied -- was presented by a so-called witchcraft expert with "a fraudulent PhD" from a California school that was put out of business by state authorities."

Support for three has been widespread amongst a range of people and bands:
"However, a group of musicians determined to reverse the defendants' misfortune has come to the aid of the West Memphis Three. "Free The West Memphis Three: A Benefit for Truth & Justice" is a loud petition featuring the signatures of such luminaries as Tom Waits, Joe Strummer, Steve Earle, Eddie Vedder, Rocket From The Crypt and a reunited Killing Joke."

Burk Sauls, a founding member of the Free The West Memphis Three Support Fund, notes that while being a punk or goth in certain parts of the country is perfectly acceptable, in others, it remains an open invitation for harassment.

"The thing with Damien is he was in a town that wasn't as receptive to that low-level rebellion," Sauls said. "If you wear a black trench coat, it's not okay. And if you walk around with a Metallica t-shirt with your hair teased up like Edward Scissorhands, it is not okay.

"In a lot of the towns in the South, you don't have those punk clubs or goth clubs. You've got your sports bars and those are your only choice. And if you walk into a sports bar with a Dead Kennedys t-shirt, someone is going to give you hell about it."

Indeed, one of the prosecution's star witness was Dr. Dale W. Griffis - an occult expert with a mail-order credential. Griffis testified during Echols' trial that "wearing black fingernails, having black painted hair and wearing black t-shirts" were all signs of youthful Satanic worship."

West Memphis 3 - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia:

In the trial it was revealed: "The State's theory of motive was that the killings were done in a satanic ritual. On cross-examination, Echols admitted that he was deeply interested in occultism and non-Christian religions, and considered himself a Wiccan. Various occult-related items were found in his room, including a funeral register upon which he had drawn a pentagram and upside-down crosses and had a copied magical spell. Among the evidence seized were black T-shirts and lyrics from Metallica songs. Echols testified that he wore a long black trench coat even when it was warm. One witness, Jerry Driver, said he had seen Echols, Baldwin, and Misskelley together six months before the murders, wearing long black coats and carrying long staves... Pink Floyd lyrics from the suspect's notebooks, Stephen King novels,and Echols' interest in heavy metal music and Wicca were also presented in court as evidence against the teenagers."

If you're asking if I felt that was strange, yes sir, I did.
-Det. Bryn Ridge, testifying about Damien reading Stephen King books

Campaign website: Free the West Memphis Three

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Sophie's Funeral

Posted on Sophie’s myspace:

Date: 31 Oct 2007 19:07
Body: please read and pass

The funeral of Sophie has been arranged for the 12th November and her mother has extended an invitation to all her friends here. She has requested a show of solidarity from all those who knew Sophie or have been touched by her terrible death.

A humanitarian service will take place at the Riverside Civic Centre in Whitworth, Rossendale at 11am, followed by a burial ceremony at the cemetery there.

Sylvia has requested people come as "themselves" and bring only one flower. If anyone would like to make a donation to the S.O.P.H.I.E. fund instead they can do so through the Paypal account we are about to set up on this site or directly into the account number 00458724 sort code 11-06-44. All funds will be used to meet the objectives made. To leave a permanent legacy in Sophie's memory in the forms of a memorial and the

S tamp
O ut
P rejudice
H atred+
I ntolerance
E verywhere


please come if you can

Just to keep you all updated, the 5 charged with the murder of Sophie Lancaster were in Preston Crown Court today and have had their trial date set for the 10th March. They have a plea hearing on the 14th December.

best wishes and thanks to all at Whitby Goth weekend and their friends who raised a staggering £2800 to pay for the bench in Sophie's memory up there, especially to Martin "Oldgoth", it was a pleasure to meet people there.

bye for now

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Five In Court Accused Of Sophies Murder (from Lancashire Telegraph)

Five In Court Accused Of Sophies Murder (from Lancashire Telegraph): "FIVE youths from Bacup have appeared at Preston Crown Court charged with the murder of Sophie Lancaster in the town's Stubbylee Park. The five also face charges of causing grievous bodily harm in relation to Miss Lancaster's boyfriend, Robert Maltby, last August. No pleas were taken on either charge from the five teenagers and a further plea and case management hearing was ordered by Judge Anthony Russell QC for December 14. The judge also indicated a provisional trial date, on both allegations, of March 10 next year Two youths, each aged 15, from Shawforth and Bacup, were remanded in custody at the hearing."

Halloween - Hearing in Sophie Lancaster case today

First hearing in case today and a number of vigils for Sophie are occuring. If you are going out tonight why not remember her.

Whitby fund raises £2818.92. Congratulations to everyone who helped and Martin Oldgoth for organising it. Why not help break the 3000 mark see how you can donate here:

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

BBC Casualty with bullied emo

BBC Hospital drama Casualty episode "As One Door Closes...'" Saturday, October 27 2007 20:20 on BBC One featured some emo teens being bullied and one being stabbed.

There is a similar plotline in Hollyoaks at the moment with a bullied emo.

Emo/Goth suicide/selfharm sterotype incorrect

The idea of the gloomy teen dressed in black cutting herself is an ongoing stereotype but a US report from a conference of experts dismisses this as a deceptive idea likely to distract people from the real problem:

Parents and school staff often have a perception of self-injury that is connected to listening to gloomy music and wearing black. The perception says if you skateboard or listen to emo band Dashboard Confessional, you are more likely to slice your arms with scissors.

If only it were that simple.

Out of context, singing along to Gerard Way, of rock group My Chemical Romance, and his "songs that make you slit your wrists," can seem new and troubling to parents who were never fans of Pink Floyd, Nick Drake, or the blues.

But saying self-injury can be contained within one clique of kids, one group of fans of one type of music, galls those who have been there. "The quiet ones? You can't tell," said the Mayfield girl. "It's hard to tell who's doing it or not."

Nor does the perception, however prevalent, hold water, say the experts. Those who self-injure can -- are -- also the jazz-band members, pre-mission Mormons, theater kids and cheerleaders. Poland said those who self-injure tend to be "likable, functional and intelligent kids, but they break down under stress."

Pity those who made the Channel News telecommunications news report on a US survey announced this summer on security dangers on the internet for children didn't know this. Besides paedophiles and viruses the report on the survey warned parents that increasing numbers of children were visiting "gothic" websites with supposedly disastrous consequences. The report supposedly claimed that Emo is in fact a sub branch of Goth with rather than being entirely separate, as most goths and emos claim see quotes below:

Webroot online security report 2007 19/07/07

Webroot Software says its new research shows a disconnect between parents and their children regarding Internet usage.
The report which corroborates existing concerns regarding the online activities of children ages 5 to 17, uncovers a number of discrepancies among children's self-reported online activities versus what parents believe them to be. The report further discusses potential legal implications and security risks parents may face due to their children's online behaviour and best practices for ensuring a safe online experience for children...

* More and more young people are turning to websites celebrating 'gothics' and promoting self-harm - the most recent popular websites attracting a new cult of young gothics - the 'Emo' - for Emotional Goths.
The full report can be downloaded here:

Yet the actual report doesn't mention anything about emos or goths at all.

Asa Coon video released

Asa Coon, the troubled teen shooter was a "goth" dressed in entirely in black.

Now video has been released of Coon during the shootings. Yet the stories do not mention the "goth" angle any more. Could it be because the video show Coon in a WHITE hoodie entering the building? Is that it? Pretty shallow if so.. but then Coon's actions had nothing to do with his clothing as previous posts have shown.

Caught On Tape: Gunman Stalks School Hallways
NBC, PA - 26 Oct 2007
Asa Coon, 14, wearing a white hooded sweatshirt, walked upstairs to the third floor of successtech Academy on Oct. 10, police said. ...

Security footage shows Asa Coon stalking, firing at successtech ...
The Plain Dealer -, OH - 26 Oct 2007
He looks like any other high school student - except for the guns 14-year-old Asa Coon holds in each hand. Coon's rampage was captured in eerie, ...

The previous coverage often focused on Coon's goth clothes a small selection here:

Student opens fire at high school
Concord Monitor, NH - 10 Oct 2007
the student, said Coon was a "gothic" who usually wore a trench coat, black boots and a dog collar

Suspended 14-year-old shoots 4, then kills himself at school
New York Daily News, NY - 11 Oct 2007
Coon, a "Goth" who decked himself out in black nail polish, a trench coat and Marilyn Manson T-shirts, and who claimed to worship the Devil,

Questions Arise After High School Shooting In Cleveland
WCAV, VA - 11 Oct 2007
"He dressed in black, a trench coat, a chain" said one student. The school district is scrambling for answers, among them, whether the principal turned a ...

Teenage gunman wounds four in school shooting
The Mercury, Australia - 10 Oct 2007
Students said the 14-year-old gunman always wore a trench coat to school, was a loner and had talked about worshipping the devil.

Coon abandons the white when he starts shooting wearing black with a Manson t-shirt but there is no sign of the trenchcoat often mentioned in the earlier reports. Why the emphasis on the trench coat? Well that links Coon with Columbine of course.

It is certainly refreshing to see the metal/"goth" angle of the killings seems to have mostly played itself out in the initial burst of coverage.

Manchester - Urbis

Interesting article from a few years ago.


"BANNED FROM SHOPS.. BECAUSE SHE'S A GOTH By Daniel Boffey 07/06/2005 TEENAGER Melissa Fletcher was banned from a shopping centre because of her Goth fashion. Security guards stopped the 16-year-old at the entrance, saying her dyed red and black hair, pierced lip and black clothes would put shoppers off buying. Yet Melissa had no trouble getting in earlier that day when accompanied by her mum. Melissa was with two 16-year-old friends at the Triangle complex in Manchester city centre. Advertisement Her mother Sharon, 34, of Denton, Greater Manchester, said yesterday: 'Melissa does not drink, smoke or take drugs. 'She knows what is right and what is wrong but dressing differently is no reason to be singled out. 'Melissa had money in her pockets to spend but she did not even get through the front door. 'The security guard told me later that he was under strict orders not to let them in because of the way they looked....'"

The Triangle continue their policy today making life hard for some as they are next to Urbis - Cathedral square the main teen alternative hangout in Manchester. The teenagers meet there to catch up withfriends and also to seek safey in numbers to avoid assault. Nevertheless local alternative teens can face fights in the area it is not unknown for large groups of thugs to come there looking for a fight. The irony is that the Triangle was formerly Manchester Corn Exchange a place full of alternative shops but after the IRA bomb in 1997 it was redeveloped into another mainstream shopping area.

See the posts on Blackburn for a similar problem today and the post about the dispersal order at Bristol College Green .

Monday, October 29, 2007

Whitby Goth Weekend

Whitby Goth weekend was dedicated to the memory of Sophie Lancaster and had a variety of events held in her memory.

Town showing little sign of losing its goth appeal - Whitby Today:

"Throughout the weekend a number of fund-raising events will be held to raise money for a memorial bench to murdered goth Sophie Lancaster. A specially created teddy bear will be raffled at Sexy Sunday at the Met after being created by bear artist Kathryn Vardy, who was deeply touched by Sophie’s tragic story. The bear is called Sophie, she is made of mohair and has been scissor sculpted and hand shaded to add more character. She is wearing a little headdress of black and red feathers, black diamantes and a black and red bow, this is stitched on so it can’t fall off. She is also wearing a black knitted shawl which is fastened with a pretty red enamel brooch and is valued at �160 and it is hoped double that will be raised. A minute’s silence for Sophie will also be observed before a Whitby Gazette side takes on a goth team up at the Turnbull Ground on Sunday at 2pm."
Sophie - Teddy Bear: Special hand made Teddy Bear: "I have made her in memory of Sophie Lancaster, who died at the age of 20 on 24th August 2007. She and her boyfriend (Robert Maltby, 21) were attacked by five boys aged 15 & 17 in Stubylee Park in Bacup. I am donating Sophie to Whitby Gothic Weekend. We will be holding her raffle at Sexy Sunday in the Metropole at midnight."

Unity Concert Organised In Memory Of Sophie (from Lancashire Telegraph)

Unity Concert Organised In Memory Of Sophie (from Lancashire Telegraph): "A UNITY concert is taking place in Blackburn next month in memory of tragic Rossendale girl Sophie Lancaster. Promoters of the one-day music festival at the Sir Charles Napier pub, in Limbrick, didn't even know Sophie, who died after being attacked in Stubylee Park, Bacup, in August. But young web entrepreneur Gemma Walker has been inspired to take positive action, amid calls for greater understanding for marginalised young people across East Lancashire. advertisement Police believe the former Haslingden High School Sophie, who was attacked along with her boyfriend Robert Maltby, was targeted because of their alternative style of clothing."

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Death in Totton - when namecalling ended in a stabbing

In Hampshire the ending of a recent trial for murder on the 24th of October 2007 has led to the police patrolling the streets to prevent more violence. This trial was sparked by the very real divisions and problems we are covering here.

Aaron Roche 21, was acquitted of the charge of murder for fatally stabbing Dele Little, 15, of Powell Crescent, Totton, in a fight at West Totton Centre in February this year. The fight between the two was sparked by Little’s earlier fight with Roche’s girlfriend Kayleigh Shinn. The fight that developed was an unequal affair in that Little was larger, stronger and more skilled than his opponent despite being younger. According to his version of events when he was badly battered and on the floor Roche decided to draw a butterfly knife he was carrying, at this stage his hoodie was pulled up and he could not see properly. His opponent was then stabbed in the scuffle and later died . (Roche described the fight in court one of Little's mates gave his version here Court told how fight broke out).

What is generally not highlighted in the coverage was the flashpoint for the situation:

Roche, then 20, had run to the West Totton Centre after hearing that his girlfriend Kayleigh Shinn had been hurt and repeatedly pushed to the floor by youths.Miss Shinn - known as "La" to her friends - had gone to Tesco Express with her 17-year-old friend, who cannot be named for legal reasons, to buy cigarettes just before 9pm on Saturday, February 3 this year. The pair had spent the afternoon drinking WKD, Malibu and Jack Daniels in The Ship pub in Rumbridge Street, Totton, before making the short journey to the store from a nearby house.

Winchester Crown Court heard how when the girls left the shop they were verbally abused by a gang of up to 15 youths - mainly boys - who had congregated in a nearby circular area known locally as the "bull ring". Jurors heard how 6ft Dele was a "ringleader" in the group who were shouting and swearing and calling both girls "goths" before Miss Shinn was thrown "like a frisbee in the air" on to the ground.

Jurors heard how the 17-year-old girl sent text messages saying "help" and "La's been hurt" and minutes later Roche happened to call her mobile and she told him what was happening. report

Here are more details as described by Shinn’s Teenage friend in court:

The girl told the court yesterday she had gone to the area with 18-year-old Kayleigh Shinn, who she had spent the afternoon drinking with at The Ship pub in Rumbridge Street, Totton, to buy cigarettes from Tesco Express. As they walked out of the store the girl told Winchester Crown Court how they were verbally abused, sworn at and called "goths".

Miss Shinn was then knocked to the ground before she got herself up, clutching a stick which she was waving at the boys. The girl said she watched as Miss Shinn was "chucked on the floor again with a lot more force" by Dele Little adding "she looked like a frisbee going through the air".

Another witness stated that:

The girl had also been at the centre with friends when the trouble flared between Dele and Kayleigh Shinn. Jurors heard how the girl, who was 14 at the time, remembered Miss Shinn telling Dele "my boyfriend's not going to be happy with you" and shouting "my boyfriend will come down and kill him" but she didn't take what she was saying seriously. Asked about the argument, she said Dele and his friends had been calling Miss Shinn and her 17-year-old friend "emo's" - a way of describing how someone dresses - before the stabbing on the night of Saturday, February 3. "I'm struggling to breathe," the last words of stabbed Dele

Here is another report from from another witness from the Echo:

Teenager in tears as she recalls Dele's dying moments

The girl said she had been with her friends in "the bullring" by the West Totton Centre on the night of Saturday, February 3 when Dele and his mates got into an argument with two girls. She told the court "It was verbal for quite a while but then it got a bit physical" adding that the argument continued for about three minutes.

She said: "The girl (Kayleigh Shinn) started to get really angry and she walked off to get a plank of wood. She was warning him not to say anything else or touch her because she would hit him with it and he said don't me silly. You're not going to do that.' She went to sling the plank of wood to hit Dele and Dele reached out and slung the wood and she hit the floor."

Newspaper reports published at the time of the death of Dele Little in Febuary Teen killed for being a 'Chav' | draw a picture, based on talking to Dele’s friends :

Dele and his friends were outside a shopping centre in Totton, Southampton, when the attack happened on Saturday. A friend, who asked not be named, said: 'A girl walked past, shouting and calling us chavs. She tried to hit Dele with a block of wood. Dele pushed her.' The 15-year-old added: 'She came back and started hitting him again. She phoned her boyfriend on her mobile. He turned up and started a fight. Dele was stabbed. There was blood everywhere.'
Roche, an ex-public schoolboy, drew on a wide variety of character witnesses in the trial testifying to his good character, which helped balance out the fact he had a large collection of knives at home and that several witnesses testified that he had earlier before the fight threatened to stab Little. In contrast Little’s background involved being in trouble before with the police for fighting, assault, bullying and he was excluded from school. Following Roche's acquittal there were: High visibility police patrols in Totton following murder verdict. Websites were censored due to various threats of vengeance. The trial has also helped spark a campaign to end knife carrying . Obviously an end to use of weapons would make Britain a safer place and is an excellent plan.

Yet it seems to me from what happened in Totton another thing is equally clear - that the flashpoint of the original argument was due to the perceived differences between Little’s group and Roche’s girlfriend and her friend and the verbal abuse and aggression that followed. If these minor differences in clothes had been ignored, and both sides had tolerated and respected each other, no fight would have occurred in first place and Dele Little would still be alive and safe with his friends and family. The same is also true of Sophie Lancaster.

Whether it is "chavs" abusing "goths" or vica versa it is equally wrong and as these events prove it can lead to tragedy. In a free country we must respect peoples right to live their own lives they way they choose. After all that is the freedom for which so many in British history have fought and died for. How many more people must die before this can be learned? Rest in Peace Dele Little I hope that no-one else must die before this pointless hatred ends.

More details here search the Echo archives:
Dele Little Trial 1
The Dele Little Trial 2
Dele Little - Online Memorial

Shelbyville Times-Gazette: One sub-genre is a very real threat.

There has not been as much media panic on the Asa Coon case compared to earlier cases like Columbine. I suppose with the sheer number of school shootings recently (see list) it has been difficult to hold onto the "goth" killer sterotype but some manage it:

Posted today: Shelbyville Times-Gazette: Story : Column by David Melson:

I ran across a 1958 newspaper story last week in which teenagers surveyed thought rock music would last until at least 1963. I'd imagine some of those teens are still rockin' today.

A small minority thought rock music would be a menace to society and were concerned, even then, with lyrics. One girl said she listened to lyrics before buying because she didn't want obscenity in her home. Ah, the innocence of the 1950s.

She's in her mid-60s today if still alive. Wonder what she thought about the teen in Cleveland who went on a shooting rampage in his high school a few weeks ago? The boy, who was into Goth and dressed in all-black, had told friends he was a Marilyn Manson follower and didn't believe in God.

Maybe that "small minority" mentioned were more insightful than anyone realized.

I don't think rock overall hurts at all, but one sub-genre is a very real threat. Gothic/death/doom metal has been cited as an interest of too many of those involved in school shootings. These groups have lead "singers" who yell, not sing, in guttural bellows and, if they can even be understood, are muttering anti-Christian thoughts. Check out some of their lyrics online and be ready for a shock.

Rock's always been about rebellion. But this goes too far. I'm normally not into censorship, and I realize freedom of anyone to post anything on the Internet would prevent any real stoppage of death metal. But record companies, at least, should reconsider what they're releasing.

Oddly another column in a Candanian paper disagrees: The Republic of East Vancouver - Your completely biased news source since 2000:

"To see teenagers in goth, punk or grunge get-ups trudging up the street is to see another response that is, in fact, exactly the same response: all we have left, apparently, is reprise of the past, the only difference being one response reaches a bit further back than the other. Predictably, the goth, punk and grunge types, appearing to be so angry at the world, are usually among the most polite, thoughtful and caring young people you can meet. They’re all Sid neo-Vicious the same way the politically active Christian fundamentalists are all neo-conservative. "