Thursday, December 20, 2007

BBC NEWS | England | Lancashire | Five youths deny student's murder

BBC NEWS | England | Lancashire | Five youths deny student's murder

Five boys have denied murdering a woman who was kicked to death in a park.

Sophie Lancaster
Sophie fell into a coma after the attack

Sophie Lancaster, 20, was walking with her boyfriend Robert Maltby, 21, in Stubby Lee Park in Bacup, Lancashire, when they were attacked on 11 August.

Ms Lancaster was left with serious head and facial injuries and fell into a coma. She died on 24 August.

Three 15-year-olds and two 17-year-olds appeared at Preston Crown Court to deny murder as well as causing grievous bodily harm with intent to Mr Maltby.

The hearing was adjourned for a pre-trial review on 22 February.

Three of the youths were granted conditional bail, while the other two were remanded in custody.

Judge Anthony Russell QC fixed a provisional trial date of 10 March.

Mr Maltby was also left in a coma with bleeding on the brain following the attack, but recovered from his injuries.

Date set for Sophie murder trial
This Is Lancashire, UK - 14 Dec 2007

The defendants, who are all aged between 15 and 17 and cannot be identified for legal reasons, pleaded not guilty to murdering Sophie Lancaster when they appeared at Preston Crown Court yesterday.

The trial will take place on March 10 after a pre-trial review in February.

Former Haslingden High school pupil Sophie was walking through Stubbylee Park, Bacup, with her boyfriend, 21-year-old Manchester art student Robert Maltby when they were allegedly attacked in August. She died almost two weeks later in hospital after her life support was switched off.

The five youths have also denied causing grievous bodily harm to Mr Maltby.

Judge Anthony Russell remanded two of the youths in custody, while the other three were remanded on conditional bail.

They are banned from associating with co-defendants, contacting prosecution witnesses and leaving the UK.

Other conditions include an 8pm to 6am daily curfew. Sophie's death has prompted an outpouring of grief from friends and family in East Lancashire.

Her mother Sylvia has established SOPHIE (Stamp Out Prejudice, Hatred and Intolerance Everywhere) to call for greater understanding for marginalised sections of society.

Several fundraising events have been held to support the groups work in Bacup, Blackburn and Blackpool.

An online petition launched in memory of Sophie on the Prime Minister's website has also attracted more than 1,500 signatures.

Man Jailed For Two Years Over Chav Stabbing (from The Northern Echo)

Very interesting case in the NE. Here divisions between chav/emos are used as a defence in court over a stabbing incident. Unusually here it is the emo in trouble but it seems he had a history and much provocation at least according to him. Some similarities to the Dele Little case I think. It looks like it started out with an abusive behaviour incident and then escalated. Of course this being a court case it is difficult to know what exactly happened.

The key point is that once again subcultural divisions ended up with violence.

Man Jailed For Two Years Over Chav Stabbing (from The Northern Echo)

Dec 11th

A MAN has today been jailed for two years for knifing a teenager at the Stockton Riverside Festival.

The judge told Michael Dixon, 22, that he had marred the festival which was a joyous event and something of which the people of Stockton could be proud.

Fear spread along the town's Finkle Street when Dixon was seen covered in blood and waving a knife, said prosecutor Martina Connolly. Ambulance staff went to the aid of Dixon's victim Michael Hancock, 19, whom he stabbed twice in the back on August 4 with a Swiss Army knife, Teesside Crown Court was told.

Michael Hancock had gone to the aid of his friend James Parker who was in an altercation with Dixon. Mr Hancock was walking away when he felt a hard punch to his back, and when he turned around he saw Dixon screaming abuse at him.

The pair rolled over on the ground punching and kicking but it ended when Mr Hancock pushed Dixon away.

Mr Hancock's friends then noticed that his back was bleeding heavily. He was treated in hospital and discharged within hours.

When Dixon saw the police he was still waving the knife and he shouted at them "Come on", added Miss Connolly. During his arrest he threw the knife over a wall but it was recovered later.

Dixon was drunk, and when he was interviewed the next day he said that it had been an argument between chavs and emos - fans of emotional, heavy metal music who wear tight clothing.

Dixon claimed that he had the knife to open bottles, and he said he regretted his actions.

Miss Connolly said that Dixon had previous convictions for possessing a machete and a knife, and for violence.

Robin Denny, defending, said that a prison sentence was inevitable. He said that Dixon was an emo who had been picked on by Mr Hancock, a chav with convictions for drunk and disorderly behaviour, affray and assault on police.

He added: "The defendant initially intended to frighten the victim. He was obviously initially attacked by someone who is particularly prone to attacking people for no good reason late at night."

The Recorder of Middlesbrough Judge Peter Fox QC told Dixon: "Your drunkenness affords you not the slightest excuse.

"You have got a very bad record for violence, but in particular this is the fourth time in your young life that you have been convicted of having an offensive weapon.

"The suggestion that you had bought that Swiss Army knife to open bottles is all very well. There are such things as bottle openers, you don't stab people in the back with a bottle opener."

The judge added: "The Riverside Festival is something that the people of Stockton can be proud of. It's a happy, joyous event, almost everybody behaves themselves and has a good time. You're the exception, your behaviour was particularly bad."

Dixon of Mapleton Road, Hartlepool, was jailed for two years after he pleaded guilty to possession of an offensive weapon, unlawful wounding and affray.

Riverside Festival knife attacker jailed - Gazette Live

Dec 11 2007 Evening Gazette

Mr Hancock had gone to the aid of his friend James Parker who had been in an altercation with Dixon, 22.

Mr Hancock was walking away when he felt a hard punch to his back. When he turned round he saw Dixon screaming abuse at him.

The pair rolled on the ground punching and kicking but it ended when Mr Hancock pushed Dixon away.

Mr Hancock’s friends then noticed that his back was bleeding heavily, leaving him needing hospital treatment.

When Dixon was interviewed the next day he said it had been an argument between chavs and emos - fans of emotional, heavy metal music who wore tight clothing.

Dixon claimed that he had the knife to open bottles, and he said he regretted his actions.

He pleaded guilty on the basis he was with his girlfriend when he was attacked by Mr Hancock and another.


Rome and Juliet - a review

Weston & Somerset Mercury, UK - 14 Dec 2007

THE audience at The Kings of Wessex School escaped the wild December weather last Thursday and Friday evening (6 and 7/12/07) to journey to Verona for the Year 9 Thespians' production of Shakespeare's first romantic tragedy Romeo and Juliet.

This modern interpretation used minimal props. The bold black and white Ying Yang motif on stage was a vivid reminder of the playoff between opposites. The two sworn rival families: the Capulets (Juliet) and Montagues (Romeo) were brought to life via the students' portrayal of today's "Chavs" and "Emos". The warring factions brutally manifested in the realistic fight scenes were all too reminiscent of the divisions in today's society and across the globe. Following the deaths of Romeo's friend Mercutio (Max Hopestone Bell) by Tybalt (Russ Eccleston), swiftly followed by his killing at the hand of Romeo, a plague is cursed upon both houses, setting the scene for more tragedy.

And yet love blossoms between Romeo and Juliet who in the famous balcony scene arrange a secret marriage with the help of Friar Lawrence (Adam Clegg) and the Nurses (Aggie Morris/John Male). Their first kiss is sealed with suitably, striking strobe lighting.

As a technical devise, music is used well. The pulsating opening beat builds up to the cacophony in the street scene foretelling more drama. Whilst the Chavs' dance sequences were slinky, posing to Justin Timberlake's Love Stoned, the Emos opt for the aggressive, fight-inspiring Hard Fi's Suburban Knights.

Costumes were jeans and coloured t-shirts, with Romeo and Juliet in red t-shirts - very much the roses of the show and just as sweet. 13-year old Ben Champion plays love-struck Romeo, akin to a dreamy troubadour, wandering about stage as "fortune's fool". With touching tenderness, "never was such beauty" 14-year old Sophie Caunt plays Juliet at the same age.

"Thou canst not speak if thou canst not feel". Indeed, Kings' 13 and 14-year old cast of strong performers artfully mastered the Bard's language, demonstrating understanding, with plenty of dramatic anger and desperation in the face of doomed love.

This story of woe was a "heavy day" that would not be easily forgotten. As Massive Attack played out the end with "Teardrop", the audience reflected on the play's contemporary themes - arranged marriages, fighting on the streets, feuding between inner city estates... Ultimately, the love potion, like Shakespeare's favourite theme of misadventure, is taken to its most fatal conclusion.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

New Emo Goth Danger?

We mentioned before this strange saga (More media lies about goths and emos ) in the press from this stupid article EMO cult warning for parents | the Daily Mail which focused particularly on My Chemical Romance. They have often promoted anti self-harm message so pinning the blame on them is stupid.

But what can you expect from the Daily Mail who loved the colour black in the thirties when it was worn by the British Union of Fascists famously running the headline "Hurrah for the Blackshirts!". They frequently said good things about Hitler and Mussolini and supported the appeasement line.

The Guardian interview with My Chemical Romance at the time was interesting:

Alexis Petridis meets My Chemical Romance The Daily Mail says they're a threat to society. Rival bands say they're dangerous. Are My Chemical Romance really as evil as all that? Alexis Petridis finds out

Friday October 27, 2006
The Guardian

"I'm surprised a newspaper thought we were such a threat that they had to write a whole article about us and our fans, calling them a death cult," frowns Gerard Way. His brother wearily points out that we have been here before. "In the 1980s, people thought Judas Priest was promoting suicide," he sighs. "They were like, Dee Snider from Twisted Sister? Dude's in league with the devil, man!"

In addition, they claim not to be an emo band at all: "We're so opposed to it because when we started out there were emo bands all around and we stuck out as not being emo," complains Gerard. "What that translated to is that we couldn't get booked up for shows, no one would take us on tour with them apart from Christian metal bands. We didn't get any of the benefits of being an emo band, our influences didn't come from emo. We just became emo by default, because we became one of the biggest bands from that scene." He quickly corrects himself: "That we weren't even a part of."...

The other factor is the band and their fans frequently have faced rivalry from others like metal bands etc which has led to fights :

The other factor in My Chemical Romance's rise to mainstream stardom seems to have been their appearance at this year's Reading Festival. Plenty of artists have sealed their elevation to the big time via a triumphant summer festival appearance, but My Chemical Romance stole the show at Reading by the unlikely expedient of having bottles thrown at them by disgruntled fans of metal band Slayer, who preceded them on the bill. The Slayer fans were either provoked by My Chemical Romance's music, or Gerard Way's frenetic, mincing stage manner ("right from when we started," says Iero phlegmatically, "people have yelled 'fags' at us"), or the youth of their fanbase. Either way, the column inches most expected to go the Arctic Monkeys or Muse went their way. The hype was increased when fellow alt-rockers Kasabian and the Killers' Brandon Flowers dismissed them in terms your average 14-year-old is likely to find irresistible: the former called them "dark and weird", the latter "dangerous".

Mention of the Reading performance evokes mixed emotions. Iero claims he thought the incident "ruled", but still seems a bit angry - "we have more heart in one fuckin' bead of sweat than most of those people have in their entire bodies". Gerard Way seems positively delighted: "That was our greatest victory as a show," he smiles. "This band was always about facing adversity. We got bottled for being dangerous. We oppose everything that's conventional about rock'n'roll in this country, our home country, everywhere in the world. That weekend, kids were getting beat up in the audience, the guys on stage were getting beat up, and we got through it, just like the kids got through it."

This article covers the same ground:
New Emo Goth Danger?

The band’s young audience is a concern to know-nothing sorts who’ve been campaigning against the alleged persuasive nature of rock music for what feels like forever. Only recently, in August 2006, The Daily Mail ran an article warning parents of the ‘New Emo Goth Danger’ – those are exact words they used, and the piece can be read online here. One of only three bands mentioned in the piece – bands that apparently encourage behaviour such as self-harm – was My Chemical Romance. Gerard doesn’t know whether to laugh out loud or cry silently to himself.

"Papers like that will never do their homework, but it is kind of funny to call it ‘emo death cult’, or whatever it was called."

“The funny thing is that I’ve met more kids that have stopped self-harming because of us, than anything,” he says, his face masked with absolute seriousness. “That’s the case with most of the kids I meet, especially in the UK, so I guess it is some sort of epidemic. Most of the kids that I meet, that say thank you, are kids that used to self-harm. Kerrang! was involved, as one of their readers wrote in about it, and I ended up having a very personal discussion with this girl. I noticed she had all these cuts, and it really bummed me out, and I was hoping that she didn’t feel that she needed to do that in order to come to the show. And I ended up meeting the girl and her mother – the mother had written a letter to Kerrang! – and she said because of the band she’s now stopped doing that. Papers like that will never do their homework, but it is kind of funny to call it ‘emo death cult’, or whatever it was called. ‘New Emo Goth Danger’?”

Iero cackles: “Ha! I like that! That’s the title of the next album, New Emo Goth Danger!”

The matter raises a final point, though. My Chemical Romance are superstars nowadays, playing to thousands of kids – and we do mean kids – at each and every show they play. They must come in for a lot of stick from right-wingers who haven’t taken the time to realise that the band’s fantasy-horror lyrics are just that: fantasy. The music's immediate and the lyrics fun: there are no hidden messages calling for kids the world over to scratch their best friend's eyes out. Sure, the five-piece have posed for photo shoots covered in fake blood, playing-dead models lying at their feet, but that doesn’t make them a bad influence. They just like, as has already been mentioned, playing it up, theatrically.

“We live in a very sick bubble, made of concrete and bullet-proof casing,” says Gerard. “If you acknowledged all the ignorant stuff you heard, you’d never sleep, we’d never sleep. There’d be no time. I gotta say I’m not a fan of that Jay And Silent Bob Strike Back movie, but it has one of the best scenes I’ve ever seen. They literally go around to peoples’ houses that have talked shit about them on the internet and give it back to them. It’s the coolest thing in the world.”

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Tragic Suicide of Nicola Raphael - bullied to death for being a goth

September 10, 1985- June 24, 2001

A case which attracted a lot of media attention especially in the Scottish press back in 2001 was the tragic suicide of Nicola Raphael a 15 year old who endured constant bullying simply because she dressed in black. This ties into the recent reports on the square in Glasgow which was Nicola's favourite hangout [Glasgow - Alternative teens banned from public place]. In many ways the suicide could be read as a grim warning of the strength of hatred that was to lead to Sophie Lancaster’s death. There is bright spot in the tragedy of Nicola’s death in that her organs later helped save lives:

Nicola's frozen heart saves toddler-three years after her suicide Teenager who was bullied to her death gives the gift of life to a little boy after her organ is defrosted for a remarkable transplant operation
Mail on Sunday; 10/17/2004; “Surgeons carried out the remarkable operation last week after the heart was 'defrosted'. The organ came from schoolgirl Nicola Raphael, 16, who committed suicide in 2001 after being bullied for wearing Goth makeup”

The extent of the bullying is all discussed in an article from 2006:


But Nicola had endured months of vicious bullying by a gang of 30 teenagers, known as "the Neds". They threw stones, cans, water bombs and food at Nicola simply because she dressed differently to them. "She dressed as a goth, wore dark eye make-up and a long black coat, but was a neat, clean girl, " says Rona. Then one day Nicola arrived home with bruises."She told me 'I'm sick of it, Mum, ' she told me, " says Rona."Her shoulders were bruised after stones were thrown at her. I went to see her headmaster, but nothing changed.

"The bullies called her names like 'zombie', 'walking dead' and 'witch', ".

"I offered to take her out of school, but she refused to let them win. She seemed to be resolute about coping." But Nicola, who gained top grades in her GCSE mocks, seemed happy at home and was looking forward to the summer holidays.

Then one Friday night Nicola hit a new low."Her brother was home from university and we sat chatting, " remembers Rona. "When we went to bed, she said: 'Mum, I'm out of eyeliner, could you get me some?' They were her last words to me.

This important and detailed article in the Scottish Sunday Herald covers the incident and reveals the extent of harassment teen goths in glasgow were undergoing at the time:

Suddenly they're everywhere. Their black clothes and purple lipstick

Sunday Herald, The, Jul 1, 2001 by Alan Crawford

"They think we worship Satan, just because of the way we dress," says Gill Cairns, a 16-year-old who lives in Clarkston in Glasgow. The first thing you notice about Gill is her lips, smeared in dark purple lipstick. She has a stud in her tongue to match the one in her nose and is wearing a black hooded top over a pair of baggy jeans.

"Everyone seems to think we're wrong or evil, but we all do really well in our classes. We're the ones that work in school. None of us wants to fight, but we all feel intimidated all the time. We just keep ourselves to ourselves. We never say, 'Look at you, you're wearing trainers.'"

Gill is standing outside the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow's Royal Exchange Square with around 150 friends and acquaintances, all dressed in punk, goth or "mosher" style. Black is the colour of choice. Feelings at their favoured meeting place are running high today; many of those present have just returned from the funeral of their friend, Nicola Raphael, who was buried in her home town of Kirkintilloch after taking her own life. She was 15.

Scores of teenagers joined the funeral cortege; some wearing black make-up and hooded tops, others in dark trenchcoats and with long chains dangling from their waists. Heavy clouds raced over the Campsie Hills as the youths followed the hearse on its painful way the few hundred yards from St Columba's Parish Church to the cemetery. With the coffin was a message from the girl's mother, Rona, which read: "To my wonderful daughter Nicola. Give 'em hell!!!!"
Like her school friends, and in common with hundreds of teenagers all over Scotland, Nicola liked to wear clothes and make-up that made her stand out from the crowd. Goth, mosher, punk, whatever; Nicola's friends say she was bullied at school and in the street, simply because of the clothes she wore. Just two days before her death she and her school friends had to be escorted from their school, Lenzie Academy, because of intimidation from other youths.

"There were neds bringing stones in and throwing them at us because of the way we dress," said one 15-year-old school friend. "That's when it got really bad."

Another girl, also 15, added: "We went to the head teacher [at Lenzie Academy], and he basically said it was our own fault because of the way we dressed. We went to him again and his solution was just to stay away from them. They weren't reprimanded at all."

These problems led to fears of a major riot in August 2001 as reported in the Herald in July.

THE teenage fans of Eminem and Marilyn Manson are being secretly spied on by undercover police intelligence officers who fear violence at next month's Gig on the Green concert in Glasgow.

They believe that fans of controversial rapper Eminem could round on so-called "goth" or "mosher" fans of Marilyn Manson, as both acts are on the bill for the Glasgow concert on August 25. The police action follows the suicide of 15-year-old Lenzie schoolgirl Nicola Raphael, who took her own life after being bullied for dressing like a goth. Many of her friends have reported being attacked in the street by what they call "ned" gangs simply for dressing in black clothes and wearing dark make-up....

Officers in charge of the gang surveillance operation said: "Manson's fans will inevitably be the target of the much more streetwise fans of Eminem. There is seldom any problem with goth fans, as they tend to be quite well educated and well spoken."

Police say they will be staging one of their biggest security operations ever during the event. More than 200 officers will be drafted in for crowd control, backed up by an underwater unit, mounted police and a helicopter team.

In the event there was no trouble and Manson himself dedicated a song to Nicola and discussed her death on stage: Marilyn Manson comforts a grieving mom... [More on that here: SeemsLikeSalvation News.]

Interesting to note that Sophie Lancaster was a massive Manson fan and one of his songs played at her funeral just as it was hopped to play one at Nicola’s funeral. The significant thing is the police operation indicates that they were well aware of the grim reality that goth/metalers faced harassment and violence in 2001. Nothing has changed.