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Camden New Journal - by PAUL KEILTHY
Published: 21 June 2007
A council worker removes graffiti
A council worker removes graffiti
A CNJ journalist discovers how estate life looks from underneath a hoodie

BRANDED feral by their neighbours and the target of a police and Town Hall clampdown, young people in a troubled corner of Kentish Town are bemused, hurt and angry.
Acapello, as one 17-year-old asked to be called, claims to be an original member of Denton Boyz, one of two groups or gangs on Denton estate whose graffiti tags are splashed around the streets surrounding Malden Road.
“We’re getting stereotyped because of the way we dress, because we’re wearing hoodies,” he says.
“In the newspaper, they’re talking some rubbish about being intimidated by us, being scared to go out.
“Imagine there was a load of punks hanging around. Would they still be intimidated? They probably would. Imagine we were all wearing suits. It would be the same.
“But most of the time nothing is happening to them. Half of the stuff they say goes on doesn’t happen, not 25 per cent. They are free to walk.
“I feel intimidated by the council and police. I can’t even walk to the bus stop without being stopped and searched. We’re not even doing nothing and we can’t walk down the road.”
Acapello is known to the police. He has been arrested seven times, he says, and stopped and searched “about 500, man, I’m serious”.
But he insists the Denton Boyz are not a criminal gang, and that no territorial battles take place.
“Us as youths like to be out in the streets, yeah, everyone’s out together,” he says. “It’s not like you’re not allowed in here, or if someone comes in they are going to be stabbed. Everyone is free to walk through here.”
For 16-year-old Mo Greasy, who uses the name Uncle Mohammed, most of the problems lie with estate residents interpreting boisterousness as malice.
He says: “I’m 16. I’m not just going to buy a magazine and sit quietly reading about how (Big Brother contestant) Chanelle just lost three pounds. But the residents in Denton are very moany people, they don’t want to see people enjoying themselves. They are bringing trouble onto themselves.”
Neither teenager claims the area is problem free. But neither do they accept the fears voiced by some residents, or the demands of others for more youth services.
“This is what we choose to do. There should be more things to do but, to be honest, even if there were we would still do this,” says Uncle Mohammed.
In the narrow alleyway off Malden Road which neighbours say is at the centre of youth disorder, small groups of young people aged between 14 and 20 are less willing to discuss what draws them from as far as south London to sit on the steps of a dilapidated church hall or play fruit machines in the bookmakers, where the shutters are never lifted on the windows.
“We’re just chillin’, man. It’s a place to come. This is a community,” says one. “But we don’t want to talk to no paparazzi. What you said about us before was blatant lies.”
He too denied that his presence, with his six friends, was intimidating.
“Maybe if you’re a little kid, yeah. But we’re not intimidating no one else. Look around,” he says.
“They just don’t like young people,” says another. His companions nod.

‘It’s very tense here’

Residents continue to insist Malden Road is “like the Bronx”.
On Monday, concerned mothers asked to address councillors with their fears but were unable to speak because of “time constraints”.
Just 24 hours later, Malden Road was cordoned off as police investigated the stabbing of a 57-year-old man, apparently a domestic incident.
Residents reported 50 youths fighting in nearby streets, one account describing a pistol-whipping.
“It is very tense here,” said a mother. “No one is listening to us.”

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