...homicides are not always so straightforward, especially in cases of spontaneous violence, such as a street fight. One defendant might throw a few punches without intending that anybody should use a knife. Should their commission of assault imply their guilt of murder?Yes. Because we don't want roaming gangs of youths feeling free to attack people in the street.
Why is this so difficult to understand?
Joint enterprise’s crisis of legitimacy has also been intensified by its grossly unequal application. In a study of the cases of 294 people under 26 who were given sentences of 15 years or more, researchers at Cambridge University found that those convicted under joint enterprise comprised more than half of their sample, and observed a stark pattern in the composition of this group: more than half were black or mixed-race.Ah. Of course. Yet more statistics that must at all costs be ignored, more reality that progressives cannot bear.
All 11 of those convicted in the Moss Side case are black or mixed-race. The youngest was 14 at the time of the attack, and the oldest was 20. Their family members say that the academic research confirms their fear that their loved ones have been convicted in part because of the colour of their skin. “The jury made up their mind as soon as they saw them,” said Devon’ta Neish’s aunt Anna, an administrator at a local school. “They saw black boys from Moss Side, they heard ‘gangs’, and that was it.”Because it was, indisputably, a gang.
...on Thursday 12 May 2016, a young man named Abdul Wahab Hafidah was seen on CCTV cameras running westward through busy traffic across Princess Road in Moss Side, a crowded, diverse, working-class neighbourhood two miles south of Manchester city centre. He was pursued by two young men on foot, and another on a bicycle. As traffic slowed at the junction of Princess Road and Moss Lane East, Hafidah tried desperately to open the door of a passing car, before turning to face his pursuers, waving a knife. They stepped back, and he ran off down Moss Lane East. Someone threw a hammer at him, but missed. The chase went on, joined – or followed – by seven other young men who made their way across Princess Road over the next 45 seconds. Hafidah was drunk, and he was scared. He knew some of the boys who were chasing him, and he knew they were angry with him.
On Moss Lane East, he tried once more to get into a passing vehicle. As he ran across the street, he was hit by more than one car, one of which was a Vauxhall Corsa, driven by a friend of some of those pursuing him. A pathologist later found that he had suffered leg injuries suggesting “a glancing blow” at low speed.
At around 5.14pm, near the junction of Moss Lane East and Denhill Road, roughly 100 metres west of Princess Road, several of Hafidah’s pursuers caught up to him. He was punched, kicked and stamped on, although witnesses remember the details and the number of attackers differently. According to statements taken by the police, a student walking home from college saw “at least three or four” people drag Hafidah to the ground, punching and kicking him. A man working in an office overlooking the scene saw “a couple of youths” fighting on the northern side of the road, and “six or seven youths” watching from a nearby grass verge. Another witness, a lab assistant, thought there were five attackers. A woman on her way home from work saw three young men knock Hafidah to the ground. He curled up into a ball while they kicked him around the legs, torso and head.A gang. Clearly. If they'd been wolves, we'd have called them a pack.
Why the squeamishness about calling them what they are, and treating them appropriately?
The youth worker Akemia Minott, who has known most of the defendants for years, is consumed by anger. “I don’t understand how they can justify themselves,” she said of the police and the courts. “It’s not a game. This shit’s not a game, this is real people’s lives. These lives aren’t less valuable than yours, these lives aren’t inferior to yours, or insignificant in comparison to yours. So why is the criminal justice system of a supposedly civilised and advanced country able to use certain people as just pawns in their game of chess?”Personally, I think the recruitment of 'youth workers' has gone seriously wrong somewhere. And is contributing to the mess we are in.