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Two clicks away: Islington gang knife video

Social media under fire as clip seen at murder trial remains online

06 April, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Gang video opens with aerial shot of estate

A VIDEO featuring knife-wielding Islington gang members, shown during an Old Bailey murder trial, was still easily accessible online yesterday (Thursday).

Its availability raises questions about what social media websites are doing to combat escalating youth violence.

A two-minute clip, purportedly showing members of a gang made up of youths living off the Caledonian Road, was viewed during the murder trial of Dillon Zambon, 20, and Jhon Berhane,18.

The two young men were convicted of ­murdering Nashon Esbrand, 27, of Upper ­Holloway, who was stabbed to death just 15 minutes after he said goodbye to his new-born baby girl.

YouTube has “blocked” the video in the UK, but it can still be easily watched by two clicks of a mouse by changing the country location on the website. This week, a leading anti-knife crime charity has warned that YouTube had “not done enough” to help curb the recent escalation of violence on the capital’s streets. An 18-year-old stabbed to death in Hackney on Wednesday night marked the 50th murder in the capital since the beginning of the year.

During the Old Bailey trial it was revealed that members of the gang who featured in the YouTube video targeted Mr Esbrand after they labelled him a “grass” – a slang term for someone who has assisted the police.

During the trial, PC Andrew Adams, from Islington’s gangs team, explained the language and gang signs used in the music video, which is professionally edited and features drill music – a style of rap originating from the States.

He told the court: “It [the video] is a statement of intent. It essentially says: we are willing to come find you on your estate and do serious violence against you.”

Victim Nashon Esbrand. Picture: SliderCuts

The clip, which has been viewed more than 60,000 times since it was uploaded in November 2016, opens with an aerial shot of the Bemerton estate, off Caledonian Road.

A group of around 10 youths are then seen bopping to the rap, with two masked men wielding long knives at various points.

The video opens with the line “gang gang gang gang gang” and the rapper later says: “We are a violent gang.”

PC Andrews told the court he was able to identify two men in the video – Jhon Berhane and Jack Stevens, a man said in court to be a suspect in the continuing search for Mr Esbrand’s killers. He is now believed to be abroad.

The police officer told the trial that the video shows “disrespect” to a rival gang. He estimated that the gang had around 70 to 80 members.

The preferred knife styles of specific members, including a “kitchy” – short for a kitchen knife – is explained in the rap, said PC Andrews.

Patrick Green, manager at the Ben Kinsella Trust, said social media websites were “amplifying” youth violence.

“YouTube videos are used to threaten people and social media companies have not done enough to address this issue,” he said. “They should start to look at how their product is being used and take down videos particularly quickly.

“I’ve gone to a lot of events about knife crime but never have I seen anyone from social media come forward at the meeting to say what they are doing to stop the violence.”

The trust, set up after the stabbing of a Holloway teenager 10 years ago, campaigns against knife crime by educating youngsters.

A spokeswoman for YouTube said: “We do not allow videos that promote violence.

“We work closely with organisations like the Metropolitan Police who understand and provide relevant context for videos, and we act quickly to review and remove them when they violate our policies.

“In the UK, we have developed policies specifically to help tackle knife and gang crime. We are also committed to working constructively with the Home Office on this issue, as we are doing with other organisations.”

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