IslingtonTribune

The independent London newspaper

Brother of stab victim slams YouTube for keeping gang video online

Family launches attack on website - whose headquarters in King’s Cross are just two miles from the spot where Nashon Esbrand was stabbed to death - asking: ‘Why is this still available for the public to view? The video should be deleted’

13 April, 2018 — By Emily Finch

Nashon Esbrand, who died after a chase off the Essex Road last August

THE brother of a man stabbed to death just days after becoming a new dad has slammed YouTube website for continuing to host a music video made by the gang whose members were behind the killing.

In an agenda-setting front page, the Tribune last week revealed that YouTube had not removed the clip which features around 10 youths brandishing knives. It was filmed on the Bemerton estate, off Caledonian Road.

The video was used as evidence in an Old Bailey murder trial of three youths convicted of killing Nashon Esbrand, a 27-year-old man who died after a chase off the Essex Road last August.

Staff at YouTube, whose headquarters in King’s Cross are just two miles from the spot where Mr Esbrand was stabbed to death in Mitchison Road, have refused to meet or speak with the Tribune to explain their policies.

“My mum and my family are not happy that this video is still up. It brings back memories of my brother’s death. YouTube should not be hosting videos advertising violence,” said Mark Barton, 46, who works for a gangs unit and tackles youth violence.

Although the video is blocked in the UK, it can still be watched if the country location is changed on YouTube – something which can be done easily with just two clicks of the mouse.

The clip features drill music, a style of rap originating in Chicago, and opens with the line “gang gang gang gang gang” and later “we are a violent gang”.

The Tribune can today reveal that the lead vocalist on the track is a 16-year-old boy, who is serving a 14-year sentence for the attempted murder of another teen, who police said was the brother of a rival gang member, in March last year.

He was one of a group of six masked men who, as in the case of Mr Esbrand, chased their victim through the street on pushbikes. As he cowered behind the counter of a convenience store in Stoke Newing­ton, they dived at him with their “Rambo” knives, leaving him with a punctured lung, lacerations to the liver and stab wounds to the thigh and shoulder.

The video lyrics describe the preferred choice of weapons for gang members, ranging from a “kitchy”, a kitchen knife, to a “rambz”, a Rambo-style knife.

Mr Esbrand’s brother, Mark Barton

The trial of those accused of killing Mr Esbrand was told how a Rambo-style knife, named after those featured in Sylvester Stallone films of the same name, was used to pierce a major artery in Mr Esbrand’s leg, leading him to bleed to death.

Mr Barton said: “I wanted a copy of the CCTV footage of my brother used as evidence in court but I can’t see it. So why is this video still available to the public? I’m disappointed in YouTube. The video should be deleted.”

It was revealed during the trial that a police officer from Islington’s gangs team was able to identify one of the men convicted of killing Mr Esbrand from the video. The clip, which has been viewed more than 60,000 times and was first uploaded to YouTube in November 2016, shows “disrespect” to a rival gang, the court heard.

PC Adam Andrews 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.”

The jury heard how Mr Esbrand had been targeted by the gang who made the video before they accused him of going to police with information about them.

Similar issues about “drill” music helping escalate youth violence were raised in neigh­bouring Camden last month after two young men were killed within hours of each other.

Youth workers revealed how a music video taunting the families of those stabbed to death was posted on YouTube but removed after being reported.

Abdikadir Ahmed, of Somali Youth Development Resource Centre, told a Camden Council meeting that youngsters had told him that “the level of youth violence is being exacerbated by the use of drill music”.

The front page of last week’s Tribune

Mr Barton, who helps divert youngsters away from gangs, said it was important to remove the videos quickly to prevent an escalation of violence.

But he stressed there were “many reasons” for the growing violence on the capital’s streets, which has seen more than 50 people murdered since the start of the year.

He said: “We don’t know the exact reasons for the violence. But trust in general between young people and the authorities is at a low.

“There is good work being done [to address youth violence] but government cuts in general are causing problems to services, to all sectors as a whole.”

Of his life after losing his brother, he said: “Life has changed so much. I have to watch my mother cry. I have to stay positive and I want to leave a positive legacy for my brother. I am more passionate than ever to save the community. If I can take a knife out of the hands of someone, I’ll do it.

“We are at a stage now that we have to come together as a community to prevent youth violence. It takes a village to raise kids.”

A fourth suspect involved in Mr Esbrand’s murder has not been able to be identified by police while the prosecution team said a fifth suspect, named as Jack Stevens, is believed to be hiding abroad.

Although YouTube has refused to comment specifically on why it has yet to remove the video, a spokeswoman 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 committed to working constructively with the Home Office on this issue, as we are doing with other organisations.”

Blocked in UK, but with 62,000 views

WHEN YouTube was alerted to the presence of a video, which police said showed members of gangs threatening their rivals while waving a large hunting knife, it felt compelled to act, writes William McLennan.

But, when the Tribune asked for clarity on exactly what steps the internet giant had taken, the answer was confounding.

It had been “country blocked in the UK due to a knife being brandished in the video”, YouTube said. So, rather than remove the content altogeth­er, or prevent everyone in the world from watching it, it decided to block viewers in the UK only.

With a quick search of Google, YouTube’s parent company, I learnt that all I need do was click a button, changing my location to anywhere else in the world. With two clicks of the mouse, I had convinced YouTube’s censors I was miraculously no longer sitting at my desk in north London, but had crossed the Atlantic and was now in the US, free to watch footage that was used to convict two men for their part in the killing of Nashon Esbrand last August.

Judging by the 62,000 views the video has amassed, I’m not alone.

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