Escaping Gangs: Death, Jail Or Redemption | SPAC Nation

Escaping Gangs: Death, Jail Or Redemption | SPAC Nation


This is London. This is home. Seeing violence… ..deaths… ..shootings, stabbings. But look… ..we was once the cause of it. So who else is best
to solve the problem? I went to prison for murder. I went to prison
for attempted murder, twice. I went to prison for shootings,
a countless amount of times. All my life has been
a trail of violence. Violence, violence, violence, and I’ve only changed
in the last year. I stopped because I saw
a church that could help me. The gang members
that I’m dealing with are the most dangerous guys
in the community. They’re the most dangerous guys
in the papers. They’re the most dangerous guys
in the society. That’s who I’m dealing with. My church, the SPAC Nation… ..is offering gang members everything that the Government
can’t offer them. Everything that the authorities
can’t offer them… Do you understand? ..which is a way out. SPAC Nation is a church
trying to help gang members get out of gang life. Its head pastor, Tobi Adegboyega, is arriving for
the weekly Sunday service, which he’s holding
in a London hotel. Your watch? Yeah. Always with a watch in your pocket. I like to look good by myself. I just have to be honest. But then it connects to people,
I think. It connects to younger people. They, um… They see us part of them. Why are they attracted to Jay-Z? Why are they attracted
to all the musicians? Why are they attracted
to drug dealers? They just love the face
of the drug dealer? No. No matter how much you mean well
for people, if you can’t get them
to listen to you, then nothing is going to happen. You’ve got organisations out there
dealing with knife crime, gun crime, da-da-da-da-da… A bunch of jokes. Nothing is working. Pastor Tobi’s young following includes some of the most
violent gang members in London. A community is a mix-up
of the good, the bad, the ugly, and that’s what the church
should be like. So, yes, we do have 40%
or more of people coming from a very rough background. They could have been gang leaders, major drug dealers in their areas. Tobi made millions
consulting on property deals. He believes the answer
to tackling the gang problem is by turning gang members
into entrepreneurs. Yes, sir. I love that man on the street,
that’s what I live for, especially when I realise
he’s got 20 people in his gang and he’s already on the streets
making money. So what I’ve got to do is to convince him
to jettison that kind of income by providing another
kind of income for him. We’re going to celebrate
a group of men who’ve taken on the challenge
head on. The church uses street evangelists
and social media to recruit. During service,
there is a big security presence to control rival gangs
in the congregation. It’s not long before the security
team is called into action. It’s come to my attention
that a certain individual is with us today. He also has a prior with someone who
has long been established with us, so he’s no longer part
of that life. Obviously, this person
has beef with him, so to speak, but it’s a delicate situation. We are eyes-on. The newcomer to the church
is a close friend of ex-gang leader Pastor Kevin,
who tries to calm the situation. Eventually the two men from
rival gangs are seated far apart, on different sides of the hall. What I want you to do right now is to leave where you are
and begin to walk towards me. During the service, Pastor Tobi encourages
gang members to come forward. ..is going to change
your life forever. If you are a part of a gang
till now… ..and you want to stop
that lifestyle, you’re tired of the angst… ..this is your moment. Coming to church
is the first step on a journey which could change their lives. Ex-gang leader Kevin is one
of the Church’s newest pastors. Church members fund young people
to start their own companies. They helped Kevin get out of gang
life by funding him with 30 grand to start up his chauffeuring firm. I’ve just had enough of black boys
being spoke about a certain way. I just want to see
the brothers win. No-one’s going to start selling
drugs to just buy shoes. Every single person
is selling something because they want a way out. He’s now trying to recruit his
former gang members to the church. He believes legitimate
business opportunities can lead people away from crime. I target the founders
of certain street organisations, because from the founders… They are the ones
that have the influence. Top of the chain of command
and high on Kevin’s target list is rapper Young Dizz. I’m perceived as a violent person
on these streets, in East London, in Newham, so, if you’re in East London
and you don’t know me then you’re playing yourself. cos I’m perceived as
as violent as it gets out here. # Man I stabbed that yout’
to the core # I didn’t kill him but I tried to # Man, I heard
that his car broke down # I went round there
with a star-9… # Young Dizz’s violent reputation
is played out in his music. Despite his lifestyle now,
he left school with eight GCSEs. GUN COCKS # You know # Last year I was in OT… # All the people that I grew up with,
that I looked up to were gang members, like,
so that’s crazy, man. Get me? My uncles were all involved
in the gangs. Everything, man. They’d all been through
the gang stuff. When I’m growing up all I knew
was gang, gang, gang, know what I’m saying? Young Dizz says he wants
to escape the gang environment he was born into. I’m labelled as a gang leader,
innit. I’m labelled as a person that runs
Beckton, the Beckton community. That’s what I’m labelled as
in the police’s eyes, innit. But… ..I’m not that person. You get me? SIRENS WAIL Today, Young Dizz has his first
meeting with the head of the church. He’s going to have a meeting
with the big boss. It’s nice, man.
You seen the scenery. Showing all the scenery, innit.
It’s mad, innit. Look at the cars and that. Get me? Young Dizz says he’s currently
under investigation by the police. He wants to find out how the church can help him
become a legitimate businessman. Is it fair to negotiate
with someone like Young Dizz and to provide all the alternatives? I don’t know how the Lord
will feel about it, but I do know that if we can get
one life saved on the street, I think the Lord will feel great
about it. The church don’t own the companies
they help kick-start, but successful entrepreneurs
are invited to invest back into other
church-affiliated businesses. This also. It’s just been mad, innit. I’m just living my life, man, just going through mad stuff, man. By the way, um… ..I heard the name
they call you sometimes. What do they call me? Something with “Devil”
or something like that. Yeah, they call me the Devil
and that, yeah. It’s just another name for me,
innit. Devil. Did that come from anything
that happened or just…? Obviously, um, I got shot
and stabbed, innit. How old were you when
you got shot and stabbed? Was, like, seven months ago, so… I got shot. I got stabbed. I don’t know, 10, 11 times,
something like that. Maybe even more. What? Yeah, man. There’s just so much blood, and then one of the wounds,
it was a big wound, cos where I got shot
it was close range, innit, so… He couldn’t get any closer. Basically I got shot
how close we are right now, innit. Whoa. You get me? People always ask me,
“Why are you always so angry? “Why are you, like…?” I’m telling you,
I’m just angry, man. I’m pissed off, man. 24-7. We’ve got to change that now.
You’ve got to keep what is alive. No, man. I’m just telling you,
I don’t know what it is, man. God kept you alive. These things happen. But… ..I think success is the best way… Mm ..to retaliate. What is the deal with this, and I’m going to be very strict
with you, if you don’t mind. Here’s the deal. You love music. Yeah. You want to do music. What I’m saying is this. We’ve got to take this music thing. I think we will have a studio now
come into Beckton. We’re going to take it
to the next stage, but I need guys like you. You guys can connect
to the next generation. Are you going to
make money from this? I’m willing to put
as much as it takes in. The only thing I can’t put
into is violence. Now, you and your guys
go through this bit, what I’m trying to do as well. We’ve got to pass
a positive message. That’s my thought.
What do you think? I’m taking it in. I respect that. I respect everything you’re saying. Yeah? You get it, so… This is my, you know,
temporary accommodation. Being let out of prison has,
you know… It’s brought me here, so… I mean, I’m in this place trying to,
you know, give myself some space and give myself some time and give
myself a better responsibility and make myself a better person
in society. Junior is a father of two
and has another child on the way. He’s been living in a hostel
since he got out of jail. He was convicted of supplying drugs
and possession of ammunition. Every time I look outside… ..I see everything
as opportunity. You know, I always say
the world’s my oyster. This is London, innit.
The land of opportunity. So I’m just trying to make
the best out of the situation and get the best outcome
that I can possibly get. Junior has been in a gang
for nearly 15 years and has a long rap sheet. Aged 18, he was charged with murder
through joint enterprise but found not guilty. In the streets,
it’s not diplomatic. It’s like, “Look, I want to make
some money, you want to make money, “but I don’t want to make money
with you – you’re not my friend. “So, if you’re not going to make
money with me, you’re my enemy. “Fuck it.” So then stuff like that ends up
leading to a lot of gang rivalry, a lot of shoot-outs,
a lot of stabbings and… ..a lot of situations that
you think to yourself, like, raw, like, you know. I was always in the midst of things. I was always
the brave type of guy. I was always the guy like,
“You know what? “If we’re going to go do
something, let’s just go do it. “Fuck it. “We ain’t got no time for this
talking. Let’s just go there.” I was deep. I was very, very deep. Very deep. Junior is now looking
for a way out of gang life. He has started coming to Kevin’s
weekday service in East London, which attracts
hard-core gang members. You don’t need it any more! It’s holding you down. You have to let it go. It is coming now
in the name of Jesus. Despite his willingness to change, Junior is facing a battle
to leave his past behind. A man once said to me, “Always
be ready to meet your killer.” And, to be honest, I’m always ready. So if that day ever comes,
it comes, innit? You are the light in your family!
You are the light in your kingdom! The transition is like 80/20. I’m not saying
I’m involved in that life, but there’s still people that
I still talk to that are involved. There’s still people that
I hang around that are involved, and it’s so easy getting
caught up in that. It’s easy for someone
to live in Brixton and sell drugs. Very easy. There’ll always be people leading you on to do that. Brought up by a single parent in one of the most violent areas
in Brixton, 16-year-old Jahiem
is surrounded by gangs and dangerously close to
getting sucked into the lifestyle. Growing up was just really tough. People would tell you,
“Do you want to sell drugs?” or, “Do this with me,” and I wouldn’t do it
because, I’m saying, that’s why it’s really tough. Anyone could do that. There was
always, when I used to grow up, there was gangbangers all over,
you’re surrounded. To stay away, very hard.
Very, very, very hard. I was going to call you
the other day as well, man. Once you listen to them, then he’ll say, “Go bust that
shop for me.” You bust the shop. Then he’ll be like,
“Oh, go pick up that for me.” Could be a weapon – gun I’m talking
about, knife I’m talking about. Weed I’m talking about,
class A drugs I’m talking about. It leads on from there. Jahiem has managed to avoid
being in a gang, but he did start selling drugs. Now, with the help of the church,
he’s trying to escape the dangers that come with dealing. SIREN WAILS I wasn’t doing this drug thing
for a very long time. I wasn’t doing it for long. It was only, say, like, two months and that’s like everything
happens for a reason cos someone came to talk
to me about SPAC. See, today… ..man’s going to do
the church thing right now. That’s what’s going to happen. Get some blessings,
hear the word of God. But I need a lot of blessings, man! Young Dizz says he’s been
arrested twice for attempted murder, but he’s only received convictions
for minor offences. People called him Satan.
People call him Satan’s cousin, but that’s them. Do you understand
what I’m saying to you? And people are so quick to judge. I’ve come out of the jungle,
should I say. And these men
are still in the jungle. The whole mission now
is to just get them and expose them to a new gang. INDISTINCT SPEECH THEY RAP At the service,
the rapper is experiencing the sounds of gospel drill. The artists are
from gang backgrounds and still wear balaclavas
as part of their act. The church has offered to back
a music business with Young Dizz, but he’ll have to give up his
violent lyrics as part of the deal. It’s time for change. It’s now time for a new life. That’s my only fear out here,
God’s judgment and that worries man, you get me?
You know what I’m saying? Man’s not worried about nothing
else, know what I’m saying? Obviously he knows certain things
in my life happen for a reason. Other than that, there’s certain
things I shouldn’t be doing and he knows that, innit? GOSPEL SINGING The service was good. I feel blessed. I come out there
feeling refreshed. Regardless if I change my life
or whatever, yeah? I’m always going to have to keep
another two eyes behind my back because… You get me?
..people will hold me accountable. I’ve got to keep coming,
you know what I mean? I’ve got to keep coming to see
where my journey goes. You get me? Junior is back in the area where
he was deeply involved in gangs. This is my place. I grew up here,
I was born here, innit. But when I do come back here, there’s always going to be trouble
when you come back here anyway. Because, you know, there’s a lot
of rivalries that’s going on. You know, in Newham as a borough
and as a whole. So you’ve always
got to be on your toes. But at the same time,
this is my place, innit. Of course, man. I’m trying to change
my life out here. Get out of the bullshit, man. See ya later, guys. See ya. They’re, you know,
some good young lads. They ain’t seen
the errors of their ways yet but eventually they will. Gang life for Junior
started when he was 13. A person gave me an opportunity
to become a street pharmacist. I couldn’t ask my mum
for pocket money, my dad wasn’t around,
so what am I supposed to do? So I had to do something for myself.
I had to seek an opportunity myself. In the past, Junior’s had legitimate
jobs with prospects but, in spite of the risks, he’s
always been tempted back to dealing. I could make a phone call
and everything will change. It’ll change like that,
in an instant. Like, I’m not gonna sit here
and lie. Growing up in south London
and surrounded by gangs, Jahiem is now facing decisions
about his future. He’s seen the devastating effects
of violence in his community. Five people’s gone, and we’re
halfway through the year right now. So that’s just way too much. In this area right now, there’s one and there’s one over there
and there’s one right there. So it’s three people in this
short area right now where I’m in who were so close to me,
who were 16 to 18, who’s died. The ones that I personally know,
just getting stabbed. That’s the main one,
getting stabbed. Or there’s one what happened recent where you’re just playing
in the area and then someone just comes out
and shoots you. That’s the most recent one. If it wasn’t for SPAC Nation,
I would have struggled. What goes on in the environment
is that people just sell drugs. If you sell drugs, you’re also
going to walk with a knife because you don’t want people
to take your drugs off you, otherwise you shouldn’t do it. So you sell drugs, you’re gonna have
a little bit of strength on you, so you’re gonna go with a knife too,
right? And when you see someone,
anything could happened. It just makes me feel
like more help’s needed. And it only ends up jail or dead,
jail or dead. You know. HE RAPS: # Don’t slip or slide,
two shotguns and a ride # Don’t slip or slide, two shotguns
and a ride, pick your side # You know the six straight
head shots leave man fried # Touch one of ours,
it’s a known fact # Touch one of ours and one will die # Dem are sending shots in tracks # Us, man, we send shots
in rides… # Young Dizz is in the studio,
recording his latest track. He’s still considering
the church’s offer. They’ll go into business with him, but only if he stops rapping
about violence. The music’s violent. That’s what I like to do,
I like to do violent music. Whenever I get in the booth…
When you hear me on a tune, you know you’re going to hear
some violent stuff. I’m not going to come
to fucking turn on the radio and start fucking listening
to fuckin’ Adele or something. I ain’t got no problem with Adele, but man’s not into that,
know what I’m saying? Don’t want to be listening to no
fuckin’ love songs and that shit. That’s not me, man, you get me? I want that violent shit 24/7. HE RAPS: # A young boy’s
ready for war # Of course we step to notoriety # Kill, what you take this for? # Gang life has put Dizz in danger. But it’s also given him money
and notoriety, making it hard for him
to leave behind. Will I be able to change? That’s the big question with a big
question mark at the end, you know? Will I be able to change? Boy. It’s a very big question, you know. HE RAPS: # The six don’t bang # We’ve take most
of their chillin’ spots # Now we don’t even know
where they hang # We invested our lives
for the cause # This is more than a gang… # Dizz is just 21. But the rest of his life
will be shaped by whether he chooses gang… ..or God. It’s not easy. My eyes are just opened, innit? My eyes are just opened to reality,
man. Know what I’m saying? It’s been like this for a while,
man. Get me? My eyes are open, man. This life’s… You weren’t put on this earth
to live the way you live. We weren’t put on this earth
to be bad people. Need to get away
from this bullshit, man. You get me? I want to have a family
and that, you hear me? I want to do normal things,
you get me? The way I live, like… The way my life’s set out, it’s not gonna end well,
know what I’m saying? He’s coming out in 15 minutes. Kevin is ready to recruit
a member of his old gang as he’s released from prison. That him? Yeah, that’s him.
That’s him! And the church have to move Jahiem
to a safe house. It wasn’t really a choice. I just went cos I didn’t want
anything to happen to me.

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