Pitsmoor sounds grim.
Being embarrassingly middle class and growing up in Wandsworth then Sussex I’ve never really run in to many problems stemming from gangs – except for having to wait like an hour and half for some dealer called hitman from a ‘gang’ in Croydon to drop off the shoddiest ten draw I’ve ever seen. Mind you that wasn’t really a problem, more of an inconvenience. Moving back to London didn’t really enlighten me any more either; everyone in South East is either incredibly organised and subtle, or I’ve just had my eyes closed for the last two years.
So of course when I do meet someone who’s been involved I get all wide-eyed about it and want to ask loads of questions in a horribly cringy way. My girlfriend’s family recently kind of adopted a 16 year old girl who moved from Sheffield up to Edinburgh to escape all the shootings, stabbings, beatings and other horrible stuff that kids are doing to each other over post codes.
When did you first get to know all the gangs?
About 2 years ago when I moved to Sheffield and I got involved with the wrong crowd.
What do you mean the wrong crowd?
Well I went in to the wrong areas and got kind of intrigued and just ended up getting involved and staying out with them all until stupid hours.
Just watching and seeing what happened. And then I figured out which gangs were which and which area was which and like, who was against each other.
Who is against each other?
There are these two Jamaican families who are like big rivals.
Who’s the most powerful?
They’re both the same – one family’s from Broomhall in Sheffield and they’ve got two postcodes – S10 and S3. And then Pitsmoor is S3 as well so there’s a big rivalry over who’s got S3.
What’s the rivalry about – who can sell drugs there and stuff?
Kind of, but more just ‘who’s the real S3.’
What sort of stuff kicked off when you were there?
Well when I first started going out, that was when I met Tarek, and after he got shot it was all about loads of drugs, money getting passed around, people hiding weapons, stuff like that.
What happened to Tarek?
Well, Tarek Chaiboub was from Winkerbean in S9 and he ran with people in Pitsmoor because he wanted to hang around with the big gang, like, the older boys. And then to get his reputation bigger he started shotting weed, and then coke, and then carrying guns round, starting on people, causing fights, and then it just got worse and worse and worse. And then, this kicked it off, he sprayed S3 on one of the opposition’s house. And then he got shot in the daytime outside Sam’s hairdressers.
Shit. Who was the other guy you knew who got shot?
Jonathan Matondo, well everyone called him ‘Venemous,’ and he got shot the year before. He had to run like a mile and a bit because he was getting followed but he got shot eventually as well in Pitsmoor in the local park over the same sort of thing. And James Camarra got shot at the beginning of the year in the same area for the same reason but I think it was mistaken identity – I don’t think he was meant to get shot.
Is it more guns than knives around there?
Yeah but people still carry knives. Tarek, the week before he got shot, he was stabbed seven times on his doorway and survived it. That was supposed to be a warning but the week after that he went back out and started doing everything again and got shot.
What about girls, do they get involved a lot?
Yeah there are loads of girl gangs, they used to cause a load of fights but none of it was as big as boys stuff. It was more racism towards white girls – they’d just go round trying to pick fights with you and cause trouble and that.
Did you ever have any big problems from them?
No, not so much the girls, more from the boys. I was walking down the street in Pitsmoor and you’re supposed to stick to your own side of the road and mine was S3 at the time because I hung around more with people from that area. Anyway I ended up having an argument with a guy from one of the main families, James, and he was like ‘what are you doing?’ and I was like ‘I’m not moving,’ and he was like, ‘well if I see you walking round here again I will move you.’ But then I saw him everyday and he never said anything to me.