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YouTube Talks the Talk but Does It Walk the Walk Over Murderous Gang Videos?

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YouTube - Sputnik International
In the last decade YouTube has become the place to go to if you are a street gang trying to make a point to your rivals. Sputnik spoke to Detective Superintendent Mike West, from the Metropolitan Police's Operation Trident, who said there were hundreds of gang videos on YouTube.

The father of a 15-year-old boy who was murdered in London has criticized YouTube for not taking down gang videos which he claimed led to his son's killing.

Jermaine Goupall was stabbed to death in Thornton Heath, south London, in August last year by members of the CR0 gang in south London. He was wrongly identified as belonging to the rival CR7 gang.

Threats Between Postcode Gangs

Tension between the gangs, whose names derive from their Croydon postcodes, had been ramped up by a video which had been uploaded onto YouTube.

In it Junior Simpson, 17, formed the acronym CR0 with his fingers, had a machete tucked into his waistband and threatened to "shank" or stab CR7 members.  

Simpson and several other gang members were locked up for up to 20 years last week for Jermaine's murder but the boy's father, Stanley Goupall, 51, said on Monday, February 26, he held YouTube partly to blame.

​"I would like YouTube to moderate these videos. These videos are inciting murder. The gangs use these videos to call each other out. If thousands of other young people see these videos, then the other side will get embarrassed and will react," he told the Evening Standard newspaper.

YouTube, which is owned by Google, offered its sympathies to Jermaine's family.

"We do not allow videos that are abusive or that promote violence. We work closely with the Metropolitan Police and act quickly to review and remove them when they violate our policies. We have developed policies to help tackle knife and gang crime," a YouTube spokesman told the Evening Standard.

Gang Videos Still on YouTube Two Years Later

But it has emerged YouTube has still not removed gang videos from another part of London — Hackney — which were mentioned in a murder trial despite the issue being raise in May 2016.

In early 2016 the jury at the trial of several young men accused of 18-year-old murdering Marcel Addai were shown eight clips from YouTube videos in which the Fellows Court gang and their rivals the Hoxton Boys made open or veiled threats.

Marcel, who was said to be linked to the Hoxton Boys, was attacked by Fellows Court gang members in September 2015.

Among those convicted of his murder were Sodiq Adebayo, 23, and Rickell Rogers, 21, better known by their street names Dirty Crooks and Dubsy, and videos in which they appear and swear allegiance to the Fellows Court gang remain on YouTube despite the company promising to remove videos which violate their policies.

Adebayo and Rogers were both jailed for life — along with Sheku Jalloh and Momar Faye — but not only are their gang's videos still on YouTube but so is a clip in which their associates call for the release of "Dubsy" from prison and threaten rivals with foul language and street slang.

Time to 'Step up to the Plate'

YouTube claims it prohibits content which includes "gratuitous violence, hate speech and incitement to commit violent acts."

At the time Meg Hillier, the Labour MP for Hackney South, said YouTube needed to "step up to the plate" and said she would be writing to the government and to the then Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, Bernard Hogan-Howe.  

In December YouTube said it would be hiring 10,000 people to moderate videos on its site.

Officers on the Metropolitan Police's Trident and Area Crime Command are trying top tackle gang-related violence across London and have been monitoring the increase in the number of social media videos that incite violence. 

'Gangs Try to Outdo Each Other'

"We have been monitoring the increase in the number of videos that incite violence since September 2015," Temporary Detective Superintendent Mike West from Operation Trident, told Sputnik.

"The gangs try to outrival each other with the filming and content — what looks like a music video can actually contain explicit language with gangs threatening each other. There are gestures of violence, with hand signals suggesting they are firing weapons and graphic descriptions of what they would do to each other," he told Sputnik.

"We have got a central database of more than 1,000 indexed videos that we assess and use to gather intelligence. Where we can, we will take action against individuals appearing in them. An example of this are applications for criminal behaviour orders (CBO), which are issued at a criminal court. CBO prohibitions to prevent gang offending include: non-association; exclusion zones; curfews; the wearing of hooded clothing; possession of unregistered mobile phones; and contributions to websites.

"We only ask for videos to be removed which we believe raise the risk of violence. We have been working with Google to take down some of the videos which they have done after approaches from us, but as with all serious violence, there is always more work to be done and we continue to work in partnership with them."    

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has also repeatedly told YouTube to toughen up its guidelines and remove videos which incite violence.

There is rarely a debate in the US about banning such videos because it is considered "freedom of speech," which is enshrined in the US constitution. 

But in 2016 the Chicago-based Gangster Disciples gang were indicted for making threats to rapper Rick Ross in a video uploaded to YouTube. 

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