The BBC has a fascinating article on the woman who took on the gangs, it looks at Pastor Mimi Asher who used the power of love to destroy a notorious street gang that had threatened to destroy her own family:
Pastor Mimi Asher was terrified to learn that her own son, Michael, had joined the local gang on her housing estate at Myatt’s Fields. She took matters into her own hands. She decided that the best way to end his involvement was by getting the gang, Organised Crime, or the O.C., to dissolve itself.
Over a three-year period, Pastor Mimi threw open her house to O.C gang members. She cooked meals for them, washed their clothes and even took them on trips to the cinema and swimming pool. For a time, the leader of the gang, Karl Lokko, or “General Lokks”, as he is now known, lived at the house. He is now a successful musician and acts as a mentor helping young people leave gangs.
I then started going through his friends and invite them to my house and cook for them. They would come over and I would try and have a conversation with them.
All the boys on the estate, I generally cared for them. I was seeing them as these young boys that had potential to do well but it’s only through things that can happen to them. So it was that drive, that real drive and passion in my heart. I was desperate to save all of them. The little money I had I would share with them.
The answer is to try and mums and dads to get involved and not be passive and leave the government to tackle [gangs]. The government should provide facilities, rather than cut down. They pour so much money into the Olympics and yet we have these young people on the estate, there’s little for them to do, little to motivate them. There’s no facilities.
It was a big task. sometimes I was afraid for my own life. there were times I would get paranoid. I had to hold my faith and keep my head high. But I don’t let fear stop me doing what I’m doing.
The article then goes on to share some of Karl’s version:
I was in love with that culture. It weren’t really drugs. I believed it was a good way if living for some time.
You take a lie as a truth and I took it as the truth. There’s different reasons, there’s different things that will lead a man to want to join a gang. At the end of the day I never really see it too much as a gang, I see it as my circle, my friends, my family, my home away from sort of thing. It was just like a group of friends. That’s what you call a gang, really. There’s different gangs, it’s just that ours wasn’t mainstream.
There’s more of a romance behind it. It’s more the fact that you have an identity, you get self-esteem, you feel that you have a purpose, you feel that you’re needed. A lot of people will have been coming from broken homes and that could be their family.
What held me for a long time was loyalty. You feel as if you’ve all made your bed, so you must all lie in it. I’m not for punishing. I’m for reformation. I’m not into chastising.
I dedicated seven years to that lifestyle. I’ve been cut on my face, I’ve been shot at a silly amount of times, I’ve been chopped in the back, I’ve been sliced on my chest and by God’s grace I’m still here. That’s all it is really.
Pastor Mimi dedicated her time, she showed me love and she was genuine. I was able to then decipher and see that lies I was fed as truth were false. I would go and speak to people that may have shot at me and I showed them that I’m no longer a threat.
I just went over to them genuinely and they were able to see that, same way I was able see my pastor was being genuine when she was trying to outreach to me. And they’re my friends.
Click here for the full story.