'We are in a moment where we need calm': Northampton clergy call for peace after weekend of violence

After a weekend filled with violence throughout Northampton - including a shooting in the Eastern District and a knife attack in the town centre - two rectors are saying change is possible.

Wednesday, 24th July 2019, 12:10 pm
Haydon Spenceley (pictured) is the rector to a 34,000-strong parish, which includes nine schools and the Booth Lane Campus of Northampton College.

On Sunday, July 21 an altercation broke out on a playing field off Pennycress Place and the A5076 Great Billing Way before a 28-year-old man was shot and also attacked with a knife. Yesterday, (Tuesday) a 17-year-old teenager and a 29-year-old man were arrested in connection with the attack.

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"We’ve seen instances of this recently in the Eastern side of town with the rise of serious youth violence and the shooting in Ecton Brook, which has been much reported on over the last few days.

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Police taped off the playing fields in Ecton Brook on Sunday afternoon for a few hours.

"Knowing how to respond to such events can be really tough. It’s tempting to be afraid, or to feel like the only answer is to give up hope.

"I’m a Christian because I believe Jesus gives peace for today and hope for tomorrow. We are in a moment where we need calm, cool heads - tough in the heat this week, I know - to help us through. Praying for peace for all involved and for us too is the only place I feel I can really start.

"These enraging, outrageous things don’t have to keep happening. Change is possible. We can rage at injustice, but afterwards, make choice after choice to bring justice instead. We can’t do it on our own, we need each other and (your choice entirely but I feel it quite strongly) we need the peace, courage and wisdom of God too to help us to help one another, today and tomorrow."

In another incident police were called to Sol Central, in Mare Fair, at 6.26pm on Saturday, July 20, to reports of a number of men fighting. A 21-year-old man was taken to hospital with knife wounds to his arms.

Father Oliver Coss is calling for calm after a weekend of violence across Northampton.

He said: "There is so much prayer going up from the churches after the appalling incidents at Sol Central and Ecton Brook over the last few days.

"It is time we removed from so many hands the weapons clearly intended to cause mortal harm, even - dare I say especially - when carried defensively.

"Parents, check your children. Where are they? And what are they carrying on the streets? If they can't go out unarmed, help them address the anxiety and the fear they feel.

Sol Central was taped off and traffic diversions were in place throughout the evening on Saturday after the stabbing.

"To the friends, the boyfriends, girlfriends, and even vague acquaintances, know that they are putting you at harm too when they carry a knife.

"Ask them how they'd feel if you were caught in the crossfire, like so many innocent victims of circumstance. It takes a whole village to raise a child, and families, friends, schools, colleges, universities, the police and the courts all need to work together if this epidemic of violence is not going to become a genocide of our young people."