In Liverpool we are shocked, grieving and furious – but we will not let violence define our city | Marie Breslin

Dit’s belief, desperation and outright anger – that was the mood when Liverpool woke up on Tuesday morning to hear that history had repeated itself. Fifteen years to the day after Rhys Jones, 11, was shot while returning home from soccer practiceanother tragically young life had been lost due to a crime committed with a gun on the streets of our city.

Olivia Pratt-Korbel was only nine years old when she was shot Monday night by a masked gunman who had broken into the little girl’s house in pursuit of his target. Neither Olivia nor her mother, Cheryl, who was also affected, knew of the men. The target had forced their way in when Cheryl opened the door after hearing a commotion outside, the gunman following him inside, firing indiscriminately.

It’s a scary thought. It’s summer vacation and the gates of Liverpool are open while the children play in the street. And it’s so relevant. Who wouldn’t be tempted to open the front door after hearing a noise outside?

As my Liverpool Echo colleague Jenny Kirkham said, speaking to Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4: “Olivia was where she was supposed to be on Monday. She was supposed to be safe. They don’t just bring this violence to people’s front doors. They let him in through the front door.

The sad truth is that it was Liverpool’s third shooting death in just a week, following the murders of Sam Rimmer and Ashley Dale. Our town was once again a focal point for the UK media for all the wrong reasons. Capturing the mood of Liverpool and reflecting the feelings of our audience is at the heart of the Liverpool Echo, the newspaper I edit, and we have been privileged to serve this city for over 140 years.

And as an editor, I knew on that occasion that reporting the facts would never be enough. Because out of the wake of disbelief and despair came a firm determination that a so-called weedless culture that permeates parts of this town has not hampered the police investigation and kept Olivia’s murderer from to be brought to justice. Because, as Police Chief Serena Kennedy said, Olivia’s death “crosses all borders.”

I hadn’t joined the Echo in a long time when young Rhys was murdered, and the wall of silence that greeted the murder squad detectives only prolonged the agony of his devastated family. We could not and should not let this happen again.

We used the front page of Wednesday’s Liverpool Echo to appeal directly to anyone with information to do the right thing, urging them to avoid a senseless penal code and help bring Olivia’s killer to justice. . Our headline, “Which Side Are You On?” seemed to strike a chord in the city. He was never incendiary or divisive. It was a direct call.

Liverpool have had their share of ups and downs over the years, but their great strength is the solidarity of their people. “Enough is enough” has been a familiar refrain over the past few days and we are grateful to the politicians, sports stars and local celebrities who joined our video call.

Our town has changed almost beyond recognition since Rhys Jones was shot in 2007. The following year’s European Capital of Culture celebrations proved to be a springboard for a town on the rise. We are a popular mini-stay destination with a world-class waterfront, including our beautifully reclaimed quays. We have a reputation for being a warm and friendly city. We are really nice, funny and generous. And our knowledge district development is at the forefront of science and technology.

Despite the terrible events of the past week, gun crime is actually on the decline. Many of the gangs that once dominated our newspaper headlines are largely disbanded, and suburbs once synonymous with crime now rarely trouble our front page. But there is still a long way to go.

And, while now may not be the time for politics, it would be foolish to ignore the impact of severe cuts and more than a decade of austerity on cities like ours that are already severely affected by pockets of deprivation.

Speaking to our political editor, Liam Thorp, at Dovecot this week, people highlighted the lack of youth services, clubs and grassroots support in their local community. There is incredible work being done by charities and voluntary groups. But as the layers peel back and services aimed at giving young people choice and keeping them out of trouble are removed, we are creating a vacuum easily exploitable by gangs and a criminal minority.

Many people spoke to our reporters this week about the urgency of getting to the root of the problems that can allow gang culture and crime to thrive. Adequate funding for organizations and services that can make a real difference on the ground would be a good start.

I am proud to live in Liverpool, and the tragic shooting deaths of Sam Rimmer, Ashley Dale and Olivia Pratt-Korbel should not define our city. We cannot allow this to happen. But we have to accept that we have a problem – and only by being brave and united can we begin to solve it.

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