A London borough where a 14-year-old boy was stabbed to death in a gang attack has defended the opening of a £2million cultural festival at the weekend.
The Waltham Forest festival was launched just a mile away from where Jayden Moodie was knocked off his moped by a BMW and murdered by three men.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attended the opening on Friday, three days after the brutal stabbing in Leyton.
It is being hosted at a series of venues across the north east London borough, and events include singing and dance classes, an experimental electronic music and brutalist industrial architecture installation and a gong meditation experience.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan attended the opening on Friday (left), three days after Jayden Moodie (right) was brutally stabbed to death in Leyton
It received more than a £1million in funding from from City Hall after Waltham Forest won a competition launched by Mr Khan to find London’s first Borough of Culture.
The entire event is expected to cost more than £2million, most of it from the taxpayer.
But Leroy Logan, a former Metropolitan Police Superintendent told the Daily Telegraph: ‘The timing [of the festival] couldn’t be worse.
‘It is such a contrast compared to what some families are going through.
The festival received more than a £1million in funding from from City Hall after Waltham Forest won a competition launched by Mr Khan to find London’s first Borough of Culture. Pictured: Mr Khan at the event on Friday night
Jayden’s mother Jada (left with cousin Leon Green) was moved to tears last week as the family read a statement to the press addressing Jayden’s (right) character
‘If they can give £1m to celebrate culture but only £500,000 towards violence reduction on the streets it sends a very strong signal.’
But Claire Coghill, the leader of Waltham Forest Council, said she believed it would bring communities together.
She said: ‘Culture is not an optional add-on, an afterthought, or something that is just nice to have.
‘On the contrary, investment in culture is essential to ensure that everyone enjoys a great quality of life and gives our young people something to inspire them.
The family of Jayden Moodie address reporters. His cousin Leon Green (left) mother Jada (centre) and sister (right)
‘We were one of the first authorities in the country to invest in our own youth and gang violence prevention programme back in 2011 and we recently pledged an extra £800,000 over four years, on top of the £2.2 million we already spend, to increase our work in this area.
‘Sadly, Waltham Forest is no different from other London boroughs and metropolitan areas of the UK in having an issue with youth violence – this is a societal problem that isn’t confined to one area.
Jayden (left) was an aspiring boxer and had met Anthony Joshua (right)
‘If we don’t give our young people opportunities to get involved in positive and inspiring activities then the problem of youth violence will only increase.’
Mr Khan posted a photograph on Twitter of himself at the launch with the message: ‘What an incredible celebration of Waltham Forest this evening.’
His spokesman said that the festival was a crucial part of ‘tackling the root causes of violent crime.’
It emerged last week that Jayden had been excluded from school weeks before his death, with friends at Heathcote School in Chingford saying they took action after spotting his social media feeds.
He has described himself as a ‘trapper boy’ – street slang for drug courier – while it was claimed he was a known dealer and regularly carried a knife.
Despite images showing him astride his moped and holding fistfuls of £50 and £20 notes, his family insisted he had no connection with drug gangs.
Paying tribute to the ‘loving, caring’ boy yesterday, his mother Jada Bailey said her grief was intensified by reports linking his death to violent turf wars.
Police continue to investigate why Jayden was singled out in a targeted attack.
Stabbing victim Jayden poses with bundles of cash and confessed to being a ‘trapper boy’ – slang for a drug runner – and may have been a victim of a feud between gangs, but his family said he had no affiliation with any local gangs
He had only moved to the capital last year for a new start away from his former home in Nottingham.
Mrs Bailey, 44, clung to the arm of her nephew Leon Green as he insisted the teenager had ‘absolutely no affiliation with gangs’ – and warned no child was safe from Britain’s knife epidemic.
In a statement to reporters on Thursday 10 January, Jayden’s cousin, Leon Green, said he had a keen interest in bikes, loved sports and was due to start at a boxing academy this month.
As he stood next to Jayden’s crying mother, he complemented Jayden’s character and said his life had been ‘viciously taken away’.
Jayden’s mother Jada Bailey (pictured above) was present as the family gave a statement to the press. She insisted he has no links with gangs
Rival gangs all over London are fighting turf wars to control drugs and prostitution in their areas with Waltham Forest’s among the most bloody
‘His character was infectious and anyone who met him fell in love with his charm.
‘He had a huge heart and would do anything for everyone, especially his family. He will be sincerely missed.
‘Jayden was a 14-year-old minor who had his whole life ahead of him, which should never have been viciously taken from him.’
Addressing reports that the murder may have been gang related, Mr Green said: ‘I would like to stress Jayden had recently moved from Nottingham to London and had absolutely no affiliation with gangs.’
The aspiring boxer had met his hero, Britain’s world heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua, and hoped to emulate his success.
Mr Green added: ‘Focus needs to be on the fact that he has been brutally murdered in cold blood and deserves a fair chance at justice as much as anyone else in this situation.’
‘If there are people in our streets that are capable of killing a 14-year-old child, then no-one is safe, and they need to be caught and brought to justice.’
Police, who believe the attack was ‘targeted and intent on lethal force from the outset’, have found the car thought to have been used by the three men who carried out the attack.
Police want to establish how the 14-year-old came to be riding a moped illegally, and have said they are keeping an open mind about why Jayden was attacked.
Witnesses described seeing three men armed with long kitchen knives surround the unconscious boy as he lay on the road and ‘butcher him in silence’.
The Mercedes B Class was found dumped half a mile away near territory controlled by the so-called Oliver Close (OC) gang.
Jayden lived close to an area run by the OC’s rivals, the Beaumont Crew. The gangs are known to exploit children, recruiting them with promises of drug-dealing cash and then threatening them with violence if they do not comply.
A police source said tensions were high between the two gangland territories, and residents said there had been an escalation in violence.
Jayden, the youngest of five children, was born in east London but sent to live with his godmother in Arnold, Nottingham, because of concerns over his behaviour.
His uncle Josh Grant said he warned the teenager to ‘behave’ in the capital, adding: ‘The kids down there [in London] are different to kids in Nottingham… He didn’t listen.’