“One shot was enough to stab my son Oscar out of life,” says Duco Donk to about 150 audience in the Nelson Mandela Park in Southeast. It happened in June 2017, more than four years ago.
At a house party, Oscar tries to intervene in an argument involving a friend of his. A stab wound killed him. Oscar, indicated in Zuidoost, was 23 years old. The 25-year-old perpetrator Gianni L. was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
Father Donk outlined the unending sadness caused by his son’s death. He was off the map for two years. “It’s every parent’s ultimate nightmare. You failed to protect your child.” After his speech he started ‘Knocking on heaven’s door’ by Bob Dylan.
Gondilio Lowland’s mother also took place on the podium. Lowland, who rapped under the name Bolle, died in 2018 at the age of 19 as a result of a gunshot. She told about her deep sorrow. The perpetrator was 21 years old and was sentenced to 12 years in prison.
To prevent more deaths, Lowland’s mother called on other parents to avoid their children. “Tell your child you love them before they go to school or work and ask them how their day was when they get home.” Young people called for tolerance. She also said there was no shame in asking others for help.
It is difficult to say whether that message also reached the people concerned directly. It is too strict that violent young people and parents with educational problems do not form the majority of the audience.
Orville Breeveld, one of the organizers of the silent tour of ‘waka’ in Sranan, also told a Rotterdam mother would speak about her deceased child. However, when that became known shortly before the meeting, she faced threats and canceled.
culture of silence
That fear of sharing stories of the past in the culture of silence that is part of the problem. For fear of being classified as a ‘snitch’, relatives support cooperation with the police and justification. This complicates the investigation and punishment and perpetuates the violence.
A speaker with a Christian background is also a cause for the violence. “You’re not a sissy when you walk away from an argument.”
Social media, greed and aggressive drillrap were carried along. Although the number of murders in Amsterdam is decreasing (52 in 2000 and 14 in 2020), violence in subgroups appears to be intensifying.
Speakers also involved the municipality in the analysis. Lowland’s mother, for example, thought that there were more community police officers. The mother of a son who was murdered in 1987 (“he would have turned 51 three days ago”) recalled that preventive searches for firearms and stabbing weapons were not a problem for her.
‘Citizen Mother’ Halsema
Seated next to district councilor Tanja Jadnanansing (Southeast), mayor and criminologist Femke Halsema listened to it all. The evening before, she argued at Nieuwsuur for seizing the networks and money flows behind the cocaine trade, which also includes the spiral of violence in the city. In the Nelson Mandela Park, Halsema was only a listener and ‘mayor’, she said afterwards.
Halsema understood the speakers’ desire for rapid change. However, she pointed out that it takes time to change issues like the drill and culture of silence. Preventing the drug trade and everything related to it is also a long-term project.
Halsema did praise the initiative that parents openly spoke about their deceased children. “That is the start of an emancipation movement, which is beneficial.”