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Hackney Youths Revisit UK Riots

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To mark the anniversary of the devastating riots, which spread across the country last summer, the arts charity, Art Against Knives, is hosting an exhibit exploring notions of freedom and safety in London's Hackney's diverse community.

Through film, audio, photography, painting and writing, the exhibition showcases the community's response to the riots, police's stop-and-searches and freedom. The work is the result of collaborations between established photographers and young people from the borough.

The exhibition, which runs until the end of the month at the Art Against Knives Gallery in Shoreditch, kick-starts 'STOP AND TALK', the charity's nationwide campaign calling for better and fairer relationships between the police and young people.

Parts of Hackney are dangerous as they have been claimed by one gang or another. But the presence of police officers on the streets doesn't make young black people feel more secure; on the contrary: they are 30 times more likely to be stopped-and-searched by the police than white people.

Hackney has long been simmering with discontent as its young people find themselves on the wrong side of the police and increasing social inequality. Last year's riots saw the borough reach boiling point.

The 'STOP AND TALK' campaign are asking the police to try to better understand young people, connect with them and protect them rather than automatically see them as suspects.

Art Against Knives is a youth-led charity, which works to reduce the causes of knife crime through art initiatives and providing an alternative to violent gang culture.

The charity was born from the tragic and unprovoked stabbing of Oliver Hemsley, a 21-year-old student from Central Saint Martin's College of Art & Design. The attack, which has left Oliver in a wheelchair, took place in Shoreditch in August 2008. Art Against Knives decided to create something positive from this terrible experience.

The exhibition: "WHAT DOES FREEDOM MEAN TO YOU?" is at the Art Against Knives Gallery, Unit 55, Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, London E1 6GJ, until the end of the month.