Hackney’s Newest Heroine: “Why I stood up to those bullies”

Mobile phone video of Pauline Pearce’s emotional plea to Looters in Hackney

Barely one week after tackling looters head-on in last week’s violence, Hackney’s newest heroine, says sending the thieves to overcrowded prisons may not solve street/gang crime in England afterall.

The 45-year old grandmother, Pauline Pierce became an internet sensation last week when a video of her impassioned plea to dissuade rioters from looting went viral.

Ms Pearce had defied the violence around her and angrily waved her stick in protest against the opportunists who took advantage of the riots to loot several shops.

“Get it real black people!” Pauline cried. “She’s working hard to make her business work. Why would you burn it down to prove you’re batman?” she asked amidst the looting frenzy.

It’s been a week since that adrenaline-infused speech that transformed Ms Pauline Pearce from an ordinary Hackney inhabitant to a superheroine with almost 100,000 hits on Youtube alone.

But the jazz singer and mother of four has told BBC outlook that the government’s mass incarceration of looters may not be an adequate response to the violence.

Pauline Pearce argued that the courts should go beyond stuffing overcrowded prisons with impenitent teenagers to giving out community sentences that would allow the looters rebuild the community they have destroyed.

“I was just an angry person”

When when quizzed over whether she wasn’t afraid of being targeted by the looters during her speech, Pauline Pearce said:

“At the time I wasn’t thinking about it. I was just ranting. I was just an angry mum, an angry citizen and an angry Hackney person”

Pauline Pearce’s new message to the governemnt is to temper punishment with compassion and ensure that the looters learn a skill while being punished to enable them be useful to their communites when they leave prison.

She is equally horrified by the talk about evicting entire families from their council houses because they have a renegade child.

“Are people not allowed to make mistakes anymore?”

She asked BBC Outlook.

Pauline Pearce said sending over 2000 people to overcrowded prisons will result in another generation of illiterate jailbirds who would leave jail with no job prospects.

Pauline Pearce’s compassion towards the renegades might be understandable given that she has made a fair share of mistakes herself.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”

In 1996, Pauline Pearce’s life changed when she was cast in a show as 1920’s Jazz singer Bessie Smith. But after returning to her love for theatre and travelling the world, she made a mistake after a music festival in Jamaica which landed her in jail.

Pauline told The Mirror; “Someone asked me to bring back a gift for his family, pickled peppers in a jar. But when I got off the plane, I was pulled over at customs. There was a kilo of cocaine in the jar. I was so angry. I was advised to plead guilty.”

Pauline served three years in Holloway, in which time her mum died of bowel cancer. She said: “I wasn’t there when she died. It messed me up for a long while.”

To make matters worse, Pauline Pearce was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008 and had a mastectomy to see if her cancer is dying off.

“They say what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Perhaps that’s why I felt the strength to stand up to those bullies.” she explained.

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Brian Aboringong holds an MA in Journalism from the University of Westminster in London. Prior to his sojourn in London he grabbed a B.Sc. in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon-West Africa, where he is currently taking a Ph.D in Mass Communication. Besides journalism, he is a talented vocalist and singer-songwriter who is passionate about all things music. Contact Brian at: brianeduc@yahoo.com or call (+237)675970624

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