All-round tragedy

David Comissiong (right) speaking to the Press this morning.

The six life sentences handed down yesterday by the Supreme Court is tragic.

Saying they had not discussed the sentences which were handed down yesterday by Madame Justice Elneth Kentish to Renaldo Alleyne who admitted his role in the tragedy that claimed the lives of six women on September 3, 2010, when Campus Trends store in the City was firebombed, David Comissiong, one of the founding members of the September 3 Foundation, said the “situation is a tragedy, it is a tragic one”.

His comments came at a Press conference this morning at the Clement Payne Cultural Centre to discuss the foundation’s programme to commemorate the second anniversary of the Campus Trendz Tragedy on September 3.

“The legal system did what it had to do, a message had to be sent denouncing the crime that was perpetrated on the 3rd of September 2010 and the judge, by imposing the kind of sentence that she imposed, has sent that message.

“The whole situation is one of tragedy – six young lives destroyed. The young man his life has also been destroyed, he has destroyed his own life as well as destroyed six, and you know what has always really troubled me is how is it possible for that young man to see these young women in that store – young women who would have looked just like his sister or cousin, if he has a sister or cousin, … how was he able to look at these young women and not feel some sense of connection? I think this is what we need to reflect on as a society.

“What is our society doing wrong that we are producing so many people [who are] so disconnected from their fellow citizens. So self consumed, so alienated that they are capable of acting in such a callous and barbaric manner towards their fellow Barbadians,” he said.

The September 3rd Foundation Inc. – a non-profit company that comprises relatives of the six victims of the Campus Trendz tragedy and other public spirited citizens of Barbados – was established to memorialise Pearl Cornelius, Kelly Ann Welch, Kellishaw Olliverre, Nikkita Belgrave, Tiffany Harding and Shanna Griffith, and to carry out projects that are designed to tackle criminality and promote good citizenship.

Stating that the foundation was committed to ensuring that Barbadians did do not forget the lives of the six young women who died tragically that night, Comissiong voiced his concern about the direction Barbadian youth were heading.

He said the church had a role to play and he called on it to “examine its message”.

“We think that one of the ways which we’re going off track in Barbados is that we are developing a very materialistic consumerist value system where more and more this society is saying that a person is valued based on items they possess – as I said, the SUV, the big car, the big ride, the BlackBerry and the bling in the vernacular of the young people. We have churches you know that push that value system as well.

“I remember being appalled when a very prominent church leader in Barbados said that the drug pushers are driving SUVs so God should give pastors BMWs and Mercedes Benzes. Again, reinforcing materialistic value system and so we are saying that this prosperity gospel we have a lot of difficulties with this prosperity gospel.

“If that is what you keep pushing at our young people, that a value system in which you are judged as being successful or valuable based on your possession of wealth, your possession of the SUV, the BlackBerry, the material things, what we are doing is a lot of damage to our young people… We steering them in a false direction and we’re saying let us get back to basics, let us get back to this idea we want you to be a person of value.

“Your worth as a human being is determined by your character, by your morals, by your standards and behaviour, by how you relate to other people and also by your artistic and educational attainment as well,” Comissiong said. (DS)

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