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Don’t cower

It’s like a recurring decimal, these stories of armed men entering communities and firing guns, killing defenceless people.

Sadly, far too many Jamaicans have become inured to such atrocities — just one more case of madness in the inner cities.

There surely would be a far different reaction should such mayhem be brought to the well-ordered and prosperous solitude of middle and upper class Jamaica. Surely, there must come a time when, as a people, we decide that enough is enough. A time when the State ensures that all Jamaicans, regardless of where they live, regardless of their economic and social status, have a right to live in peace.

In the latest case, we are told that “well-dressed” men casually stepped from a car on Friday evening in the West St. Andrew community of Seaview Gardens, calling to people as they walked along, before pulling guns and leaving a trail of death and horror.

Four young men — apparently among a group playing cards — are now dead as a result. Not for the first time we hear that the motive may have been “reprisal” for a murder committed some time ago.

Not for the first time we hear assurances from the police that they “will maintain a presence” to ensure law and order. The trouble is, the horse has bolted.

Time and time again, over the years of this newspaper’s existence, we have had reason to comment on incidents such as Friday evening’s in Seaview Gardens. This may easily have been Torrington, Southside, Red Hills Road, Grant’s Pen … or any of a number of other communities all over the Corporate Area, St. Catherine, Clarendon, St. James…

Many young people in Seaview Gardens will not be aware, but our reporter Horace Helps, reminds us that way back in 1989, just such an incident left seven people dead in that community.

We at this newspaper, and we daresay the wider news media, are tired of these stories of wanton, mindless murder and savagery in our poorest communities. And we believe all Jamaicans should be likewise weary.

This is not just about terror inflicted on communities. Lest Jamaicans forget, the drive to restructure and energise the failing economy with the support of the International Monetary Fund and other partners has no chance while criminals, gangs and dons thrive. Plans outlined by the Government in the recent budget debate to spur economic growth over the next several years are all in danger so long as criminals feel free to roam and terrorise.

The society must not continue to cower in fear of mindless, cynical men armed with guns. It cannot simply bow its collective head in the hope of divine intervention.

Yet again, this newspaper urges the Government, Opposition and all responsible citizens to throw their weight forcefully behind the security forces in terms of legislative, material, and personnel support to bring criminals to heel.

Let’s be clear. We are not suggesting a return to a State of Emergency. We believe that the relatively few lawless ones will be subdued once there is a surge of collective will to ensure the nation’s security by all lawful means.

The state must ensure, as Police Commissioner Mr Owen Ellington framed it a week ago, that security becomes the first law. (Observer)

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