All idle talk won’t scare trigger-happy

If there were any doubts that Barbados was becoming a gun-crazy, crime-infested country, then throw you mind back to the last week. We ended with four shootings resulting in one death and more than half a dozen injuries.

And as it was at the end last week, so was it at the beginning of this week, with more gunfire disturbing whatever peace that was left on Spring Garden Highway last night. As was the case on Thursday night, when 29-year-old primary school teacher Dwight Holder was killed at Bedford Lane, Bush Hall, St Michael, last night’s victim was an innocent bystander. Luckily, his injuries were not life-threatening, but he so easily could have suffered the same fate as Holder; his family could just as easily be feeling the raw pain.

The area where gunmen opened fire at Bedford Land
The area where gunmen opened fire at Bedford Land

These criminals must be convinced they own this country; that they are free to terrorize Barbadians without a worry in the world.

If this latest upsurge has come as a surprise, maybe we have not been paying attention. We should have recognized the omen or great portent of death when the New Year began with the murder of Jason Carter, 31, at Vauxhall No. 1, Christ Church.   

There are times when it appears we are intent on our own degradation and destruction. This is one of those times: a period when this beautiful Barbados, the gem of the Caribbean Sea, makes us despair.

But Barbados is a proud, Independent nation with a distinct sense of its own values and traditions, and these values certainly do not include marauding gangs of criminals and psychopaths taking over our streets, our neighbourhoods, our country. And try as they might, we ought not to cede territory to these deranged killers, lurking in the shadows of our communities, pouncing on the innocent, ready to inflict pain and misery on entire families.

Something has to be done; and it must be done now! And we can’t approach this troubling issue like a bunch of gormless people, with no idea what to do.

Actually, sometimes we get the sense that this is exactly the case; that the people who swore to protect us really have no workable answers.   

We shudder to think what will happen in future; what we will become, if we don’t act decisively to reverse this vicious attack on everything Barbadian. For this is what this lethal violence that hangs over us truly is.

Often we hear the police announce crime-fighting initiatives –– remedies that have been anything but efficacious. Of course, every so often a Government minister will talk about zero tolerance for crime. The police have our sympathy, for they can only do the best they can with the resources and the backing they have.

But it’s the Government which must go beyond talking, since talk of being tough on crime has been nothing but words. And the criminals know it; hence the reason they continue to flaunt their brazenness right before our eyes.

We are not experts in crime, neither are we experts in crime-fighting. Therefore, we are among the last to give advice on how to stop or, at the very least, slow this insanity.

But we can point to the success stories of others. If Government is truly serious, the police must be given the resources and the legal backing to act.

In the 1980s into the early 1990s, New York City experienced a surge in killings. The government responded with a series of measures, including flooding high crime areas with officers; providing funding, resources and technical assistance to the police; fostering enhanced partnerships among participating agencies, and giving the police the legal footing to stop and frisk people on the streets.

In one year, over 7,000 weapons were confiscated, among them 800 guns. And the results were obvious. The idea is to get to the weapons before they are used in the committing of crimes.

In 2005, Merseyside Police in Liverpool, England, launched their own version of the New York zero tolerance programme involving crackdowns on vandalism, drug-taking and fare dodging, together with monitoring and harassment of known criminals. In addition, twice a month, hundreds of police officers would flood the streets to hunt suspects who had jumped bail or those who were wanted for a particular kind of offence. By 2008 violent crime had fallen by 38 per cent, while there were steep declines in other crimes.

We are not suggesting that Barbados copies these programmes in their entirety. We are simply pointing out that there are examples out there if Government is serious about moving past idle words.

The longer this is allowed to continue, the greater the deficit of trust and, while instilling the fear of hell in us, the criminals will also likely succeed in turning us into something we are not, forcing some of us to become un-Barbadian. And this isn’t far-fetched. Already, at least one person on social media is advocating vigilantism

“We cant sít’ idly by and allow these gun toting thugs to take our family .we need some vigilantes bout here,” this person wrote.

It’s one thought expressed; we don’t know how many more have left it unsaid.

One thing we do know is that we have to find a different approach. Otherwise, if we continue to do the same thing again and again, the madness that now envelops us will continue to be the result.

4 Responses to All idle talk won’t scare trigger-happy

  1. Tony Webster August 11, 2015 at 4:48 am

    Canada saw the carnage in the schools, cinemas etc, of their southern neighbours …and threw out “personal” gun onwrship- hitherto quite legal. Ditto UK and Australia.
    Lemme ask a foolish question: what do you expect will come out of the oven , if you bake a cake wid these ingredients:-

    1.Lackadaisical interdiction, at ports of entry: barrels of stuff….and not forgetting cruising “visitors”( are these folks , and their baggage, x-rayed at point of boarding?)
    2. People who go out deep-sea “fishing”….daily.
    3. Pressing, persistent, economic conditions.
    4. The sweet smell of “success”, to embolden the miscreants.
    5. No known attempts to try STING operations, either HERE, or THERE.
    6. Plenty of “long talk”…and hand-wringing…that “it’s a regional problem”…not a fire buring in OUR kitchen…ie, let “them” solve it.

    On the basis of evidence, the only thing that will take Relevant Authorities’ minds our of “neutral gear”…and to grasp this particular leaden nettle…is for some madman to get hold of a Uzi, and spray 15 people at a bashment…including one of your children… plus the GG’s god-daughter…and a Ministers’ wife. Alternatively, instead of an irate parent confronting a teacher over some trivial matter with a collins in a bag…he could “rent” something…and take out the teacher and seven of those whom we fully expect to ensure Barbados has a future.

    Just then, I woke up….from my afternoon nap…and smelled something burning in the oven.
    BTW: Anansi says “Hi” to all “Relevant Authorities”, and sends his best to those irrelevant ones too.

  2. Jacob Donawa August 11, 2015 at 7:58 am

    I can’t believe anyone is putting up New york policing as something to aspire to. Are you aware of what New York police were doing in the 90’s. It was an all out assault on the black community, police constantly beating people, imprisoning people on trumped up or petty charges. The U.S has the largest % of its own population in Jail (larger than iran and china put together). The stop and frisk is an abomination, a throw back to the racist days of Jim crow, where black people dont have the same rights and are given a different treatment under law.We should aspire to be everything that is not them.

  3. Kathie Daniel August 11, 2015 at 11:45 am

    Some good points are made in this editorial, and in the comments I have read so far.
    However, I would like to see a civil discussion on preventing violent crime in our communities.
    What is being taught in the homes today?
    How are these youngsters being socialized?
    As much as we want to blame outside influences, strong and pervasive as they may be, where does the ultimate responsibility lie?
    How can we strengthen the basic unit of society – the FAMILY – in order to resist outside forces?
    It is easy to criticize, but we need to take a long hard look in the mirror (a la Michael Jackson’s iconic song) and “Make the change.”

  4. jrsmith August 11, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    @, Tony,W, hail , hail, on the button every time, we are all complaining of the pressured economic times, but with no kind of unity procativeness to proceed toward the future. Where do we start and who we start with, we are waiting for a foreign visitor to put things right, simple logical things can be done that’s affordable on our island , but the only persons who we are hearing are the parents, the families of the ones who has been murdered, shot or stabbed.

    We in Barbados can only hope our police and government ,adopt some of the active policies and behaviour by law enforcement, from the countries many bajans live and work. its okay for lots of people to want to be so American when it suits them, the talk ,the attitude and ghetto behaviour, but then its all back firing on us all.

    We cannot and must not , at this time blame any outside criminal influence, the old saying ,what happens in bimshire has got to be put right by bajans.

    @,Jacob,D, hail,hail. blacks in the 90’s America , ,blacks in the now 2015 America , the only change, black are slaughtering each other in most large cities across the US.

    My take stop and search, a very good deterrent which proved to be successful, persons and they vehicles, vessels at sea ,stop and
    search by the coast guard, my only issue, not certain people but every and anyone can be stop and search. Black people always against stop and search, why and if this happens in Barbados it would be because I am black, I was stop ,its because you might be an f,ing criminal.


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