PRAYING FOR PEACE
Church leaders condemn gun violence
A spokesman for the Anglican Church, a prominent Roman Catholic priest and a Pentecostal pastor today deplored the upsurge in gun-related crime that has hit Barbados in recent weeks, raising concerns about what could lie ahead if the current trend is not arrested.
John Goddard, chairman of the Anglican Commission on Advocacy and Social Justice, said the Commission was wondering whether or not well-connected Barbadians bent on creating mischief and unrest, were contributing to the violence, which has claimed the lives of at least two people in recent weeks.
In a statement, he said the Commission was calling on the management of the Royal Barbados Police Force to redouble their efforts to investigate and prosecute persons or groups, “clearly with the financial capability and connections”, who are bringing firearms into the island and facilitating their sale and distribution to undisciplined youth.
Expressing doubt that the economic crisis was solely responsible for the crime problem, Goddard called for funding for a study on the causes of the upsurge.
“We see the need for a dispassionate examination of the issue, with the aim of determining reasons for the kinds and scale of crimes we are experiencing. In this regard, we appeal to the private sector to fund a University of the West Indies study on the factors contributing to crime in Barbados,” Goddard said in the statement.
In its own effort to tackle the problem of violence, the Anglican Commission on Advocacy and Social Justice is planning to launch a project on At Risk Youth next month.
Meanwhile, well-known Roman Catholic priest Father Clement Paul said he was haunted by the question: “how many more people must die due to present spate of gun violence?” Paul said while he was of no doubt that those who are armed have their reasons for doing so, he wanted to appeal to them to destroy their weapons.
“My sisters and brothers, we are destroying ourselves,” he said.
“Please remember that every human being is irreplaceable. We are here because we are expected to bloom where we are planted, not destroy others who are expected to bloom as well.”
Pastor Roger Husbands, who had voiced concerns about the negative impact of gangs in Barbados five years ago, said it was time the authorities put measures in place to bring the spate of violence under control before it is too late.
“Innocent people will continue to lose their lives,” he warned.
The social activist also called on parents to do their best to keep their charges away from gang-related activities.
“You have not seen the worst of it yet [from] the guns coming into Barbados. When the drugs come into Barbados, they come with guns,” he said.
“The second thing is that we are assembling guns in Barbados, [thirdly], pipe guns are being made in Barbados for years now and they are being used. And lastly, drug lords are giving guns to the young people. Now you can rent a gun.”
Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite told Parliament last week that a study commissioned by Government had found a rise in the number of gangs linked to drugs. He also reported a 13 per cent rise in overall crime for the first six months of this year compared to the same period last year.