Wednesday 9th June 2004

Bukka Rennie
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Quick draw (And ‘Mammy, bring ah sheet’)

There is this building hysteria about crime. Everyone, from school babes to grandparents and great-grands, tout bagai, are being sensitised to the burning issue of the rate of crime and crime in this context is confined to the daily murders in certain hot spots along the East-West corridor and the constant fear of kidnapping for ransom with which business people are now forced to live.

These are indeed troubling and dangerous times and it is for precisely this reason that one ought to be very circumspect of how one proceeds to vent the issues and address the matter.

History has taught us that hysteria only makes matters worse and the results of hysteria on a national scale can be more horrifying than the burning issue that people originally sought to solve. Citizens of T&T need to be warned of the road upon which we have embarked.

Marching up and down the country insisting that crime be stopped forthwith can only be the action of semi-idiots who fail to comprehend that dealing with crime is a holistic process that has to do with how society is organised and how citizens are nurtured from cradle to grave.

Moreover, what these semi-idiots do not recognise is that such a short-sighted, mechanistic demand on the powers-that-be can promulgate nothing short of total lock-downs and heavy-handed policing that will serve to curtail much of the freedoms and democratic rights for which we have fought over the years and about which we are so proud.

Our opposition MPs, dejected by their loss of office, have proven by and far to be the leading lights, but certainly not the only ones, generating this kind of hysteria as they seek to politicise the crime issue as a platform around which to rally supporters, as well as gain recognition from the percentage of citizens who remain neutral in relation to the two opposing camps.

The Fyzabad MP, Chandresh Sharma, it is reported, made the claim that “rape, kidnapping and murder were being done by agents of the PNM,” or that there is “state-sponsored discrimination, murder and kidnapping.” And one is left to wonder who in T&T genuinely believes that.

The credibility of such statements is not important to Mr Sharma and his colleagues, what is crucial to them is that distrust and suspicion are sufficiently planted, that the political divide is widened and may bring them the success of putting “100,000 marchers against crime” on the streets of Central Trinidad calling in unison on the present government to resign if it cannot deal with the crime issue immediately.

Likewise is the statement from the illustrious Leader of the Opposition that the present government cannot deal with crime because members of the government are using the diplomatic pouches of the state to transport drugs and that the surveillance equipment brought in for use by the protective forces is being kept at Prime Minister Manning’s home and is being used “to spy on the UNC.”

Comic-book characteristics, we dare say, but it works for him because people listen and one wonders how anyone could take such tomfoolery seriously. When hysteria is the order of the day, there is no room for intelligent reasoning.

What has begun to develop as a result of the hysteria is a “quick-draw” mentality. There is a report in the Guardian of May 27 that says the following: “...In a brief moment of panic over the rising crime wave, a southern businessman shot a man he mistook for a bandit or kidnapper... The victim turned out to be an innocent passer-by whose father plays with a leading Indian orchestra... The businessman admitted to police he had made a mistake...”

The man had looked at the businessman in the eyes, then placed his hand in his pocket so the businessman “quickly whipped out his licensed firearm and fired...”

We will hear lots more such stories as indeed we will hear about the police themselves, chained up by the very hysteria, shooting down innocent people.

The PNM is once again going to attempt to bring the Police Reform Bill before Parliament with the hope of getting the support of the opposition to pass this proclamation to give teeth to the police management as a key prerequisite to dealing with the crime issue.

What would be the case if the government was inclined to begin putting its own “100,000 marchers” on the streets to force the opposition to support these anti-crime initiatives? The result will be double jeopardy for this country, ie increased mass hysteria and probably open warfare.

We have said before and wish to repeat again that 75 per cent of the crimes today are drug related. The drug trade is by far too lucrative and therefore too attractive. The only way to defeat it is to remove its profitability, and that means legalising all drugs.

The whole world will be forced to do so eventually or be dragged down into an amoral abyss of no return by this trade that is calculated internationally to turn over annually some US$380 billion. In the meanwhile societies such as T&T will have to deal with all levels of crime that are direct or indirect outgrowths of this trade.

When a drug transaction goes sour and professional assassins are sent or brought into this country to exterminate someone, it is all “business” and totally impersonal, there is no connection, no relationship between the murderer and the victim, so the police are hard-pressed to even unearth a probable clue to pursue.

Most other crimes are the result of some relationship, so the police will begin investigation by checking out those closest to the victim and widening the net until a motive is discovered.

The drug-related crimes are a completely different kettle of fish. For one thing the likely guilty ones are the aged barons, citizens of substance, with their jackets and ties, castles and expensive automobiles, with their legal cover of supposed “legit” businesses and even religious zealousness, talking in one breath of how hard they have worked, and in the other breath dispatching murder and mayhem.

Then down below are the common herd of “blingers,” young cattle-fodder with their three-quarter pants, sleeveless tops, expensive sneakers, dozens of huge gold rings and massive chains with Tech-9s in their waits, with no visible, legit cover, easy to spot and easy to take down, only to be replaced by yet another.

They also possess a “quick-draw” mentality but are bad and vicious only when they have the upper hand on a helpless person.

Heard one recently in the pen of the Arima court calling out to his mother: “...Mammy, ah love yuh! Doh forget to bring the sheet!” And the mother walked out of the court, head bowed, and the tears running down her face. She does not answer but you know she will bring sheets, so the cold in the night would not burst his tail...

The man said we are a “society at war with itself,” yuh done know.










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