A little less conversation, a little more action!

Bearing in mind the national propensity, it comes as no surprise that the call   for concerned Saint Lucians to display black flags outside their homes in protest against the murderous gang war is anonymous. (See below) And while in normal circumstances I might’ve been interested in the author’s identity, it is for me on this occasion enough that despite the insanity and desperation that have claimed the lives of so many in the prime of their time, a sane and courageous voice has emerged. Whoever you are, I applaud you as I add my own voice to yours: On Independence Day, let us fly black flags not only outside our homes but also from your cars, transit vans and other vehicles.  On Independence Day, let us all wear black in mourning for the dead as well as for the Saint Lucia we once knew, even as we underscore our collective determination not to submit to the unconscionable killers in our midst.
I’ve said it before: our politicians, engaged as they are in their own selfish pursuits (and here I include their respective blind supporters), are too busy to concentrate on possible solutions to the nation’s premier problem. Or, as I suspect, they have no answers but refuse to consider possible remedies that include advocating national unity. After all, a people united against crime might well turn on their self-seeking parliamentary representatives whose main preoccupation is to keep the nation divided and at war with itself.
The police cannot be everywhere. This is not only a cliché, it is also an indisputable fact. Those who know the identity of the next victim of gang-warfare keep such information to themselves. Not necessarily because they do not trust the police but because they insist on being their own judges, juries and executioners. It’s the way they do things, the way their peculiar justice system works. In their world, police informants are called snitches and absolutely deserving of death without question. Even the surviving victims of gang violence refuse to name their attackers. They settle their own scores, or try to, in their own deadly fashion. That’s the way it is in crime-ridden Mexico, where large desperate sections of the populace have in retaliation taken to vigilantism, and in Brazil where police battalions almost nightly descend upon suspect neighborhoods, regardless of the law-abiding among them. Are we truly ready, as some have suggested, to fund a police department whose methods hardly differ from that of the warring gangs? I hope not. Not when we have the alternative of communities united to fight the common enemy.
The prime minister recently talked about a joint session of parliament perchance to discover a solution to the gang warfare. What exactly does that mean? Sitting together with senators and MPs from both sides of the House? Does the prime minister truly expect the opposition to agree to separate crime from the election equation when crime has always been viewed as the campaigning politician’s best friend and worst enemy, depending on who stands to benefit from it at the polls. On the other hand, a victimized electorate united against crime can force the politicians to combine their efforts in the best interests of the nation.
On Black Independence Day let us all pledge to fight crime together—regardless of political colors!
We’ve heard it so many times before: “When they were in opposition they promised to reduce crime if elected but now they have failed they want to unite against crime.” Both parties have thrown that particular rock at each other’s heads. The unchallengeable truth is that we, the regular citizens, know as much about the capacity of Stephenson King’s administration to affect crime in our time as we do about Kenny Anthony’s talents in that regard. We’ve sampled their bag of tricks and come up empty-handed. We kicked the last mentioned out of office when the murder rate rose, despite his efforts, from twenty-something to 42. Must I repeat myself, now that the deadly figure has broken all records? Then I will: both gentlemen have in the last analysis failed to bring crime under control, and at great cost both in terms of lives and scarce dollars. Now it is left to us, the victimized people, the last resort, to come together in our own defense.
How shocking that an 86-year-old woman can be stabbed to death in her home without anyone having heard anything unusual, not a scream, not a scuffle. Without anyone in the neighborhood witnessing any strange activity. Consequently the reportedly clueless police are yet again without clues.
The prime minister’s most recent address has evidently come across to some as stale fish freshly wrapped. Some have complained that it contained nothing new, that while delivering it the prime minister appeared lost without answers. There’s a good reason for that. He has no answers that are legal. The tools at his disposal, the police, the law, are useless against the enemy and its tightlipped accomplices. And no one knows that better than the prime minister. Mr King should’ve started his speech with the subject of crime. Instead, he began his somewhat late New Year’s Day Message predictably with the usual niceties, when things are anything but normal. Saint Lucians needed most of all to hear what the government plans to do about crime that has not already been tried, that has already failed. As wonderful as was Darren Sammy’s achievement on the cricket field, as regrettable as was the loss in the past year of until-now-unrecognized icons, what has hurt this nation most is apparently uncontrollable gang warfare. Even if the economy were booming and not being strangled by recession, crime at the level now experienced in Saint Lucia would still be the nation’s first concern.
I would have preferred to hear from Mr King that the help he spoke of was already underway and not merely offered by Israel and the United States. The people have taken it in the neck for too long and now they are disinclined to believe what politicians say. Only hard action will do. Maybe that’s what the black-flagged protestors should be demanding: a little less conversation, a little more action. Indeed, the prime minister might well echo the Presleyesque admonition to his Israeli and American friends: We want help, we are most appreciative of your offers. But please, we need it now, not some time down the road!

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