A soldier's life is based on discipline and duty. It was therefore totally inappropriate for the relatives and friends of Lance Corporal Curtis Marshall to mark his death by staging a public protest in a "call for justice".
On Tuesday, these misguided persons blocked the Eastern Main Road in the vicinity of Petit Bourg, near the soldier's home, with burning tyres and other debris. It does not seem that they had any meaningful discussion with the Defence Force authorities before taking this course of action, with representatives of the family claiming, in true conspiracy theory style, that they had evidence that the Defence Force was going to cover up the murder.
One relative in a radio interview even issued a not-so-veiled threat to the Army, in a statement both foolish and futile. Police also had to detain two men and a woman during the protest. Such actions by Marshall's acquaintances did nothing but impugn the image of the very man they claim to be so concerned about.
By contrast, the Defence Force authorities seem to have done everything by the book, and more. Once they realised that Lance Corporal Marshall's death was not natural, they handed over the investigation to the police. The Defence Force also appointed someone to liaise with Marshall's family and showed his brother the footage they had of Marshall's last moments. The heads also cancelled their annual cocktail party which was due to be held today. In a liming nation, where people continue dancing in fetes even after a murder occurs in their midst, such an act displays an admirable code of conduct.
Lance Corporal Marshall's friends and relatives, however, appear to have learned nothing from the organisation he represented. If they had concerns about the investigation, they should have attempted to engage in dialogue as a first step. Indeed, after having such a meeting on Wednesday, Marshall's brother is now confident that the police will find the killer. But, if the family and neighbours had not been satisfied with that outcome and still chosen to protest, they could have done so in a peaceful and legal manner. Instead, in order to highlight their concerns about a criminal act, they broke the law themselves.
Is it that mistrust of all authorities is so embedded in the national psyche that illegal protest actions are now the first recourse? This appears to be the case. But a civilised society cannot be run in this way. While it is true that bureaucracies can frustrate people, and that organisations often try to hide their wrong-doing, citizens need to go through proper channels. It takes more time and effort, but it is the best way to get true justice.