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When deadly forces meet

By Vaneisa Baksh

IT is amazing that certain comments with regard to my stand are that there should be more dialogue rather than talk of war...
Those who keep talking dialogue apparently have not lost a loved one at the hands of the disgusting parasites who call themselves gangsters and kill in cold blood. Talk is over! Deadly force would be met with deadly force.”
This is National Security Minister Gary Griffith from a press release issued on July 1. The tone and content are consistent with his utterances since he became something more than a speck on the national landscape.
One of the people I consider to be my role model is the late Angela Cropper, who staunchly opposed the death penalty, and who campaigned for social programmes that offer support to the disadvantaged, among a host of world-changing policies. Can Minister Griffith even begin to understand the suffering Angela faced through criminal hands? Despite losing her family members, Angela never changed her views; never gave up on the idea of redemption. Debbie Jacob can tell you of the number of robberies and violent attacks she and her family have faced. I can tell you about knives and guns, and broken bottles at my head and my throat. How can you say that people asking for different solutions have never felt the impact of crime?
Elsewhere the Minister has said that the aggression he advocates comes from his training and was the only way he knew.
Much can be deduced from his statements. Basically, he is saying that even if he is aware that there are many paths that can be followed, some in tandem, he is not an advocate for an approach that treats the problem from different angles. In other words, prevention, rehabilitation, efforts to change conditions fostering the development of criminal behaviours, such aspects would probably fall under the rubric of pointless dialogue in his books.
The Minister’s constant harping on the need for displays of physical power, suggests something rigid about the training he claims it to have been derived from. Disappointingly, one is left to align this with his military background. One would have hoped that even within those ranks, the concepts of emotional intelligence are being disseminated.
Indeed, the Minister’s positions are so at one with the philosophy supporting corporal punishment, that one can almost hear him saying: I got licks and look how good I turned out.
But more germane to my concern is the appropriateness of this tunnel vision to the portfolio he holds. If he says it is the only way he know, then he does not know enough. The world of the criminal with the gun does not begin at the moment of the first shot. It begins in circumstances full of extreme upheavals and strains. You can fight deadly force with deadly force all you like, unless you are doing something to alleviate or remove the conditions that keep generating the deadly force, you are just playing war games Sunday to Sunday.
While the Minister might think it tactically clever to keep issuing war cries and showing the criminals how blood thirsty he and his soldiers can be, he should also know that he might be provoking more violence in this testosterone-loaded environment and that people still feel that the real culprits behind all this deadly force are getting away with murder every day.
And in any case, he has said it himself, though I am not sure he appreciates what it means. Whether it comes from the military or the underworld, deadly force will be met with deadly force.
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