The quote, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster…if you gaze long enough into the abyss the abyss will gaze back at you” is relevant for us in the national community as we contemplate the crime tragedy.
The consequences of this are so dire that we each expect the other faction to be reasonable. We blame each other and reduce the chance for compromise and resolution.
In this the communities of Laventille have been painted with a broad brush of condemnation especially if we take last week’s events.
We opened the week with the police killing of a resident and the outburst of a law-abiding relative. All the commentators latched on to his observation of a basic flaw in the stridency of the Security Minister and a senior police officer. They forget who declared war first. His honourable apology is yet to be matched by the exemplars or by the media who incorrectly blamed him.
Next day there were the murders of two residents reportedly due to the warring factions in one of the communities. The lack of protests by residents was interpreted as passive acceptance of gang violence in contrast to protests against police killings.
This indictment of the Laventille community ignores that there are different communities, the reality that some police are complicit with the same gangs, leading to a lack of trust by the community.
It does not recognise that unlike the Duncan Street police, honest residents cannot ask for guns to go home.
It fails to accept that if a three-hour gunfight can reportedly take place unchallenged within walking distance of a police station that nobody will play hero.
We can ignore the situation, buy more security equipment but organised crime is proving they will fearlessly challenge the police.
We can unleash the dogs of war which do not challenge the real source of the problem but pick on the small and maybe innocent people dammed by their place of residence.
We can funnel funds to known gang leaders and simultaneously starve the upright residents of job opportunities and support for community building activities. It would help the fortunate to win elections, the dishonest to make more money but in the process many more innocent lives will be lost. Those lives will not be only of the ilk of Dana Seetahal’s but they will be our brothers and sisters, our fellow employees.
We cannot solve crime—Laventille is now for us not just a place but a concept, it is blight all over our twin islands—unless we stop white-collar crime and being selfish and greedy.
The unresolved campaign financing corrupts the process of fixing crime. The stigmatisation of the people of Laventille makes unwarranted enemies. The spouting of empty words inflames rather than solves the issue.
The abyss is gazing back at us.