EDITORIAL: No green light on crime!

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The news coming across the wires was not good. Indeed, it was downright scary! Apparently, Dr. Anike Anthony was accosted by an armed carjacker at a stoplight at the intersection of Independence Avenue and the top of High Street. This extremely nerve-racking development sent chills up our spines, and gave us much pause – seems no one is safe anywhere. Think high noon in Dodge City! Of course, we do not wish to overstate the case, and like Chicken Little, run around shouting that the sky is falling. But when a woman can be held up at gunpoint at that critical intersection in broad daylight (Actually, it was at 9:30 pm on Monday evening), then it is reasonable to conclude that our gun-crime situation has reached a tipping point.
Lest we forget, let us back up and recap how we got to this critical mass. It was shortly after the Blue Jeans fete in July that a young man was killed in Cedar Grove. Then a kidnapping/carjacking followed shortly afterward in the same neighbourhood. Then, a kindly church lady was killed at her home in Cooks in broad daylight on a Sunday by two masked and armed assailants. That was quickly followed by the killing of two purported armed bandits by law-enforcement personnel responding to a tip about suspicious activity in the Lightfoot East area. And so it went – the unrelenting drip, drip, drip of bad news and bloodletting.
By any measure, and on any level, this is not good! We here at OBSERVER media have listed more than a few common-sense approaches to solving the gun-violence conundrum facing our fair island, and we are more than heartened by the fact that Parliament addressed the issue, quite eloquently and passionately, yesterday. To do otherwise would have been giving a green light to gun-violence and crime. As a gentle reminder, we hearken back to our suggestions that the penalties for possession and use of an illegal firearm should be stiffened; that there be a gun-buyback programme and amnesty; that police blanket high crime areas with extra patrols, as is now being done in crime–ridden areas of Jamaica; that community policing (police working hand-in-hand with the community) be further cultivated and enhanced; that the crime-stoppers rewards be upped; that increased efforts be made to intercept firearms at our borders; and that our communities vociferously resist and voice their opposition to criminal activity within their midst.
Ah, community involvement! It pays dividends, not only in letting criminals know that their destructive activity will not be tolerated, but also in alerting law enforcement to suspicious behaviour and a possible crime in progress. In other words, the ubiquitous New York anti-terror slogan applies: “If you see something, say something!” Interestingly, it was members of the Lightfoot East community that recently put out a call for the environmental authorities to immediately cut the overgrowth and trees, and board up many of the abandoned homes in their area since these could be perfect hiding places for persons with nefarious intent. Many concerned, law-abiding citizens have also been alerting the APUA to broken streetlights and long stretches of our roads where the lighting is poor or non-existent.
Of course, our schools, our churches and homes must needs rise to the awesome responsibility and challenge of raising young men and women who will eschew crime and guns. In other words, the question of putting the red light to crime is not solely a law-enforcement matter. Nay, we are all partners in this business of making and keeping our communities safe!
Our hearts go out to the good doctor who suffered that terrible ordeal yesterday while waiting on a traffic light in the shadow of King Obstinate’s bar.  We can only imagine her terror, and we believe that her road to recovery will be long and arduous. We wish her all the best, and we will certainly keep her in our thoughts and prayers. Hopefully, what she had to endure will not be repeated anywhere in this little bit of Paradise that we call Antigua. To paraphrase two of the old Antigua/Afro Caribbean Liberation Movement  (ACLM) slogans from back in the day, “Guns are up, crime is up, and we are fed up!” Clearly, “Enough has become too much!” We salute our Parliament for finally addressing our concerns.
We invite you to visit www.antiguaobserver.com and give us your feedback on our opinions.

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