Like roaring lions, seeking whom they may devour

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They are on the prowl. The predators are targeting the law-abiding citizens of this country, assaulting, robbing, raping. It is not good, this precipitous descent into madness, and if it is not arrested as a matter of urgency, we are in for a long hot summer. Carnival is just around the corner, and we fear that these young punks and bums will be looking to prey on locals and visitors engaged in the fun and revelry of the Caribbean’s “most colorful summer festival.” [Short Shirt]

Mercifully, we are not anywhere near the murderous mayhem enveloping our neighbours, such as St Kitts, which just recorded its sixteenth murder this past Wednesday. There has been only one murder in our fair State so far this year, that of Roudi Shmali who was coldly executed in the Pick N’ Mix superette on De Souza Road on Monday, May 22, allegedly by a young punk. But that is one murder too many. When one of us dies, a piece of all of us dies with him or her, because we are a part of each other. [John Donne, NO MAN IS AN ISLAND].

So here we have these roving bands of mindless youths taking advantage of civil society. So cowardly, they look for those that they perceive to be weak and vulnerable. Lions do that too. They pick out the struggling and limping animal in the herd. And they pounce. Needless to say, our cowardly punks are headed down the one-way street that leads to perdition – destruction, prison and death.  We certainly trust that the authorities will dial-back the overly optimistic ‘happy-talk’ about our crime situation, and get really serious about clamping down. Time is of the essence.

In that regard, we are calling on the police to carry-out periodic check-point searches on our roadways.  Dr Jacqui Quinn of our OBSERVER AM, has suggested back-pack searches as well. We are also calling for an increased police presence in certain high crime neighbourhoods. An amnesty for those who have illegal guns in their possession is also needed. This ought to be a ‘no-questions-asked amnesty. Girlfriends and boyfriends of those persons who have an illegal firearm in the home should immediately prevail upon that loved one to turn the weapon in. And failing that, the concerned partner should report it to the police. Folks, if you love your firearm-possessing-partner, you will do the right thing and have him or her get rid of that weapon. The story of illegal firearms never has a good ending. If some folks are afraid to turn in their weapons to the police, they can turn them in to a member of the clergy, or any upstanding citizen.

And by the way, a firearm that is not under rigid supervision in the home can be a most dangerous proposition. Little children may play with them, blissfully oblivious to the danger that they pose to themselves and each other. Someone can harm a loved one, deliberately, or by happenstance, and of course, someone struggling with the vicissitudes of life can seek to end it all, by way of a gunshot.

Interestingly, we find it more than passing strange that almost weekly, we hear of the authorities discovering a barrel, or other such container with illegal cannabis at the Deepwater Harbor or the V C Bird International cargo shed. But guess what. We cannot recall hearing in recent times of the interdiction of a gun, or a shipment of guns, at any of those ports. Hmmmmm! What, is it to suggest that no illegal weapons are entering Antigua and Barbuda via those routes? We highly doubt that. Indeed, we suspect that a good deal of the firearms contraband is entering by way of those ports, but . . . .  The reggae artist, Yellowman, asks the question, “Gunman, tell me whey yuh get yuh gun from? / Yuh must-ah get it from de foreign land . . .” Indeed! Let’s get serious, folks!

Meanwhile, the decent, law-abiding citizens of this country have been locking doors and windows, drawing curtains, and peering through the rear-view mirrors of their vehicles as they travel at nights. They have been clutching at their purses and wallets. And they have become much more aware of their surroundings, especially when utilising the ATM’s or leaving a function in the small hours. Ah, those late night shopping trips which were once so convenient for those who wished to avoid crowds, are increasingly becoming a thing of the past.  Not that the hour matters much to the bums. Seems, day or night, it’s all the same to them. Roudi Shmali was killed in broad daylight. The businessman who was robbed at the Woods Mall, had his encounter with the gangsters at high noon. Sigh! And no longer can we enjoy a romantic interlude on a secluded beach, without having to furtively glance around frequently. For shame.

Baby Wayne, another Jamaica reggae artist, sings the following words of warning to wannabe gangsters and gunmen from MAMA: “But dem haunted, kill man and get wanted / Mi no response fi yu an courthouse business  / Yu madda warn yu before yu tun badman / Before yu pick up di 16 or de M1 / But yu no want dat, yu want tun notorious man / Walk up and dung like dem great Sanda Khan / Judge di 16 and di M1 / Walk up and dung, shot innocent man / Police run yu dung and handcuff yu hand / Hear di bwoy a bawl when him reach a station /  Mamaaaa, big murderer a cry / A pure teardrops and water come outta him eye / Mamaaaa, yu murderer a bawl / Him dey a courthouse an hear him name call / Mamaaa, him all a sweat in him pants / When him hear di judge say give him a life sentence/  Mamaaa, yu shoulda so him galang / When di judge try di case and say him fi hang / Bwoy, me a tell you who cant hear will feel . . .”

Let us pray for our teenage boys, and intervene and provide good counsel and guidance whenever possible. Let us show them love, before they become consumed and hardened by hate. The truth is that many of these boys, so very lacking in parental guidance and caring, join gangs where they feel some sort of perverse love and acceptance. In the street gangs, they get a sense of belonging. Of course, as part of the gang initiation, they have to commit a major crime, rob an establishment at gunpoint, pistol whip someone, engage in some sort of anti-social behavior to prove his or herself. So sad. So twisted.

Help us, Lord.

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