Editorial: Turn outrage into action, Dr Williams
The epidemic of violence that has gripped our country for such a long time is now penetrating rural Jamaica in a frightening manner.
Last month, the country watched as anguished relatives mourned multiple killings of three boys and a man in a Clarendon village. This week, it has happened again in Ginger Hill, St Elizabeth. In the most recent case, the dead included three elderly men, and early reports suggest that the attack was not random but is likely to be linked to extortion.
Long after these victims have been buried, the emotional bruises will linger in the community. These shocking examples of brutality have created extreme fear in several communities where the majority of residents are honest, hard-working people. Even though the police statistics may point to a decrease in violent crime, members of the public do not assess their safety in statistical terms. The magnitude of a crime can influence the public's perception of crime.
It is hard to define and explain what causes this level of brutality. But it is agreed by our local experts that the root causes of violence run deep in our society, tapping into such issues as poverty, hopelessness, joblessness and greed. The kind of carnage being witnessed across the country warrants far more than a photo opportunity with the top brass of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) or a few words of outrage from the Police High Command and political representatives.
Communities look to the police to protect them. Once upon a time, the police announced that their focus was on crushing the major gangs who were responsible for a slew of crimes ranging from extortion to murder. However, recent reports of gang activity in Spanish Town and its environs, Clarendon and St James and neighbouring parishes seem to indicate that the police have not succeeded in shutting down these marauders. Depressingly, they even appear to be getting bolder.
Carl Williams, the head of the JCF, needs to tell the country how he intends to tackle this monster by turning his outrage into action. His task is twofold: Find the murderers quickly and build a solid case against them and ease the community's fears. The solution must certainly include the cooperation of, and collaboration with, citizens who undoubtedly have an interest in maintaining the health of their home environment with the clear understanding that they cannot condone criminal behaviour or provide a safe haven for criminals and accept their bloody loot and expect to remain unscathed from violence.
Many communities across Jamaica are dying today. Small shops have been shuttered, commerce is at a virtual standstill, and farming is barely limping along as the young flee in search of better opportunities and the old become worn and tired.
So who are these marauders who target communities and terrorise innocent citizens? We believe it is time for the police to re-evaluate the gangs and track their movements to identify trends and their connections.
Surely, it cannot be beyond the police to identify these criminals and deal with them swiftly and decisively.