Devon Dick| Visit from a gunman?
Last week, a 'gunman' visited me. He announced his arrival and presence at the office by stating that he was a 'don' and 'gunman' and wanted to speak to me immediately. The receptionist told him that I was counselling someone and as soon as I was finished then I would talk with him.
This 'gunman' was in his 40s. He showed me the scars from gunshots and knife cuts, obviously battle-hardened. His life has not been easy. He has experienced jail time. He has children, and one of his sons is making a life of crime to which he claims he disapproves.
I enquired why he was announcing loudly that he was a 'gunman' and 'don'. He asserted that in the inner-city garrison, one has to appear rough and tough otherwise the people will not respect you, and young Turks will try and take over one's turf. In fact, while he was imprisoned that is what was attempted.
I told him that I do not think he is a don for the area because dons are wealthy and he did not have the trappings of wealth. He assured me that not all dons are wealthy as some have to share the funds from the contracts fairly with all cronies, otherwise there will be war. In addition, money has to be shared with the elderly. Obviously, government contracts are a source of funding for the criminal underworld and we need to cut off that source.
The 'gunman' stated which political party he is affiliated with. He alleged that politicians are still giving them guns to do dirty work in order to win general elections. I ask how that could be since we have an electoral system that is highly regarded worldwide. He said they have their role in getting persons to the polling stations and ensuring that they vote!
Apparently, some politicians could have a role to play in alleviating the high murder rate being experienced in western Jamaica and other hotspots. It means that some politician hands are not clean. Too many politicians who are otherwise seen as honourable have another side with serious allegations. Why is it the police cannot turn this information into evidence? Perhaps it is because witnesses are scared.
A FAMILIAR RING
I had my doubts about his story so I questioned him on political runnings and hustlings. He is well informed about political life in his political party of choice.
I gave him the help he sought. I encouraged him to give up the guns and turn a new page in his life. He did not give any assurance save to keep in touch. I have tried to contact him twice since the encounter to no avail. It was an attempt to further verify his story and to ascertain what steps have been made to change his lifestyle.
This gunman's story has a familiar ring in my dealings with them. They will not turn in their guns. They tell horror stories of their dealings with politicians. After the initial help they never return.
In my 26 years as pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church, I can point to only one success story of a man who had a past with the gun, turning his life over to God and continuing to walk by his grace. But we have to keep trying because our gunmen are getting more brazen, as demonstrated in the shooting at a gas station in Monetgo Bay in broad daylight. This should be a rallying call to fight with all our might the scourge of murder and mayhem in our society. The security forces have an arduous task, and as citizens we have a responsibility to ensure they have the necessary information to help in serving and protecting us.
- Rev Devon Dick is pastor of the Boulevard Baptist Church in St Andrew. He is author of 'The Cross and the Machete', and 'Rebellion to Riot'. Send feedback to columns@ gleanerjm.com.