Sat | Jan 20, 2018

Jaevion Nelson| Let’s not politicise the crime issue

Published:Thursday | October 6, 2016 | 12:00 AM

The hypocrisy masquerading as deep concern about crime and violence is irritating. I sincerely wish we would resist the urge - that temptation that we yield to every so often - to politicise such a grave issue as crime and violence. Like last year, and the year before, and the year before that, hundreds of persons died while we remain unconcerned about the state of affairs in our country until it pleased our politics.

Why are we so shamelessly relentless in our pursuit to politicise every bloody thing? How many more reports of murders do we need before we pause to reflect on our attitudes and our contribution, or lack thereof, to addressing these pressing matters? Are we really that callous about the vast number of people who are being murdered? What do we need to jolt our consciousness and collective responsibility to play a more active role in making our communities safer?

Since February 26, people who were once deafeningly silent are now overwhelming us with their guilt because they've seemingly had an epiphany - children, women, and men are dying daily! All of a sudden, people are deeply concerned, and are strident about holding the government accountable. They claim crime and violence is spiralling out of control and the government is doing nothing, and they don't have a solution. I find it hard to think that there are people who really believe that any government can miraculously reduce crime and violence overnight, to the extent that we would be able to sleep with our doors open! It is uncanny the things we pay attention to.

The truth is, much of what is being touted as our disquiet about the situation, is really politicking. The practice is vulgar and distasteful. We ought to challenge ourselves to do better. I can't imagine how people who are directly affected, who are grieving, must feel when they see us behaving the way we are - scoring cheap political points to appear more concerned about the plight of others, and more capable than the other party.




Unfortunately, there is no strategy or solution to crime that will result in any drastic reduction in murders any time soon, and certainly not overnight. We will have to contain our eagerness and be a bit more patient. Notwithstanding, it's important that we allow the strategy that is already in place to continue to work while calling on the government to do more. We can't keep calling for a 'new' strategy every year and after every election because we feel crime and violence have spiralled out of control. Let's pay attention to the evidence and use that information to guide how we approach the matter - not on feelings but on the realities on the ground and applying the lessons we have learnt.

Thankfully, murders have only increased by 1 per cent nationally up to August, according to data from the JCF. There are, however, serious concerns about St James and neighbouring parishes where lottery scamming seem to have a role in a number of murders. The police and all citizens will have to remain vigilant.

We need to do more than clamp down on lottery scamming if we want to begin to have a dent in this grave problem out in the west. We need to do go beyond the criminality of the activity and acknowledge the hard truths about some of the root causes of the situation. Lottery scamming, as I understand it, is not merely about people being covetous. It's also about people and their families having access to money, to wealth which seem inaccessible to them in the formal economy.

Prime Minister Andrew Holness will do well if he leaves a legacy of securing economic justice for everyone whenever he demits office. We have failed miserably in this regard.

If you think about it, you will recognise that we move through waves of illegal activities that help to keep families and the economy afloat. As a child, it was the drug trade - cocaine and ganja. It was readily accessible to everyone and guaranteed them a better life than they were living. It was a more sure way to take people out of poverty. I heard many stories of families benefiting from the proceeds of the drug trade. In fact, many of us or people in our family have also benefited from its proceeds.

We must see economic justice as a national imperative. There is no solution to our crime and violence problem if the formal economy and justice system aren't accessible and beneficial to everyone.

- Jaevion Nelson is a youth development, HIV and huma- rights advocate. Email feedback to and