‘Scamming’ money drying up out west
The ongoing state of public emergency (SOPE) in St James appears to be the elusive antidote that the authorities have been searching for in their quest to stump lottery scam, which the police said was primarily responsible for fuelling the murders and the general lawlessness which has been plaguing the parish.
Since the advent of the SOPE in January, communities which were once awash with cash have lost their flamboyance as the scammers have disappeared from the landscape, leaving their dependents to face the hard realities of the 'nutten nah gwaan' life.
"Me nah tell no lie, a scammer spend de most money inna de community, and with dem gone inna hiding, de money dry up and de business dem dying," a shopkeeper told The Gleaner yesterday. "With the soljie (soldiers) dem a force business place fe close from 9:00 o'clock, we caa mek no money ... everybody a feel it.."
In some inner-city communi-ties, where youngsters would normally be seen flouting their ill-gotten wealth, the tide has changed dramatically as everybody now appears to be cash-strapped.
"All de fancy car dem haffe park because no money nuh deh fe buy gas," a young man told The Gleaner. "Most youth bout yah use to juggle inna de game (lottery scamming) or just hustle inna de streets, but de state of emergency mash up everything ... scammer and everybody tun bredda dawg just a look pon dem one another."
With scamming now on the back foot, persons like Pastor Knollis King, who heads the Rose Heights Covenant of Peace, is urging the authorities to use the opportunity to reach out to the various communities with viable social programmes to help vulnerable youngsters to seek out non-violent options.
"These communities have a lot of talents so we should use this opportunity to put programmes in place to train and develop these youngsters," said King. "When the state of emergency is over, we should have these youngsters turning their backs on violence, not turning back to it."
Last year, St James registered a record 335 murders. The new year started with some 10 murders within two weeks. However, since the imposition of the SOPE, like the lottery scamming, murders have dried up in St James.