Wed | Sep 22, 2021

Editorial | Precious lives wasted – Bedward Gardens five

Published:Saturday | March 13, 2021 | 12:18 AM

Members of Bedward Gardens and surrounding communities in East Rural St Andrew may feel relieved now that some of the gunmen, who have been terrorising them for nearly 10 years, have been killed by the security forces.

Five alleged members of the Berry Gang were cut down on Wednesday morning and their cache of weapons confiscated. The oldest was 25, which suggests that their life of crime started from they were mere teenagers.

The leader, Colin Mingoes, appeared on the police radar in June 2011 when he was identified as the person who shot and killed Michael Jonas along August Town Road. Over the years, Mingoes and his cronies are suspected of carrying out several other killings in communities such as Bedward Gardens, Papine, August Town, and Tavern.

That it has taken so long for the law to catch up with them is an indication of the uphill task the police have to dismantle these gangs and cripple their operations.

With nearly 200 gangs scattered throughout the length and breadth of the island and, presumably, they are similarly armed and dangerous, we feel justified in pointing to the looming tower of domestic terrorism, and we demand that it be recognised and dealt with.

A reader had this to say on social media: “Excellent job security forces. We are proud that you have taken them out of the system to hurt, kill and maim others while they steal what others work so hard for. Good riddance and may they rot in hell.”

GRIM PICTURE

In the midst of what looks like a victory emerges a grim picture of the lifeless bodies of these young men. Almost like a film, we are taken to the end of human life, and we are invited to look over the edge. The horror that lies below tells us that the five died long before the bullets found their marks. They were men without possibility who lived diminishing lives.

Sadly, there are thousands more like these five young men. Society has to recognise that it cannot escape responsibility for these wasted lives. Deprivation begins in many homes where parents have no time to nurture their sons and show them the path to manhood. These same parents are not invested in their child’s education, rarely attend parent-teacher meetings or concern themselves with their child’s performance. Nationwide, there is a gender gap in education.

If boys don’t do well in school, there are few second chances in our educational system that they can fall back on to that will allow them to learn a trade or skill. They get left behind and have no sense of their place in the world or their worth to society. Ill-equipped, jobless, uneducated, and angry, they are tailor-made for absorption into some kind of family – and it is the gang that has replaced traditional role models.

ADDRESS LONG-STANDING ISSUES

These are well-known and long-standing issues, but that doesn’t really matter because without addressing them, they continue to stand in the way of the nation’s progress.

The potential of a country lies in its youth, and the burden falls heavily on society, parents, mentors, and community groups to put them on a path that will transform them into stable, confident, and motivated individuals, which our society desperately needs.

With police blotters showing that more than 300 people have been murdered since the start of the year, it is plain that an all-out effort is needed to curb the commission of violent crimes in our various communities. Dismantling gangs should remain an active priority.