Alfred Dawes | We are the Cocoa Piece killers?
First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak for me.
– Martin Niemöller
Every time a tragedy occurs because of the silence of good people, I am reminded of this poem by holocaust survivor Martin Niemöller. When the horrors of the Nazi's final solution came to light at the end of World War II, the question always came up, how did they get away with this, and why wasn't more done by the good German people to stop it? Niemöller articulates it well. It was simply too uncomfortable for the average person to take up a cause that did not affect them directly. Humans gravitate towards pleasure and comfort and abhor pain and discomfort. It is ingrained into our primitive brains, and guides our actions without us even realising it. To take up a cause is great for the ego, but to take up a cause that requires jeopardising or sacrificing our comfort is simply too much. We retreat into the cuddle of “tis not my problem”.
So it is with the crime monster in Jamaica. Those who can make a difference will give enough lip service to make it seem like they have taken up the cause. But the bold steps that are needed to effect the changes that will protect the next family from seeing multiple caskets at a funeral will never be taken. It is because of this why we hide behind the debates over states of emergency (SOEs) and who has a crime plan. We see the atrocities taking place and we know who are responsible, but we cannot even get them to court for the cases to be thrown out on technicalities and poor-quality evidence. We are all guilty of the murders we love to condemn by our continued reluctance to collectively hold the powers that be responsible for the carnage, and demand that they take the right steps to fix the crime problem once and for all.
There are immediate low-hanging fruits that will yield substantial progress in the fight against crime, but the actions are too unpalatable for us to take on as a cause. Let me be the winter of your discontent this day:
The Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF) should be immediately reformed and senior police officers who are known to be associated with the criminal underground be retired in the interest of the people. It makes no sense to debate police oversight, when we know that there exists organised crime within the very police force tasked with addressing gangs. Police officers share details of witness reports and cavort with gangsters, even being a part of extortion rackets. It is time we call a spade a spade and rid the JCF of criminals.
The power of criminal lawyers must be culled, and concrete steps be taken to address the bail act, DNA evidence and the ability for criminals to use proceeds from their activities to pay their legal fees. Just as a declaration of the source of funds is needed for any bank transaction, so must the source of funds used to retain lawyers be declared. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye to this glaring loophole created and maintained by criminal lawyers to protect their income at the expense of the rest of us. Known criminals find themselves back in the streets because they can afford the best legal minds and because of lenient or hamstrung judges who set them free to intimidate and kill witnesses.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has once again displayed their incompetence in putting together solid cases, as charges in the Klansman trial are disappearing faster than our hopes that that office will one day get it right. The blame game as to who is responsible for shoddy evidence needs to end. I cannot perform surgery with a rusty scalpel and complain about the nurse who handed it to me when the patient dies. The DPP must guarantee the quality of the evidence it is bringing to the courts and stop wasting the courts' time while criminals walk free.
The creation of a crack team whose sole purpose is to investigate suspicious wealth, and to use the forfeited sums to create a reward pool for information leading to the arrest of criminals and their abettors with the forfeiture of their ill-gotten gains. This single act will reel in more convictions because our crime lords are prone to excesses, with little to show how they achieved their wealth. We choose not to remember that the infamous gangster Al Capone was not brought down for murder and racketeering, but for tax evasion. Those cases are far easier to build and win convictions; putting away the financiers of major crimes, rather than what obtains now in the detention of foot soldiers under SOEs while the real mob bosses rub shoulders with the police, business elite and politicians.
The will of who has the means to effect these changes is weak. It can only happen when enough good people demand action. But it won't happen until our society descends into total and impartial anarchy. Then we will lay blame at every foot but our own. We prefer to lie in our beds at night, comfortable that we are not offending others or disrupting the status quo. In that case, sleep well … murderers.
- Dr Alfred Dawes is a fellow of the American College of Surgeons, CEO of Windsor Wellness Centre. Follow him on Twitter @dr_aldawes. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com.