Shooting ourselves in the foot... literally!

Wednesday, March 07, 2012

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The shoot-out between police and alleged criminals resulting in the deaths of six persons in West Kingston Monday, coincided with the arrival of Prince Henry of Wales (better known as Prince Harry) and, importantly, a strong contingent of the foreign press.

We certainly know how to shoot ourselves in the foot. Some might say we are our own worst enemy and that would hardly be an exaggeration.

The arrival of Prince Harry, naturally brings into sharp focus the announced intention of the Portia Simpson Miller Government to proceed, once and for all, to declare Jamaica a republic and cut the umbilical cord to the British monarchy.

If we wanted to send Prince Harry, and the British in general, a message about how independent and grown up we are as a country, Monday's nasty firefight that claimed the life of a teenaged girl among the six was the worst possible way to do it.

In fact, it is not only to the British that we are sending this terrible message, but the world at large, as the international media, who salivate at the prospect of 'bad news', must be feeling that their expenditure was well justified in coming to Jamaica.

That two of the persons killed in that incident were cut down in crossfire makes it even worse.

Even though we are aware that in 1962 life was way different to the way we are today, there is little doubt that at the time of our Independence, crime, and especially murder, was hardly an issue. The killing of one individual then would spark outrage, if not panic. Today, six Jamaicans could be killed and we would take it in our stride as if, as the popular street saying goes: "Ah nuh nutten."

The bigger point to be made, of course, is not that we are killing our own while the Prince and the foreign press are visiting, but that we are killing ourselves, period.

The temporary lull in violent crime seems now to be slowly receding. This must be cause for concern among the entire populace. Try as we might, as long as crime is a major issue, the task of rebuilding our country will continue to be an uphill one.

We certainly hope that the Western Kingston eruption involving attacks on the police by gunmen had nothing to do with the protests in prison by former gang leaders, now incarcerated, against alleged beatings by soldiers. Yet the proximity of the two events cannot be entirely ignored.

It is timely to remind ourselves that this fight against crime is the patriotic duty of all Jamaicans who mean this country well. We are still optimistic that together as a nation we can whip this crime monster. But it will not happen if we leave it to the Government or the police alone.

All Jamaicans who believe in the future of this country must resolve to do their part, starting by co-operating with the police in ensuring that the next 50 years of Independence are as crime-free as is humanly possible.




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