Posted by: Ms Morris | August 11, 2009

Anti-Gang Legislation Yes? No?

From the first time I heard about the anti-gang legislation I thought “this is not a well thought out plan”. Then I read the article in Friday’s RG and thought. “This is why its not a well thought out plan.” While I certainly want an end to the gun violence and drug dealing in the streets I do not have much confidence in the government’s present approach.

In a perfect world when solving complex problems it is hoped that government would look at all sides of an issue and make a decision based on all relevant points that the problem may be dealt with on multiple levels simultaneously. However what we have is a reactionary gov’t, making decisions based on changes in behaviour without getting to the core of what has caused these changes. Its like being diagnosed with diabetes and given testing strips without addressing the dietary concerns. When dealing with gangs and gang violence the entire approach by gov’t has been off base. At first they ignored it, said it wasn’t so. When they did have a group of persons interested and capable of dealing with the the problem on the ground level they treated them poorly and removed them from the island in favor of a voluntary program that does not address the problem group. Now that the problem has been allowed to fester and has become unignorable (that’s probably not a word) the first thing out of their mouths is punitive and social rehabilitation is an afterthought.

These young people, so-called gang members while often unheard and often overlooked they are clear about their reality and the people who make laws affecting their life. In the younger generation thread I concluded that young people are more pragmatic than idealistic. It doesn’t matter if you agree with the behaviours of this group of people. It’s much more important at this point to pay attention to how they think. They are clear on their reality and make decisions based on that. Their line of thinking is summed up pretty well in the following quote:

“For most of them hard-core academics are not appealing, and they drop out of school. So when you’re like me — a 16-year-old black Bermudian male, with no education, no trade or skills and no money — you figure out you can make $1,000 a day selling drugs. “What do you think is going to happen? What do you think these boys are going to do? It’s called common sense and politicians are so busy making laws to bind us that they forget to use it.”

In an effort to bring common sense back to government I suggest to the government to get to the core of the problem. From where I sit education is the answer. Educational opportunities for all students, not just those who follow the path of academia. Ie. Build a trade school already!! And make it accessible to those past school leaving age so that they will have options and get off the streets. Also education for single and overwhelmed parents. That they may recognise what their lack of presence in their childrens lives can create and how to better cope with the stressors in their lives.

I know that police and justice have to be involved in dealing with the crime problem. But it would also help to stem the flow of persons who go the criminal route. Wouldn’t that make more sense?


Responses

  1. Thank you for posting this, I had been thinking of writing it myself, LOL!

    I think it was Dr. Brown who recently wrote about how he viewed the racial problem from a surgical point of view, that to just bandage up over something will just allow the infection to fester and get worse. He saw his job in this regards as opening it up to drain out the infection and help fix the problem. I think the same thing can be said for the social problems relating to the gangs. However, with this regards the Govt seems to be just bandaging over the problem and allowing it to fester…

    I’m not meaning to say that the Govt hasn’t done anything, they have, with the Mirrors program and some social rehabilitation programs being the more obvious ones, as well as the oft talked about reforms of education. For the most part though these initiatives seem either a day late and a dollar short, or hastily cobbled together for political expediency. Whenever we have an outbreak of violence or whatnot there is this rush to come out with new measures to calm the public into thinking things are being done. And this cycle just repeats itself over and over.

    As for the anti-gang legislation, I really don’t see how it is enforceable, I mean, how do you differentiate between a gang and a business or political party? I can understand enforcing dresscodes at pubs and the like (no sporting clothes, et. al.), but thats about it.

    The gangs themselves, well, there are a number of issues that need dealt with all at the same time there. On the one hand we do need to enforce the law as regards violence and drugs, to serve as a deterrent. At the same time we need to focus on just why the education and community is producing this situation and correct that. We also have to deal with why drugs is so prevalent.

    I reckon reforming the judicial system to prevent people getting off easy, as well as investing in rehabilitation and training to avoid recidivism is key. Sorting out the education system is of course a top priority, and we do need to get the trades back up. I beleive Shawn wrote earlier about how people tend to look at academics as superior to the detriment of trades skills. Like him I have found many educated fools (LOL, including me!) and wise workers. I really think we need to teach trades skills in our schools alongside traditional academics. Some people are better in academics, and some are better in trades, but we all should get exposed to both and take the path we feel best suits us.

    Communities definitely need rebuilt. I would like to see the parish councils and workmens clubs become the nucleus for a community rennaisance. And I don’t mean simply gentrifying the places and pushhing people out of their homes. I mean working with the communities in a participatory manner to help them help themselves and instill a sense of self-reliance as well as developing stronger and safer communities. And for that a good part requires people on the ground to organise (and many are already) and not expect others to come and magically sort out the community problems for them.

  2. Yeah, there needs to be a broader plan than just simple anti-gang legislation.

    Let’s figure out how to get those people who’s got little to no education into a more productive role than the prospective thousand dollar-a-day drug dealing role. Both of you mentioned educational opportunities that aren’t focused on the academic, and it’s worth expanding upon. What do we have right now? NTB? SJPP bursaries?

    The community/parish setup mentioned above also should be encouraged. Provide mechanisms where the youth and others can get together and work on mutually beneficial projects.

    As far as criminal behaviour goes though, we shouldn’t relax – if people are involved in theft and assault and the like the penalties should be strict.

  3. If you split the issue up into two, i.e. (1) preventing new people joining (2) dealing with the exisitng gangs

    Prevention:

    Ask the question”why” do people join a gang. There will probably be many answers – some simple some complex. I would hazzard a guess that some of the following apply:

    A search for structure, and discipline

    A sense of belonging and commitment

    The need for recognition and power

    Companionship, excitement, activities

    A sense of self-worth and status

    A place of acceptance

    The need for physical safety and protection

    I would suggest that they do not see mainstream society as being able to provide this list. It starts with the home and the family. If the family isn’t cohesive, isn’t strong enough, or simply couldn’t care less, and cannot provide the list, then the child will go in search of it.

    I would suggest that the bulk of humanity can’t exist on their own out there. We all have to belong to some form of society.

    From birth, we have to give children clear signs – verbal and physical – that normal society can be worth being a part of. We have to give them that list.

    We also have to show them that our society has rules and that going against them has it’s penalties. And the penalties have to be harsh – simply because – we diminish the value we place on our society, if the penalties are not harsh. We have to protect our society, value it, make it something to be proud of.

    Something worth joining.

  4. As for how do we deal with the current situation, I honestly don’t knnw.

    I understand and accept that a trade school is sadly missing, but on the grounds that academia is not a route that everyone wishes to follow. But I don’t see how it helps the current problem.

    And I would separate out drugs from gangs, if only because they don’t necessarily have to go together.

    How do you take someone who could be a cash $millionaire in around 3-4 years, and move him into mainstream society?

    Beats me!

  5. anti gang legislation = bandaid 4 a gunshot wound

    how to mainstream people….make the 9to5 jobs more attractive….ie pay people what the job is really worth instead of ripping perople off.

    manditory minimum wage to put people above the poverty line…manditory over time pay

    strenghten and reform the employment act 2000 to make it benifit the workers instead of it benifiting the employers

    fix the economic divide…if people were not living under the poverty line……a great deal of the social issues wont be affecting this place in the first place.

    reform the corrupt BSBDC so that capital is given to people to start their own companies.

  6. Is a “1000 dollars a day” accurate?

    Just a guess but $1000/ 25 means 40 sales a day times 7 would be 240 sales a week for one drug dealer, Ten dealers would need to have 2,400 sales, 100 dealers 24,000 sales a week for each person to make $1000 dollars and that doesn’t include their orignal cost of the drug.

    The paper should do a real investigation and show the real profit. I don’t think it is good as they young fellas think it is.

    If you make $1000 dollars a day but only work 1 day a week, then thats only $52,000. Not any real money.

    Like any business the real money is at the top. I think.

  7. From blackpress:

    “how to mainstream people….make the 9to5 jobs more attractive….ie pay people what the job is really worth instead of ripping perople off.

    manditory minimum wage to put people above the poverty line…manditory over time pay”

    Solid point. Some of these employers are offering some awful salaries and when asked why Bermudians aren’t working for them, whine that they’re not applying for the posts. The logistics of implementing a minimum wage may very well be difficult but certain jobs shouldn’t be paying an unreasonable sum.

  8. When I was looking for work some 5/6 years ago, I had an offer of employment by a ‘local’ company.

    Essentially, the job was ‘managing’ the day to day business which comprised 3 small operations. Only 18 people involved across the 3 businesses.

    Want to know the rate per hour I was offered for managing a business (as someone with status)?

    $13.

    And you know what, the owner employed expats in manual work. When he signed the Immigration paperwork, Immigration’s requirement at the time, was that the minimum annual salary would be $40,000.

    Needless to say, I didn’t take the job. Go figure.

  9. […] Bermuda Jewel thinks that the proposed anti-gang legislation “is not a well thought out plan.” Instead, he believes that “education is the answer.” Cancel this reply […]

  10. Times change. Years ago, the Bermuda Techicnal Institute did a great service and supplied Bermuda with many people who started bussinesses and some are still in operation.

    Todays climate cannot sustain a new school. IT is the biggest employer covering many fields. Accounting, Banking, etc. Support services are ven cutting back.

    We should be far ahead of the Bahamas and Pueto Rico et al when it comes to tourism. We let it slip away because certain segments of the “society” thought that making billions with exempt companies, re-insurance, insurance would be the silver bullett, the quick and permenant fix.

    Sorta like owning a gambling house. The house takes it all, deals out a percentage for employment, security, taxes, meals and salaries but the place lies empty for much part of the time whilst the inner workings need a rest.

    The biggest problem Bermuda has at this time and is associated 80% with crime is the unackowledged part that people whom you think don’t do it,…do it.

    The majority are black. Fact. The majority of drug abuse is much higher in the white community as per numbers. The guy with the ‘tie’ and buys you a few beers…well yah know. And you would’nt be surprised who does what, when and where.

    Because you all know.

    I need a cheap beer…..

  11. Rummy…

    “We should be far ahead of the Bahamas and Pueto Rico et al when it comes to tourism. We let it slip away because…etc”

    I understand that. The $m question is would we have had a better tourism product today IF we had not (as you put it) let it slip away?

    What SHOULD we have done back then, that would have kept us at the top of the frame in today’s tourist trade.

    I thought you might have a view on that.

  12. I do and I will get back. It’s quite involved and political and also bussiness orientated.

    Much debate there and I am not an authority on it but facts are facts.

  13. Martin

    “What SHOULD we have done back then, that would have kept us at the top of the frame in today’s tourist trade. ”

    Without taking this wildly off topic allow me to interject that I believe we made a number of incorrect moves. We moved away from exclusivity in favor of volume. We brought in more and more cruise ships and killed off guest houses. Bermudians got greedy and we killed off the College Weeks and had massive disruptive strikes that damaged our reputation.

    Had we not done many/most of those things we’d likely be in a better place than we are today. However, we can’t dwell on the past any more than to learn from the mistakes made and need to ask what we can do to make things better.

    What could we be doing? I’ve written about it ad nauseum (http://www.google.com/search?rlz=1C1GGLS_enBM314BM314&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=site:www.21square.com+tourism). Namely it comes down to improving our overall product and pursuing exclusivity and higher end tourism.

  14. Rummy,

    Not sure if they’ve changed drastically in the latest to be released employment brief but IT isn’t the largest as of the 2008 report.

    There were 419 ‘Computer’ jobs which were outpaced by 883 Level 1 accountants and the 460 nurses. Also outpacing computers were 585 Finance managers, 1048 Personal assistants, 671 cooks, 578 general waiters, 768 masons.

    There remain a decent number of skilled trades filled by non-Bermudians, perhaps not enough to warrent an entire school but certainly enough to warrant some kind of improved apprentiship program.

  15. Denis – many thanks.

  16. I like the idea of an improved apprentiship program Denis. It makes sense to use the infrastructure that we have.

    I know the Berkeley and Bermuda College have infrastructure in place to teach various aspects and levels of trade skills. I think Cedarbridge as well but I’m not 100% on that. If a curriculum and schedule could be put together maybe just maybe there could be a program that could teach trade skills to those interested and not necessarily able to attend Bermuda College in the traditional route.

  17. Dennis, I think you have summed up my opinions and feelings quite well. No need for me to elaborate further.

    As for the “apprentiship program”, your right on the money. More needs to be done. The sooner the start up, the better.

  18. Bermuda had been sending students to the Polytechnic in Barbados for a few years now (you may have seen reports of some negative issues in the Gazette some time back). Don’t know if it’s still ongoing.

    Surely we can have a home-grown solution in place featuring what Denis mentioned. I think we do have enough need so as to have a school of some sort – just a matter of curriculum length and content, sorting out apprenticeship options and so on.

  19. Speaking of “Anit Gang Legislation, it has hit home with me once again.

    My cousin Judy Mello was robbed at gunpoint yesterday as most of you are aware. Such a kind Christian woman and has been through so much these past 8 years. Her husband Vernon was told many years ago that he had two weeks to live but managed through all these years through faith to hang in there. Judy is dealing with the effects of Cancer now. It has taken it’s toll but she is strong.

    Her family has been through much lately even with other deaths on the in-law side. I prayed for her and all her family and will continue. I also know Mrs Moniz well and hope that she can deal with all this.

    Three men, broad daylight? Well planned and executed. Did their homework, know the area well and the habits of the homeowners.

    All for a few dollars. No thought of the emotional situation of the offended just an easy ‘job’.

    Now we can see the proliferation of weapons in Bermuda. Years ago, they smashed a pane of glass or came through an unlocked window, now it’s in your face with violence.

    I have said it for 40 years and I’ll say it again, the laws are there and in place. It’s the moronic attitude of Magistrates and Supreme Court Justices that have helped in the escalation of crime. This slap on the wrist and three months is for the birds.

    Once out, they go home too Momma ( daddy spends most nights will his girlfriend, or does even know whom they are) and are welcomed with open arms and some good grub and wahed and clothed and off they go again ‘dahn dee rohde wiff dee dee crew’……..just chilln…

    I don’t give a crap what the housing situation is at Westgate. There are other facilties that can be used or updated.

    Lets do something a the judiciary level and soon, and lets not condone horrific family and antisocial behavior.

    If you know something…say something. Your Mother or Father could be next.

    Judy said he held a gun to her head. Yes they did and I was not there.

    The tide is rising, and were running out of life jackets.

    Sorry I can’t speak to you now Judy. Mabe later when you have found some calm.

    Terry.

    Comment edited.

  20. I believe part of the focus should be ensuring that the things we already have in place actually work.

    I’ve been told that the National Training Board can prove to not be as helpful as they are advertised to be. Ie, I’ve heard of a number of cases where bureaucracy takes hold, people aren’t well informed of the requirements of the college and the whole process can be disillusioning as the understanding constantly changes.

    Proper independent reviews need to be undertaken of many facets of our island and services.

  21. all of the govt agencies supposed to help the people are inefficient.

    what youve been told is correct @ denis

    no oversight review…means no watch dogs for performance of these programs = people not getting proper service.

  22. Moderation? The net is something.

    A great life too all.

    20 people..and look were we are.

    Man overboard……

  23. Read every day, don’t respond, but this has ripped me to the core. What the capital H is happening to this Island. Can’t anyone take charge of this Island and DO something. This is F scary!!!!!!!!

  24. Hello Susan,

    I am sure everyone can empathise with how you feel, particlarly as there appears to be nothing on the horizon that suggests ‘we’ are in control.

    I really do not know what the answer is, and I don’t think anyone else does either.

    The one thing I do know is that as long as those who do know ‘who does what’ remain silent, then the problem will persist. We ALL have to decide what kind of society we want to live in – and then act accordingly in concert.

    I have an awful feeling that that will never happen here.

  25. Sadly, change must come from within. It has to start with the “parents”. I used qoutes because most parents are not parents anymore. There are lots of opportunities out there but you have to want to change. Start from the bottom and work your way up. I don’t think a lot of people are willing to do this anymore…everyone is looking for the easy way…like selling drugs. It’s always everyone elses fault. If i would have had that attitude i would still be living in the projects but i was smart enough to know if i worked hard i could get out of the rathole i grew up in…and i did. Personal Responsibility.

  26. Spot on Demitrius…

    It is always someone elses fault or responsibility. And until that changes (as a minimum), we will get nowhere.

    Personal accountability.

  27. that personal responsibility speech is played out in this community where the deck is stacked against the working poor and non eliets

    as long as there are no reforms to make th is place equal for all….personal responsibility means nothing

    especially when u have to make choices on what to do to pay that $4000 rent

    that speech is typical of thoese who have made it and look back @ those who are doing whatever they can to survive…. while they stay aloft and snobbish, dont go back to the communities where they escaped from, and not passing on the knowledge to the others so they can get out as well.

    a lot of self rightious BS hot air!

  28. Gang violence is when one or two criminals attack assault or rob a victim or victims lesser the number of the criminals committing the crime. Ten years minimum maximum death. Justifiable reasons determine the sentence as in the case of 42 who beat a junkie for stealing a package or Shutte Burgess vs Cooper Twins case.
    Ronald reagan was shot during a recession, Charles richardson shot the Men of War during a recession. House invasions and crimes against tourist demand zero tolerance. When is this corrupt government going to deliver a stimulus package to create jobs so homeless and jobless can have hope to stay out of jail. Pearman am love for you town alliance!


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