Visit from a gun­man?

Jamaica Gleaner - - OPINION&COMMENTARY - Devon Dick Rev Devon Dick is pas­tor of the Boule­vard Bap­tist Church in St An­drew. He is au­thor of ‘The Cross and the Ma­chete’, and ‘Re­bel­lion to Riot’. Send feed­back to col­umns@ glean­erjm.com.

LAST WEEK, a ‘gun­man’ vis­ited me. He an­nounced his ar­rival and pres­ence at the of­fice by stat­ing that he was a ‘don’ and ‘gun­man’ and wanted to speak to me im­me­di­ately. The re­cep­tion­ist told him that I was coun­selling some­one and as soon as I was fin­ished then I would talk with him.

This ‘gun­man’ was in his 40s. He showed me the scars from gun­shots and knife cuts, ob­vi­ously bat­tle-hard­ened. His life has not been easy. He has ex­pe­ri­enced jail time. He has chil­dren, and one of his sons is mak­ing a life of crime to which he claims he dis­ap­proves.

I en­quired why he was an­nounc­ing loudly that he was a ‘gun­man’ and ‘don’. He as­serted that in the in­ner-city gar­ri­son, one has to ap­pear rough and tough oth­er­wise the peo­ple will not re­spect you, and Young Turks will try and take over one’s turf. In fact, while he was im­pris­oned that is what was at­tempted.

I told him that I do not think he is a don for the area be­cause dons are wealthy and he did not have the trap­pings of wealth. He as­sured me that not all dons are wealthy as some have to share the funds from the con­tracts fairly with all cronies, oth­er­wise there will be war. In ad­di­tion, money has to be shared with the el­derly. Ob­vi­ously, gov­ern­ment con­tracts are a source of fund­ing for the crim­i­nal un­der­world and we need to cut off that source.

The ‘gun­man’ stated which political party he is af­fil­i­ated with. He al­leged that politi­cians are still giv­ing them guns to do dirty work in or­der to win gen­eral elec­tions. I ask how that could be since we have an elec­toral sys­tem that is highly re­garded world­wide. He said they have their role in get­ting per­sons to the polling sta­tions and en­sur­ing that they vote!

Ap­par­ently, some politi­cians could have a role to play in al­le­vi­at­ing the high mur­der rate be­ing ex­pe­ri­enced in west­ern Ja­maica and other hotspots. It means that some politi­cian hands are not clean. Too many politi­cians who are oth­er­wise seen as hon­ourable have an­other side with se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions. Why is it the po­lice can­not turn this in­for­ma­tion into ev­i­dence? Per­haps it is be­cause wit­nesses are scared.

A FA­MIL­IAR RING

I had my doubts about his story so I ques­tioned him on political run­nings and hus­tlings. He is well in­formed about political life in his political party of choice.

I gave him the help he sought. I en­cour­aged him to give up the guns and turn a new page in his life. He did not give any as­sur­ance save to keep in touch. I have tried to con­tact him twice since the en­counter to no avail. It was an at­tempt to fur­ther ver­ify his story and to as­cer­tain what steps have been made to change his life­style.

This gun­man’s story has a fa­mil­iar ring in my deal­ings with them. They will not turn in their guns. They tell hor­ror sto­ries of their deal­ings with politi­cians. Af­ter the ini­tial help they never re­turn.

In my 26 years as pas­tor of the Boule­vard Bap­tist Church, I can point to only one suc­cess story of a man who had a past with the gun, turn­ing his life over to God and con­tin­u­ing to walk by his grace. But we have to keep try­ing be­cause our gun­men are get­ting more brazen, as demon­strated in the shoot­ing at a gas sta­tion in Monetgo Bay in broad day­light. This should be a ral­ly­ing call to fight with all our might the scourge of mur­der and may­hem in our so­ci­ety. The se­cu­rity forces have an ar­du­ous task, and as cit­i­zens we have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure they have the nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion to help in serv­ing and pro­tect­ing us.

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