Longevity of gangs in Ja sim­i­lar to Crips, Bloods in US

Jamaica Gleaner - - SOCIAL - Ja­son Cross Gleaner Writer ja­son.cross@glean­erjm.com

DECADES OF war be­tween the Crips and Bloods, two of Amer­ica’s most in­fa­mous gangs, op­er­at­ing in a coun­try where law-en­force­ment of­fi­cials pos­sess some of the best equip­ment in crime-fight­ing, has con­vinced Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice Dr Carl Wil­liams that the dis­man­tling of gangs in Ja­maica will be a dif­fi­cult task.

Wil­liams, ad­dress­ing the Univer­sity of the West In­dies Open Cam­pus/National Po­lice Col­lege of Ja­maica in­au­gu­ral stag­ing of a re­gional sem­i­nar ad­dress­ing gang-re­lated crimes, in­sisted that the long­stand­ing ex­is­tence of gangs in Ja­maica is not a prob­lem unique to the is­land.

The sem­i­nar, tak­ing place at the Mona Vis­i­tors’ Lodge at the Mona cam­pus of the Univer­sity of the West In­dies in St Andrew, was at­tended by national se­cu­rity stake­hold­ers.

The com­mis­sioner in his ad­dress nar­rowed down law en­force­ment’s fail­ure to dis­man­tle gangs to the lack of ad­e­quate re­sources.

“When (peo­ple) ask about the longevity of gangs, I tell them it is not as sim­ple as it seems. When you look at the sit­u­a­tion in Los An­ge­les, Cal­i­for­nia, where the Crips and the Bloods have been at it for the last 40plus years, then you would un­der­stand that with all the re­sources that law en­force­ment has in the United States, and they can’t get rid of two gangs that have been around and cre­at­ing prob­lems for a long time. You (will then) re­alise the mag­ni­tude of our prob­lem in Ja­maica. With our scarce re­sources, it’s go­ing to be dif­fi­cult,” Wil­liams said.

SPIKE IN CRIME

Alarm­ingly, Wil­liams said the na­tion is cur­rently see­ing an un­usual spike in the num­ber of dif­fer­ent gangs across the is­land en­gaged in vi­o­lent con­flicts, all at the same time.

Gangs in a num­ber of parishes, in­clud­ing Kingston, St Cather­ine and St James, have launched deadly at­tacks on each other in re­cent weeks.

There has also been an in­crease in in­tra-gang con­flicts, giv­ing way to blood­let­ting.

“Right now, we are in the mid­dle of an up­surge of crime that we’ve been see­ing. Rarely have we seen a case where so many gangs are in con­flict at the same time. It’s hap­pen­ing from east to west,” Wil­liams stressed.

He noted that a ma­jor con­trib­u­tor to the con­tin­ued violence is the fact that com­mu­nity mem­bers con­tinue to shield thugs.

“At some point, you don’t even know where the gang stops and where the com­mu­nity starts. You have pas­sive and ac­tive sup­port from some of the com­mu­ni­ties. [In] The com­mu­ni­ties, it seems to me, there are some sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship de­vel­op­ing be­tween com­mu­ni­ties and the gangs. The gangs rely on the com­mu­nity for sup­port and the com­mu­nity re­lies on the gangs for pro­tec­tion. That is par­tic­u­larly prob­lem­atic be­cause the gang is seen as pro­vid­ing a func­tion.”

Min­is­ter of National Se­cu­rity Robert Mon­tague noted that pro­tec­tion pro­vided by gangs usu­ally comes at a great cost to res­i­dents.

“They (res­i­dents) have be­come im­pris­oned by fear, and gripped in cy­cles of violence that leave fam­i­lies griev­ing, busi­nesses de­stroyed, peo­ple bru­tally killed, and the col­lapse of so­cial or­der and com­mu­nity life,” he said.

RUDOLPH BROWN/PHOTOGRAPHER

Robert Mon­tague (cen­tre), min­is­ter of national se­cu­rity, speaks with Dr Carl Wil­liams (right), com­mis­sioner of po­lice, while Martha Ce­cilia Jaber, Mex­i­can am­bas­sador to Ja­maica, looks on dur­ing the UWI Open Cam­pus and Ja­maica Con­stab­u­lary Force In­au­gu­ral Re­gional Con­fer­ence on Polic­ing and Se­cu­rity, held on Tues­day at the Mona Vis­i­tor’s Lodge in St Andrew.

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