CAM­ERAS THAT CCTV NOT!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Rick Wayne

Per­haps the prime min­is­ter had 1998 in mind when in a tele­vised speech on 8 March 2015 he said: “The is­sues touch a raw nerve—our battle against crime, vi­o­lence and law­less­ness in our midst. It is, there­fore, ironic that I am ad­dress­ing you on this sub­ject at this junc­ture when, for the first time in more than a decade, we have not had a homi­cide in Jan­uary or Fe­bru­ary.”

By “the is­sues,” the prime min­is­ter re­ferred to par­tic­u­lar in­ci­dents con­nected to the con­tro­ver­sial IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tion that cen­tered on al­leged ex­tra-ju­di­cial ex­e­cu­tions by mem­bers of the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force.

As for the com­par­i­son of the at­mos­phere on the evening of 8 March 2015 with that of “more than a decade ago,” this was what the prime min­is­ter had said in March 1998: “Af­ter the car­ni­val is over and the Len­ten sea­son be­gins, a Chris­tian so­ci­ety is usu­ally ex­pected to begin a process of re­flec­tion and recom­mit­ment. It is the quiet sea­son where each of us seek [sic] to build upon our hu­man strengths and ad­dress those weak­nesses which af­flict us through­out most of our lives. But there are those among us who in­stead see the Len­ten sea­son as a time to kill; a time to ter­ror­ize our peace-lov­ing com­mu­nity and to play out their in­ter­nal quar­rels in our streets.”

He ref­er­enced the killing on 4 March that year of Michael ‘Ga­boo’ Alexander who was shot dead as he rode his ex­er­cise bike near the Balata com­mu­nity dur­ing the lunch hour.

“The killing was swift and pro­fes­sional and the killers made their es­cape through a nearby ba­nana field,” the prime min­is­ter said. “The killers were masked and the few eye­wit­nesses could only pro­vide the po­lice with in­for­ma­tion on the num­ber of per­sons in­volved; not de­tailed de­scrip­tions.”

Apart from the car­ni­valLent as­so­ci­a­tion, not much has changed since 1998; cer­tainly not when it comes to mur­der and may­hem in the streets of Cas­tries. It turns out that while the prime min­is­ter had seen irony in the fact that Jan­uary and Fe­bru­ary 2015 had proved mur­der-free, the un­re­ported rapes, the knif­ings and the shoot­ings con­tin­ued as usual. That in two months no one had ac­tu­ally suf­fered vi­o­lent death had more to do with the luck of the draw, as they say, than with any­thing else.

Of course, for some there was in the prime min­is­ter’s state­ment more than a hint of sar­casm. Was he sug­gest­ing those re­spon­si­ble for the Len­ten-sea­son homi­cides over the last decade had them­selves been laid to rest? Or was the irony he sensed re­lated to the uni­formed sus­pects in the un­law­ful killings of those who con­sid­ered Lent “a time to ter­ror­ize and kill?”

Only the prime min­is­ter knows for cer­tain the mes­sage he sought on the re­mem­bered oc­ca­sion to con­vey to the na­tion. Re­gard­less of his se­cret in­ten­tions, how­ever, there can be no deny­ing he spoke a tad too soon. Over the last six days, four cit­i­zens have been shot dead in the street, the last on Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

Alas, there has been on the most re­cent fa­tal shoot­ings not a word, not a word, not a word. Not from the prime min­is­ter who is cel­e­brat­ing with Ja­maicans a visit by Pres­i­dent Obama. Will the prime min­is­ter take the op­por­tu­nity to beg for Amer­i­can as­sis­tance in fight­ing the crim­i­nal­ity that once again has ex­ploded in our streets, ev­i­dently be­yond the de­pleted re­sources of the RSLPF? In the mean­time not a word, not a word, not a word from the act­ing prime min­is­ter who al­ways takes his cue from his boss, not from the peo­ple who elected him!

On Sun­day I pho­tographed the scene of the homi­cide that had taken place sev­eral hours ear­lier, near the Chaussee Road end of Morne DuDon. The vic­tim’s blood had not yet been washed from the pave­ment where he had fallen un­der a rain of bul­lets. But what left me al­most in a state of shock was that mere feet from where the fa­tal shoot­ing had oc­curred, an unseeing CCTV stood guard.

My in­ves­ti­ga­tion un­cov­ered an­other hor­rid fact: the CCTV at the Morne DuDon crime scene and oth­ers at the city’s so-called hotspots had been pur­chased by the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment with lit­tle ex­pert in­put. The cam­eras were “ob­so­lete by the time they were set up” was how my in­formed source put it.

Ad­di­tion­ally, a team of spe­cially trained mon­i­tors had long ago been re­as­signed. Which is to say, even if the cam­eras had been op­er­a­tional it is un­likely any good would’ve come of that. Is any­one in this coun­try of ours se­ri­ous about any­thing?

The last of­fi­cial word on the unseeing CCTV came from our equally sight­less Jus­tice Min­is­ter. He has promised the cam­eras will soon be see­ing again.

Funny?

Barely ten yards from this util­ity pole a man was shot dead on Sun­day morn­ing.

But the CCTV, fast asleep above the ice-on-sale sign, saw noth­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.