Posted on

Our storm within


St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is being battered by a storm of gun related crimes and there seems no end in sight.

Over the past seven days, the wave of homicides has been surging to historic proportions and is threatening to breach our barriers of outrage.

Vincentians have asked, are these homicides our own Irma, our own Maria, disasters of such epic proportions that they demand a complete re-evaluation of how we protect ourselves from the death, destruction, and despair that they inflict upon all of us?

This question is not without value. For although the destruction wrought by nature and the destruction imposed by man proceed from different causes, for the relatives and communities of the dead and the maimed, the injury is just as great. And just as there is need for massive state intervention to guarantee the security of our people from the fury of nature, there is the obligation of the state to protect us from the evil of man.

With more women being shot and killed than ever before, with more people being gunned down in broad daylight than ever before, we have opened the gates of impunity, where killers kill without the fear that they will face the full wrath of the state.

We must close that gate and we must do so now. For the impact of these killers resonates far beyond the lives they have destroyed. They have destabilized the social order, engendering fear across the country. And unlike hurricanes like Maria and Irma, who sound the trumpets of their impending arrival a few days before they strike us, these cowardly killers are like thieves in the night stealing human lives without warning.

No one in SVG is immune to the fear and despair arising from this assault against the wellbeing of the nation. It is therefore the enduring responsibility of the machinery of government to use every element of state power to return safety to SVG.

Nothing should be off the table. Police initiated lockdowns of crime infested areas, curfews, states of emergency, extending police tactics of search and seizure, stronger laws that keep violent criminals in jail much longer than they currently do; these are among the suite of options that the Government must consider in asking this fundamental question of itself: ‘How can we bring an immediate relief to the crime crisis that threatens to overwhelm us?’ For this is our Maria.

We can and must rebuild after naturally occurring disasters. But man-made disasters demand a different response. To save the state, we must capture and convict perpetrators, incapacitate would be criminals and destroy the criminal culture within which they breed. For there is no compensation that could reduce the injury of murder. The dead are dead and cannot be made undead. The loss is permanent. We have, therefore, but one choice: we must stop the killers, using every legal means at the disposal of the state.

Herein lies the great distinction between the storms of nature and the worms of man. We cannot stop the Atlantic storms, but we can stop criminals and murderers, or at the very least, significantly reduce the incidence with which they strike.