By Raffique Shah
April 16, 2023
The criminal underworld has expanded and intensified its war against mostly law-abiding citizens by mounting brazen attacks against selected targets in open thoroughfares, damn the innocent victims who are seen as collateral damage. They have expanded ‘home invasions’ to the extent they now dominate the news.
We in the media disseminate news, reports and photos that boost our bottom lines, which counts when the success or failure is measured. What works even better for us is when we recruit experts in various fields whose pronouncements boost our credibility, and graphic designers who turn bloodbaths into acceptable breakfast fare among the decision makers in the society.
So when, last week Thursday on morning television I heard the irrepressible, and in my view reliable former Coast Guard Commander by rank and ex-head of the National Operations Center, Garvin Herah, dismiss the panic call by certain laders in the society for government to declare an emergency, and suggest instead ‘surgical strikes’ against known gang leaders and gangsters. I thought, here’s a man who thinks differently. Like me he was trained in military colleges and would tend to meet senseless violence with superior force and snuff it out before it does us in.
‘Surgical strikes’ as I know them are used in warfare to describe certain operations in a country against high profile targets— say the USA and Afghanistan— in which the former used remotely controlled drones armed with killer weapons and high-tech cameras that clearly identify targets, such as Osama Bin Laden, and unleash their Hellfire missiles.
I do not believe that’s what Heerah meant literally since in any case we do not possess, nor would I suggest they acquire such devastating weapons. What he probably meant was identifying these gang leaders and their ‘gangsta’ proteges who are leaving dead bodies and trails of blood all over the country as they kill, only to fatten their pockets. I don’t think any citizen will have a problem with eliminating known killers before they wipe out half of the districts they control. No, Heerah quite likely means the wealth of intelligence we should have in the relevant agencies be used to effectively stop the carnage by any means necessary.
Anyway, however the politicians may choose to respond to the overwhelming violence visited upon us by this handful of miscreants, Heerah at least offers an alternative that does not need to be anywhere as lethal as Hellfire rockets. For instance, drones can be armed with accurate rifles or machine guns that achieve less ambitious goals without harming innocent people who live nearby the gangsters’ palaces of abode. I don’t see any problem with using such weapons facing as we do heartless, mindless beasts who will kill their own people, innocent people at that, without a second thought.
But I was saying that the politicians, not the national security apparatus, make such decisions. And with so many equally mindless, visionless politicians running the country, we can’t expect much better from them.
Commander Garvin was brave enough to snuff out the idea of emergency powers being given to the above lot which they have used In the past. All they achieved was having to pay fairly sizeable sums to community leaders who live off the treasury and spill blood of innocent people farther and wider than they did before those emergencies. That’s all, nothing else. And, mark you many politicians from different parties share in the contracts rampage that seem to be a permanent feature on the corrupt landscape of this cussed country.
Before I could digest Heerah’s challenge to whoever is in government, to execute the few in order to salvage and make better the lives of the many, on the Tv set was criminologist Dr. Randy Seepersad whose face, cool composure and utter confidence analysed other approaches to dealing with crime. Seepersad who looked and spoke very professionally on different aspects of the causes of criminal behaviour with few suggestions as to how to deal with them, eliminated with dispatch what I understand is a social media phenomenon: assigning race to the crime equation. Before the dimwits could get far with their theory of Indians being the major victims of the bloodbath this country has endured for over the last twenty to forty years, Dr. Seepersad calmly responded: The statistics will show that young African males form the highest cohort of murder victims for many years in our country. And he moved on.
Later psychologist Dr. Haniff Benjamin was on another frequency blasting the mostly Afro-Tobagonian parents who allowed their children to attemd a concert in Tobago in which a young female artiste dished out cusswords like a George Street jamette, so I am told. Haniff is an old hand at dealing with older problems; like other professionals, he does not do the race dance. If only the politicians, the criminals and a population that can reason would listen to such words of wisdom.