Wham Rasta?! Best gets brutally frank about frankly brutal viral bar video

“Ay, rasta, wham?”

What laudable restraint! What admirable self-control! Having waited, according to the Trinidad Express’ Alexander Bruzual, all day to see Ricardo Jerome, the 36-year-old man accused of assaulting Ruth Marchan (not the former LifeSport director) in a bar, a woman grabbed him—presumably not by the scruff of the neck—and enquired simply, oh so politely: “Ay, Rasta, wham?”

Photo: A dreadlocked menace wreaks havoc in "Predator."
Photo: A dreadlocked menace wreaks havoc in the movie “Predator.”

“Rasta” is lucky; I would have been less kind. My brutally honest answer to the implied question posed by Hazel Griffith, a letter writer in Monday’s Express, is emphatically yes.

Ms Griffith seeks to put the focus not on the “coward, (the) manicou, (the) no kinda man, (the) monster, (the) perpetrator” who is the central figure “in the latest human-on-human abuse video gone viral” but on the “man who slithered away.” She attempts to suggest that many of us would have done the same.

“Of course in hindsight we all would have intervened on the woman’s behalf. We woulda jump een and mash up he so-and-so! Break een he tail!”

Easy as it is to say so now, I am quite certain I would have intervened. I have, inter alia, one deceased mother, one wife, two daughters and six sisters. That makes ten reasons why I would have been incapable of standing idly by—unwilling to “jump een”—in the face of such wanton brutality by an unarmed man.

But this is T&T in 2015, so I have to stress “unarmed.”

And I could so easily have gotten involved since, on my way to and from home, I often pass by the bar in which the incident took place. By the way, attention needs once more to be drawn to the sloppiness that characterises local news reporting.

Mr Bruzual consistently tells us that the incident took place at an establishment “on Arima Old Road in Arouca” reckless of the reality that there is no Arima Old Road in Arouca.

Photo: A reporter on the job.
Photo: A reporter on the job.

And Kalifa Clyne’s Guardian story on Saturday says that “The couple surrendered to the Arouca Police.”

Since when does a victim “surrender” to the police, Ms Clyne?

I suppose Ms Marchan was guilty of aiding and abetting the perpetrator. Or was she wanted for obstructing the police in the performance of their duties since she has reportedly declined to press charges against Jerome?

But I digress.

Also in Friday’s Express, Anna-Maria Mora lays bare her pain at “the public display of brutishness that ruled the social media this past week.”

“The Domestic Violence Act,” she asserts, “must say something about laying a charge without a victim’s statement in cases where there is this public display and the world witnessed.”

But then she ends her thunderous contribution not with the bang her righteous indignation led one to expect but with this whimper: “I guess if it happened behind closed doors and she does not want to lay a charge, well, everyone’s hands are tied.”

No, Anna, I am sorry; ours hands are NOT tied. We should not go gentle, as Dylan Thomas urges about an entirely different circumstance, into that good night.

Photo: A female victim of domestic abuse.
Photo: A female victim of domestic abuse.

Unable to intervene “live” as it were, unable to make Ms Griffith eat her unspoken words, we must feel compelled to intervene ex-post facto. And do rather more than ask: “Aye, Rasta, wham?”

The place to begin is with a reminder that, if the law is often an ass, in this case the law—yeah—is indisputably so. One respects every attorney’s right to defend his client but what gives any lawyer the right to tell the public not to judge his client in the court of public opinion?

And Mr Fareed Ali, who’s making a career out of being the advocate in these causes—not so much célèbres as notoires—has had the foresight to ask the Commissioner of Prisons to keep his presumably innocent-until-proven-guilty client “away from the general prison population.”

Good move! Justice may be “not a cloistered virtue” but the law sometimes needs offenders to be cloistered so that Justice can prevail.

If Ms Marchan had no brother, father or son to protect her when she needed protection against Jerome’s flailing hands and feet, should not Jerome be fearful if he is left accessible to these cloistered fathers, brothers and sons who themselves doubtless have mothers, sisters and daughters?

But the innocent-until-proven-guilty bit is rubbish, Mr Ali, pure, unadulterated, indefensible rubbish!

Photo: A woman cowers in the face of her assailant in the depiction of a domestic abuse incident.
Photo: A woman cowers in the face of her assailant in the depiction of a domestic abuse incident.

In fact, Mr Ali, your client has largely judged himself by turning himself in to the police. And don’t tell me anything, Mr Ali, about innocent until proven guilty. This is 2015, my learned friend. And unless you are telling me that the CCTV footage is faked, you’re going to have to get up very early to convince me that Jerome, picked out by eye-witnesses in an ID parade, is not guilty.

The evidence may not be justiciable but it is irrefutable.

So the issue is not whether Jerome is guilty but whether the law can prove it.

What then is the problem?

Even if, as Ms Mora points out, the Domestic Violence Act requires that there be a complainant and Ms Marchan refuses to press charges or be sworn as a witness, why are we insisting that Jerome be charged under the DVA?

Who cares if this barbarian is charged under Karl Hudson-Phillips’ odious repealed Sedition Bill or Anand Ramlogan’s flawed Anti-Gang Act, just so long as he does not get away scot-free?

Ms Clyne’s Guardian story says that the police have “at least seven eye- witnesses to the events,” some of whom have already given them statements. It adds an opinion from a former policeman-turned-attorney that the authorities can find less obvious charges to slap on the perpetrator if they are “clever or innovative.”

Photo: A police officer helps his colleague with his stripes.
Photo: A police officer helps his colleague with his stripes.

That’s asking a lot of our police but I feel sure there are scores of clever or innovative legal people who would offer their services for free to see this barbarian put away.

And we all, Anna, must do our part to see that the arrangements are in place to ensure that the many-headed hydra that is domestic violence is repeatedly decapitated. It is not enough to tell the victims to scream quietly so as not to disturb the neighbours.

So I am going to stop now and go listen to some soothing music. First up is Nappy Myers.

“Bring back the old time days,/bring back the old time ways./I know everything must change/but ah still love the old time ways.”

And when I have heard enough of that to be reasonably calm, I’m going to see if I can find a recording of Lord Caruso’s pre-Independence calypso: “Run the Gunslingers.”

Photo: Django (right) rescues a slave and administers a flogging of his own in the movie "Django Unchained."
Photo: Django (right) rescues a slave and administers a flogging of his own in the movie “Django Unchained.”

“When the police hold them/and they arrest them,” it says, “do not fight them,/don’t imprison them./Put them in the square,/ let everybody be there./Beat them with the cat;/all who see bound to done with that!”

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  1. A way must be found to charge him other than the Domestic Violence Act. It happened in a public place and there is other convincing evidence. Yes we should all ask ourselves if I saw this why would I not intervene?

  2. Lasana Liburd is Bill Cosby doing a piece next week on the prevalence of rape culture?

  3. Ali may be a member of that club and therefore sees nothing wrong with his client’s actions. Of course he may also be a single only child.

  4. Gotta love his lawyer eh: “Ali described the public’s reaction to the video as outrageous saying it was a “storm in a tea cup”

  5. Excerpt: “Asked by the Magistrate about Jerome’s record, the police indicated they did a preliminary search, using his name rather than searching his fingerprints, and found he had pending matters relating to firearm and ammunition charges as well as a wounding charge,

    Through his attorney Fareed Ali, Jerome indicated that the matters were about 15 years old and were dismissed,”

  6. Excerpt: “As part of the conditions of his bail Jerome has been ordered to refrain from contacting the victim, with whom he has a nine-year-old son. The woman resides at the home of Jerome’s mother in La Horquetta. He is scheduled to reappear in court tomorrow.”
    The victim’s age was given as 26. So, she had a child for her assailant at 16 or 17 when the man was around 26. She was still a child.
    Maybe that says something about the power balance of their relationship too.

  7. The only thing that could possibly beat back this article and comment thread for irony would be Bill Cosby doing a think-piece on the prevalence of rape culture.

  8. One of the challenges the police had is in the choice of charge they wanted to lay. If it was assault occasioning actual bodily harm, or grievous bodily harm then a medical would be required to prove the injuries. However, a common assault or battery does not require proof of injury. Battery is the unlawful application of violence; again no proof of injury required. With respect to a recanting victim (assault or otherwise) the challenge lies in the quality of evidence the investigators secured. What is required generally is the police to gather enough evidence at the scene in the form of photographs, video, eye witness testimony, the responding officer’s observations . Such evidence must be of sufficient quality to sustain the case in the event the victim recants. Note that in no first world country does a DV case automatically fail because of a recanting victim.

  9. Earl

    This sad incident exposes something within our society regarding victimization of women and children. It exists in many other societies but not because they are wrong means we have to be wrong too. Recently, Minister 2 Pull in hotels with women that are being trafficked, adult men throwing small children to the ground and “boyfriend” kicking girlfriend on video. The Crime and Problem Analysis(CAPA) Unit data reveals that from 2004-2014 there were 357 women murdered (52% African descent; 35% East Indian descent). The highest number of murders were committed by the partner of the victim i.e. husband, including common-law husband, ex-husband, fiance, boyfriend and ex-husband. If this many murders in 10 years, imagine the amount surviving the abuse.

    There are relationship challenges that may cause individuals to physically and emotionally abuse each other. However, when I listen to how people (men, women, children) talk about how to modify behavior of children and women; I am shocked at how large violence is part of the equation. Often the violence is not executed but its inferred and always a viable option to get the desired result from a women or child. Where does this come from? Why is it so accepted? I am not a sociologist/therapist/psychologist/cultural anthropologist but I recognize that for many African descent people the behavior is similar to how women and children were treated during slavery. There are centuries of trauma that we need to understand, process and realize how it affects our ability to handle relationships.

    Lastly, my attempt at identifying a possible manner to understand is in no way meant to stop the punishment of the abusers, however in order for the abusers to be able to change their behavior we must understand why they are doing what they do. Why they even imagine that its acceptable to treat women and children in this manner. Sadly, they likely learned this behavior and abusing them will not solve the sickness.

    • Sean,
      There’s no disputing the truth of your last paragraph. But are we not implicitly encouraging the behavior when we fail to punish the transgressors? I think a justice system that works well has a built-in deterrent effect. And certainly the public show righteous indignation provoked by cases such as the current one suggests that large numbers of people are afraid that justice will not be served. But “Don’t imprison them; (…) Put them in the square (and …) beat them with the cat” is merely a metaphor for ensuring that a clear, unambiguous message is sent to would-be offenders.

  10. Thanks Mr. Best for your commentary, and as always Lasana, for the space for such.
    I don’t know the law, but how difficult will it be for right thinking persons to change/amend/create legislation, to take the decision away from the victim? Can the law not simply be, that if one attacks another human being, that he or she WILL be charged?? No one asks the animal if it wanst to press charges when humans are cruel to it. No one asks the traffic light if it wants to press charges when the reckless driver runs the red light. There is no grey area in abuse, so their should be no grey area in handing out punishment for abusers.

  11. I think as a society, both men and women need counsel and good judgement on choosing the right partners too! That poor woman, being beaten on the ground like an animal, like a pest, she’s the mother of his child and he kicked her in her stomach and in her face and then got a metal pipe and had no mercy when beating her with an effing pipe!!!

    If she was my sister/cousin/friend I would help her as best as I can and if she keeps retuning to the abuse, I think the next best step is to get collective help, let a group of other people help too… But, my question always comes back… Let’s say the whole of Trinidad and Tobago jumps in to help but she still wants to stay with him and she loves him then what next?

  12. They really say after one time is two, oui.

  13. Video evidence needs to be accepted in our courts so that matters such as these go straight to sentencing instead of wasting the court’s time and adding to the backlog.

    • Chabeth, How do we effectively agitate for that, that is the crucial question. Any ideas?

      • Is this really something for which we should have to agitate? It is 2015. It’s outrageous that there can be video evidence of somebody committing a crime and that that video cannot be admissible in court.
        So beyond asking our parliamentarians to employ basic common sense and pass legislation to avoid the absurdity of giving somebody who is on tape clearly committing a crime the opportunity to plead not guilty and waste the state’s time and resources? No, I have no ideas. ?
        Our political system really doesn’t allow for impactful agitation. It’s very rare that agitation yields results. Make some fundamental changes to the Constitution and we may end up with the power to effectively agitate. But what politician really wants that?

        • There’s the rub, sister. But if we remember that the politicians are there to serve the people – in real terms, not KPB’s lip service sloganeering – we might be on to something. Can’t we find some way to let the politicians know that’s it’s not what THEY want but it’s what WE want. Or is that the idealism of, haha, youth?

          • I think if we witness the emergence of a political party committed to the devolution of power away from politicians and toward the people, as well as introducing campaign finance legislation and reform, we would be able to determine if it is actually something we the people want based on the level of support we give to that party. But at the moment neither party even offers it as an option so we don’t vote for the party we think will most help or empower us but for the one we think will least hurt or victimise us.

    • and I am given to undertstand that it is this pnm government in opposition voted against allowing video evidence? ???

    • If so, I would love to hear the context of that vote.

    • The Administration of Justice Act, which contained section 34 is that to which you refer?

  14. I lost all interest in this story when I saw the longer version of the video and realized after the beating the woman jumped in his vehicle left with the man. I can’t study your well being more than you studying it.

    • That is the really confusing thing about domestic violence to me. Maybe she followed him out of fear though.
      Nobody was standing up for her.

    • Some may say I’m heartless and I don’t realize how helpless victims of domestic violence feel but all I hear when people tell me those types of things is blah blah blah blah.

    • Victims of domestic violence believe they deserve what they get. If you believe you’re wrong and want to make amends, you can’t do that without returning to the situation.
      They honestly believe they were wrong and shouldn’t have done whatever to anger the brute.
      It takes time and effort to pull someone from that mentality and help them see they deserve better.

    • The general rule is there cannot be a crime without a victim. And that is where the confusion comes in Chabeth Haynes.
      Renee Cummings, can you give any insight into this one?

      • Each crime has a definition that requires certain elements to be be present and successfully proven for a conviction. The prosecution, prosecutes. The role of the victim is usually to bring the crime to the attention of the authorities and then to give evidence that will fulfill the requirements for a successful conviction. In this situation the crime was brought to the attention of the police from another source. The refusal of the victim means that the prosecution does not have her evidence but there is still the evidence in the video. There are procedures to admit video evidence. They may just may be a bit more unwieldy without specific legislation. Consider the State spent a lot of money on CCTV cameras. Once there is evidence beyond reasonable doubt regardless of whether the victim gave evidence or not, a conviction can be secured. The accusers in this case would be the witnesses. The defence can cross examine them. I don’t know what defence he is running but the prosecution has to get over the hurdle that the person in the video is the person charged. Un-cooperating victims make the process more difficult and sometimes not worth the effort…..but not impossible. Finally consider the last time a murder victim reported the crime and gave oral evidence in court.

        • How could it be a hurdle for the prosecution to prove that the guy in the video is the guy charged? He went to the police. Nobody else went to the police because nobody else is the guy in the video.

    • Not following you, Lasana Liburd. There are victims of domestic abuse. That doesn’t mean the victims choose to be complainants in legal matters. So the crime is committed even if charges can’t be laid. No?

    • Usually an assailant gets to face his accuser in court. That’s what the legal system is built on I think. I no expert eh.
      In most cases, there won’t even be video evidence although I’m sure there will be other marks of violence.
      But I’m a bit stumped in proceeding when the “victim” says she is not a victim.

    • D 1st day i see she bring food for him I wasn’t charging him with one ass

      • Wrong reaction, Nicole! She probably is beyond the pale but it’s not about HER so much as about all of us. What does Shakespeare say about judgement flying to brutish breasts and men losing their reason? WE need an intervention that will as far as possible forestall repetition.

    • Lasana Liburd ..the victim was threatened to be thrown a chair if she did not leave with him..that took place after he returned and grabbed her bag from the table…is when he was demanding she leave, with him>

      this event more than any other made me give some serious thought and theoretical study…i started with stockholm syndrome…the practice, phenomenon and behavior of humans repeating behaviors that is detrimental to their total and physical wellbeing, yet they stay present and participating?

      do you know what clued me in? trinidad as a country? its citizens. our stockholm syndrome in the life and lack of quality of life we live here, being subjected to the abusers known as prime ministers and political parties, borne and supported by their victims, their sickophants and citizens…who themselves have become abusers by corrupting, thieving, and participating in illegality and treachery against other citizens)…but the issue i figured out is this…about victims.

      They have No Where To GO. They Have not a soul to flee to. There is no one existing on the planet (the planet being their world as narrowly construed , conceived, and real- cause face it, does this victim have the ability to flee the country?) to protect them. So what is their choice (There is no choice) but to stay where they are. Beyond it being all they know. THey havent any other option>

      Me being able to see it is no different , there is no difference between children beaten by parents, adults and caretakers, to old people beaten by those they rely on to care for them, or women who are beaten and brutalized, savaged in ways we cannot imagine…and us citizens…all of us…what can we do? where can we go? how do we find power as subjugated as we are?

      I feel my argument lost steam in that last sentence, cause there is power available to the so-called victim, if only they wake up and see it, but it is the same dynamic for all…no one is willing to do what it takes and what it takes, are risks that are not guaranteed, and really and truly, as far away as being no solution at all.

      it reads fatalistic but the funny thing is all will critique and deny it, but living the life of the abused. at least in this trinidad culture and state.

      in any case, i have learned to be gracious with those living a reality i have been saved from and stay away from demons and beasts who victimize people repeatedly in cycles.

    • Well Lasana, we could just change the law so that anybody could be the accuser once the crime is videotaped. I’d happily stand as his accuser.
      Nicole, you’ve never had a friend or relative in a violent relationship? I’ve had people ask me if they should go back and I’ve said no and all the reasons why and rattled off all available options and all the ways life would be fine without him and still seen the victim return after a couple of days.

      • @ Chabeth Hayes – Chabeth, I agree with you, I’ve also interacted with victims of domestic abuse, sometimes talking for days with them and counselling/shaking them like the right thinking family member/friend that I am…. Only one or two days later they go back because they really “love” the abuser and then things go back to normal in their relationship and I’m left looking like the donkey that tried to “mash up tings” between the couple. How must we as women and men intervene when sometimes the end result is when you as the one who tries to help ends up being blamed now for the situation? How much times must we assist a particular case? Let’s say we assist once, the victim goes back, twice and the victim goes back, thrice and the victim goes back, four times and the victim goes back etc… How much more can YOU as a sane individual keep putting your hand in fire to help a situation where the victim herself/himself doesn’t want your help and blames you for helping her/him after??? Answers anyone? I want to help! But I’ve learnt in the past to stay away from marrid people business…. I still help and it makes no sense.

        • I repeat what I said to someone else on this thread: We have to see that we are helping ALL OF US through the help we give to anyone one of us. So long as you have done it to the least of my sisters sort of stuff but not in some jejune, moralizing kind of way. We have to strive to make it impossible for brutes who have lost their reason not to get away unscathed.
          And that demands the patience to make consistent interventions at the individual AND at the collective level, especially in a philistine, largely unfeeling, deadened society such as ours has become over time.
          I think it works sort of in the way water wears away concrete…

        • I don’t think we can continue to try to help when it starts becoming detrimental to us. Especially if we have kids etc.
          But the other side of this is that while we continue to try to help victims we also have to understood and address the root causes of domestic violence . We will make little progress on this issue as a society if for every victim we save another abuser is raised.

    • Honestly Chabeth Haynes I don’t believe so. Unless they’ve been extremely successful at hiding it. I’m not saying a man cannot hit me; but he will only do it 3 times…… the 1st, the last and the only time. And I might be the one being charged at the end of it!!!!

    • I didn’t know what was said Maven Huggins. But I’m not surprised that the woman acted out of fear.
      There is the consideration as to whether the police can protect us too Nicole Ulerie.
      I see it is rumored that the woman was on a date with the man who walked out. I don’t know if that is true or not.

    • I don’t think she was on a “date”. Her female friend was in the bathroom when the guy walked in.

    • But he told her not to go out that day and well obviously she didn’t “listen”.

    • Lasana Liburd if that is true…she clearly did not exercise good judgment if she is having drinks with another man-family, friend or foe-in the man’s bar (as far as I read). Maven Huggins there clearly is a system of support that is lacking. These victims, just like the victims of drug abuse, have to reach their own low before deciding to seek help. And with a population that seems generally to not be empathetic to the woman’s mental, emotional and psychological well being, where and who does she turn for help? A halfway house in Trinidad where everyone knows everyone in Trinidad? This woman needs some counselling for herself and her child for a period of time to wean herself physically, financially and emotionally from that man.

    • Nicole Ulerie I have friends who have been physically and emotionally abused. And I was shocked when I learned about it (long after the fact) because they wouldn’t strike you as the type to put up with that stuff. And they were financially independent women. It’s easy for us to say what we wouldn’t do in a given situation, but many of us have demons that hold us in place.

    • Well I can say with 100 % certainty that me one is not taking no lash from no man and staying there. Might stay boil some oil and douse yuh ass when yuh sleeping….. but daz about it

    • Liselle Yorke yup…take Whitney Houston (r.i.p) for eg. And these abusers like they have x-ray machines to recognize vulnerable ppl. Even for ‘successful’ women, it is hard to admit you exercise d bad judgment, and you are afraid that ppl would look at you with judgment. We don’t know what ppl are going through, it is often easy to judge but put yourself in their shoes and you may feel differently.

    • Lasana Liburd people have been saying she was horning with the guy at the table because the first video everywhere present did not show that there were three people at the table, another woman was in the bathroom when the brutalizer came into the bar, at the time just the male and the victim were there. in the subsequent ian alleyne coverage, that woman finally emerged, and actually shielded the woman in the corner, after the man pulled her up from the floor

      • Maven, the horning issue is a red herring. And if the reports of the history of the relationship are anywhere near true, it would be a surprise if she didn’t look for a little love somewhere. No, we have to condemn that brutality for its own sake and not seek even obliquely to justify or explain it.

    • I also figure mr woman beater doesn’t share licks from the first date.
      Perhaps he grooms his victims.
      Chabeth I don’t know who she went out with. One news site said it was the man who appeared to be sitting at the table with her.

    • Nerisha Mohammed …yes Nerisha…”lack of support”…it was reported on doh geh wax page, at the video…that the woman who came in black, who everybody thought was trying to intervene, Actually is her sister, is reported involved with him as well, and she came with the beater, in the same black xtrail. that video..ian alleyne.

    • Lol… so because there was another female present mean she wasn’t with the man that walk out. Allyuh living a different reality boy

    • and that was not the man’s bar. the mans bar is at the junction of arouca, if you driving north of that exit, it is directly in front of you to the left a bit. the bar where the incident took place was in arima

    • She coulda be wid 10 man in the de bar. Still no reason to do what he did.

    • Lasana Liburd …

      “mr woman beater does not share licks from the first date…”

      read…this is one of six. I have not gotten past three.
      read them


    • Agreed. But the the video had no sound nor were any of us there. So I dunno who is who, who was with who or who was doing what there. All I know is she get brutalized and jump in d car with her brutalizer and left

    • In the USA there is a general push to more severely punish the attacker in domestic violence cases than if the abuse was between two strangers


    • And my gran mudda always say niggagram never play no good tune. So ah hear and he say and she say never have any impact on my thinking

    • Just like when we had that Cosby rape thread going and those guys couldn’t understand what we were trying to explain to them about rape and I said to them that they are very fortunate not to have had anybody close to them be raped, you are very fortunate Nicole not to know any victims of domestic violence. Because it really is a much more complex issue that you’re making it sound. Starting with, it’s not a matter of he brutalized me, it’s a matter of I got what I deserve because I did x y and z wrong and I will be better so that I don’t get him vex again. And they go and change x,y, and z but then it’s a,b, and c. And no matter how much they change, they are still wrong and believe they are still wrong. it is a hell of a psyche to witness.

    • Thanks Chandani Boodoo. Very helpful.

      • And thanks, Chabeth Haynes, for simplifying a complex issue in terms the most chauvinistic, the most feminine-side-contact-challenged of us can understand.

  15. Domestic Violence is not a simple issue. I can safely guess that she believes it’s her fault and he is also blaming her for beating her. Craziness!!! It’s sad that any women should have to experience that type of treatment. That “man” is the lowest form of human.

    • And that, Sherlan, is our problem. He is – and he is one of us, flesh and blood, not a figment of someone’s imagination, not a denizen of New York or Paris or London or Berlin.
      Which is why, I stress, consistent, persistent interventions are needed at all levels first to identify the problem as a REAL problem and then to strive towards workable solutions perhaps in the medium term if not in the short…

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