In response to public disquiet, there have been confessions by the Police Service that it cannot protect us.
The archaic and stubborn belief that women are to blame for the attacks upon them persists—although successive Governments have been repeatedly advised that there has to be a policy shift in education in the form of sustained programmes in schools designed to wean young men off the belief that women are entirely subject to their possessive grasp and that any withdrawal from that grasp is to be violently punished.
Nine-time Panorama champion Trinidad All Stars played last Sunday to 20 persons or so in the North Stand at approximately 3.15am on the occasion of the Panorama semifinals on Sunday last.
There is a pattern in these three matters of madness. It is the persistence of the autocracy of male-dominated hierarchies in the Caribbean—some easily and improperly influenced—which permits madness to be repeated.
Regarding the Panorama Sunday, rewind to some ten hours before its conclusion at 5.30pm, when the North Stand was packed but patrons had absolutely no hope of hearing a premier band during the time they had spent there in ever-increasing numbers from midday.
Patrons wherever located at Panorama can never have any hope that they will hear prime bands in prime time. Patrons should be treated to less cluttered fields for both semifinals and finals.
Every year—because of the persistence with the categorisation of bands into small, medium and large—one or more champion bands, depending on the vagaries of the draw for position, will suffer the fate of playing to empty stands.
Nine pm on Panorama Sunday is the cut-off time for patrons with endurance. After a five to eight hour stay, they start leaving for a variety of reasons, including fear for their personal safety, as they make their way back to their vehicles or set out to travel.
To get transport later than that time is difficult and, as it is currently open season for attacks on women, the anxiety of being out anywhere day or night is intense.
Meanwhile, the acknowledgment by all levels of the Police Service that we are not protected is open. Mr Stephen Williams, the hapless acting Commissioner of Police, has reportedly referred to the need for divine intervention.
Whatever one’s religious beliefs, we are entitled to expect from the State something more than prayers—at least in the form of policing that results in the arrest of predators and murderers.
A further confession of police impotence came earlier this month from the President of the Police Social Welfare Association, Inspector Michael Seales.
He was quoted in one newspaper as follows: “It cannot be a good position for our membership who feel exhausted and having no reasonable prospect that things will change given the long hours they are putting in and there is (sic) no reciprocal results consistent with an improvement in prevention, detection and conviction of people committing the acts of criminality especially murders.”
I acknowledge that, like other policemen, Seales has complained about the lack of co-operation from the public in giving the police material information. In that context, even more startling was the reported call of Seales on the Acting Police Commissioner to do more when it comes to the issues of corruption in the Service and of rogue elements.
I have already set out the case for an immediate overhaul of the constitutional arrangements for the Police Service, but what a remarkable display of what Lloyd Best labelled as “un-responsibility”.
How is the public to trust rogue elements? Who better to assist the Police high command in exposing corruption and rogue elements than the Police Social Welfare Association?
The same element of un-responsibility is reflected in victim-blaming and in the consignment of wondrous musicianship and a mighty indigenous work of science, specialising in metallurgy and acoustics, and namely the premier steel orchestras, to the dustbin of empty stands.
A simple re-arrangement of the competitive structure—currently skewed by conflicts of interest—would alter this and produce a show for which persons here and abroad would clamour for tickets.
I cannot say more about the near destruction of the Panorama for spectators because the institutional arrangements will be examined by the High Court in the proceedings which Pan Trinbago has launched against the NCC.
Hopefully, in those proceedings, the proper function of the two statutory bodies—namely the National Carnival Commission and Pan Trinbago—will be sorted out and the status of the Cabinet Note that purported to give control of the three main Carnival events to special interest groups will be determined.
Until then the madness will be repeated at the Panorama final next week, as no large band is likely to grace the stage before 10.20pm, the same time at which the ultimate endurance test started last Sunday.