Just so that there could be no doubt as to the purpose of Friday’s walkabout in Enterprise, Chaguanas, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon, chest puffed out, walked with Deputy Commissioner (Crime) Wayne Dick swinging breezily at his side—hanging slightly to the right.
Dick was massive. Verily, Dillon was well pleased with himself.
Unruly Isis? Rasta City? Meet Babylon Boops.
What could possibly go wrong?
Well, even strong, successful corporations can struggle outside of their own turfs, as they try to transplant a winning formula. Colorado-based brewery, Coors, for instance, had trouble selling beers to a Spanish-speaking audience. The company eventually discovered that the Spanish version of its slogan “Turn It Loose” translated into a colloquial term for having diarrhoea.
And, with that imagery in mind, Mr Live Wire turns now to Dillon’s staged dick-measuring competition in Enterprise.
Abdul “Krysis” Wakeel, a self-confessed Unruly Isis gang member, was trying to share his street knowledge with the media in the hope of adding context to a recent explosion of violence.
“It wasn’t a problem that started jes so. People didn’t just get up one day and pick up a gun and say, listen, we’re going and kill everybody in Bagaloo. And people in Bagaloo didn’t just get up one day, pick up their guns and say we going and kill people in Crown Trace.
“It have a solution to the problem but the problem is… We seeing all the violence and we thinking to weself the problem is the violence. But it had something that lead to the violence…”
Just weeks away from SEA examinations, Mr Live Wire would like to give Standard Five students the first crack at this multiple choice poser:
If Dillon was in Enterprise with the intention of dealing with the crime situation on the ground, should he:
(a) listen attentively to the local gang member as he gave his view on the genesis of violent crime in the area
(b) interrupt him
(c) troll him mercilessly
(d) show off his big, brash Dick
(e) all of the above, barring anything that might possibly lead to a constructive outcome.
Well, judge for yourself whether Dillon elevated the conversation on gang violence or destroyed any chance the media had of getting useful insights from the streets.
Dillon: “You are not the fellah that was on the video and thing?”
Dillon: “You were on the video talking a certain way?”
Dillon: “You were the person, right?”
Wakeel: “Yeah. That was me.”
Dillon: “You were the one who has been talking like that?”
To be fair, Dillon was not necessarily trolling. Using history as the guide, Mr Live Wire’s view is that the former brigadier has already outed himself as being as sharp as a butter knife.
President Anthony Carmona had to swear him in twice as National Security Minister in September 2015—and, two years later, he still appears not to have come to grips with his portfolio.
On Friday at least, Dillon was trying to make a point.
Dillon: “Talking in a certain way that bring this population in a sense of unease.”
This time, he dispensed with the question mark.
Wakeel: “No, well you have to understand something…”
Dillon: “No, no, no, no. Wait. This is not a question of understanding. I am talking to you. You are the person who has been doing that. You are responsible for that. Nobody else… You are responsible for that right? You are responsible for that. Don’t blame it on no situation and no circumstances.”
The DIY manual for making a disastrous entrance into a new market gives step one as ignore local experts in your respective field.
Dillon was off to a flying start; Wakeel was confused.
Wakeel: “It is obvious it is me speaking there…”
Dillon: “You are responsible for that.”
Wakeel: “Yeah but I…”
Dillon: “What do you intend to change?”
Dick (hanging to Dillon’s right): “You responsible or not? You responsible.”
Such sophisticated interrogation. If this is the level of cross-examination that takes place at police stations around the country, is it any wonder that so many suspects end up being released without charge?
Dillon and Dick were unwilling—or genuinely unable—to grasp what Wakeel was trying to say. Sharp as a tack, however, the younger man immediately spotted what the poldier duo was getting at. He tried to get at the big picture.
Wakeel: “Nobody can’t implement me [or be] blaming me [to paint the picture that] what happen in this community is my fault.”
Dillon would have none of it. He wanted things nice and small. Except for Dick.
Dillon: “No, no, no. I am talking about the video…”
Wakeel: “You can’t implement me and make me feel…”
Dick: “No, no, no. Listen. No disrespect. We are talking to you with respect… We don’t (thump) deal (thump) with (thump) disrespect. (He beat his chest after each word). No disrespect. If we talking to you in a order, respond in an order.”
Funny how lawmen are always telling young men and women not to behave aggressively towards others in a juvenile, misguided belief that respect is an important intangible worth fighting over.
Slapping his chest in front of the television cameras, Dick was showing Wakeel who the real gang leader was on that day. Bad man don’t take no backchat!
On the other side of the young man, Dillon was speaking his piece at the same time.
Dillon: “Daiz all I want. You’re the one in the video and you said ‘yes’. And therefore what you did in the video was to send a sense of unease. And therefore what I am saying to you (is) don’t blame any circumstance for that. You and only you made a choice to make that video… No circumstance made you do anything. Unless you inherently want to do it, you always have a choice. To do or not to do.”
Was this a demonstration of ‘good cop, bad cop’ interrogation technique? Or was it more like classic ‘self-absorbed minister, self-absorbed deputy commissioner’?
An imam, part of Wakeel’s entourage, chimed in.
Imam: “The video was made a very long time ago and he did apologise for it.”
Dillon: “Well, I don’t know about the apology.”
Wakeel: “Well, I made a live apology. So you saw the video where they were talking all the bad things about me but you didn’t see the video where I […] was revealing all the police officers in crookedness, [where] I telling you all the officers who getting paid by certain drug lords, [where] I telling you who all the drug lords is, who bringing in all the gun?”
Maybe Dillon was too busy listening to Sacha Singh’s DIY “Mistress 101” audio blogs to get around to a former gang leader sharing information on corrupt policemen and the mechanics of the underworld.
And, curiously, Dillon didn’t seem terribly interested in hearing more about seedy policemen on the day either. Nor was Dick, who seemed only concerned with offences against etiquette.
Dillon: “Are you prepared to provide all that information?”
Dick: “You could talk to me right now.”
Dillon: “Are you prepared to provide it?”
Wakeel must have felt as though he was in the Twilight Zone.
Wakeel (mouth open with an incredulous expression): “But I went live… And the video live?”
DIY manual for making a disastrous entrance into a new market step two is this: Be very selective about what you hear.
Dillon: “The ACP of Crime is here. Are you prepared to bring that information?”
Wakeel: “Of course.”
Dillon: “Are you prepared?”
Wakeel: “Without a doubt.”
Dillon: “Fine. Well, you are well on your way to changing the behaviours.”
Mr Live Wire thinks Wakeel was going around in circles trying to talk to Dillon and Dick. Remarkably, the young man didn’t think so. He still tried to make a point on the crime situation in Enterprise.
Wakeel: “The problem is… I want the world to know this, the Boss…”
Dick: “Not the Boss, Mr Dick. I am not a boss.”
Which, of course, was not true. Dick is a boss. But, on Friday, the presence in Enterprise of the high-ranking police was not about truth; it was about posturing, about appearances, about how it go look..
DIY manual for making a disastrous entrance into a new market step three: Dismiss local culture and idioms.
Ford once had a tough time selling Pinto cars in Brazil. As it turned out, ‘pinto’ in Portuguese is slang for ‘small penis.’
Of course, Wakeel was not trying to make Dick feel small. On the streets ‘The Boss’ is a term of respect. But one got the distinct impression that the National Security Minister and his entourage were not there to listen—but to be seen to be imposing themselves.
Wakeel: “Mr Dick, we are not the ones. People keep saying we are the ones in Crown Trace who are bringing in all the drugs, who paying the police and who have all the guns. Now literally, people who living in Crown Trace…”
Dick (interjecting): “Listen you can talk. We understand the passion. But a little respect.”
Dick (interjects again): “Hold on. (waving a hand in the direction of the television cameras) You seeing the thing in front of you?”
Dick: “Iz the nation. So if you intend to influence the nation into thinking and believing in what you’re saying, show that form of respect. Let we start from now and we can talk better.”
Because, as we know, eloquent language can make buffoonery sound marvellous. Which might be why the media seemed to think that Dillon’s tour went well.
DIY manual for making a disastrous entrance into a new market step four is this: Dismantle existing leadership structures rather than engage and work through them.
Wakeel: “Alright, The Boss.”
Dick: “Not The Boss…”
(Everyone laughs. Wakeel, frustrated, looks sheepish).
Wakeel: “Mr Dick…”
Dick: “Not the boss.”
The young man tried to explain that the videos of him spouting obscenities and promising to violently defend his turf were at least two years old. He suggested, in his own unsophisticated way, that he might be the victim of character assassination with a particular end in view.
Wakeel: “[…] Why? To make me look bad. Because they see I’m speaking against the corruption in this community…”
(True to form, Dick again cut the younger man short as soon as the subject of corruption is raised).
Dick: “Let me share this with you. And I’m being frank with you, I’m being frank with you. Investigations are and will continue in respect of those videos. My advice to you is desist from doing that.”
Imam: “That was years ago…”
Dick (ignoring the Imam’s interjection): “Desist. Hear me good. De-sist from doing so. My job is to treat with crime and, while I am willing to work with you or anybody in reducing crime, I am not going to tolerate any form of disrespect whatsoever from whoever in this country. You understand me?”
And that, almost certainly, was the only reason that The Law was in Enterprise. Because it felt disrespected. What they wanted was respect, not to be bothered with information about crooked policemen or drug lords.
If Wakeel knew what was good for him, he would stop posting anything that made the TTPS look bad.
By now, the fight had left the young man and he appeared to have given up on sharing any information with the high-ranking National Security duo.
So this one question for Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley from Mr Live Wire: If Edmund Dillon is the answer, will you remind us what the problem is? Please?