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STREET VIBES: The sacred and the profane: if the priest could pay… will politicians now tackle crime?

I claim no special credit for having in the past made the point about Trinidad and Tobago being the Land of the Limbo so that we should not be surprised that our criminals are apparently hell-bent on seeing just how low they can go.

The newest low, according to the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, is Monday’s incident in which Father Clyde Harvey was robbed at gunpoint in the presbytery of a church in Gonzales. I don’t think I am being unfair to Dr Keith Rowley in saying that he’s seemingly upset primarily because of the identity of the victim.

Photo: Father Clyde Harvey.
(Copyright TDC.org.tt)

I noted one particular sentence in his statement which says this: “Notwithstanding what difficulties one may be facing in life, there are limits beneath which the human form should not sink.”

Now, I find no humour in Father Harvey’s misfortune but, as I write, a cynical smile adorns my face. The writing, you see, has been on the wall for quite some time. About 20 years ago, if my memory serves me right, Ella Andall warned us about a “missing generation.”

“Soon if we don’t find them,” she predicted in song, “they surely going to find us one day.” Prophetic indeed!

Would it be cynicism to ask our good geologist about the other heinous crimes which have been perpetrated against citizens of this land, ranging from the very young to the most senior. Didn’t the cries of these victims matter equally? And where were you?

To assist the geologist in his grandstanding, here’s the answer: most street crimes are perpetrated by “able-bodied men,” many of them “gun-toting.” A recent video on social media shows a group of young men threatening to take out anyone standing in their way, from Rastas to Baptists.

But T&T can sleep safely knowing that the man who “gave the police the finger” is safely behind bars.

Photo: Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley gestures to supporters at Balisier House after the election results on September 7.
(Courtesy Allan V Crane/Wired868)

It is sad that this same geologist hid safely behind the wall of China and refused to condemn the legal fraternity for their avalanche of faux pas when they decided that the 50-plus cases against citizens which had been on-going must now be restarted, denying citizens some of their basic rights as enshrined in the Constitution. One may safely assume that that momentous decision, which affected the lives of so many, was not made by ‘able-bodied, gun-toting men.’

Evidently, men who are differently abled are ipso facto excused.

I have repeatedly contended here on Wired868 and elsewhere that individuals involved in criminal behaviour become emboldened as they get away with lesser crimes. Yet those responsible for addressing these matters, the prime movers of the Criminal Justice System (CJS), have been some of the biggest perpetrators of injustice this nation has seen.

Is it not a fact that the courts of this land have historically been used to abuse its citizens? Many of those of us who has had any dealings with this arm of the CJS can testify to this. Justice in this land has been-and continues to be-measured by the depths of one’s pocket.

Without looking too hard, Jane and Joe Public see quite a few people walk away from DUI charges while others have not just the book but the magistrate’s entire library thrown at them.

How is the citizenry to respond if the impression they get is that the only variable is the financial status of the accused?

Photo: Former “Honourable” Government Ministers Anil Roberts (left) and Jack Warner.
(Copyright Trinidad Guardian)

Like so many of the other systems, the entire system of justice in this land is dysfunctional. So I want to say this to the geologist as well as to his abbreviated deputy—the actor in construction who has taken on the role of financial guru which is clearly above his head and who has singlehandedly managed to destroy an entire economy: No amount of grandstanding can repair the damage that has been done.

The most important component in getting anything correct in this land right now is “confidence.”  Until confidence in the numerous institutions that dot this landscape is restored, no amount of money, grandstanding, threats, promises, etc. will bring about the much needed changes.

And while it is sad, it is no less true that neither the ‘red and ready’ crew nor the yellow-garbed one ranged against them has what it takes to regain this nation’s complete confidence. The most support either one has been able to muster in decades is just about one-third of the electorate, which means that two-thirds remains either opposed or disengaged.

With the global economy not particularly buoyant and the local economy, still oil-and-gas-based despite years of talk about diversification, in decline, the possibilities for vote-buying largesse have shrunk drastically. Thus, it is the larger portion, the negative two-thirds, that will get bigger before the positive one-third has any chance of so doing.

And the crime situation won’t make matters any better for the vote seekers, red, yellow, green, blue or of any other colour.  Until crime is no longer a vehicle used by one gang seeking to overrun the other or to muscle in on its turf, there will be many more victims like Father Harvey.

Photo: Archbishop Joseph Harris.
(Courtesy Stabroek News)

As the criminals exhaust the options currently available within the existing boundaries, they will be forced to push back those boundaries. That outwards—Downwards? Ever lower?—movement will inevitably blur the lines between the sacred and the profane since the newly “annexed” territory will inevitably include areas once considered sacred.

I truly feel for Father Harvey. But I shall not join those who have sharply criticised Archbishop Joseph Harris for saying that “It’s good for Father Harvey…” (Of course, he didn’t stop there but social media did!)

And, like Archbishop Harris, I too am pleased to see the cleric join the ranks of the citizens of this land who suck it up and carry on, telling ourselves, “Well, it could have been worse.” Maybe, as Archbishop Harris suggests, the Church will now be better able to empathise.

And we can hope that politicians too, geologists, civil engineers and legal parasites, might somehow come to a better understanding of the threat we ordinary folk are facing daily from the criminal class.  And seriously reconsider their options.

But I must be dreaming. Well, wake me up when it’s over.

AboutRudy Chato Paul Sr

Rudy Chato Paul, Sr, is passionate about gardening, music and writing and boasts post-graduate certification in Anthropology, Criminology and Sociology. He also studied Theology, which is why he is actively seeking to make Trinidad a better place rather than waiting for divine intervention. 

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8 comments

  1. To my trinibagoian ppl place the blame ourselves first for letting laws be passed in this country such as “corporal punishment ,deportation etc….” Base on we shall be put in the dog house when countries such as Barbados never signed ,then we blame our greed ,selfish

  2. You mean Play Politics.
    Time for Harvey to march Round the Parliament

  3. Right is right and wrong is wrong. It’s all about choices…..and being prepared for the consequences

  4. I do not like high sounding words that says the obvious.
    I would much rather see high sounding ideas to get out of the morass we are in.

    PM bring legislation to charge and confiscate unexplained and ill gotten gains.

    Build another high security prison. The land is available at Golden Grove. Close POS and make a high rise housing for middle class to purchase. Not rent.

    No bail for any person being charged for a third time.

    Lets us have more ideas than stating the obvious.

  5. Looking out through my burglar proofed backdoor into the beautiful and lush green ‘bush’ with coconut palms in the distance, approximately 2 1/2 minutes walk from the beach, for a change not having to wonder if the 24 year old young man is hiding some where watching every move we make as that youth is now locked up until 27th June after surrendering himself to the police in late May. I am not the only one who is now breathing a sigh of relief to be feeling comfortable and not worrying about when the youth man will commit another crime, 15 charges from larceny, house breakins to wounding in a small rural coastal community PLUS he has already been in jail for illegal drug trafficking, has a history of violent altercations and even leaving WRITTEN threats one on a tree then the other in a family home he had broken into 4 times within 2 months, in the street where I live, written in red on a note pad. Young man apparently told someone ‘he have fine to pay court so he trying to make money to pay the fine’, well I for one, know that young man had jobs BUT did not bother to stay in them and preferred also to steal marijuana from fields in the bush in our community. Unfortunately, believe young man is a combination of nurture and nature, product of his home environment with his mother abandoning him when he was young, NO ONE in his family, not even his maternal grandmother wants anything to do with him because of him terrorising even his own family members. Tossing up whether he is a sociopath or psychopath or what psychology disorder he has because he has been using illegal drugs since he was young, he is very aggressive and at the drop of a hat threatens to kill people. My daughter even witnessed this youth man fighting with the father of his baby mother who was 14 or 15 when she got pregnant, the males ended up fighting on edge of road and rolling down a hill. Young man apparently even threatened the family if they reported the pregnancy to the police plus the young man has even psychically abused the mother of his child in the presence of child who is now about 3 years old. In my humble opinion, unless this particular youth admits that he needs help PLUS welling to accept counselling, go into rehab. he is NOT GOING TO CHANGE. Even while in remand yard, he is probably able to access illegal drugs so no way is he going ‘cold turkey’. This youth is just an example of what is going on in T&T, part of the lost generation and when I hear him being called a pest and people in the community not even saying “leave him to God” but instead saying ‘he need to be put to sleep’ that says a lot about his behaviour. While knowing this young man’s family background and understanding some of reasons for his behavioiur because he has been rejected by his own mother and family members when he was young, there are many young man who have had the BEST of everything, a good family background and education but have ended up choosing the wrong type of life. It is not only here in T&T that it is happening, it is happening in a lot of countries where the illegal drugs and illegal guns along with a gang culture seem to provide what youth prefer to a normal way of life. The bottom line is that, abnormal anti-social behaviour seems to be the norm, what is wrong is now the new right way of life, with little or no respect for other human beings.

  6. Not sure why in TnT there is a big noise on crime. The 1/3 of Heaven’s population staged a coup against the Christian God. They were expelled from Heaven but allowed to roam about like a lion looking for men to devour. So TnT on the right path since God won’t lock up his enemies when they commit crime. Then of course there is slavery and colonialism. These events remove the need for personal responsibility and since we can’t change the past we will forever be victims of slavery and colonialism. And the victimization continues with those neo-colonialists that perpetuate the oppressive system. Forever victims!!

  7. which politicians …present inept bunch or future bright young brave ones