A video of a young man removing a barrier strategically placed across the road in a community somewhere in west Trinidad raised some serious concerns.
Initially he was thought to be villain. It turns out that the barriers were illegally placed across the roadways. It also became apparent that the barriers were placed there by residents designed to insulate them from ‘other elements’ traversing through ‘their’ community.
As far as residents there are/were concerned, they lived in a gated community; the illegal barriers being their ‘gate’. It should be understood that these weren’t some fly-by-night barriers; they were operated by remote controls, which residents had to purchase.
It turns out that the regional corporation with responsibility for the area denied granting authority to anyone in the area to erect said barriers. In other words, the barriers were, for all intent and purposes, illegal. But these barriers were erected with a simple, common purpose: to assist residents in their efforts to keep their families and loved ones safe.
Many are of the view that it has to do with the social ‘class’ to which the residents belong; this view is probably accurate. But despite one’s social class one has the right to protect his/her family, and to borrow Malcolm’s over-used phrase, “by any means necessary.”
From information revealed on social media it was apparent that the blocked road could have served as an alternative route for those familiar with the area. But some of the residents evidently believed they were exempt from the challenges posed by heavy traffic flowing through ‘their’ neighbourhood as was clearly demonstrated in their purchase of remote controls to open and close said gates; a small price to pay for being kept insulated and isolated. A small price to pay, indeed, for a sense of comfort and safety.
The bigger issue here is one faced by all citizens of this republic: one of security.
Citizens of every socio-economic strata have been hard hit by fear, in one form or another. Many of us, myself included, have been victims of crime, or have friends, family members, or co-workers who have been.
The murder rate in the country, coupled with a dispiriting detection rate lends no comfort. Videos circulating on social media showing patrons being robbed in their homes, bars, restaurants do little to assuage our fears.
Too many citizens feel like sitting ducks; potential targets at the whims and fancies of street bandits. So we barricade ourselves in our homes to the extent that virtually all our homes have now become fire hazards.
Ironically, it’s one of the few places we feel a sense of safety and security. This sense of security is often shattered, however, when we learn of some family who became victims in their own home.
Meanwhile, back at Sackville Street, the new sheriff sent a message to bandits ‘to fear him’. That crime has continued unabated is an indication of their thoughts of him and his hollow threats. The CoP is not a threat to anyone, except maybe himself. Gary Griffith is seen as a saviour by many precisely because the entire TTPS has demonstrated their collective incompetence for an entire generation.
Since my repatriation here, 23 years ago, I have watched as crime spiralled to where ‘normal’ is now to expect 500+ murders per year with not so much as a flinch. Not reaching 500 is seen as a great accomplishment.
I understand all too well citizens support of him, having done more than my fair share of studies in human behaviour. Citizens’ collective response is ‘well at least he can’t be as bad as the rest’.
The last few Ag CoPs were virtually silent as they understood all too well the challenges facing this nation and the TTPS. The TTPS’ greatest challenge is within its ranks. So the bad-john, ‘gun talk’, coming from Griffith is hot air.
Citizens have the right to protect themselves. The TTPS has demonstrated time and again their inability to do so. When it involves blocking major thoroughfares it is time that we reexamine the role of the protective services and the various agencies responsible for planning the nation’s infrastructure.