Mall Panic screamed this newspaper’s front page very shortly after my column on malls becoming hotspots.
Next, an editorial, acknowledged what its editors and commentators already knew: “Today, the failure to stem the tide of crime has made mall-shopping as vulnerable as shopping on the roadside.” The editorial linked crime to the ease with which it can be done and the optimism of even novice bandits, ‘who favoured their odds of getting away with a brazen act of banditry’.
My Belmont compere would have said of my column asking about the malls becoming hotspots: ‘you asking answers’.
Sometimes it is necessary to deploy such a writing style to attract the attention of the delusional before they get vex. You also have to put it nicely to the thin-skinned rulers and their satellites before the name calling starts. They really want the voices of the victims of their shortcomings silenced.
The malls are money spinners for the owners and many of the anchor tenants, but they want just to bank the cash and retreat to their privately guarded homes complaining only of not enough foreign exchange to import more things to ‘bun we eye’ and to ‘growl we belly’.
To them, the high incidence of crime is only a matter of the cost of doing business. They have no interest in the socio-economic reform required to turn young men away from crime as a career, or as the editorial put it: “to change the minds of the many who believe that crime is a low-risk, highly profitable venture.”
It is also significant that public relations policing and threats of war on the criminals, as was predictable, is now on its last gasp before recent hope of any change in our plight vanishes.
“This is the year,” said the editorial, “that Commissioner Gary Griffith and his team need to get on top of the situation and rein in crime.”
The bad news is that any years of advancement against crime passed a long time ago—ever since the year when then Prime Minister Manning dismissed a murder as ‘collateral damage’.
The additional bad news is that we will have two elections within less than a year yet it is doubtful whether either partisan political side really cares about us. But that’s our fault for guaranteeing that we vote for them because they look like us. Notice therefore that the dog whistles are blowing louder in the Parliament already, to the point where another editorial begged parliamentarians to cut it out.
They will not cut it out. So let’s tell some home truths of neglect apart from those that put us so continuously at risk of violent crime.
The Government is now ‘concretizing’ plans to do away with the St Ann’s Psychiatric Hospital, although it is decades ago that the hospital killed patients in there with eggnog. It was ‘the system’.
Now, when the private cages for the mentally ill shocked everybody, citizens began asking: “St Ann’s like that?” One brave, public spirited eye witness, former patient, has told us the truth, referring to cages: “No St Ann’s for me, not the medieval hell hole where I had been interned the last time I was entering psychosis.”
Not surprisingly, there is a rush to announce a plan to decommission St Ann’s. Neither side has any moral authority to talk about the grotesque lack of attention to mental illness, although I do accept, for the moment, Minister Terrence Deyalsingh’s bona fides that he cares about it.
Much lower down the obnoxious scale, the Mayor of Port Spain is having an audit done of the wreckers that tow cars. The Mayor’s audit will be limited to the wrecking activities of the Port-of-Spain Corporation, but all those exercising jurisdiction to send out wreckers should do the same.
Does this Mayor understand that the audit must disclose how the fines—which are the spoils of the wreckers’ war on us—are split-up? Who are the beneficiaries? Is a privileged operator’s bank account being fattened by capitalism gone mad, picking on vehicles creating minimal obstruction, but rarely on streets like Park Street, where there should be no parking at all?
More home truths soon.