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EDITORIAL: We need to reclaim our communities

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

EDITORIAL: We need to reclaim our communities

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TODAY WE COMPLIMENT Acting Commissioner of Police Tyrone Griffith and his officers on the effectiveness of their response to the escalation of gun-related violence in The Ivy, St Michael.
We are sure our readers can recall the number of incidents of both indiscriminate and targeted shootings in this district since around the middle of last year and the number of persons who had been injured as a result.
More importantly would have been the collective sense of fear that gripped residents of the densely populated area, since it was clear that those responsible  did not care if their bullets cut down adults or children.
When last we wrote on this matter, we not only called for the police to step up their presence in the area as well as their investigative response to ensure that the culprits were arrested and brought before the courts, but we urged residents to do their part to assist the Royal Barbados Police Force by disclosing what they knew or suspected.
Our view then was that it was hardly likely, based on the nature of the events, that strangers were leaving far-flung parts of the island and creating havoc in this area. It was hardly likely that strangers were venturing into the alleys and side roads of The Ivy, discharging their firearms with such frequency and escaping unseen. We saw hints of activity by people familiar with the district.
Since then a number of individuals familiar with the area have been arrested and charged and police have reported they are still on the hunt for others. We do not believe lawmen achieved this outcome without the support of residents, and implicit in this is a clear message for all Barbadians – when we are prepared to take responsibility for our own neighbourhoods, life can only get better.
In too many parts of this island we have allowed criminal elements, who are always in the minority, to take away from us the freedom to enjoy the fruits of our labour. Too often we behave as though our peace of mind and freedom to enjoy our homes and communities are solely the responsibility of law enforcement personnel. That should never be the case.
And we don’t need to wait until things get out of hand to act. We need to once again become neighbourly; to recognise that when we turn a blind eye to the things that negatively impact our neighbours, they will eventually come home to haunt us.
The residents of The Ivy suffered in silence too long but achieved results, with the assistance of the police, only when they were prepared to take responsibility for their own safety and welfare. We can take our communities back one by one from the thieves, drug dealers and peddlers of violence if we choose to act.
The lessons from The Ivy are here for us all to see, if we would only open our eyes.