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Predictable copy and paste reaction

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Haven’t we heard this all before? The strong condemnations, the warnings to criminals, the promises of all-out attacks on lawlessness and violence?

The senseless, brutal murders of PH taxi driver Devon Hernandez and Joshua Andrews, 15, a student of the Morvant Laventille Secondary School, have evoked the usual responses of outrage and despair. It has become almost a knee-jerk reaction in a nation that has been besieged by murders and other violent crimes for two decades or more.

In the immediate aftermath of Monday’s killings, National Security Minister Edmund Dillon—the latest in a long procession of ministers unable to effectively deal with T&T’s spiralling murder rate—swiftly convened a meeting at Police Headquarters in Port-of-Spain.

Also, in quick time, a strongly worded statement was despatched by Dillon condemning “this heinous act against innocent citizens.” Predictably, it included a warning that the murderers “will be found and made to feel the brunt of the law.”

Minister Dillon’s statement ended with a familiar declaration: “No effort will be spared. No stone will be left unturned.”

Of course, if this follows the usual script, expect the usual criticisms from opposition politicians, never mind that they too failed when they got the chance to effectively address this country’s continually climbing crime rate.

Murders happen in this country every day, generally with little or no responses from all sides. The noise and fury follows the more horrific acts of bloodshed, such as when bank employee Shannon Banfield’s body was found in the storage area of a downtown Port-of-Spain store just over the year ago.

There is now the same degree of outrage being expressed over Joshua Andrew’s untimely death after the murders of Mark Richards, 16, and Denelson Smith, 17—who were also on their way home travelling in a PH taxi from another school in the troubled Morvant/Laventille community when they were brutally gunned down. In fact, January 21 would make it two years since those two boys were slaughtered.

It is possible to copy and paste the reactions from that tragedy and not see a difference. Vigilance was kept up only for a season until all the outrage died down, promises were made and not kept and more often than not the killers remain at large. Once the spotlight fades, it is back to “normal.”

Still, the authorities keep doing the same things in the same ways, but expecting different results. That is a classic definition of insanity.

Without true commitment to law and order, enforcement and justice, the murderous rampages will continue. As long as political expediency is preferred to tough but necessary assaults on crime, there will be more days like Monday when the nation laments and rages over lives lost to murder.


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