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Impassioned pleas flooded the airways as citizens and residents expressed their disgust against the rise in gun violence in SKN

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by Eulana Weekes

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Citizens and residents of the Federation of St. Kitts and Nevis gave critical analysis and discussion of crime and justice issues following the recent scourge of gun violence that have taken the life of 14 males and two females between January 01 and June 06, 2023.

The most recent killing of popular businessman Alden “OJ” Maynard on June 06, 2023, and the double homicide that left Vishawn Matthew and Kay Johnson- Bellile dead on June 05 created an even more sombre mood among the populace.

On the Tuesday, June 06 edition of Island Tea, callers expressed concern that the persistent increase in violence in the Federation is alarming.

A grief-stricken caller expressed her heartbreak in seeing and hearing the many reports of bloodshed in the country, recalling the frequency in which several young lives have fallen prey to the bullet.

“This morning, the only thing I can talk about is that I am totally shattered this morning, that our country is absolutely shattered this morning, as we wake up once again to the news of another murder; a man, a friend, a brother, a father.”

She added, ” It is just horrible what is happening. I screamed this morning. I bawled this morning. “Why, why is this happening?” Yesterday we [heard] of murders. Today again, every day, last week, some friend’s son, a few weeks ago, some friend’s son. “What are we going to do? What is happening in this place?” This is hurting hard; this is hurting bad. I don’t know what to do. I am in a fog this morning. I could have been walking on that street. It’s right below my house on the main road. A lot of people walk along there. “What is happening? Who are these people doing these things?”

Another caller to Island Tea, Lincoln David-Pelle, a former police officer, pleaded with individuals to leave revenge to God and let the justice system handle the issues. He lamented that revenge is not a solution to resolving any issue; it only worsens matters, creating more adverse consequences.

“I was just there yesterday on the programme, and shortly after, I heard of an unfortunate situation. I am just calling to condemn what happened because, as far as we know, one murder is one too many for a country of this size, both in landmass and population, and I am calling just as I was saying yesterday is to let us resolve our differences in a peaceful manner; because, you know what, sometimes when these things happen is only in the future when you realise it could have been a relative of yours you might have murdered. So, I am just calling on every citizen in this country to condemn such acts. There is no room in our society for it, but I understand the nature of things, but at the same time, you still have to condemn such activities because it’s one too many, and we’re just halfway in the year now, and we have this amount of murders. It’s unacceptable, and I am calling on all persons who might want revenge, “Do not seek revenge. Revenge is mine, saith the Lord. Let the law enforcement personnel deal with that situation. Let justice come the correct way for those families who lost their loved ones.”

Pelle’s plea came just about 24 hours after an appearance on Island Tea, where he and inmates of His Majesty’s Prison admonished individuals to be mindful of their company, remain on the positive path and avoid the prison walls.

On the Tuesday, June 06 edition of Issues, many calls rained into the programme, where the dominant concerns about crime were shared. A frequent caller to the local talk show warned the youth about revenge and the broader implications.

“All of you young men out there, please remember “Vengeance is a circle without an end.” I taught Maths, you know. A circle doesn’t have any end, you know. So, when you are inclined to take revenge, somebody is going to take revenge on you. Choose life. Learn to forgive. Take a lick. Take a mash, Take a push and live.”

She added, “All of you young people, we want to see good for you. I don’t know about them, but I want to see our young people progress. The things you do today will haunt you tomorrow. So choose life.”

One caller suggested that the elders have a part to play in the upbringing of the children, meaning that children learn what they see.

“What is happening is a result. The elders like myself, these are our children. They all are our children. What we have now is the harvested fruits from the seeds that we plant. If we impact the children and we hold these children, How [did] they come [like that] if we ain’t teach them [like that]? Monkeys do what monkeys see. Children learn from what they see, [and] from their environment. What we are seeing is not that yesterday was different; it’s the results of yesterday.”

“We have produced just what we’re reaping. When we begin to look into ourselves and ask ourselves, “Where did we go wrong? It’s there we are going to find a solution.”

A caller of Jamaican heritage hinted that gun violence is not unique to St. Kitts and Nevis. He argued that the crime situation can be resolved, but the authorities are not doing enough.

“The issue of crime that we are now facing, it can be dealt with, but I want to ask the question, “Who is behind it?” St. Kitts population is so small, and there is no one on God’s green earth can tell me that we cannot tame, that we cannot strap this crime monster. It can be done. So when a matter goes before the court or a crime goes before the court, “Why is it that the judges are 1) letting them off 2) The period of sentences are so short?”

“Nothing is being done really to strap this monster called crime, you know. In Jamaica, where I am from, it’s the same issue. Our authorities are failing miserably, adeptly to strap this crime monster, you know, because it is an agenda to destroy the black family. The whole thing is just chaos.”

Additional callers to ‘Issues’ discussed the Alternative Lifestyle Pathway Programme. Some said it posed more harm than good to the participants, where the focus was placed more on ‘pay for peace’ rather than rehabilitation. Discussions were also centred around probable reasons for the criminal activities, such as poverty, juvenile delinquency, the absence of the church and

Questions that many people have asked on radio and social media are “What are the motives behind these crimes? Is enough being done to curtail crime and violence in the country?”

Society often calls for more drastic approaches in dealing with crime and violence. Some people have demanded harsher penalties; some called for more job and educational opportunities, whilst others suggested that the Alternative Lifestyle Pathway Programme function as it was.

On the other hand, Law enforcement continues to plead with residents to speak out against criminality and share information to help with investigations while encouraging youths to resolve issues without violent approaches.

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