And many families suffered emotionally and economically as a result. Gotti destroyed people wholesale, and enriched himselfimmensely in the process. But to many of them, he was also hero and saviour, because he gave them money and granted them favours. He seemed to have a magic spell over them.
But much of the money that he gave them was their own money which he had gotten from drug sales, extortion, robberies and other crimes, and the favours that he granted them were made out of ill-gotten gain from his criminal enterprises.
Gotti went on trial three times in the 1980’s, and he beat the rap every time. Interestingly, many of the same ordinary people who might have been in one way or another victimized by his activities rooted for him. And every time he beat a rap, his people (his victims) would celebrate. They were not only drawn by his charisma and his generosity to them(with their own money), but they grew in admiration of his ‘smartness’ in beating the raps. What was that ‘smartness’? Jury tampering and jury intimidation. Cheating. The more interesting and troubling piece of the John Gotti story is, to me, really not so much about the man himself than it is about the mentality of people who would confuse themselves and admire, respect and root for a man so evil and destructive to them, and generally.
It is curious how the creatures best endowed by God in terms of intelligence and the only ones in terms of conscience, us human beings, would behave that way. It is also just as curious that after Gotti was finally convicted and imprisoned, the people in the neighborhoods, his former admirers, were no longer much concerned about him.
Was it that when he was on the streets and had all of that power, the people felt that they weren’t strong enough individually to oppose him so they went along with him and got what they could out of him, but once he was taken out of the picture, he was no longer a factor in their lives, and they could ignore him? Is this part of the mental and emotional survival kit that many humans are born with? I think so.
The story of Christopher ‘Dudus’ Coke of Tivoli Gardens, Kingston, Jamaica, and head of the notorious and extremely violent Shower Posse which dealt heavily in cocaine, is similar. Dudus inherited his power from his father, Lester Coke who had founded the Shower Posse, and grew up in luxury. And with leadership of the Posse also came leadership of Tivoli Gardens.
Dudus’ sheer power, his generosity (from ill-gotten gain, often at the expense of poor people) and his successes with his community programs to help the poor made him so popular with ordinary people that the Police could not enter Tivoli Gardens without consent of the people in the area. And, for sure, the Police could not touch Dudus.
But Tivoli Gardens remained poor while Dudus got richer and richer.And so strong was his stranglehold on them that there was a virtual civil war when the Police and the Jamaica Defence Force tried to get their hands on him to face extradition to the USA in 2010. And at the end of it all, Jamaica’s then Prime Minister, Bruce Golding, who represented the area in Parliament, had to stand down.
Today, not an awful lot is heard of Dudus, as he serves his 23-year jail sentence in the USA. There are many more in history like these two men. Power-hungry, self-serving, ruthless, manipulative and charismatic people who, whether in the world of crime, or in the world of politics, have taken advantage of poor people, yet have gotten those same poor people to defend, praise and idolize them, and who, in the end, have nevertheless ended up on the dump heap of life, left to rot in loneliness.
Denzil Douglas, Prime Minister of St. Kitts & Nevis, will be recorded in history as such a person. While I am not saying that he is a criminal, I am saying that he is power-hungry, self-serving, ruthless, manipulative and charismatic(and lie like hell), that he has taken advantage of poor people, and that many of those same poor people defend, praise and idolize him.
He promised integrity in public life in 1995, and it is yet to come. In fact, it cannot come as long as he is around. Yet his victims still defend, praise and idolize him. He also promised greater social safety nets, yet 18 years later, he is once again talking about private sector pension schemes and universal health coverage. How many pension years and pension benefits, and how many lives, have been lost simply because Douglas neglected this most critical mandate for 18 years?
And he has not delivered the benefits; he is talking about delivering them.How many of you could have been already in your 12th or 13th year under the private sector pension fund, and looking to do another 12 or so years, then retiring, say at age 45-50, collecting your first pension, moving on to a second job or into your own business, and spending another 12-17 productive, fulfilling and happy years before picking up your Social Security pension?
How many millions of dollars could have been in your private sector pension fund by now to invest in real estate, in company securities, etc., and to be available to you for low interest loans? How much social and economic development opportunity has been lost as a result of this failure by Douglas to give top priority to these matters?
So what favour has he done you in this regard? None. Instead, he has obstructed your lives, while he has gotten richer. Just like Gotti and Coke. Yet some of you have ‘full confidence’ in him. You defend, praise and idolize him. Just like the people did Gotti and Coke. And now you will idolize him more, as the elections approach, because single unemployed mothers, who have caught their tails for years, will now allegedly get a $5,000 grant. Don’t ask me where the money will come from. And when that ends, the mothers will be left to catch their tails for another five years, if Douglas is allowed to have his way with you again.
Then he will entertain and tantalize you, as he had done with Wyclef Jean in the last election, but this time he will bring Alicia Keys or some other big star from America at a cost to somebody other than himself of maybe $500,000.00 for the night, then when the music is done and the ballots are dry and counted, it will be more licks and more taxes on your backs.
Did Wyclef come back to St.Kitts after the elections to help you all out with your bills?Douglas has many of you the same way Gotti and Coke had their followers. While Gotti and Coke were around, they provided long periods of agony and short blips of pleasure. Gotti and Coke benefited greatly from ordinary people’s willingness (perhaps, as I have suggested, an innate survival kit) to see predators as comforters.
And while Gotti and Coke got richer and richer, the poor remained poor, and some even got poorer. While they were free to do as they pleased, their followers were not. While Douglas can, and does, go to any beach area on the Southeast Peninsula, you who defend, praise and idolize him would be chased away if you tried.
It was the long arm of the law that finally removed Gotti and Coke, sending them into oblivion. Will you continue to be fooled and tantalized by Douglas? Are you waiting for somebody else to get rid of him for you? Or are you going to do the honours yourselves?
Remember, you’ll be behind the screen. That is where your strength will be unfettered. Let me tell you what is in it for you if you send Douglas and each and every one of his candidates into oblivion. You will find out about all of the incredible corruption, and you will also find out about all of the bad things that were done to you by Douglas. And those of you who say that you idolize him now will at that time recognize that you did not really idolize him, but instead you were using your innate survival kits with him.Meanwhile, enjoy the $5,000 and enjoy Alicia Keys, but, most of all, enjoy sending Douglas into oblivion where he belongs.