Three young civilians were unsuspectingly attacked and subsequently murdered

The morning of Sunday July 13, 2014 will long be remembered as a markedly dark day in the history of the federation of St. Kitts and Nevis. Three young civilians were unsuspectingly attacked and subsequently murdered in the early hours of the morning. The lives of these young people ended violently at The Frigate Bay Strip, a popular nightspot that stretches across the beachfront hugged by the Caribbean Sea. The Strip is home to several restaurants and entertainment houses that cater to a variety of patrons including locals and foreigners alike.

A young man narrowly escaped death following a violent attack unleashed on him in Conaree Village hours before the triple homicide.  That victim survived and is currently warded at the nation’s main hospital in Basseterre.

Hours before the massacre, popular Jamaican Dance Hall artiste “Alkaline” took to the Warner Park stage without a hitch amidst public outrage that his catalogue of music goes against the ideals of our predominantly Christian society. Certainly, Saturday night was no time to stop Alkaline. Although Premier Vance Amory revoked a permit granting him permission to perform in Nevis, scores of young people descended on Warner Park. They needed their Alkaline fill!

Perhaps some of us have become too numb to tragic gunplay or perhaps we are somehow disconnected to the plight of “other people’s pain” but we are a nation awash with a myriad of traumatized mothers, devastated fathers, distraught brothers and sisters. Our families and communities are hurting as some of our misguided young people assume conflict resolution roles by murdering each other.

The Prime Minister in his capacity as National Security Minister addressed the nation and ensured citizens that government will do its best to stem the current tide of violence. Opposition leaders declared that the issue of crime warrants a holistic solution for the entire federation; a coming together of the citizenry. For yet another instance in our tiny island nation, the tune belted out by all is that crime has to be stamped out and with great urgency.

Various perspectives abound as to the current state of crime on both islands. The recent brazen bank robberies in Nevis has dropped many jaws. A spike in gun crimes in the early part of this year has kept law enforcement extremely busy and evoked fear in many residents.

Against the backdrop of a community faced with tragedy, do we have the will to rise above our petty differences to mend the hundreds of hearts too heavy to fathom their lives without their murdered loved ones?

In December, I watched as a friend stared into the big blue Caribbean sky; a place she admits she often visits. Not in despair, not out of worry but in the pursuit of solace. There, she reminisces on life before her son’s violent demise.  In 2008, she lost her son in a double homicide, steps away from a popular nightspot in Cayon. Six years later, no one knows who murdered her son and she still grieves for him. Like her, there are MANY broken hearts throughout the federation, deeply hurt by the reality of the void and havoc that murder has brought to their lives.

Some insist the wave of crime is merely young boys “beefing” against each other. However, Sunday’s attack in a public place significantly changes how we should now view youth on youth crime. 

Maybe we need to constantly put into perspective how crime and murder for that matter is destroying our social fabric.

Many young homicide victims have young children who survive them. That’s a nation of fatherless children.

Many of our young girls have a shrinking pool of mates to choose from when prison or death takes our men. That translates to a nation of women with fewer choices for a lifetime partner.

Many of our unemployed young people who engage in criminal activity make up our shrinking workforce and ultimately impair our overall employee resource. That’s a nation with an older working class.

Mending the bodies of gunshot victims is an astronomical cost for the nation; a tremendous financial burden that is passed on to taxpayers. That’s a health care system pushed to its limits.

When crime spirals out of control, greater demands are placed on law enforcement to investigate crimes and patrol known hot spots. That’s a police force expending a great portion of its limited resources.

Youths entrenched in bitter and senseless gang war heavily impact the entire nation. Most vulnerable is our tourism product and its subsequent effect on the economy.

In light of Sunday’s tragedy, we can either surrender our fate to misguided young people or actively pursue viable solutions to combat crime one individual, one community at a time.

There is a Tibetan saying that “Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength. No matter what sort of difficulties or how painful the experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” Dalai Lama XIV.

We must not lose hope!

T. C. Phipps-Benjamin





 

 

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