Gang tags high school

An area of John Gray High School has been demarcated by graffiti as turf of the youth arm of a local gang, Minister of Education Alden McLaughlin said at the Cabinet press briefing last Thursday.

Mr. McLaughlin said the area was tagged in gang terms, and that it would have to be painted over.

The comments came two weeks after a pair of incidents requiring police response at John Gray High School prompted Mr. McLaughlin to publicly express concern about security at Government schools.

‘I am satisfied from the information I have that the youth arm of the local gang called Bloods is responsible,’ he said.

The identity of the youth gang’s leader is believed to be known, but there is little evidence of overt gang activities except for congregation, Mr. McLaughlin said.

‘There is evidence of one person being ganged up on, and evidence that two of the people who ganged up on him were members of that particular gang.’

Mr. McLaughlin reiterated that it was only his opinion based on evidence presented to him that it was the youth arm of the Bloods that had tagged the area of John Gray.

‘The Bloods are known as an adult organisation, which is very worrisome,’ he said.

The Education Minister said there was evidence of other gang-like or illegal activities at John Gray as well.

‘There are embryonic groupings that lack the structure and leadership normally associated with gangs,’ he said, adding that those groupings were arranged along the district lines of Grand Cayman.

In addition, Mr. McLaughlin said there was evidence that drugs were being sold during certain times at John Gray.

About 30 children are involved in the gang and illegal activities, Mr. McLaughlin said, vowing to take action.

‘We are moving to outlaw gangs in school and to remove the drugs,’ he said.

Mr. McLaughlin said some would see the actions taken as radical and that it would make some people upset.

‘If we have to remove all 30 [offending students], then they shall be removed,’ he said. ‘We are not going to allow this type of anti-social activity.

‘We’re not going to allow children to be intimidated by would-be gangsters.’

Mr. McLaughlin said Government had to get to the root of the problem.

‘Simply taking them out of the school system doesn’t solve the problem for Cayman,’ he said. ‘We have to find ways of dealing with them.’

Mr. McLaughlin said he and members of his ministry had met with police, the Chief Education Officer and school administrators to discuss the security issues at the government schools.

It has been decided to appoint a security task force to review the entire disciplinary procedures in the government schools.

‘We still have to look at who will be on the task force,’ Mr. McLaughlin said, adding that he wanted the Home School Association and PTA to have representation.

Mr. McLaughlin said changes would not happen overnight, but that they would happen.

‘I am not prepared to start the new school year on the same footing as the last one,’ he said.

Although not all of the steps that will be taken to address the security issues will be known until after the security task force completes its review, Mr. McLaughlin said he was proposing to increase and ‘preferably double’ the security presence at John Gray and George Hicks High Schools in the near future.