It returns to my heart, to my mind, as often as I try to forget, the savage killing of one of the most human of Cayman young women.
Like the rest of us in this small island community, I can only guess what might have caused this malicious crime against another human being. Cayman use to be a safe place to live, and raise a family, but that was a long time ago. Today like you, I strive to comprehend the nature of our community.
There can be no excuse for this crime even if it had taken place in the most backward and underdeveloped nation on this planet and we must now strive to understand this disconnect, which now exists in our society. Cayman is no longer as it was; a place where someone always had some idea of what was taking place in the community. We have all been reduced to speculations; not even the Marl Road gossip seems to be connected to the realities of the day. It is therefore impossible to get any information from the streets, the neighbourhoods, or any other place.
There is no communication between the police and any part of the community that would be the most obvious suspects in such crimes. There is a permanent disconnect, so how can we solve this serious crime against our humanity.
After the tragic murder of young Timothy McField, I was asked to chair the Commission of Enquiry into Social Breakdown and Youth violence. I was happy that Government had finally and permanently decided to treat seriously, this disconnect between our mainstream communities and that of the younger generations. Unfortunately this study, which Estella also assisted with, has been placed on the shelf like so many others, because it is much easier for us to study and to proclaim, rather than to be called to action. The Commission of Enquiring into Social Breakdown, like a few other studies, proved that Cayman had developed a culture where violence rather than conflict resolution and compromise had become the norm, at least among a growing number of individuals in our community.
The rapid rise of materialism in the Caymanian society and the growth of the foreign population, compounded by competing values and norms, has sent cultural shock waves throughout our entire communities, so much so that many young people, when left alone to their own leadership forms become our second layer of foreigners.
Young Caymanians have long been alienated and misunderstand, and during this long period of misunderstanding, have created their own realities based on and supported by an international culture of alienation, brought into their consciousness by way of music, dance and fashions. ‘This is to my fallen solders we miss you’. ‘Gangster for life, we are unrepentant gangster, we don’t snitch, we don’t talk’, and Babylon must burn. They fe get a beating, they shout placing their hands in the air an imitating gun shots.
Dance is war dance, it has long stopped being about love. Dance is about sex, conflict and combat. Young men that might have spent their youth as part of an army regiment, hurries in today’s world to become part of the many armies of foot soldiers whose battle fields are the streets and the nightclubs of urban centres, including urban Cayman.
Cayman’s reaction has traditionally been anger, frustration and ignorance of the challenge. Ban the music, close the clubs, and let the police heard home our youngsters that we couldn’t stop from going out in the first place. It is not our fault; it’s foreign values to blame. And we were not like that.
Rather than admitting the need of many young people to discover and be accepted by a community of their peers, we have constantly reacted by becoming more restrictive toward their quest for some kind of understanding of who is who, and who we are. In reaction we have armed our police with more and bigger guns, making guns even more of the macho status symbol. We have brought in more strangers to carry the guns and ammunition thereby compounding the divide.
The idea is that the police take on the persona of the criminal and you have to be afraid to deal with them.
The youth of Cayman (that percentage we worry about) have taken the law into their own hands. This did not happen yesterday, and some of these young people are no longer so young. They are in their late 20s and 30s but they are still without a steady job. Some are in and out of the prison cells that contain the brains of this movement. No work, no stable relationships, they become the commanders of the younger boys and girls seeking a place to find themselves in a society that rewards the wealthy and pronounces that being a lawyer in a Cayman cooperation is much more important than being a teacher, social worker, policeman or plumber.
This society so often speaks of the lack of value some young people place on life, but many of these young people I talk with are convinced that this society has been taken over by foreigners who prevent them from being employed, or deny them respectable jobs. Armed to the teeth on Friday and Saturday nights, not just to protect themselves in the jungle, but to be the Big man, the Dan and to prevent themselves, their girlfriend or friend from being violated. One rule is you cannot violate a Dan, his girl, or his friends. People he protect will not talk bad about him; will not give information that will lead to his demise.
So many people have given their opinions about what I am attempting to describe. I am not doing this to attack or to be attacked; neither to last political blame. We all have children and therefore have much to lose if some attempt is not made to reform this culture of violence, this move toward this apocalyptic utopia.
Many young people use their first big sum of money to order a few pounds of ganja, and it might be that several youngsters would be dealers, have their drugs arrive on the same canoe. And what canoe arrives without a few guns to be sold for very good prices. The young girls like the ganja and the boys that have access to that community are the Big Men, the Dans with the pretty girls, fast cars and powerful protection. It is how it is in the ghetto. We are gangsters for life because we can wish to run but nobody can hide from the poverty that comes from this disconnection. Whatever society may think, this poverty is not about colour, class or nationality. It is a philosophical poverty and inability to find joy in the positive experiences the mainstream celebrates.
Many of our younger people have lived or are now beginning to live in this negative utopia where experiences outside what society considers normal are celebrated in ritualistic fashions, weekend after weekend, we will have to make a greater effort to reconnect with them. There are several things that must be done if we are to change the direction of things and take back the night, but knowledge of the problem is of utmost importance. However we will not gain knowledge of a disease we are afraid of being associated with.
I am not saying I have an explanation as to what happen to my great friend Estella Scott Roberts but I employ the present administration of government to look beyond their noses in order to out the fire that they thought more police and more guns would put out.
The alienation between the police and the criminal or potential criminal elements will not be solved until we start to trust some of those on the street to work for us. If a crime is committed we can catch the criminal. We don’t have to resort to planting evidence and lying in the courts. This only makes real criminals know that the police are ineffective and cannot catch them.
In conclusion I hope the police will begin to analyse their weaknesses and strive for correction in those areas where correction can be made. I call out to the youth of Cayman to help solve this violation of us all.
This is a violation, an outrage. We must tell what we know to help our community, our youths that will inherit what is left of Cayman. I too have had my difficulties with the police in Cayman, but I stand for justice therefore when a youth was murdered in McField Lane, it was me who assisted the police allowing them to make an early arrest. All the youth must how stand for justice and justice is bringing the killer or killers of Estella Scott Roberts to their just due. By any means necessary!