The spate of killings and gun violence that have plagued Grand Cayman recently are raising alarm.
Many residents say they are living in terror and have lost confidence in the police to protect and serve them.
Many said some young men have no opportunities or industries to aspire to and manufactured their own. They say a sub-culture has emerged; complete with industries of drug smuggling and strong-arm tactics.
Jim Jones of Bodden Road shared his view of how Cayman changed so quickly during the tourism and financial boom, which hit these Islands in the late 1970s and forced people to adapt too quickly.
‘We were so in awe of everything new that we forgot about our local industries of fishing, farming and seamanship, which are healthy alternatives for those who may not be office-minded or tourism-inclined,’ he said.
Joseph Ebanks, a resident of West Bay, surmised that because Cayman is so small, some young men cannot shake bad reputations once they have been tagged and continue to feel paranoid about who their foes may be.
They say this is a symptom that has led to the by-product of many young men feeling the need to be constantly armed.
Another issue cited by residents was that people are also scared to testify or talk to police, as there is no proper witness protection programme in the Cayman Islands and witnesses have to see these people and/or their friends and family after they have testified against them.
‘A lot of Caymanians say they feel we are fighting a losing battle and the police have now revealed that only the Uniform Support Group can respond to certain crimes. This is giving brazen criminals the incentive to do as they please, knowing that they will have ample time to escape,’ said Mr. Ebanks.
The issues raised by these participants are made more compelling by the fact that many of the killings in Cayman committed with firearms have gone unsolved since 2000.
‘When growing up, we always thought it took a certain type of person to commit murder, but now it has become a culture onto itself and murder is the religion of today’s youth,’ said Mr. Ebanks.
The gang culture that has now become a reality for Cayman has also caused a large percentage of the expatriate community to wonder if they have miscalculated their assessment of Cayman as an ideal place to live and raise a family, according to Canadian national Mark Anthony.
He said that though one cannot help but feel this way during emotional times, it is obvious Cayman is still one of the safest places in the world to live.
‘It’s only natural to respond with disdain to these occurrences but we must be mindful to not be too critical of the Cayman Islands as a whole, as these seem to be isolated incidents involving a particular segment of the populace,’ said Mr. Anthony.
Jamaican Michael Ruttinford says he is used to violence, after living all his life in downtown Kingston. He added that his approach would be one of vigilance, tempered with avoidance of certain areas and people.
According to Mr. Ruttinford, ‘People will do as they please and if there were no guns, they would be stabbing each other. It is all symptomatic of a world that endorses violence and revenge, instead of love, understanding and tolerance.’
He added: ‘As long as young men are taking their instructions from the lyrics of misguided music and not paying attention to the natural essence of the message of Christ, there would be no hope, not only for Cayman but the world.’
‘When growing up, we always thought it took a certain type of person to commit murder, but now it has become a culture onto itself and murder is the religion of today’s youth.’
Joseph Ebanks, West Bay