Learn from our people

I have stated dozens of times that my first experiences with what we have finally defined as gangs, were at the Notting Hill Adventure Playground, in Nothing Hill Gate as far back as 1972. That playground was a liberal after-school experiment for troubled white working class and Afro West Indian youths. From information gathered there I gained a Ph.D. in 1977. There my contacts with youths, youth workers, policemen, teachers, community activists, and leaders, etc. provided me with a socio-political perspective that would later allow me to make certain predictions with regards the potential for the development of similar challenges in Grand Cayman. I came back home on August 1st, 1977 and will be 64 years old this October 17th, but I still do not understand why we Caymanians do not trust or value our own intelligence.

The recent importation of a “super cop” from England to eradicate gang crime after we allowed it to fester, may make us all feel better and safer; now that more cops from over there, are over here, but what this super cop has analysed and is prepared to fight, cannot be eradicated permanently by him alone. Since as he so well understands, the underlying causes of gangs and gang violence are societal. And if the communities do not become activity involved, his success will be made impossible since new individuals will be socialised, by our homes, schools, judiciary and workplaces, to take the places of fallen soldiers.

Yes your super cop does sound a bit like me when defining the situation, but my knowledge did not just come from reading about these problems. Unlike many, I have the advantage of having a personal perspective, in addition to an understanding of the historical and structural causes of our social ills. One might say that sociology is common sense but then common sense is not so common after all. So to be able to recite the causes of violence and crime does not in any way enable us to create and employ curative solutions to these malaises.

The super cop will say over and over that police action is only one part of what must be done and that we must all work to assist the police. I might not have Victorian values but I feel I have tried my best to give my knowledge and the best of my experiences to beloved Cayman Islands. I can still remember the days when men like me could sit and look a police commissioner in the eye balls and chat away. What Caymanian did not have the opportunity to do the same? Today with as much letters as I write and as often as I am on radio, the Police Commissioner has not once looked me in the eyeballs and said ‘Hi’. Why? Because we do not share the same values nor speak the same dialect? Sad thought! They want information and they want help?

It is well known I have a love for my country even if my way of loving will never be understood by the legal society. I come from that tradition that should and must respect our informants because they only can make us wiser about their human condition. The human condition is about more than the constructed morality of one class or race or ethnicity. We in participatory research know that knowledge of social issues comes from those that experience the issues, not those interpreting them. And by the way, life for me has not been all that bad on the front lines. My plays are full of the conflicts and contradictions I have learnt and felt both personally and intellectually but they too are kept from a slumbering public. My plays are social portrayals of social conflicts and issues in Caymanian society. “The Death of a Dream”, my latest play, had recently a reading at the Harquail Studio Theatre, but will most likely never see production in this country while I am living. But it tells the story of the lack of hope of those of us on the front lines or perhaps just me on the front lines. But did you see Playground? It spoke about what is happening today up to the very fact of importing the British super cops. Commissioner those plays were written a long time ago and there is a God. If you doubt my message ask Henry Mutto, director of the Cultural Foundation. But so as not to end downbeat sir; I see changes in policing I respect. So keep it coming because you are not the one who betrayed the youth of this country. In ending, I now apologise publicly to a South African gentleman who works on our front lines as a policeman with whom I once had a terrible misunderstanding. I now take it for granted that he, like many who work on our sometimes dangerous streets, knows that accepts that even crabs have order and they best can enforce that order. And as to your super cop; having a super time in the sunshine? Would not 007 have done the same!