Shedden standoff: Police must stand for law and order

The long standoff on Shedden Road has revealed the presence of deep and broad dysfunction – not only among the half-dozen families who refuse to leave their homes despite the property having been sold years ago, but within the Cayman Islands’ system of law and order.

The residents of the property have been resisting a court order issued in favor of landowner Kent Rankin in October 2012. As the reality of eviction looms, their stubborn resistance of the law has transformed into open defiance: A police officer puts a padlock on a door. They knock it off. An official puts up a “No Trespassing” sign. They rip it down.

Resident Lucy Ebanks created her own sign for authorities to consider: “Judges, when you dig one hole, make sure you dig two because someone else is going in the other one.”

There is no other logical way to interpret that message except as a direct threat of violence against any official who dares to enforce the court’s decision. In a society that aspires to be viewed as being governed by the rule of law, the situation is untenable and unacceptable, and is one that has been fomented, quite frankly, by a police force that has been overly reluctant to use the necessary force.

Over the past several weeks, the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service has been trying desperately to avoid a confrontation – presumably, for the reason that nobody wants one. Too bad. The police are in the business of confrontation. Any job candidate aspiring to become a police officer who isn’t comfortable with confrontation would be well advised to pursue a different line of work. Say, social work.

The fact is, the lack of enforcement thus far has emboldened the residents in their intention to violate the law. From their perspective, it’s somewhat understandable. They don’t want to move, and if nobody’s going to make them, why should they?

Exacerbating the situation is the presence of children, some of whom have children of their own. The media, including the Cayman Compass, have paid much attention, perhaps too much, to the fact that the occupants include the sister and five children of missing landfill worker Anna Evans, whose collective hardships have previously won support and sympathy from the country.

We are pleased to learn that Children and Family Services has helped arrange for Ms. Evans’s sister and children to relocate to a rental home in Bodden Town.

However, it should not be overlooked that those family members constitute only a handful of the more than 20 people – many of whom are not nearly as sympathetic in character – who have been told by the court to vacate the multi-home property.

Lest we, police or officials be accused of a lack of concern for the children who have been entangled in this mess, let us point out that obeying the court’s instructions, and vacating the premises, is precisely in the best interest of the children. It is because we are concerned about the children that we strongly condemn their being used as human shields to deflect criticism and forestall the bulldozers.

Each day that Cayman authorities abstain from attending to their admittedly unpleasant duty on Shedden Road, it becomes more possible, or likely, that the problem will grow, and eventually metastasize, as outside agitators join in and other people become more encouraged to flout the laws of the land.

In contrast to officials’ evident lack of unified purpose, Ms. Ebanks makes her own position quite clear: “I said it before and I am saying it again, I am not moving. They have to do what they have to do.”

Exactly.

1 COMMENT

  1. In recent weeks we have seen the Editorial Board of the Cayman Compass use their position to highlight what they see as the issues of these islands. Apart from having an audience, exactly what authority they act under, I am not sure.
    In this case, first and foremost it is a civil matter – not criminal. The responsibility for the law here is under the control of the civil courts and will be enforced by bailiffs acting under the authority of that court.

    The police responsibility is not to bring this matter to an end but to ensure that if and when there is movement on either side – either from those who remain or those who seek to remove them – there is no breach of the peace. The police’s responsibility is to ensure there is no violence and only if there is, to deal with it.
    So, it is not a matter of the police seeking to avoid a confrontation, they have no power to dictate when this confrontation will take place other than an advisory one.

    So, Cayman Compass, in the same manner as your opinion piece suggests people who can’t handle confrontation shouldn’t be police, newspaper editorial boards should make sure they understand any situation before they put pen to paper.

  2. Police ignore and simply look the other way at simple in-your face violations like tinted windows, darkened license plates, passing on blind curves, illegal parking in a handicap zone, uncovered marl trucks and speeding through school zones – so how do we expect them to stand for the law when you up the scale by following an eviction notice ? Yes I feel pity for the family’s involved , however if they don’t follow the law and the police ignore their duty we might as well lower the pineapple and turtle and raise a third-world flag.

  3. This isn’t too difficult folks. The law is the law and as sad as this may well be, theres a solution for those who defy it. In this case its called Northward.

  4. Mr Ashley has succinctly summarised the legal position.
    In the matter of the Editorial Board might I venture to say the authority they act under is known as Freedom of the Press.I might not agree with all their editorial views, but they serve a very useful purpose in a society that is reluctant to admit its shortcomings, especially in writing, in a public forum.

  5. Notwithstanding Mr. Ashley’s summation, there are two other facets to consider. At what point do we distinguish between civil disobedience and criminal actions? What is the point of having a court of law produce an order and provide the means to act upon it, if the parties can simply defy it without consequence? Why do we continue to publicize the behavior and amass support for the perpetrators, thus enabling it? How can removing signs and locks put in place by officers of the law not be charged as interfering with an officer discharging their duty? We need to absolutely clear on one fact: If this escalates any further someone will be physically injured, perhaps killed. That is the direction this is headed for, NOT a peaceful resolution. People should be arrested and jailed for their own safety, and because they pose a danger to others. Or would the public prefer to absorb their uninsured medical costs, or be barraged by fundraising campaigns for same?

  6. "The police are in the business of confrontation. Any job candidate aspiring to become a police officer who isn’t comfortable with confrontation would be well advised to pursue a different line of work. Say, social work."

    The police have no problem confronting drivers whose coupons have expired, drivers who’ve had a bit to drink, drivers not wearing seatbelts, residents who need eviction.

    Absolutely not; all unarmed, harmless lawbreakers.

    But where are the police when the armed gunmen need confronting ?

    When reputable establishments that cater for honest patrons, both local and tourist are being robbed at gunpoint, scared to death and losing customers and reputation.

    Where is Caycompass’s exhortation for the police to confront and neutralise the dangerous elements in Cayman ?

    It sounds like the issue of confrontation is a very selective one indeed.

  7. Regarding this editorial board, I think the authority that they act under is the peoples right to hear the truth. While everyone may not agree with all of their stories and opinions we all have the right to voice our own opinions as do they.

    I do however give them great Kudos for limiting opinions to the editorials and not news articles and also printing even the comments of those that do not agree with their point of view and to me that shows integrity and makes them part of the conversation while allowing people to reach and voice their own opinions. This is something that is lacking in other News Services that clearly publish articles and screen their comments section in a manor that only serves to strengthen their own position, try to get a comment in that disagrees with what they’re saying and see how far you get.

    Another huge plus to the Compass is the required registration for comments. This was a highly productive change of style because a flood of anonymous comments mean absolutely nothing. And is worth no more than the paper it is printed on or in.

  8. It is interesting to see that there are commentators on here who are capable of divining the truth from within the mists of misinformation.

    Ms Butz makes some valid points The consequence of failing to yield to the order of the civil court will be, at some point soon, eviction. If those being evicted resort to violence to resist then the police can and, I believe, will act. The issue of interfering with the actions of the bailiffs (locks etc.) may be construed as criminally unlawful but there will be other laws around access to property occupied (when that occupation is in dispute) which may also come into play. But, as I said, Ms Butz certainly makes useful observations.

    Mt Tatum, on the other hand questions where are the police when armed robberies are taking place and, again, this is a valid question. Fortunately, Cayman has not resorted to fully armed police. While some will argue that they should be and they should use their weapons I believe NOT having fully armed police says much about the nature of these islands where gun crime is relatively rare. The cayman Islands are generally safe – arming the police fully will add to the threat and the Caymanians and visitors will be the worse for it.

    In terms of ‘freedom of the press’, I wholeheartedly agree BUT the press have a responsibility to ensure that when they speak, and I suppose when the Cayman Compass Editorial Board does it speaks what it believes needs saying, they check the facts BEFORE they resort to print because there are many readers (as evidenced by some comments here) who have absolutely nov clue about how the islands are policed – policing of the people by the people with consent and with approval – and want us to be policed by fear.

    I made my original point simply because I believe in this case the Editorial Board needed to check their facts more thoroughly before they published. Perhaps, in hindsight, they would agree and would like to redress the balance by examining the true nature of policing in Cayman by stressing the positives.

  9. Fortunately, Cayman has not resorted to fully armed police.

    Mr. Ashley

    Which Cayman are you talking about ?

    Certainly not the one I have returned from the UK to reside in.

    Have you seen a fully equipped police officer in Cayman recently, complete with the newest Glock pistol holstered on his/her hip and enough bullet proof vests and communication equipment to make a US soldier in Irag look ill-equipped.

    You have obviously come to comment on this topic to support the politically-correct position, which rarely reflects the truth of any situation.

    By your reckoning, the armed robberies should be allowed to continue so as to avoid an escalation of violence between Cayman’s police and armed criminals ?

    Meaning, honest, innocent people must sacrifice their safety and hard-earned money to appease these armed gunmen and keep Cayman’s police safe in their non-confrontational mode ?

    So then, what is Cayman’s citizenry paying their police salaries for ?

    To evict un-armed citizens, enforce the traffic laws, etc etc…anything but engage armed criminals ?

    Thanks for letting me know this, Mr. Ashley…

    I will be sure that when I am out and about, my skill level and awareness will be even more enhanced for my own safety.

    What will you say, then, when one of these armed robbers is disarmed and shot with his own weapon.

    Will you call for the defender to be charged with a criminal offense ?

    And if you believe that there are not citizens in Cayman who are quite capable of this, you are sadly mistaken…as you are in most of your comments made here.

  10. Apologies Mr Tatum for being always mistaken. Clearly it is difficult to be, like you, always right.
    Perhaps if you re read my comments, rather reading what you want to read, you will see I talk about not having a fully armed police service, not an armed police service – there is a difference if you choose to see it.
    You will also note my earlier comments where I said it was NOT the role of the police to evict anyone – that is a civil matter.
    As for your example of taking a robbers gun and shooting him – if the person taking the gun believed, genuinely, that their or that of another was in mortal danger, fine, fire the gun and kill the robber BUT if the robber having been disarmed was no longer a danger, that my friend is MURDER.
    Finally, the Caymanian people are as safe as almost anywhere in the world and this, I believe, demonstrated by the fact the Islands do NOT have a FULLY armed police service as there is no need for one. This is the same situation in the UK that you left – yes, there are armed police but not every one of them by any means.
    The bedrock of a democratic society is that the citizenry are responsible for making and abiding by the laws as most Caymanians and visitors do and the police service, which is part of the community (as opposed to being APART from it) are there to deal with those who don’t abide by the laws.
    And before you jabber on about only dealing with traffic offences, please remember that another young Caymanian has lost their life in a road accident and as TRAFFIC matters are responsible for more deaths of young Caymanians than guns!
    Or is this a Cayman you don’t want to recognise or do you want the country to degenerate into the country of the vigilante where no one will be safe.
    Please don’t bother responding – I know you think I am always wrong.

  11. @ Ricardo Tatum.

    I’m tired of having to look around before getting into my car or going out in the evening.

    I look forward to reading that someone has disarmed an armed criminal and executed them with their own weapon.

    And I’d personally help pay their legal costs if prosecuted. Time for law abiding citizens to take this country back.

    As for the the tenants who are refusing to move.
    Do they think they are entitled to free groceries from Fosters or Kirk? How about free paint from ALTs?

    Then why are they entitled to free housing at the expense of the lawful owners?

  12. I find the comment by Mr Linton offensive and abhorrent.

    I believe in justice but to admit you would, after disarming them, execute someone does not sit with my sense of justice and I do not believe it sits with the majority of Caymanians.

    If it does , May God help you and guide you Cayman, because if God doesn’t, you are already on the road to hell.

  13. @ Norman Linton. Your statement has just excluded you from ever having the right of being licensed to own a gun in these islands.

    Your statement advocates murder, and vigilantes should never be allowed. Even the highest court of the land will not execute a man, for the highest crime of murder, least for armed robbery. Further, by your own statement praise the life giving gift of an organ donation, for which you would have paid all the money in the world, but would suggest someone take a life from someone for money!.

    Anna family should be cared for until all her children
    reach the age recognized by the law of the land to be no longer dependents, that would include attending school clause. Death while on duty carries responsibilities that should be immediate and sustained.

  14. John Ashley…

    You’re continue to blabber on about nothing.

    None of your arguments make any sense.

    With support like yours, its no wonder the armed robbers in Cayman are tearing up the place.

    Let me assure you of this…in the UK, the armed police units would already by now have apprehended or hunted down some of these armed criminals who are terrorizing Grand Cayman and shot them, quite probably to death.

    I’m now starting to believe, from your comments, that there is more behind these robberies than meets the eye…and yes…

    Sooner or later, one of these gunmen is going to be disarmed and shot with his own weapon.

    You can shed the tears when it happens; I don’t think anyone else will.

  15. @ John Ashley.
    Sorry if I offended you but I guess you have never looked down the barrel of a loaded gun, as I have.

    If you had then perhaps you would be a bit less concerned about the rights of the scum who are destroying our home.

    In truth I probably would not have the heart to execute a robber if I was able to disarm them, unless they posed a further risk.

    But I do support the death penalty for armed robbery.

  16. Actually Mr Linton, I have looked down the barrel of a gun and I have seen what guns do to human bodies too many times to ever want to repeat the experience.

    Guns are obscene in ANYONE’s and the more you have in circulation – on both sides of the law – the more the danger of they being used.

    I will tell you what is destroying Cayman – too many parents giving in to their children and letting them loose with motorcycles and Honda Civic Type R cars who don’t have the responsibility to handle them. Add that to a failure, in some families, to celebrate the virtue of education and hard work where their children think they can take everything without any responsibility.

    Cayman has a small but significant minority who think the world owes them a living and the sooner they wake up to the fact no one owes them ANYTHING and understand that the answer does not lie in crime, drugs or fast cars, the better these islands will be.

    Until then, you will find young Caymanians trying to find the shortcut to prosperity via the gun or the knife and young Caymanians dying on our roads.

    The answer lies with Caymanians and you won’t find it in vigilantism

  17. @ John Levy

    Again I’m sorry if I have upset anyone.

    I believe there are a number of wicked crimes for which the death penalty is appropriate.
    These include serial killers, Mafia and similar gangsters, child rapists and wilful murder.

    Washington DC has the highest murder rate in the USA, and its citizens are banned from carrying guns.
    The only people who do carry guns are criminals, and the police.

    The problem with capital punishment is establishing guilt beyond all possible doubt.
    Catch someone in the very act of putting another human being in absolute fear of their life by holding a gun just inches away from them and guilt is established.

    Guilty not just of terrorizing that one person but also guilty of threatening our entire way of life.

    In my opinion the death penalty is appropriate. It would certainly bring an instant end to the recent plague of armed robberies. And no I do not suggest either vigilantes or taking of someone’s life for money.

    It is the CRIMINALS who are willing to take someone’s life for money.

    Regarding the evictions. I agree that the family of that one lady deserves help. But from her employers not from the owner of the property where they, and others live.

  18. @ John Ashley
    I mostly agree with you as to the causes of the crime outbreak.

    We differ as to what to do about it.
    Rightly or wrongly I believe that it is impossible to reform truly wicked people.

    While we see ourselves as a responsible, caring society, this handful of criminals see us as potential victims.

    Once they discover how easy it is to steal a lady’s purse they graduate to more vicious crimes.
    How do we catch or stop them when the police cannot be everywhere?

    A large reward might help as someone surely knows who they are.

    In the UK CCTV is everywhere and masked criminals can be followed until they remove their mask. But this requires a massive investment and might still not be effective if they run into the bush.

    My reluctant conclusion is that we need to allow responsible, screened citizens to arm themselves and fight back.

    This is NOT the way I would prefer it to be, but it is what it is.

  19. I completely agree with Norman, until these guys feel a pushback from the community they will continue to roam with impunity. Neighborhood watch’s are an effective measure as well but that would require people getting involved. However, it does seem like most Caymanians are not willing to get involved. Most likely because of a fear of retaliation and a lack of confidence in the police to protect them. Unfortunately for Cayman this is only going to get worse because the powers that be are still not taking it as a serious threat. The landscape of Cayman is going through a change and the new look of Cayman will be gated communities for the well off, all inclusive resorts were people are warned against leaving the grounds as well as bars on the windows of your home being the norm. Places like Camana Bay and the new IronWood Village as well as resorts that have onsite restaurant’s and other amenities will flourish while Seven Mile Beach will be a ghost town after dark because of a fear of leaving your hotel or home.

  20. Mr. Ashley

    Your comments on the reasons for crime in Cayman is spot on and I agree that it has been this way for way too long but…

    Turning a blind eye to the immediate threat and problem will not solve the long-standing one; that kind of societal change comes over a much longer period of time.

    The immediate problem is to bring this rampant and brazen crime spree involving the use of firearms to a halt and it seems as if absolutely nothing is being done by those in authority to do this.

    We are intelligent people and can share ideas and learn from each other so allow me to share some facts with you and the other forumites.

    The Cayman Islands is an Overseas Territory of the UK and the criminal code and laws are quite similar, particularly on the use of firearms; theoretically, there should be NO unlicensed firearms in Cayman but clearly this is NOT the case.

    The UK, at home, has a ZERO TOLERANCE policy to gun crime and the use of firearms in committing crime in the UK is very rare; it does happen but not very often and we are talking about a country with a population of 63 million people, not a few thousand.

    The armed police units in the UK exist for only one reason and that is to specifically combat violent crimes involving the use of firearms; theoretically, in Cayman it should be exactly the same.

    This escalation in the use of guns in committing robberies and muggings began about 4-5 years ago and has continued unimpeded.

    Cayman’s armed police units have YET to apprehend or engage even ONE culprit in or shortly after the act of committing these robberies, even though in some cases a clear pattern of activity has been established that gives every indication that they are being committed by the same people and in defined areas and in a predictable time frame.

    Is this just poor police work or an ordered policy of non-confrontation ?

    What do you think is the reason ?

    In the UK, when a firearm is used or reported, the armed police units will turn the entire country upside down to find culprit and firearm and they do it in record time.

    In 2011, Mark Duggan was shot to death just for having one in his possession and not surrendering when ordered to do so; he ran from the police and was immediately shot to death by them.

    That police shooting did lead to serious riots but it also sent a message to armed criminals in the UK; continue in your behaviour at your peril.

    I am not advocating vigilanti-ism or execution of anyone but self-defense is not murder and having someone shove a gun in your face is as dangerous a situation as one could ever expect and presents a clear threat to one’s life.

    Anyone who is capable and qualified to act for their own safety in such circumstances has every right to do so.

    So tell me, putting all other issues aside, what are your suggestions for bringing this immediate threat under control ?

    I hold qualifications and experience from the UK in security operations and I know that a number of things could and should be done but…

    At the moment, I see absolutely nothing being done at all.

    Does this not worry you ?

    As a responsible citizen of Cayman, it should.

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