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.”