Gang crime a social media phenomenon

Young people who post graphic images of gang lifestyles on social media risk being “branded” as thugs forever because “Facebook never forgets,” police chief David Baines cautioned.

The police commissioner warned that young people were becoming desensitized to gangs and guns because of the proliferation of images glorifying the lifestyle on social media.

Mr. Baines also spoke out against some of the “vile comments” made on “anonymous blogs” about murder victim David Ebanks following his shooting death last weekend.

He said there was no evidence that either Ebanks or Victor Yates, also shot dead in West Bay in January, were active gang members, though both appeared to have friends who were.

He said some of the remarks about Ebanks, including claims that he was a gang member, were based on Instagram photographs from more than two years ago. And he echoed comments from community worker Bonnie Anglin, who told the police community meeting that the 20-year-old was turning his life around and had been involved in the Passport2Success training program, as well as the Superior Auto mechanic training program.

“I’ve seen some of the vilest comments on anonymous blogs that the family has had to put up with. I can tell you those young men did not get what they deserve,” Mr. Baines said.

“Listen to what David Ebanks’s father said. He said he was not an angel, but he was not a bad boy. He did make some bad decisions, but he was trying his best to get out.”

He said the “horrendous” comments about Ebanks showed how young people could be pigeon-holed forever by what they post online.

“If you’ve got children, go and look at their Facebook page and Instagram; you will be surprised at the life they lead, who they associate with and how they are being branded.

“Sadly, when people try to get out and they take their Passport2Success, some are dragged back because Facebook never forgets,” he added.

He said the exhibition of gang lifestyles on social media and the public’s reaction to it represent a wider, worrying phenomenon that risks desensitizing people to murder.

After a murder at a nightclub in 2009, he said, no one gave evidence to the police, but six people had taken pictures of the body and more than 140 people had posted about it on social media.

“It has almost become social entertainment when a tragedy or a horror happens,” he warned.

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  1. Facebook has caused job loss, broken families, divorce, violence and death! The premise of it’s foundation was a means for socially inept persons to hook up. Not to mention how Zucker’s first rendition was to vote if his fellow, female classmates were hot or not! The first thing a potential employer will do is check your Facebook page! So, use it to say hi to your friends and family–nothing else. Postings, rants and pictures on the web NEVER go away. If you don’t want the world to see or read it, then don’t post it.

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  2. Not sure commissioner Baines has this one right. If it were true that young people were becoming desensitized to gangs and guns because of the proliferation of images glorifying the lifestyle on social media how does he think gangs proliferated before the age of the Internet?

    We use ‘social media’ as an excuse. You can’t blame ‘social media’ for anything. That is like blaming television for xenophobia or films for violence. The blame rests on those who use it.

    What we need to do is to provide young people with hope. A hope that if they work hard at school they can get a good job, raise a family and take their place in society.

    One suggestion I have, if they have a fascination for guns, is join the army or the navy.

    According to the UK Ministry of Defence, 10 UK service personnel were shown as having been born in the Cayman Islands which I presume includes those who see themselves as Caymanian and those who were born here to expat workers.

    I would say to young people, if you want to join a gang and you like guns, join the British Army or navy gangs!

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