I pray for peace. I pray that those who can advocate for the safety and peace of the young men in this country, especially the women who are mothers, wives, sisters and daughters of these young men, will do so.
I am extremely hurt by Justin Manderson’s death. He, like many others before him, will never return. He will not call to his father again. Nor will he hear the words of his own son as he calls for him. His mother will never hear “Mommy” from his lips again. Nor will his death make any of these things possible for the others who have gone before him.
The “tit-for-tat” path has become a senseless, wicked avenue of pain, sorrow and despair. Of anger and desire for retribution, which only fuels and extends the pain, sorrow and despair.
To the youth of this country I say this: Let’s stop this. There is no sense, no reward in this. It is a means to an undesirable end for the role players. Each family, each side has their own losses and their own loved ones. We will all continue to cry as long as you continue to retaliate against each other. And you are killing, physically killing your own family, your own flesh and blood. You are descendants from the same four-generation bloodline.
There are others across the island who are not related, but feel the pain of losing Justin and others and you are ready to ride. At what cost, I must ask? Many of you will reply “cost it what it will.” That is an expensive answer for all concerned. Your life is not refundable. Nor is it guaranteed. You could embark on your last ride. Much to the expense of your loved ones.
This is not an easy appeal for me to make; I knew Justin before he was born. I held him as a baby. I played with him as a child and laughed with him as a man. There are many more whom I have watched grow up. There are many more whom I have seen the funeral programs of and I am tired. I am tired of the programs, of the yellow roses. I am tired of consoling mothers and girlfriends. Of children asking about their fathers. Of telling baby mothers how proud the child’s father would be, of how much the child reminds me of the father.
There are enough wailing mothers in this country. Mothers who will hear their sons’ voices coming through the door, mothers who will smell their sons’ cologne. Mothers who, regardless of how many children they have, will long for the one who is gone. I, too, lost my own adopted son, Jason Powery, just over a year ago. I know the pain.
Let’s stop the sorrow.
As for the powers that be in this country I say this: Please start supporting prevention and intervention instead of investigation. Why do our youth in our country suffer while you continue to persecute and prosecute them? Why are you so stiff-necked and resistant to assisting those in the communities in which you live?
If you are thinking that you can keep pumping money into the judicial service to lock young men away and this will then, somehow in your belief, bring and maintain peace and safety personally to you, then you are a fool. A tree grows from its roots, not from its leaves. You must start addressing the myriad problems that are associated with crime in this country.
Your focus must be on the grass roots’ concern and approach to the issues.
In this country, we have millions of dollars of reports which have not been acted on. We have the employees needed to effect the changes needed; their directives should be urgently heeded. As a result of the issues and recommendations of Yolanda Forde, National Security Council and the IPAC report – which should become the National Crime Policy of the Cayman Islands, we have YouthACT, a program that has the module and management needed to arrest the problems we face instead of arresting youth for the problems we have failed to remedy. We have the tools needed and yet we have failed miserably for individual members of the community and for the country as a whole.
The full financial support of YouthACT, the very product identified as a source of youthful success, is necessary and yet it has been left to beg for that paramount support. It appeals to the private sector to fund it, although it is a product of the Strategic Policy and a program that has the potential to positively address the concept of crime before it becomes an act of crime. It is a preventative program that needs funding to make its full effect known, yet, we have almost completely ignored it, in favor of creating new laws and longer sentences.
Most certainly we cannot, as a country, continue on this path where our communities advocate for retaliation, our government refuses to address the problem from the angles that are necessary, and our youth are misguided.
As a society we must stand collectively and play our roles, both collectively and individually, and stop the sorrow.
Katina Masura Anglin
Cayman Advocacy Group