We’d prefer it if this summer blockbuster didn’t have any more sequels.
And yet, here we are, giving another “thumbs down” review to the latest installment of the ongoing saga involving controversial Cayman Brac artist Ronald “Foots” Kynes, his disgruntled neighbors and local police officers.
In an ideal environment, the conflict between Mr. Kynes and Brackers displeased (or even disgusted) by some of his recent sculptures would be hashed out via a civil discussion of the issues, including free speech, artistic license and prevailing community standards.
Unfortunately, for the second time in several weeks, issues have arisen that threaten to elevate this local drama onto the international stage.
As the Compass reported on Monday, sometime last weekend, someone defaced and damaged two sculptures installed on Mr. Kynes’s property. This occurred less than a month after neighbors complained about the sculptures, which depict nude women in sexual embraces, leading members of the Royal Cayman Islands Police Service to arrest the artist on suspicion of an obscenity violation.
Mr. Kynes has not been charged with a crime, but remains free on police bail until Sept. 6.
We will continue to refrain from making aesthetic judgments about Mr. Kynes’s creations. Legally speaking, what constitutes “obscenity” is for a court to determine – not us, not Brac residents and certainly not the criminal miscreants who trespassed on Mr. Kynes’s land and destroyed his property.
What concerns us, and should concern the police, elected representatives and Governor Helen Kilpatrick is Mr. Kynes’s assertion that this was the eighth time his work has been vandalized and that his complaints to police have been downplayed or outright ignored.
Monday morning, following a Compass request for comment, the police issued a news release indicating an investigation has been launched.
Let us be clear: Police have a duty, not an option, to investigate all credible complaints of criminal activity. In a community as small as Cayman Brac, with a population of less than 1,900, this case could presumably be solved with a little bit of effort and a few pointed questions to people “in the know.” There’s no need to call in Inspectors Javert or Clouseau for backup.
Public officials, led by the Sister Islands’ elected representatives, Juliana O’Connor-Connolly and Moses Kirkconnell, should send a clear message to the District Administrator, the Brac police, residents of the Brac, and all of the Cayman people, condemning the recent vandalism and making clear that such lawless behavior will not be tolerated.
Further, this is becoming an issue in which Governor Kilpatrick may have to intervene. The Sister Islands are connected to Grand Cayman and, collectively, the Cayman Islands are linked to the United Kingdom. Governor Kilpatrick is charged specifically with overseeing the RCIPS, including the contingent that polices the Brac, the same officers who, on someone’s authority, arrested Mr. Kynes.
The relative popularity of Mr. Kynes and his work in the Brac is not at issue. Regardless of the sentiments of the populace, “street justice,” including vandalism, is never compatible with actual justice, which our police are sworn to execute faithfully.
The Cayman Islands is, and must remain, a jurisdiction where the rule of law applies equally to all. No exceptions – no matter what the neighbors might say.