What if the gangsters stopped killing each other?


Sunday, March 11, 2018

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THE major crisis in Jamaica is murder, not crime. My statement stems from the fact that although there has been a noticeable decrease in major crimes committed in 2017 when compared to 2016, the world still sees and labels us as being in crisis. This crisis label is reasonably based on the impact of murders on victims and their families.

Furthermore, it has been shown that eight out of 10 murders are gangsters being killed by other gangsters, with figures going as high as nine out of 10 in relation to male murders.

In my own research, I have found that as many as 100 per cent of all murders in some divisions over a period of three months show gangsters killing gangsters.

The impact of these murders on our international reputation is well known, not to mention the strain which is placed on the Government's purse when they are forced to investigate and initiate preventative measures.

However, has anyone ever thought of what would happen if the gangsters stopped killing each other?

I know it sounds like something that should not be discussed, sort of like pondering how your economic life would be if you didn't have children. Regardless, it is still important to consider. After all, one day the Government might succeed in stopping this epidemic or, who knows, perhaps our prayers may be answered.

So fast-forward to a state of nirvana, where these idiots stop shooting each other. In such an instance, one of the first facts to consider is that the dons are not rehabilitative and their 'foot soldiers' are unemployable.

The second fact is that they are estimated at 100,000 and growing. We would also need to consider that they kill over 1,000 of their own each year, so by all mathematical accounts there would be 10 per cent more, at least if they hadn't been so lethal over the last 10 years; and there would be that much more if they stop for 10 years going forward.

So what would happen?

I think a natural course of action for them would be to direct their arsenal at the police. Major crimes would go through the roof, such as robberies and extortion, and would be the Government's main focus of raising funds. This extortion would no doubt extend to the resident, not just the business community, and would impact all classes.

The alliance would result in the gangs selecting a leader and we would move from a gang-infested country to a country that has a viable militia, which could then challenge for leadership of the country.

Sounds far-fetched?

Well, let me remind you of that period in our history where gangs were actually more powerful than our leaders.

In the 1970s and 80s, politicians dared not oppose the gangs. Not only did they have to attend the funerals of murderers, but they would join demonstrations when gang leaders were killed by the police. This eventually changed, but only after years of criticism from the press and the private sector.

In Ireland, terrorist groups such as the Irish Republican Army morphed into actual political parties, for example Sinn Fein. This happened primarily because they got to the point where they had immense power and, additionally, because the opposition they once faced from the British army was no longer present. Once it was realised how powerful they could be, political acceptance was allowed.

This is not an isolated example. Countries like Colombia, Nicaragua and Mexico, just to name a few, have all felt the power of criminal gangs becoming political heavyweights. The Cosa Nostra, also called 'the mafia', became so powerful that sections of Italy fell under their governance, and this influence even extended to many large cities in the United States.

The common factor in the political transformation from street gang to political heavyweight comes after the internal conflicts have ended and these criminals are able to focus on the society and the varying ways to prey on it. Personally, I don't think we have to worry much about this happening as I am convinced that nothing short of a miracle or an emergency detention act will stop them from continuing the killings. But who knows?

To understand this, let's look on the mother of all gangs in Jamaica — the Clansman Gang. This gang has had an incredible impact on Spanish Town for more than two decades, despite opposition from the police, imploding into two and having a primary rival — the One Order Gang.

Can you imagine the impact they would have if they had not self-massacred almost a hundred of their own since their internal conflict? They would have dominated the old capital.

Like the rest of Jamaica I want the killing to end, but as a criminologist I have to look on the predicted ramifications of any measure or ambition introduced.

The Government should also consider the effect of these gangs making an alliance and ascertaining where they will focus their energy next. Only then can we prepare. Preparation is the most important factor in dealing with organised criminals, but we have to be 100 per cent certain of what it is that we intend to achieve.

Consider for a moment a united front of Jamaica's street gangs with the most modern small arms in the world aimed at the Government and civil society, whilst also being protected by the most influential human rights organisations locally and internationally.

Yes, protected because nothing changes that variable. Whether or not they kill each other or children or attempt to dominate our lives, they will still be the darlings of the human rights community.

Jason McKay is a criminologist. Send feedback to:




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