Gangster summit
CHUCK... has done an incredible job of reforming the killing fields of Grant’s Pen

The recent call for a gangster summit by a frustrated politician may sound like the ramblings of many more Jamaicans who are tired of the killing in our nation.

However, when the Minister of Justice Delroy Chuck endorses it, a discussion must be had. So let’s chat.

Firstly, I disagree with it. And any discussion I have is based on the need to examine any idea pragmatically and logically.

Now, summits and truth commissions have taken place many times with others far more evil than our gangsters. Most notable of these was the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa in 1995, after the election of Nelson Mandela.

In this case, black people who had suffered monstrous abuses by the most evil group of mongrels in modern history had to sit down and talk with them, with an aim to pardoning them for crimes, including murder, torture, wrongful imprisonment, and political repression at its worst. Had they opted for mass executions it would have been a reasonable decision.

However, for the greater good of everyone and the future of South Africa they opted for peace over retribution.

Many world leaders who meet with democratic heads are guilty of even genocide.

However, for the greater good the heads do what they have to and speak to the killers rather than handcuff them. Why? Because it serves a greater purpose.

Why then do I shoot down Minister Chuck’s idea? Because in our crisis it will not accomplish anything. It would likely bring validity to the bunch of cowardly criminals.

We did enough of that in the 70s. No more ‘One love’ concerts that parade criminals as political fighters.

There is some stuff to discuss, though. Minister Chuck is no ordinary politician. He is the minister of justice, an intelligent person, a good person who has done an incredible job of reforming the killing fields of Grant’s Pen.

His endorsement of this idea means something. Is it that he realises, as I have been saying, that there is no solution within the parameters of normal policing to control these gangs?

Is it that he sees that we have to treat this as a crisis, rather than a crime issue? I think he is saying this in his own way.

Although I doubt, with his history in defending human rights, he would agree with all my recommendations, and I am good with that.

This could be the beginning of something, maybe a solution.

Most of you readers will disagree with my harsher suggestions — like remand without bail, mass incarceration of gang members, and 10-year sentences for gun offences. You disagree because you see a solution with a more capable, committed police force.

Minister Chuck’s agreeing to a summit may prove your view flawed. Again, flawed. Again, there is no solution within the parameters of regular policing to bring about reasonable control over this generation of gangs.

So you can look at the use of overtime in the new police contract. You can start to consider the creation of an auxiliary twice the size of the full-time force, driven by national pride and not careers or pay. Or you can consider my aforementioned harsher suggestions.

None of them exists in our current model.

Let’s play devil’s advocate. Can this Government or any government move their solutions to crisis mode? Would it happen if the demographic of the victims changed?

How long will it be before businesses in Constant Spring start to pay extortion fees?

Will Cherry Garden residents one day have to pay to live — like many who live in St Catherine?

When we start to ask these questions we can understand why Minister Chuck thinks a summit is worth a try.

I would actually attend, because I have, for a long time, wanted to hear one of those thugs admit that he is a gang member.

I cannot speak about Kingston and St James gangsters because they may be slightly out of my reach. But the ones in southern St Catherine would remember that summit for a very long time.

Solutions begin like landslides. A pebble first, then some boulders after. This could be the pebble we are looking for. This could be the beginning of the Government admitting that we blundered. That’s right — we blundered.

We blundered when we removed the Suppression of Crime Act. We blundered when we appointed Colonel Trevor McMillan to target crime fighters. We blundered when we disbanded the Operations Squad. We blundered when we destroyed Reneto Adams.

We blundered when we removed the exceptions in the constitution to allow us to become a signatory to the Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. We blundered when we tied the judges’ hands securing mandatory discounts for guilty pleas. We blundered with the Bail Act.

We as a nation blundered irrespective of which party served at whatever time.

This summit could mean we are willing to go the extra mile to fix some of what we need to fix. It does not matter if Minister Chuck and I disagree on methodology.

What matters is that he agrees that we are not normal, that our current system cannot fix our problem.

Then we will have hope. Now the solution exists in the minds of the Government and the pebble has begun to roll.

Jason McKay

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