The absence of mayhemSunday, January 09, 2022
LET us play a game of imagination. Let us pretend that in our country if you feel like not renewing your gun licence you just don't and there is no consequence.
Sounds far-fetched? Not really. In Venezuela that is the norm, largely because the Government will likely just take them if you try to present them for licensing.
Can't say I blame the gun owners, but nevertheless that is their reality.
Now what could get us to that point?
Well, firstly, a toothless, useless Firearm Licensing Authority (FLA) could be a factor, especially if it lost the power to revoke gun permits and seize guns.
This could also exist if the organisation becomes so tyrannical that there is a national stand against them and everyone would refuse to present weapons for relicensing.
The third way this could happen is if the police force refused to follow directives to act on the FLA's instructions to seize unlicensed weapons not presented for licensing.
Luckily, we don't have a toothless FLA and they have proved very effective in establishing gun control in Jamaica.
I do not agree with the Government's policy of requiring an extremely good reason to need a gun before you are issued a permit. I believe once you fit the legal, infrastructural and behavioural parameters you should be given a permit.
It is ridiculous and almost criminal that we are being slaughtered at a rate that puts us in the top five on planet Earth, but we are taking away people's moral obligation to protect their family and making it a privilege.
That being said, they are there to enforce policy, not create it, so we can't really blame them.
They really do need to work on their communication system though, because the hate I see directed at the authority from good people demonstrates a lacking communication plan.
However, note my third point, that the police are required to enforce the directives for them to wield power. We will return to it.
Now let us pretend that in our country, court orders and legal directives were ignored and unenforced – both civil and criminal. So you get bail and abscond and nothing is done. Or you are in custody and your mob comes for you and you are simply handed over for fear of the repercussions.
Sounds like a dream?
Not quite. Wake up in Haiti and that is the realty. In fact, Jamaica in the 80s and 90s displayed those characteristics too.
Let me tell you a story. When I was in my very early 20s I got two legal documents to enforce against Jamaica's most notorious gang leader. Both orders were civil. They came to me as a virtual child because none of the established persons in the profession would take the job.
My father, who was my idol, told me don't touch it. He was 10 times 'badder' a man than I ever became and he explained it was not fear, but it just was not worth the war that would follow.
I failed to follow his advice as I seldom did, because greed won over common sense.
The repercussions were felt by those who contracted me and not me, as my father stepped in and the gangster wisely did not want to face an angry daddy and an even angrier operation squad, with whom he was attached.
Thirty years later, I think the gangster made a wise decision and I can now confirm that young men are a bit brainless until they are over 25.
My point is that the orders could not have been enforced by the established authorities because the gangs were in control.
The fact that they dared not mess with the then noted Eradication Squad was not a reality for the force in general. This gang would often shoot up police stations and with little cause and even less consequences.
Now let us fast-forward to the 90s.
Do you remember the “Zeeks” riots? Let me remind you. The don for Matthews Lane, known as Zeeks, was arrested in 1998 and downtown erupted in violence.
A mob descended on the Central Police Station demanding his release.
The police, in fear of what was out to occur, put him on the balcony to beg the crowd to disperse, thus destroying the case he was arrested for, as he could no longer face an identification parade.
So let us return to this present era. I will go on a limb and quote former Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller, by saying that “no bwoy, no gal, nowhere” could come to the “100-man Police Station” and demand the release of any prisoner.
I would say with great certainty that they could not try it anywhere else at any station.
Why? Because today's police simply would not allow it. The police are the dominant control mechanism.
Let us pretend that we lived in a country where judges sit in fear of being attacked in the courthouse because of the decisions they take, and that there is a possibility that the courthouse could actually come under attack whilst they sit. Sounds like a movie? Not really.
In the 1980s the decision to free Lester Lloyd Coke, oc Jim Brown, was greeted by a gun salute from his thugs who surrounded the courthouse.
Can you imagine where those guns would be pointed if the decision was to convict rather than release?
Okay, so let us take the three scenarios of total lawlessness. The FLA example, the court order story and the Zeeks/Jim Brown situations.
The reason these situations cannot exist is the nation's police force, the stands that were taken between then and now, the lives of law enforcement personnel lost, the careers destroyed by being prosecuted.
All what we were and what we have become is because of the police force that stands as the buffer between you and them. The same police force in which a constable and district constable earn less than a nail tech, the same police force that is deprived of being allowed to work overtime, that is vilified and looked down upon by politicians and the public alike.
But remember, the only thing stopping you being governed by Thick Man, Tesha Miller and Blackman, like many Spanish Town residents are, is that same policeman who you think you are better than, and that same constabulary you think your son is too good to join. This is your reality. Whether you love it, like it or dislike it.
It is a sad situation that we became what we beheld. It is even sadder that we recovered from mayhem and don't even remember that we were there.
The saddest thing, though, is that we don't know who saved us, how we were saved, why we were saved, and that we are doing our best to return to the debacle that we were saved from.