Isn’t it ironic some of the most well established and profitable business conglomerates/industries exist in some of the poorest and most underdeveloped areas of the country? Massy Motors, Toyota, Angostura, Fernandes, NP, TSTT and Bhagwansingh’s are all located in the wider Morvant/ Laventille, Beetham, Sea Lots and PoS South communities.

Adding fuel to the flames is the fact that only a handful of the residents from those areas are actually employed by these companies. Instead, the majority of residents, whether by circumstance, opportunity or the lack thereof, are relegated to hopping garbage trucks; scavenging in the Beetham landfill and other unsustainable, low-level, low-skill, and thus low-wage jobs. Yet we are surprised when many (not all) of them show no hesitation at burning the city to the ground. But what do you expect if they have no vested interest in the city, or the city in them?

I certainly don’t condone such riotous actions and, in fact, detest the wanton destruction of property witnessed earlier this week, and call for peaceful protest. But for us to sit in our ivory towers and cast judgment on them without understanding their plight or, at the very least, sympathising with their legitimate pleas for “justice” against the backdrop of what they see as an execution by “gangsters in blue” supported in no small part by the publicly circulated video footage, would be naive.

By the way, whatever happened to that police officer who allegedly killed the Sea Lots woman and her daughter, injuring many others? Has that “independent investigation” been concluded, has “justice” been served in that matter as yet? What about the several other police ­killings in those areas—have those been “independently investigated” and the officers exonerated or charged? What about the pleas of David West, and the promise of the Prime Minister (as opposition leader) for greater powers for the Police Complaints Authority? But I digress.

It seems not even such damning allegations supported by video footage was enough for the public to support their calls for “justice” nor their request for the suspension of the officers, if only in support of the oft-quoted aphorism that “not only must justice be done, it must also be seen to be done”.

In that respect, removing the officers would remove any appearance of bias on the part of the TTPS or possible conflict of interest by the officers not being able to legally engage with witnesses or other persons of interest to the case while on official duty. This concern is not only for the integrity of the investigation, but also for the safety and welfare of those officers involved, as I’m certain such incidents will have some mental effect on the officers. I can only hope all officers involved in the shooting of civilians are psychologi­cally evaluated and cleared before returning to duty.

Unfortunately, it appears that such requests have been rejected out of hand by the CoP, as he stated he will not allow such persons to force him into taking any action. I guess such second-class citizens— “cockroaches”—don’t have the right to make such a request of the CoP.

Before you cast aside that ­comment as snide, ask yourself if the public’s response would have been the same if the persons killed were a shade lighter and/or they lived in a more affluent community like Westmoorings, Flagstaff, Valsayn or Bel Air/Gulf View.

It is clear those marginalised communities, already besieged and silenced by the criminal elements out of a mortal fear for their lives and that of their families, now feel like they are being attacked from both sides (empowered by the cockroach rhetoric of the CoP).

This must leave them completely lost, with a sense of betrayal and hopelessness, especially in light of the firm rebuke of the public to any and all complaints of rogue or overzealous officers. After all, they are all gun-toting criminals, right? I mean, it’s not like our upstanding police officers have ever “planted evidence”, nor been unnecessarily aggressive with members of the public for no obvious reason, right?

For those who hasten to make accusatory statements—“Why no protest for the killing of the two-year-old? Why don’t you burn tyres when they kill your own?”—I ask you to consider whether you will protest the killing of your neighbour, suspecting or worst yet knowing the person who did it and their ability to do it to you.

I’m sure most of us would have heard the stories of people making reports to police stations and being confronted about the very reports before they even return to their homes. Now consider whether you would take that risk you are asking them to take, while you also hold certain that the police will not run to your aid as you’re just another “cockroach”.

Whether true or not, the resulting fear is enough to dissuade most from volunteering to become a State witness, not to mention the real risk to your life as many a State witness has been killed over the years and the inconvenience and disruption to your family life, as you may not be able to enjoy your favourite pastime for the next ten to 15 years while the trial drags on. So while you sit in your ivory tower, I beg you to spare a thought.

Andre Phillip

Barataria

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