Because we allow them to, they think they can

| 25/03/2010

Reading about yet another broad daylight shooting taking place (this time near Batabano Plaza in West Bay) has become so common place and so thoroughly unsettling that the standard bewildered response is annoying for being cliché.

Theories abound as to why the country is rapidly and steadily being flushed down the toilet. “Going down the drain” is simply too nice and nowhere nearly as accurate as the violent, mucky reality that we find ourselves in.

Those of us who are firm believers in preventative measures versus knee jerk reactive responses are not surprised to find our nation, and ourselves, in this place. Our “head-in-the-sand-until-something-is-kicking- us-in-the-behind-thus-forcing-us-to-look-up-and-acknowledge-its-existence” approach is as much a part of our heritageas Rundown, Batabano and camping on Easter weekend.

For weeks now the public outrage has poured in regards to the state of crime and security in our beloved Isles. These passionate outcries often end up turning down the well trodden arguments of Caymanians and expats, or PPM vs UDP, and soon the blame game starts and its all useless finger pointing as those arguments join the rest of us making their way down the aforementioned toilet.

Seeing as we all have our theories as to why these things are happening, kindly reconsider this old proposition: crime in Cayman is escalating because we, the law abiding residents of the Cayman Islands, allow criminals to commit them thus making said criminals believe that they can do what they wish to do. In other words, because we allow them to they think they can.

How do we do this? The obvious answer is by not reporting that which we have seen or know.

The perhaps not so obvious answers lie in our behaviour. As outraged and enraged as some calls to our daily talk shows, and even letters to our newspapers, are they are equally as full of fear and despair.

Take, for example, the statement that was submitted by the Minister’s Association on crime and security. In particular, take a look at point number 6 where it states: "We call upon the authorities to institute curfews and states of emergency whenever necessary to restore the tranquility of the community, without fear of unpopularity from any quarter."

The imposition of curfews and the declaration of "state of emergency" (martial law) are extraordinary measures in any democratic society (and more commonly used and abused in dictatorial regimes) and should not be taken lightly. Clearly the security issue in Cayman has proven to be more than deserving of our attention and reaction (perhaps in a few years time we will learn how to be proactive), but calling for such extreme measures is not only absurd, but detrimental to our community morale. A state of emergency is often used during periods of civil unrest- usually meaning riots, sabotage, violent demonstrations and overall chaos. That is not the case here.

Curfews and martial law restrict the civil liberties of all citizens. Curfews and martial law disrupt the lives of all citizens. Why should we EMPOWER the criminal element by suggesting that their "power" and "stronghold" is such that the only way to "deal" with them is by allowing the imposition of such havoc on our lives in this way?

We have a significant problem which is slapping us in the face and demanding our undivided attention; there is no question about that. And yes, this community has suffered loss, privately and nationally, in ways that cannot be measured. But we have not lost. Like much else in our lives at the moment, we will have to fight for our community.

Fear cripples. Fear stifles. Fear weakens. We may quite possibly have the fight of our lives (literally and figuratively) on our hands, and as scary as that is we must embrace it because we cannot afford to pass the buck. If our elected leadership and our moral leadership cannot, or will not, step up to the plate then it is on us to take the lead. Start at home: take preventative measures; teach your youngsters to be more alert. But don’t stop there: do more for our community. Partake in an outreach effort into vulnerable communities (take a left or right off the main roads and you will find them). Open your home to a child in need. Volunteer your time and expertise to empower someone else with a new skill so they are better suited to join the workforce. Create your community watch group.

Anonymous calls and blogs aren’t enough. It’s time to be seen and heard.

Take back Cayman. One life at a time, one house at a time, one community at a time.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    why can’t we have people like this in power?

    i’d vote for you!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Most comments to this article seem to assume that EITHER we remove the gangsters who provide negative role models from our streets OR we work with the children to prevent them from becoming the next generation of gangsters. Clearly these options are not mutually exclusive. We need to do both using whatever means possible. 

    • Sarah says:

      Totally agree – Everyone was focussing on the dealing with the current criminals – tackling the disease, so I thought I would add the preventative part – but absolutely both need to be done at the same time.

  3. Sarah says:

    You are right – we must start with the kids.  We may be too late to fix these young adults who have lost their way but we can all play a part in making sure that being a gangster becomes socially unacceptable – not cool. 

    To do this – we all must embrace the kids – so their parent may not be getting it right – maybe their own parents never demonstrated good parenting to them – how would they know how to do it well?  But there are enough of us neighbours, families, friends, teachers etc that if we become a little less insular and more community minded, we can make up the shortfalls in parenting skills, provide the kids with support, positive encouragement, lessons in how to make life choices, the difference between right and wrong, lessons of consequences and responsibility, caring, respect and pride in themselves and their country.

    If we can instill good values in the emerging youth then maybe this gang culture will dwindle in time and the future of Cayman’s society can be changed from one that currently looks bleak into something of a community again.  Lets not only put it all on the parents, many of whom are not equipt with the supportive background to replicate (often we imitate what we were taught), lets all help these kids. We must take a long term approach – which is where I think we have gone wrong – we have been living in the now – immediate gain, from election to election – never thinking about the long term effects of our behaviour – that has to change – we have seen the results of not looking into the future.

    I am signing up as a Big Sista as soon as I can – If I can support one child who needs it, then maybe just maybe, that will be one less gangster of tomorrow.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Just curious about what metric you use. How high does the death toll have to get before drastic measures are required in your view? How many gang members? How many innocents? Maybe you might like to explain to the family members of the next person killed why measures that might have kept that person alive were not necessary.  

    From my perspective we are well past the point where drastic measures are called for. Bring on the drastic measures, bring on the curfews , suspend whatever civil liberties have to be suspended in order to get these thugs off our streets, reverse the burden of proof for those caught with illegal fire arms, end the right to bail for those charged or convicted of violent crimes and bring on any other measure that will make our streets safe for our families. 

  5. Mike Hurst says:

     Please be mindful that all the countries in the world that has this kind of gang-related and drug problem started right here. The day respect for the law was lost, the shooting up of the police car on Shedden Road, The shooting of a 4 year old boy, the shooting of the woman on Mary street and shootings in broad day light means these gung-totters are getting more fearless and more vicious. Do something Cayman before "your precious" visitors get killed as that will be a whole new ball game.

  6. Anonymous says:


    That looks like a civil war in the drug market, because some guys were paid short for the amount of monies they made from the tourists, schools, clubs, and members of the community.
    This is so sad, but trust me, GREED and REVENGE are two demons that are fueling this fued!
  7. Anonymous says:

    Until the keepers of the secrets here in Cayman start sharing their local knowledge with RCIPS the criminals will continue to escape the law.

    What is completely misguided is that these people who could talk believe that they are safe as long as they don’t talk. You are never safe with a murderer.

    The victim’s blood of these killers is equally on the hands of those who keep their secrets.

    Tough words I know but true.

    • Carol says:

      Time to stop blaming McKeeva for all West Bay’s problems. Start turning your little (or big) criminals in to RCIPS. You know who they are but when you get bitten close to home then it’s time to blame McKeeva?? Don’t think so! Pity your neighbors, whose kids have been shot, shot at or killed. Continue to not offer any assistance to the Police (for which we all pay so dearly) and see where we are all going to wind up at. Blaming status holders is not the answer. People who migrate to any country, work and contribute to the economy are not the problem. It’s the other hooligans we should be looking out for, regardless of how they got to Cayman, born here or brought here. Sad to see another family is going to have to pay for a funeral that may not be able to afford it. Crimestoppers, you want some real results? Start offering real rewards for info. Works everywhere else in the world. Money will make a lot of tongues loosen. Time for all of us to wake up and assist with dealing with the problem at hand or maybe RCIPS is just waiting for them to all kill one another and then the problem will be solved???? Think about it! Lots of unsolved crime, means a lot of criminals running loose in our community. Assist McKeeva and stop finding fault. Be a part of the solution and not the problem!!!!

    • Cristina says:

      Well,well done Ms Ferreira.

      We ALL should have your letter printed, framed and displayed in public places, also make flyers and handle them to people at  everywhere possible.

  8. noname says:

    Excellent commentary! Well written and makes sense.

    Much smarter advice for Cayman than "mass praying" on April Fool’s day.

    • Roadblogger says:

      I’ll agree with that.  And go further:  If these thugs see that the response from a leader of a country is to pray we are driven deeper, not less so, into trouble.  In other words praying is what people do when they are besieged and feel hopeless. 

      This is the wrong message. Because although our leader may feel hopeless:

      We are not.  We are angry. Extremely angry.

      So here’s our message thug:

      Don’t even THINK  or even HOPE that we:

      Are beginning to WAVE A WHITE FLAG




      Don’t take comfort in the words of our Premier.  Oh no.

      Because… the next sound you’ll hear is our boot up your ass.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the very well written appeal for the current crime wave to be brought under control without extreme measures. I truly wish that the emerge of violence in our community and the rapidity of its progress could be adequately dealt with using the approach you suggest. Undoubtedly what you suggest would assist in the long term solution to the emergence of a gun culture in Cayman. However in my view it is simply too late and completely underestimates the gravity of the current situation.

    I support the concept of selective curfews and the selective imposition of states of emergency. Such curfews and selective extraordinary measures need not be imposed on all three islands – yet.

    The violence seems to be confined to specific areas in a couple of districts and undoubtedly that is where the majority of illegal weapons are likely to be kept and where the  gunmen of the gangs hideout.  Regular sweeps of these areas by police and appropriately trained K-9 units may very well produce the types of results which the public is demanding. Imposing curfews and conducting thorough sweeps of "hotspots" seems to me to be a reasonable and a proportionate response to the crisis confronting our country.  

    • Anonymous9 says:

      "Hideout"?! ‘Hideout’ ! They don’t have a ‘hideout’. They don’t have hidden shacks with passwords to get in. They are living their lives as normally as you and I in thesecure knowledge that nobody will speak about what they see and know. They are in their homes cooking dinner and watching tv or visiting their fellow gang members home to hang out and get stoned and bitch about the ‘other guys’.

      Hideout …  That’s funny.

      Some of you have been watching way too many westerns.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Very well said…one step a time is all we can do, but we must start now before it really gets out of control. The sooner we start to make changes to our environments and to bring together our communities the more we can prevent.