My fellow citizens and residents, it is with a heavy heart that I address you in the wake of two homicides that occurred in Cotton Ground, Nevis yesterday, eight days after a young woman was tragically cut down in her prime and another one was injured by gunfire in that same community.
My Cabinet and I extend our deepest sympathy to the families and loved ones who are grieving during this difficult time.
We also offer our assurance to them, and to all of you, that your Government will neither throw in the towel nor throw up its hands in the face of these senseless killings. We will instead throw our energies into addressing the social ills that these tragic murders are symptomatic of, and we ask all of you to partner with us in this mission today.
Although disappointed, we are not disillusioned; our faith in the strong fabric of our society remains unshaken. This is why I always say that the fight on crime is not one that my Government intends to lose.
However, in order to win this battle, each and every one of us must fight for each other – so that our society can regain a safe footing – rather than against one another.
Doing the latter – fighting against one another – results in carnage on the streets while doing the former – fighting for each other – entails fostering collaborative community relations, where after-school and other recreational activities, community policing efforts, job training and placement, neighbourhood watch teams and social programs that provide rehabilitation for offenders, as well as the counselling, mentoring and monitoring of at-risk and marginalized youths will take centre stage.
This will require hard work by everyone from parents to pastors to police officers to politicians and principals, and from the young to the middle-aged and the elderly.
What I have outlined are elements of an engaging approach that will captivate the attention of the people – predominantly young men – who use guns, knives and other weapons to resolve disputes and end up being held captive in return by the machismo code of the streets, which makes them live in a perpetual state of crisis.
This crisis has trickled into our communities and it is time to stop the bloodshed.