Activist community

Government and police urged to sit down with community leaders to find solutions to gun crime

A social activist and former Minister for Social Transformation has suggested government and police officials sit down with ‘bloc’ leaders across the island to find solutions to the recent spike in gun crime fire.

Hamilton Lashley offered this recommendation because he insisted that the top-down approach to the problem is not efficient.

He said a bottom-up strategy, in which communities are engaged, is the way forward at this critical juncture.

“There is an urgent need for dialogue between the real stakeholders, not the fake stakeholders, not the pretenders in this set of scenarios that are being experienced.

“There needs to be dialogue and discussions with community practitioners, community leaders and block leaders. We need a multidimensional approach at the highest level, including all sectors of civil society,” Lashley said. Barbados TODAY.

Expressing his confidence that this approach would bring benefits, he highlighted his experience dealing with a period of major conflict in the Pine community which he represented as MP for St Michael South East.

He said an outdoor meeting involving gang leaders, community practitioners and police at Parkinson Field made a big difference.

“We sat down and spoke to the leaders and from that day until I left as a representative of Pin, there was no real violence in Pin. There was no shots, there was no stabbing, there was nothing like that in the Pine because we came to a common agreement to make this thing stop,” Lashley recalled .

“We cannot have civil wars; individuals against individuals. We are all in this business together. We need to engage community practitioners, we need to engage the men on the blocks.

At an emergency press conference on Friday, Attorney General Dale Marshall said the current spike in shootings is not an indication that Barbados has descended into a state of chaos or total anarchy.

Meanwhile, Police Commissioner Richard Boyce, who also addressed the nation at the press conference, assured that members of the Barbados Police Service would come out and remove weapons from the streets.

Lashley said that while he believed law enforcement authorities still had some control over the situation, “extreme situations require extreme measures.”

“If you could have the courage to go into a parking lot, where innocent people are gathered, then you are putting innocent lives in danger or at risk.

“So Barbados has come to a position where everyone is a bit scared to come out. So once that level of fear arises in a community, the issue needs to be addressed head-on quickly and it needs to be assuaged. People don’t want to talk so much now, people want results,” Lashley argued.

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