Today Barbados stopped and remembered six young women, who gave their lives in horrific circumstances to become unwilling martyrs to the greed of two young men.
We refer to Kellishaw Olliviere, Kelly-Ann Welch, Nakkita Belgrave, Pearl Amanda Cornelius, Shanna Griffith and Tiffany Harding, who lost their lives when the Campus Trendz store on Tudor Street was set ablaze by two young men during a robbery in 2010. This was a crime that shocked and shook the nation — an event that generated national pain that is still being felt today.
Today, we at Barbados TODAY again extend our hand of sympathy and empathy to the families of these six women, as well as others who suffered as a result of the senseless act, including the owners of the store and the families of the culprits.
But we should pause for another reason: To pay tribute to attorney at law David Comissiong and the members of the September 3 Foundation. Comissiong is so often involve in one battle or another that it is easy to dismiss him and his actions almost as rabble rousing — and apparently there are many who feel this way.
When, however, one takes the time to examine the causes that so often engage the attention of the attorney at law and politician, it is not hard to arrive at the conclusion that had it not been for Comissiong, many poor Barbadians would not have a voice.
We may not always agree with him, but it would be less than fair not to give him credit for putting his heart and soul into the representation of Barbadians who might otherwise never stand a chance in the law courts — or the court of public opinion.
And on this Campus Trendz affair it is reasonable to believe that had it not been for his agitation it was quite probable that like so many other things in Barbados, September 3 would have passed unnoticed. We certainly don’t have the power to read minds, but there were no public utterances from Government officials to suggest that the designation of September 3 as a day of national reflection would have occurred without the pleadings of Comissiong. Add to that the fact that he has been able to bring all segments of the community together on this, with Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, Minister of Family Stephen Lashley, the Barbados Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Social Partnership asking all Barbadians to pause at noon today to pay respects.
Would this have occurred without the leadership of Comissiong and his foundation? We can’t emphatically say yes or no. But we can say that there were no signs anyone else was moving in this direction prior to his public statements.
So today we paused to say to the victims of the campus trends fire, “We will not forget you!” Maybe tomorrow Barbados will pause and say to Comissiong: “We thank you!”
And we ought to do this, not just because it is the right thing to do, but because there is a major task ahead for all Barbadians in terms of determining how we will deal with so many in our community who feel disaffected and disillusioned — and we need the David Comissiongs of this country to stand up and play a lead role.
God knows we can’t afford another Campus Trendz tragedy — not another September 3.