Authorities in Barbados are being warned not to bury their heads in the sand and believe that the issue of gang-related violence does not exist in society.
This call came from anti-gang expert Dan Macmillan who has established a Operation Future programme in St Kitts and Nevis which has been “affected tremendously by the impact of the gang culture”, to address the issues of crime and violence among the youth.
Macmillan who is in Barbados in the capacity as consultant to the National Committee For The Prevention Of Alcoholism And Drug Dependency (NCPADD), was speaking to Barbados TODAY as he delivered a lecture on gang culture to the students of the Unique High School today.
He said that he was concerned that when he travelled to countries in the Caribbean to speak about the issue of gang violence it was often underestimated and “people want to ignore it thinking that if we just ignore it, it’s going to go away”.
“I have heard all the time, we don’t have real gang members. Now in law, we have a term called serial killers and then we also have a term called copycat killer, who is the one that copies the serial killer. Now in reality, does the victim care whether they were killed by the copycat or the serial? And that’s the issue with the gangs.
“We refer to these guys as copycats because they are not real LA [Los Angeles] Bloods or they
are not real LA Crips, but they are doing just as much damage.
“In fact, in our little nations, they do a lot more damage because they are so small and so intricate. In St Kitts and Nevis right now it is hard to find anybody who has not been directly impacted by the violence that is being spread through this gang culture,” he said.
He said that it was important for countries in the Caribbean to note that the issue of gang violence was not a criminal problem, but rather a social one, and as result it could not be addressed through handcuffs and incarceration. In this regard, he said education
and awareness in the community were critical tools to be used.”
In the lecture, through video presentations, Macmillan incorporated recovering gang members in the programme who effectively and clearly delivered the message about gang related violence as they spoke about their experiences and unfortunate consequences.
“These men are bright, talented and their lives have been ruined because they are going to spend the rest of their lives in prison. We do these presentations to identify the reality of the gang culture as opposed to a myth,” he said.
He added: “If we look at it today, most of our youths are learning from the gang culture from the modern media and the modern media glorifies it and by the time they realize . . . they are often at best in prison and at worst in the grave. The whole idea is to go into communities and talk about the issues, be very frank and candid about the issues so they understand what exactly it is they are getting into it.”