Minister of Culture, Sports and Youth Stephen Lashley is sending a strong warning to the “few misguided hoodlums” in Barbados that they will not be allowed to disrupt the Crop Over festival.
A recent flair up of gun-related incidents, including the alleged brandishing of firearms at a party, and a threat of a “bloodbath” at the highly anticipated Foreday Morning parade have angered the minister.
“Recently you had a discourse on Whatsapp about people planning a bloodbath in relation to Foreday Morning. We have a national festival called Crop Over which we celebrate our pride and industry, and in the middle of that we have a few hoodlums who are prepared to use tactics to scare people. And my position is quite clear on that. My position is that a few misguided hoodlums or criminals will not stop our Crop Over festival from going on and for people to enjoy themselves in a wholesome way. So I want to send the word to those who have an agenda along that path that they will not have an easy task,” Lashely said in an address at the Barbados National Youth Parliament installation ceremony and debate in the Senate this morning. .
Lashley warned that young people who got involved in illegal activities were being barriers to the country’s development and he called on the members of the Youth Parliament to take a stand against deviant behaviour.
The minister chastised the youth for not speaking out against rising crime, particularly the threat to the Foreday Morning parade.
“I am yet to hear a youth leader, a youth champion coming out and denouncing this latest threat. I have not heard it. You cannot be silent, I am sorry . . . I want to hear young people coming out and taking a stand in relation to gun violence, in relation to the recent threats I have been hearing.
“Persons who are bent on criminal activity I have no patience, and I have no sympathy for them. And if young people who have been the beneficiaries of millions of dollars in the investment of education are going to now take up the gun and be involved in criminal antisocial behaviour, then they, in my view, need to be put away. They need to face the law court,” Lashley stressed.
However, some of the minister’s language did not go down well with Prime Minister of the Barbados National Youth Parliament Roshanna Trim who told Barbados TODAY those in authority needed to determine and address the causes of crime.
“Young people are crying for help. I think it is callus to simply say that these persons are just being lawless and they are wasting money. You don’t know their situation and not subjected to their experiences and what they have lived through,” said Trim.
“I think we need to help them further than just denouncing them and saying it is time for them to go to jail. We need to reach out to these young people in these societies,” she said, adding that programmes needed to be put in place that would deter young people from turning to a life of crime.
She warned that giving up on the youth or vulnerable meant the country was falling apart.
“As a society we are charged with making sure the vulnerable and those that might not be able to defend themselves we have to take that paternalistic role where we look after them and help them out. And I think programmes and questions and conversations are what are really needed right now,” Trim recommended.
About 50 young people were installed into the Barbados National Youth Parliament, which was started in April 2014 to give a voice to young people on issues of national importance.