Social activist David Comissiong is lamenting that seven years after six young women perished in one of the island’s worst tragedies, the hazards that contributed to their deaths in the Campus Trendz fire continue to exist.
Comissiong and his September 3 Foundation led a gathering of families and relatives of the victims at the James Street Methodist Church yesterday morning to reflect and remember Tiffany Harding, Kelly-Ann Welch, Kellishaw Ollivierre, Nikkita Belgrave, Pearl Cornelius and Shanna Griffith who perished after two men firebombed the clothing store with Molotov cocktails on September 3, 2010.
Jamar Bynoe and Renaldo Alleyne have been convicted in the deaths of the young women. “It is a great disappointment to us that that tragedy has not been capable in waking up the governmental authorities to actually do something positive about these fire traps that still exist in Barbados. It is still very disappointing,” Comissiong told Barbados TODAY.
Comissiong, the chairman of the September 3 Foundation, is also the legal representative for the families of three of the deceased women. He has filed a civil suit against the Ministry of Labour, the Chief Labour Officer, the Fire Department, the owners of the building and the operator of the business, contending that they were all guilty of negligence, as the building, which was located on Tudor Street, The City did not have a fire escape.
A decision on the suit is pending, however, the attorney-at-law said the authorities ought not await a verdict to enact changes that might save lives in the future.
“We would have thought that you don’t have to wait for a court to come to a decision in a civil case to understand that there is much to be corrected in Barbados where adherence to fire regulations is concerned,” he said.
Comissiong added that he hoped that the tragedy would be a constant reminder to the Barbadian public not to tolerate crime and violence.
“We want these six young ladies to be forever a reminder to Barbadians why crime is so wrong and violence is so wrong and unproductive and we should turn our backs against it. We should do the positive things in which we create a society in which we will not be creating the conditions that spawn criminals and criminality,” Comissiong said.
“We were determined that those persons by their callous criminal act [who] stole the lives of these young ladies prematurely, that [they] were not going to let them get the last word. We were going to add value to those lives that were so tragically cut short by doing positive things for the society and the community,” he added.
The building which housed the store was demolished earlier this year.