A social activist and former Minister of Social Transformation has suggested that representatives of Government and police sit down with “block” leaders from across the island to hash out solutions to the recent spike in gun crime.
Hamilton Lashley offered that recommendation as he insisted that the top-down approach to the problem is not effective.
He said a bottom-up strategy, in which communities are mobilised, is the way to go at this critical juncture.
“There is a need for urgent dialogue between the real stakeholders, not the mock stakeholders, not the pretenders in this set of scenarios that are being experienced.
“There needs to be dialogue and talk with the community practitioners, the leaders in the community, and the leaders on the blocks. We need a multi-dimensional approach at the highest level, including all sectors of civil society,” Lashley told Barbados TODAY.
Expressing confidence that this approach would reap benefits, he pointed to his experience dealing with a period of major conflict in the Pine community which he represented as Member of Parliament for St Michael South East.
He said an open-air meeting involving gang leaders, community practitioners, and police at Parkinson Field had made a major difference.
“We sat down and talked to the leaders and from that day until when I had left as representative of the Pine there was no real violence in the Pine. There were no shootings, there were no stabbings, there was nothing like that in the Pine because we came to a common agreement that this thing got to stop,” Lashley recalled.
“We cannot have civil wars; individuals against individuals. All of us are in this thing together. We got to engage community practitioners, we got to engage the men on the blocks.”
During an emergency press conference on Friday, Attorney General Dale Marshall said the current spike in shooting incidents is not an indication that Barbados has descended into a state of chaos or outright lawlessness.
Meanwhile, Commissioner of Police Richard Boyce, who also spoke to the nation during the press conference, gave the assurance that members of the Barbados Police Service will be out and about taking guns off the streets.
Lashley said while he believes law enforcement authorities still have a level of control of the situation, “extreme situations require extreme measures”.
“If you could get the guts to go into a car park, wherever innocent people are gathered, then you are putting innocent people’s lives at risk or at stake.
“So Barbados has come to a position where everybody is kind of frightened to go out. So once that level of fear arises in a community, the matter must be dealt with on a frontal basis swiftly and it must be quelled. People don’t want so much of the talk now, people want results,” Lashley contended.