August Town needs a culture change says councillor
Venesha Phillips, councillor/caretaker for the Papine division in St Andrew, is happy for the curfew in the community, following recent murders, but stressed that Jamaica needs to go back to the drawing board and find an effective method for removing incentives from crime.
She bemoaned what she says is the practice of many young people in August Town and across the island to pretend that they desire jobs, when, in fact, their intentions are devious.
The curfew was first imposed from Saturday, January 5 to Monday, January 7, but was extended until today at 6 p.m.
"I am happy for the extension. I believe in the work behind the scenes, led by Inspector Keith Steele. I believe that external support to hold ground is crucial for the police to do what needs to be done, and it is proving critical," she told The Gleaner.
Despite being grateful for the relative peace that has accompanied the presence of the security forces, Phillips pointed out that a permanent solution is critical in order to free the nation from violence.
USE MONEY FOR EVIL PURPOSES
"I wish I could say, 'Let's provide every last one of these guys with jobs.' Even if we were able to do that, we would still have problems. There are things we have to deal with holistically as a nation, and August Town is demonstrating a need for that. Time and time again, we have proven that when opportunities are provided, they have not always been capitalised on," Phillips explained.
"As a matter of fact, some get jobs then use the money for evil purposes. It is a reculturing of our people that needs to take place. Respect has broken down badly. A lot of intervention has gone into August Town, and I don't take lightly the millions of dollars spent. Persons will have ego, whether they have education or not, but it is the ego we need to learn to manage responsibly. Persons have even got opportunities to go abroad, and they mess it up."
She recommended that something be done immediately to put a stop to the practice of having gun salutes for dead gangsters.
Phillips noted, "Dying has become a natural part of gang membership. They believe that receiving a gun salute is a privilege, and they look forward to getting it. When you reason with some of them, you cringe because they are telling you they aren't afraid of dying because there will be a lot of gun salute and the police can't stop it."