08 June, 2007

War Zone

The War Zone

We break for a moment from looking at the physical environment to take a glance at the social environment. I received the following description of a confrontation between the Valley Boys Gang (colour red, Valley, South Valley, North side, mainly; more weapons than weed) and the West Side Connection Gang (colour light blue, South Hill, Sandy Ground, West End, (some) Blowing Point, a lot of weed dealings). It was written on Wednesday 6 June, shortly after the events described:

I was in what they call the vicinity of the school from 3:00 to 3.20 pm and saw a dance, Flamenco, Ballet. I am still figuring out how to describe it properly. In words, maybe I'd be able to draw it first.

West Side Connection in front of the clinic, less than 20, close together. Valley Boys across the road in the roundabout corner, over 40, spread out almost in a line. Spectators’ positions in food van area, small groups making up the biggest group, reminding me of people watching tennis, left, right, oei, left, right. Spectators are mostly girls. WSC and Valley Boys, mostly boys.

Valley is expected to move in for revenge for the stabbing yesterday. For quite a while absolutely nothing is happening, they are hardly moving. No talking, a whisper. Valley are staring WSC down. WSC is daring them by moving their chin upward, slightly. None of the WSC core is going on the bus. They'd have to cross the road. A few Valley have sticks, loosely, playing with some bottles, standing still, waiting. WSC all just watching them, nodding. After about 10 minutes of this still part of the dance, a good twenty Valley walk across the roundabout and stall under the sign. Triangle set-up. With spectators moving closer to the road to have a view. All heads right, all heads left. WSC get up, move towards the roundabout on the Environmental Health side, stall too. Spectators move in so as not to miss any action. I don't hear anybody talk, it's eerie. WSC moves again, around the corner, I get in the car and go to the roundabout. All of Valley start to move towards in the direction of the tourist office. WSC moves along toward the market.

'Nothing happend.'

You think?

The crowd had a show. The WSC and Valley core had the victory of admiration or at least attention by the spectators, peers in puberty, girls.

'It was just like the videoclip'. (I gave a girl a ride just to hear). WSC showed they ain't scared. The Valley came out in numbers to show they are intent on revenge.

War! It frightened me, but I could see that for the girls there was beauty in it, the orchestrated-ness of it, the duende of Flamenco, bullfighting. Even the anti-climax, 'for now, for now'.

If the authorities do not immediately do something pretty drastic, I would say there is going to be a lot of weeping and gnashing of teeth in the bedrooms of a lot of parents in the coming days. What do I mean by drastic? How about the usual? Bring in the participants in gang fights for questioning. Hold them without bail until Monday morning. Let them sleep in the prison. Call their parents in to the station. Let a couple of big, burly policemen give them a lecture about the need to discipline their boys.

After the parents have well and truly disciplined them, let them be grounded for at least a month.

Call the girls in. Have Linda lecture them on their role in helping the boys to improve their self-esteem in positive ways.

Make it an offence for school children to be on the street unaccompanied by an adult between 9:00 pm and 6:00 am.

Make it an offence for a parent or guardian to permit a school child to break curfew, and impose a minimum $500.00 fine, with a maximum of $2,500.00 for repeat offenders. It won’t solve all the problems, but it will empower the parents and guardians to once again take control of their young charges.

I don’t know. I may have it wrong. I am no pedagogue. Ask the experts!


  1. Government is taking "action." The job description for the post of teacher is being rewritten so that they will now become responsible for the maintenance of "order and standards of discipline in the general environment of the school."

    So the teacers will go out with their rulers and platitudes and confront 40 drugged-out boys with knives and broken bottles and the police (remember the police?) can sit in their office and write reports.

    "I make-a no joke. I can see disaster coming." --Rosario Spadaro

  2. Commissioner Benjamin, since you don't seem to be using them, can I borrow your police?

  3. While everyone was absorbed in this adventure from 3:00 to 3:20, another Valley Boy was stabbed in the hand by a WSC at 3:15 on the other side of the school.

  4. After a Valley Boy stabbed a WSC in the back on Tuesday afternoon, a thousand Anguillians expected a confrontation after school on Wednesday. It was obvious to any fool; we didn't need spies and informers. It must have been equally obvious to the police. Were they all asleep? Were they too sleepy from marching and prancing and parading at Anguilla day and practicing for the Queen's Birthday? Where were they and what were they doing that was more important than being where trouble was widely expected? Why does the Commissioner persist in creating the impression that he is incompetent?

  5. Yesterday, the Commissioner of Police made a statement. I think he (or who ever wrote his piece) must have been influenced by the blog because he called the first and last name and residing area of two people the police arrested (not convicted, arrested only) and that was a point in your blog a while back. Call names, shame them. He referred to investigating yesterday's (then) stabbing: unbelievably fast since it hadn't even been on the HBR news yet. He mentioned a time, called the name of the person who was stabbed. Speedy indeed, just what you've asked for. He did not spit his usual platitudes of cooperation, assisting the police. Something you pointed out the uselessness of.

  6. The Governor is responsible for law enforcement. We've all heard that a million times. What does it actually mean? If the Commissioner is incompetent, arrogant and ineffective, what does it mean that this is the Governor's responsibility? Was he sent here by the Foreign Office to go to parties and ceremonies or to do some real work? the FCO has sent us enough ineffective losers. Show us that this one is different. Show us that he cares.

  7. We must legislate to make being part of a gang a criminal offense, like in California and many other places. We need tougher crime legislation.

  8. While a lot of us are busy working day and night so we can be a two-car family, these boys have drawn a blank in the Great Anguilla Lottery. Most of them have little going for themselves and nothing to look forward to. Our examination-based schools have failed to engage them in anything that excites their imagination. They feel left out and they are angry about it. The inaction of The Sports Minister supports, by default, the status quo, and the school is run by a disciplinarian. Discipline breeds hate. Hate breeds violence. Violence breeds violence and here we are.

    Thank you, Minister. Your laziness and inaction has brought us to this. When the next boy is killed I want to see you at the funeral. I want to see you deny any responsibility. I want to see who you try to blame.

    Because you don't think about the future, we will never forget you.

  9. It is really weird how many people have the wicked opinion that too much discipline is bad for young men. The problem in the Anguilla education system is too little discipline. Teacher Ingrid tried, but she was shouted down by parents. The parents were supported by the Minister. The result is the wild west we now have at both campuses. There is no one laying down standards at home, and now none in the schools. What we need is to bring back beating and to expel the hooligans who do not learn. Let their parents teach them at home.

  10. We are left to assume that while the adults were enjoying the performance none of them thought to call the police. Too caught up in the entertainment, perhaps.

  11. What-in-the-world is everyone thinking! Are parents waiting for one of their sons to get killed? The situation won't get better by itself. Adults need to step in before violence escalates.

    Do churches have after-school programmes where truces are in effect? Do policemen "walk a beat" every day and show themselves in the community? Why not? Young people need support to create peace and resolve differences so they won't have to take it on themselves to mete out "justice." Look at the Middle East. An eye for an eye just leaves everyone blind.

  12. I don’t want to sound like I think the Jamaican police are perfect. They are not. But, they have a good community mediation training programme. Not all of them carry machine guns. Some of them have been doing good work calming down disputes in the community. They have been trained not to bring every confrontation to court. This technique of mediating community disputes takes training. A lot of training. By experts. It is a technique that has to be learned. I commend this initiative to our Police Commissioner. He can call on his counterpart in Kingston to lend him a trainer for a period. It will pay off in better community relations.

  13. I was going to suggest a police-sponosred Death Squad like they were alleged to have had in Guyana, but I like this Jamaican idea even better. I'd like to thank the writer for an excellent contribution. If it works in Jamaica, it can work almost anywhere. Well maybe not Iraq or Afghanistan.

    To get the police to actually resond to the people seems to require that the people make a lot of noise first. How can we make enough noise to get the Ego In Charge to take a serious look at this great suggestion?

  14. To the poster who wrote:... how many people have the wicked opinion that too much discipline is bad for young men. The problem in the Anguilla education system is too little discipline...
    I'd like to reply. In all respect.: All this suspending, excluding, deporting and expelling that ALHCS principal and staff are doing is disipline? That ain't no disciplining them. That's short sighted. That's moving the proplem to the street. That's making it worse for both students and community.

  15. I agree that expelling children are not the answer. Some children have so much going on at home, molestation,abuse of all sorts and then at school being expelled, that is not the sol;ution. Get trained persons to deal with these children and after all some of them are not so bad but they need reaching out to, care and compassion can go along way. Remember there are some terrible terribel mothers and fathers also.

  16. As I read this blog especially on the water situation and the suggestions made and the laws that should come into being to combat these illegal acts, I wonder if the people realise that nothing came good from the AG's office, noc cases were won and the man was very arrogant. We would have to wait and see what the new AG is all about.

  17. I agree about the futility of moving the problem to the street. It may solve the principal's problem but it doesn't solve Anguilla's. And it increases the polarity between the angry young men and authority. This kind of "discipline" only engenders more anger and more violence. It's exactly what hardheaded Bush and Blair are doing in Iraq, believing they can win by force. But they are creating martyrs and terrorists faster than they can kill them.

    Our hardheaded principal is heping to create a war that reaches far beyond the stupid "temporary" wall we built around her school, and we are being engulfed in a war we cannot win. If she is allowed to continue, if the Minister continues to do nothing, the living won't be able to carry the dead.

  18. Kindly stop calling on the Governor to help. He has a constitutional duty to be responsible for the police force. That means only that no politician can order the police around. Only he can order the police around. But he has made it clear on more than one occasion that he has no intention of interfering in local policing issues. He does not claim to be an expert in police tactics and strategy. He has confidence in the police force. He will leave it to them to do what they have been trained to do until someone comes up with dramatic and convincing evidence why he should stop having confidence in them. He is far from that situation today.

  19. Anguilla needs a high school in every district. The huge metropolis housing those kids are a disaster waiting to happen. There are over 2000 children in less than a .5 mile radius. Too many schools in that vicinity.

    I am appealing to the private sector and the churches invest in secondary education. We have a lot of private pre primary schools. But until we get a high school in West End, Welches and North Hill it will be very difficult to solve some of the major problems. Most of which is a result of over crowding.

    Alllow private investors to start a secondary school. The more the better.


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