Notes From a Native Son: Do We have Any Shared Social Values?

Hal Austin

Recently, two cases caught our attention. Divided by 1500 miles, cultures, legal systems, states of development, yet both cases have so much in common: the perceived criminality of teenage black boys, the perceived social dislocation of a marginalised member of a social class, and the class nature of the criminal justice systems.

In Barbados, a 52-year-old shoplifter, with a history of petty offences, was shot by an armed ‘security’ guard when he went stealing from a supermarket. He was sentenced to nine months. In Florida, a 17 year old teenage boy walking home from a 7-Eleven was targeted – racially profiled – by an over-zealous vigilante so-called neighbourhood watch ‘captain’, challenged, and shot ‘in self-defence.’

One jailed for being hungry and the other killed for being black. Welcome to the world of western liberal democratic criminal justice. Both these cases were the outcome of a fixed mind set, what the Jamaican intellectual Stuart Hall calls the steady drift in to a law and order society.

American society has its own problem, but I have raised the issue before and was taken to task when I said that there was no Caribbean or Barbadian jurisprudence or legal theory of worth. What was amazing about the case of 52-year-old David Blackman is that he was arrested, charged and brought before the courts within hours, while nothing appeared to have been done about the armed man. The apparent justification for the shooting is that when he attempted to apprehend the shoplifter he drew a knife and made to attack the guard and was shot in self defence.

Barbados has now become a gun-owning society, from the gated communities on the West Coast, to the Cattle Wash boys, to the boys on the block, all now carry guns. Even the security men delivering and taking cash from supermarkets now carry holstered guns – straight out of the US. This is more a reflection of the break down in law and order, the failure of the criminal justice system, that it is a true reflection of the increase in crime.

To my mind, it is clear that there is a prima facie case of attempted murder, wounding with intent, discharging a gun without legal reason, grievous bodily harm, actual bodily harm, discharging a gun in a public place. What the security guard could argue, in mitigation, is that he shot the man in his leg and therefore it was not attempted murder. But that would be a decision for a jury, to decide if it was murder or manslaughter.

One of the faultlines running through a dysfunctional criminal justice system is not only the number of wrongful convictions, but just as important, the abandonment of due process when the ‘victim’ is a member of a marginalised social group. The class-based perception is that such people do not deserve decent justice, that they get what they deserve, while, of course, others escape justice.

In the gated communities of the US, a black teenage boy – and there is a worldwide war against black boys – cannot be up to any good; his mere presence is a threat so, ipso facto, to kill him will be in self-defence. Equally, a hungry, dispossessed, middle aged black men, in a class ridden society itself living on the edge of being relegated to the social dump, becomes a target for middle class internalised fear of failure. Such people remind the middle class professionals of where they came from and where, with a bit of misfortune, they are likely to return. In a very good book, The Supreme Court on Trial, Professor George C. Thomas raises a number of key issues that can equally be applied to the legal system in Barbados.

What really exposes the underbelly of Barbadian justice is that there are no radical lawyers who step up to defend the principles of equality before the law, no one stepping forward to defend the rights of the marginalised and disenfranchised, no one who speaks out on behalf of the underdogs.
What we have are a small group of lawyers who like the court room drama, the theatre of cross-examination, of challenging the prosecution, of getting in the local newspapers. But, sadly, all that is done if the price is right. There is no pro bono work, not even by the students who would benefit most from it; no judicial interventions to assist people who are clearly in need of defence.

There is also the division of labour within the legal profession: the old solicitors versus barristers; litigation specialist versus corporate specialists; and, the catch-all generalists versus the well established, the old white practices versus the hard-up black ones. Intellectually, most Caribbean lawyers are not theorists and the vast majority – like lawyers in Britain – have had only one or two lectures in criminology and very few in legal theory before graduating. This is the gap between criminology, the sociology of deviancy and legal theory that needs filling. In the meantime, people who are mentally unstable, innocent teenagers, homeless adults and teenage mothers and other victims of a winner/loser society, pay the price of official ignorance.

Barbadian lawyers feel intellectually comfortable debating procedures, rules, motions, given their close proximity to statute law, case law, administrative law, etc. Thinking in the abstract is outside their comfort zone, it makes them nervous just in case they are wrong. What they fail to realise is that part of the construction of knowledge is that one runs the risk of being wrong; the challenge is to have an open mind. We now know that Zimmerman, the Florida gunman, behaving like the typical vigilante, had called police 46 times in a year, most of them for black youths. So it was not surprising when he claimed he acted in self-defence; I am sure the supermarket ‘security’ man also acted in ‘self-defence’.

Sadly, if Barack Obama or any of his senior black colleagues had walked in to Zimmerman’s gated community they too would have been perceived as a threat. Or, put simply, if any black person, no matter who he is, walks in to any of those West Coast gated communities, unless they could be identified, they run the risk of being shot by the heavily armed New Barbadians.

Since the mid to late 1980s, the Western World has been gripped by a so-called fear of crime, a deep psychological condition, bred in the US and spread virus-like around the world. From the fear of muggers, to drug dealers, to gangsters, to gunmen, to knifemen, to whatever the hysterical tabloid press dreams up next. As I said before, we are terrified of our young men. This fear is given intellectual cover through such bogus disciplines as victimology, the rapid expansion of criminology, of penology, of the sociology of deviance. The economics are not far behind: crime is growing, the disciples claim, so we need more officers, bigger courts, more technology, bigger prisons.

And the policy justifications are one step ahead: the so-called broken window theory, three strikes and you are out (Bill Clinton’s gift to western liberal democracy) – the theory of the broken society, the list goes on. Yet, in Britain and Barbados, crime is on the decrease, the people being targeted are black youths (in Britain and the US) and ordinary working class boys, and some girls (in Barbados).

All this – the bogus criminology, the flawed policies and the privatised prisons – are limp justifications to incarcerate huge sections of our communities and an inability to think of ways of integrating the marginalised in to mainstream society.

Part of the problem in Barbados is that we have a shared national mind-set, a belief that we are a small island and we can punch just as hard as the heavyweights; in short, we have a view of the world which is reinforced through all our major institutions, and no matter what, we are not going to change.

In fact, it is this mental stubbornness that acts as a barrier to new ideas and ways of doing things. In reality, what we see is the withdrawal of the well to do and middle class from the rest of the society: they live in their gated communities, come out in the morning and get in their 4X4 and drive their children to their prestigious schools, then go on to their offices where they socialise with people from similar backgrounds, then leave the office early to pick up their children to drive home to their gated communities.

They have no social connection with the real people, do not drive in ZR vans, don’t allow their children to mix with their class mates, and belong to exclusive clubs and societies. This development is the one global social development shared in almost every liberal democratic society. And, when ordinary working people have the temerity to come before them for jobs, or to live in their communities, or worse, to be sentenced, they vent their class hatred on them with inhuman prison sentences.

This is the post-independence Barbados.

79 thoughts on “Notes From a Native Son: Do We have Any Shared Social Values?

  1. Again Brother Austin raises an excellent point to which I have been trying to allude to for the longest. Barbados is not developed because no real initiative has been taken to engage in a truly post colonial society. We have statutes and a government system reflective of the archaic judicial clauses establish in Bim’s now seemingly distant past. And yet, there seems to be this sickeningly large turnout on part of support for such a grossly outdated and irrelevant system of justice and governance. These same zealous parties are guilty of high-praising British principles and are eager to bend our national whims to the point of breaking in order to “accommodate” these people, due to Bim’s “CLOSE” relationship to the British Crown.

    The very fact that there has been no serious moves to push for the establishment of Bim as a republic outside of the Imperialistic Anglo-sphere bears testament to such a notion. That being said, so long as the very system of government and justice go on unchallenged, Barbados will forever be bound into a cycle of subservience and regurgitation of archaic principles that hold little relevance to our small yet progressive and dynamic society. Until Bajans hold their leaders accountable (starting with those in parliament), we will forever be the underdog of the world for we have willingly bent over and have allowed larger and richer economies to emasculate the nation.

    As the nation’s capacity for sugar production continues to deplete along with its pervasive over reliance on unsustainable industries such as tourism and offshore-banking (both of which solely owned by foreign corporations), our nation’s Brand will continue to be muddled in the dirt and dust as surrounding and competing economies continue to capitalize off of key markets that could otherwise offer Barbados a leading edge in competitiveness and innovation. What we need is for there to be an environment that facilitates and harnesses new ideas, ideals, and ideologies. This is what will help Barbados change for the better, by acting through her own interests while establishing a code of mutualism through ingenuity. This is what will help distinguish Bim as a key player and a cutting edge market. And we do so by acting as a collective by making the necessary sacrifices starting with the elimination of unnecessary and over-saturated bureaucracies for one.

    We need to acknowledge that we are a single nation and one people, and that we do not have much to begin with in terms of land and resources. It must be stressed to all Bajans that we must do our part in helping to REALLY and SERIOUSLY establish our nation’s brand under its OWN light. We must first acknowledge our potential within our society and truly utilize our human capital to the greatest yet sustainable degree, for it is our GREATEST ASSET. We cannot be a nation that settles for what others tell us is “feasible”; we must be strong and emboldened enough to determine that for ourselves.

    But until Bajans realize these truths, I am afraid that sadly Brother Hal’s words of wisdom and logic will only fall on the deaf ears of a nation WILLING to settle for the binding collar of the colonizer….. (-_-‘)

  2. There are so many strands to this.

    One is the idea of a distinctively ‘Caribbean Jurisprudence’. It is a phrase which is so often shuffled around when something happens which we don’t like and believe might have been dealt with differently. But no-one actually says what it ‘is’ even on a case-by -case basis – and certainly Hal doesn’t in the post.

    We are a nation of disciplinarians that’s for sure. Whether it’s the so-called ‘experts’ in the newspaper columns or the so-called priests from the pulpit the keynote is anything but the milk of loving kindness. So many talk down to the young and so few actually listen to what they have to say.
    ‘I will lash you’ is perceived as an answer to everything, rather than ‘I will listen to you’.

    The post seems to assume that education is an answer. Maybe. But if ‘education’ means simply the assimilation of facts – ‘doing’ a criminology course – with no real commitment other than the search for the elusive ‘A’, where is the value in that? The very idea of ‘excellence’, pushed by both the University and the Church, works as a grub to gnaw away at understanding in the name of a bogus ‘achievement’.

    I do not think that references to colonialism are at all helpful. It’s a cop-out and we are very good at copping -out. ‘It wasn’t me, it was the serpent’ is a mindset which is all too prevalent and it leads us nowhere. A senior cleric used to say to me when I evidenced a sense of frustration about this or that – ‘You must remember we are a young nation’ – to which my response was ‘Well, it’s time we grew up’. Slavery ended when? Independence came when? But the ‘growing up’ will never come while the pundits and the race peddlers, including the historians in high places, are busily pushing their fractured wares: and that includes the .
    primitive idea that ‘other people’ control what we do, and the silly ideas, rooted no doubt in envy, that the US is the daughter of Satan and the UK responsible for how we think and behave. If we do not ‘walk-tall’ we have no-one to blame but ourselves. Or are our minds set in stone?

  3. absolutely erudite and factual comments by mr austin which should be required reading for all. most lawyers in barbados are nothing more than vultures.

  4. I do not think that references to colonialism are at all helpful. It’s a cop-out and we are very good at copping -out. ‘It wasn’t me, it was the serpent’ is a mindset which is all too prevalent and it leads us nowhere. A senior cleric used to say to me when I evidenced a sense of frustration about this or that – ‘You must remember we are a young nation’ – to which my response was ‘Well, it’s time we grew up’. Slavery ended when? Independence came when? But the ‘growing up’ will never come while the pundits and the race peddlers, including the historians in high places, are busily pushing their fractured wares: and that includes the .
    primitive idea that ‘other people’ control what we do, and the silly ideas, rooted no doubt in envy, that the US is the daughter of Satan and the UK responsible for how we think and behave. If we do not ‘walk-tall’ we have no-one to blame but ourselves. Or are our minds set in stone?

    very good point as well, mr ross.

  5. Are you kidding me?!!

    The 52 year old was stealing hams! $300 plus worth of hams!!


    Gimme a break!!

  6. @anonym
    You ever see how small a ham you getting for a $150….that did 2 small legs boss…lol (playingD devil of course )…….wait ee forget d eclipse…!!!.

  7. Wunna forget to include dat de bajan thief had a weapon wid he, Austin there are no similarities with the two cases. I once worked at a supermarket where shoplifters were dropped off by taxis and came into the store with big bags. They went to the beauty section and cleaned the shelves, the security guard intervened and they pulled a long knife. The guard wad unarmed and could do nothing so the shoplifter walked. The police were called and they themselves could do nothing.

  8. Another perceptive Article by Hal Austin. The comparisons between the classism of the Barbados society and the Racism / Classism of the American society needed further examination that might not have been possible in a blog article. The attempted stealing of 2 hams and the swift, harsh, and seemingly double whammy penalty meted out, evokes visions of an earlier slave and apprenticeship society and even suggests a possible slide towards chaos in Barbados as conditions get worst because of the worsening economic situation.

    Nuff more questions need to be raised about the incident and the “jurisprudence” it operates in.

    Should supermarket larceny be treated like praedial larceny, largely ignored?
    Or should the treatment of praedial larceny be upgraded to the example of this treatment of supermarket larceny? Or should it be somewhere in between?
    Was the force used by the security guard consistent with the threat to his life and limb?
    Where did the gunplay take place? Was there any endangerment of bystanders by the action?
    Is there going to be a charge brought against the Security Guard?
    Have we reached the developed stage where security guards should be armed to protect themselves and their charges from life threatening danger?
    Is there not an unwritten jurisprudence already in place relating to petty larceny of food type items ( i.e. if a poor person steals from from a big-up supermarket he can expect the full weight of the law, if caught. If a big-up person steals from poor persons the chances are that the law will do very little to assist the small persons). Isn’t that a legacy from slavery? Does that unwritten jurisprudence still operate? Is it necessary to codify it into written laws?

    This matter is again important enough to be seriously debated by the likes of Millertheannunaki, Observing, Blogger2012, Observer, Amused and others.

    Thanks Hal Austin, for bringing it up.

  9. “One jailed for being hungry and the other killed for being black.”

    You gotta be joking!!

    The picture I saw of the man who was caught in the act of armed robbery, destroying private property and threatening lawful security personnel with a concealed weapon does not make me think he was a hungry man.

    Because a man steals food does not mean he is hungry.

    Praedial larceny of food takes place all the time but rarely is anyone shot. It often takes place in the dead of night, but not always.

    This man chose to be totally brazen and operate in broad daylight in a populated area with a total disregard for private property ….. and pull a concealed weapon on a security officer.

    His absolute surprise at being shot is a sympton of the complete breakdown in regard for law and order so endemic in Barbados today.

    I am not sure Dodds is the place for him.

  10. A hungry man steals 4 Hams because he is hungry. He would have to be mentally “challenged”.

    What about his other run ins with the law? is he constantly hungry?

  11. Hal Austin, are you kidding me, whilst trying to destroy the good name of Barbados.
    The 52 yr old shoplifter, as you called him, who should be setting an example to youngsters, was caught stealing over $300 plus worth of hams, proceeded to break the supermarket’s door and attacked the security guard with a knife, yet you find it convenient to expouse so much crap and fallacies in this forum.
    Are you suggesting that the chief of security should’ve stood idly by and allowed the seasoned criminal do do as he liked, whilst placing the valued customers and the security officers health and safety at risk?
    My friend, it seems as though you have some serious issues with the fact that you are a Barbadian.
    There’s nothing wrong with criticising, but please make it factual.

  12. Religion has been plagiarized and twisted and made universal as one from various sources, such as egyption symbols used by secret illuminati and judaism used by christianity, even though God has no religion

  13. Yes, it is a very thought provoking article. There’s another point I wanted to mention but wanted further information. which I now have.

    Hal says that lawyers don’t do pro bono work. That’s not quite true. Some do – and of course some lawyers would say that taking on legal aid work is, to a degree, pro bono in two senses: (a) you don’t get anything ‘up front’; and (b) the fees are below their ‘market’ value.
    But he also says that not even students do it – or words to that effect. Sadly this is now true. Six months ago it was untrue.
    Thirteen years ago a white, British lecturer at UWI began what he called the Poverty Law Programme in the Faculty of Law. It was a third year option and became very popular. Part of that programme was the provision of twice weekly law clinics for the underprivileged. The University advertised the programme which was supported by the then Dean, now a Justice of Appeal, and his successor. Students and the lecturer appeared on television and there were write-ups in the newspapers There was a lecture course. The lecturers came from the Child Care Board, the NIS, the handicapped people’s organisations, the Welfare Department, the women’s empowerment people, the drugs people, the Ombudsman and so on. There were also lectures by an elder in the Rasta community and a trans-gender person. The whole idea was to sensitize students to the legal concerns of the underprivileged and, of course, the students came from all over the Caribbean. A number of practising lawyers gave their support to the scheme, took on the students as mentors, and offered their services gratis for clients referred under the scheme. The idea was UNIQUE – nothing like it anywhere – law clinics yes, but nothing quite like the UWI scheme.

    You want to know what happened? The professional law school jibed and said it wasn’t a law course. Some of the lecturer’s colleagues try to get him sacked because he’d had the timerity to question the concept of love in the context of women with multiple children from different fathers which, he suggested, might just keep those women
    ‘trapped’ in poverty – an idea which he suggested the students might research if they wished (for there was also a research component in the course). They tried to say he was a racist, that he was devoid of academic ‘nonce’. Well, I suppose it was their way of expressing envy of an idea they had never cooked up themselves – that it was a white person that had had the sensitivity to articulate it all. It went so far that the Principal, supported by the Vice-Chancellor, had the fellow investigated. Result after six months ‘investigation’: nothing – matter closed.

    And then came the present Dean of Law, the Dean that no-one in the Faculty wanted and who had been foisted on them by a Principal and Vice-Chancellor who were opposed to the Faculty’s own choice. There was no serious consultation and many broken promises.
    This lady, who happened to be, and in fact still is, the law librarian proceeded to do everything in her power to stimie the efforts of the lecturer, refusing, eg, to pay for items of expenditure relating to the course and for which the Faculty had traditionally been responsible – well, until she was threatened with legal action by a supplier. She refused to help with the advertising of the course – result: no clients for the clinics. Then the lecturer retired. Against a consistent practice going back decades he was given no post-retirement contract. Result: no more Poverty Law Programme. Now all of this because of spite and ill-will by this woman – a character trait which was well known and was one of the reasons the Faculty did not want her in the first place. She had a track record of it. Meanwhile the once renowned Faculty of Law has been reduced to ‘college of further education’ status.

    So you see, Hal, you were wrong. But what does this whole sorry saga actually say about our mindsets – about our open-heartedness, our desire for change, our concern for the poor? Don’t blame all the lawyers, you know. Point the finger at those who, despite claiming to be bare-foot boys, in the final analysis were found wanting and all in the name of ‘excellence’.

  14. But Ross, you have gone round the world with lots of specific details to make the point that I have made – the class nature of the legal profession.
    I know this because black lawyers in London were the leaders in the movement to set up free legal advice centres, including the Guyanese Rudy Narayan.
    Let me make a simple point: if final year law students were to set up legal aid clinics, either in working communities or in the offices of the guild, the students’ union, offering to write letters for people, giving basic advice on housing, employment, conflicts with neighbours, etc. and advising that if they needed defence in any litigation they have to go to an attorney, they will perform a social good, improve the popular reputation of the profession and themselves get some sound ‘professional’ experience for their return from the Wooding school.
    I can think of one example when law students in Chicago got a prisoner serving life for murder freed because of the work they did on the case.
    Think how such a victory would impact young men and women entering the world of work.

  15. Extract from Hal Austin’s submission:
    “Part of the problem in Barbados is that we have a shared national mind-set, a belief that we are a small island and we can punch just as hard as the heavyweights; in short, we have a view of the world which is reinforced through all our major institutions, and no matter what, we are not going to change.”

    I have already expressed my disdain for the bogus justice system and the legal brotherhood of courtroom dramatists, actors, jesters, sycophants and con men.
    I hope to comment further on the double standards that pervade this fast decaying social and economic micro experiment into the possibility of a sustained and long-term successful outcome of a nation state managed politically by the representatives of a black majority.
    The reasons why the likes of Hal Austin migrate from these warm sea-lapping shores is because of the frustration born out of a genuine desire to see real change in the social landscape or body politic with the classic plantation -structured ‘field worker versus house servant’ class system practiced by the majority population.
    People like Hal have taken to heart the ideals of the radical teachings there were exposed to in the University classes of the 70’s and early 80’s.
    Just to prove the futility of your idealism let us examine the two most recent exercises in “uncle-tom foolery and house slave mentality or thinking.

    What did we learn or how has the country benefited from the high priced Paul Volcker on his lecture circuit stop off to entertain the local hoity-toity dressed in the Sunday-go-to-meetings to gorge on free food and inebriating drinks? A trawl of the Internet would have provided us with more informed discussion and views based on 20/20 hindsight on the myriad causes, reasons and possible outcomes of the recent financial and economic meltdown still besetting societies based on the materialistic Western-style ‘spend and consume now pay later’ economic model. Now we are prepared to pay through our noses to hear the views of these post mortem analysts. Where were they when the termites were invading the economic woodwork? Prior to 2008 there were vigilant people sounding the bell and warning us of the pending recession and possibly longer-term Depression brought about by the voodoo and magic economics and financial management being practised on Wall St. and in the square mile of the City of the ‘Mother Country. We refused to listen or take heed. The same way we are refusing to take heed to what is happening right on our door steps or more alarmingly in our very living rooms. Here we have a financial caretaker or butler in the Senate who is prepared to convince us that his “independent’ colleague who has vast experience in business is unnecessarily shouting “wolf” about our Country’s debt burden. And to display his magical skills- the butler turned water bu(o)y to the marina crew- can further impress us by using a 180 degree turn of the paddle or oar to make 50% or half of the country’s debt disappear from the backs of taxpayers.

    The next exercise in slick oil salesmanship is the gullibility on display at the NUPW’s annual conference. Here is a guest speaker lecturing the naïve and stupid natives on the causes and reasons for socio-economic stagnation of the English speaking Caribbean states over the last 20 years. Yet the same bull-shit artist cannot even fulfil 25% of the mandate he has been entrusted with at an exorbitantly high cost price. Instead of seeking to complete his assignment for which he has been handsomely and excessively rewarded in advance, he seeks to assign blame to the region’s stagnation squarely on the corruptible shoulders of the political class and those insulated and hiding behind their gated communities. And for once there is some merit in this hypocritical stance the investment guru has taken against those who want to see a status quo ante.
    But one must ask the people in the NUPW these questions:
    Why are you inviting a man whose track record is based on academic hot air and weather cock positions rather than achievement and experience?
    Was he paid for the long talk and if so, how much?
    Can the NUPW which can hardly pay its bills for the mobile phone assigned to the President and his gophers afford this kind of verbal pantomime at this time when its members are being put under tremendous financial pressures and possible threat of job losses after the coming elections?

  16. Since the mid to late 1980s, the Western World has been gripped by a so-called fear of crime, a deep psychological condition, bred in the US and spread virus-like around the world.

    Care must be taken in generalising what happened in Florida as being representative of the US.

    My impression is that the demographics of the Florida population are quite different from other areas of the US.

  17. @ Hal

    Yes, there is a kind of class structure. People want to ‘better’ themselves. Aspiring doctors, bankers, accountants and all the rest do the same. I see nothing wrong with that.

    I was not talking about the proliferation of legal aid clinics. There are plenty of models in the US and the UK (and not all in London). I have given you an example of something which was much, much more than that – something which went to the very root of who we are. Your response was – you ‘have taken us around the world’. Now: you claimed that students did not do it. You did not elaborate. I gave you an example of it’s being done, and elaborated it. What do you want then? It is not just about giving legal advice any old how. It takes courage, insight, a measure of understanding and knowledge – and a considerable amount of entrepreneurial flair; and if you had taken part in something like that, I think you would understand better everything that is involved in doing it properly. And I am sure I could give you cases where people here were helped, and helped significantly by the scheme. Indeed, I’m told that over the years it had an excess of 500 clients. Or is your response so niggardly because that scheme was orchestrated by a white person? Or…and there are many possibilities. It’s so typical of everything Bajan…for whom a ‘well done’ in face of creative endeavour is like a wasp in the mouth. Disappointed in you. You now come over as small minded as those you denigrate.

  18. But there is a happy sequel…

    Despite the efforts of ‘that woman’ to prevent publication of a volume of poems written by the Poverty Law students over the years by refusing to fund it – despite the promise of her predecessor to do so – the lecturer had it published himself. It is called ‘The Twisted Web: Perspectives on Poverty in Poetry’. It is beautifully illustrated by the students, and was reviewed by Jeff Cumberbatch in his ‘Musings’ column.

  19. @ Austin
    Perhaps you do not have any conception of what it takes to set up and run a law clinic for the underpriviledged.

    Give credit where credit is due.

  20. A Bajan lawyer did pro bono work for me just 2 years ago. I was a civil matter. She did an excellent job. No she was not my friend or relative.

  21. On a different angle it is interesting to adjudge the feedback when Senator Irene Sandiford-Garner was attacked and injured a few months ago over a Blackberry and the Blackman incident and the thief of hams.

    Interesting indeed.

  22. Trayvon is a boy.
    Mr. Blackman is a man

    Trayvon has no criminal convictions.
    Mr. Blackman has multiple criminal convictions.

    Trayvon was walking the road minding his own business.
    Mr. Blackman was caught in the act of shoplifting

    Trayvon was a skinny youth
    Mr. Blackman appears to be a strong, healthy, very fit looking male; much like Zimmerman the Florida man who shot Trayvon.

    Trayvon was not armed
    Mr. Blackman was armed with a knife.

    Nobody steals 3 frozen hams because they are hungry, not when the same supermarket has chickens already roasted and ready to eat and located in the same area as the hams, and freshly baked breads and cakes and freshly made salads.

    It is very likely that Mr. Blackman is just a thief.

    Trayvon was just an innocent boy.

    That said I was surprised at how quickly this case was fast forwarded through the courts (not that I think the courts should delay cases). However when a girl child is sexually assaulted or raped in Barbados it can take these same courts up to 10 years to successfully prosecute the case.

    And that is NOT RIGHT.

    • @Random Thoughts

      Good points but is there sufficient evidence to know exactly what happened in the Trayvon matter?

  23. I agree with you that a whole set of Bajans are a bunch of poor great poppets. And that many of us including working class Bajans do not look out for our neighbour’s children and way way too many of us do not even look out for our own children.

    I can’t tell you the number of middle and high income Bajans men who treat their “outside” children as though they are pickneys in massa’s nigger yard.

  24. Dear David: We will see. Eric Holder is a very smart man, and I believe that he has that good old Bajan common sense.

    The same common sense that seems to have deserted so many of us.

    I trust Holder and Obama to see that the right thing is done in this case.

  25. Dear Hal
    Your article had been most thought provoking.Thanks David and ALL bloggers for your contributions to this post.Lots have been seeded and may still to be evolved.

  26. WHY was the man in Barbados shot in his back or from behind??
    WAS he a threat to anyone at the time he was shot ?
    ISNT this an unlawful use of force
    WASNT the shooting pre-meditated
    ISNT this a crime ?
    WAST the man pleads that “he shot him” not understood by those in the hearing of this man’s voice??
    DOES it make it right if you treat a suspect as though you have past judgement on him/her ???
    DOES two wrongs make it right ??
    DOES four wrongs make it right ??

  27. There were 2 reported murders this week…..are we seeing an upsurge of heated tempers….these days I try not to accidentally mash nobody foot while in town bossie….PEOPLE VEX VEXX dennnn

  28. It’s a bit of a stretch to juxtapose the murder in Florida with the shooting in Barbados but I suppose it makes for a column which will generate feedback from bloggers exploring the various issues.

    I want to make a small point about crime in Barbados and simply say that people have had it up to their gills about the situation. The evidence is there for all to see by the multitude of homes with metal bars on all possible entrances (and exits) to these houses, some residences even have barriers within the homes in the forms of metal grills to the sleeping quarters which they secure at night in the belief that if the thieves manage to penetrate the outer security at least they would another obstacle to slow their entrance. This blog has dealt with the upsurge in crime before and I won’t spend any time recapping some of the incidents but some stories to mind readily e.g. the arson murder of the young women in Bridgetown; the shooting of the two businessmen in Salters and the targeting of business persons by these “professionals”.

    So when a “professional” with 46 previous convictions who to use a hackneyed cliché “would steal the saddle off a nightmare” is shot for his troubles I won’t shed any tears but simply put it into the category of “extra judicial punishment”.

    The Trayvon Martin case shouldn’t even be mentioned in the same breath.

  29. Sargeant wrote ” The evidence is there for all to see by the multitude of homes with metal bars on all possible entrances (and exits).

    This has been the case from the time Bajans started building concrete block houses in the 60s.

  30. @Hants

    I lived in Barbados in the 60’s and for a good portion of the 70’s too, it was not common to see houses built with these bars in the 60’s. It started in the 70’s and accelerated to where it is considered mandatory today. Bars have now been added to homes which did not have them during original construction and I remember an incident in the late 70’s where a teenaged girl in the Warners area died when she couldn’t escape from the home because of the bars during a fire.

    Those bars have effectively made Bajans prisoners in their own homes, many of us see them as deterrents to keep the thieves out but they keep us in. Consider the doors with their deadlocks which require keys to exit and imagine a situation where an individual is being physically abused but they can’t escape because the door keys are not accessible to them and that is even without the locks on the metal gates within the doors.

  31. @John

    Instead of posting these various links to the story which all cast the victim in a poor light why don’t you tell us what you think? Confession is good for the soul, so get it off your chest and make people like me look foolish.

  32. John | March 25, 2012 at 11:43 AM |

    If the eyewitness is credible alot of people will look pretty foolish, Obama included.

    Sageant … I did already, three days ago!!

    There are always two sides ……

    By hearing both it helps us to get to the truth.

  33. @John

    What do you mean by “ I did already three days ago”? There has hardly been any comments about this issue except yours which all cast the victim in a negative light. Don’t write about “two sides to the story” when you were only publicising one side before.

  34. Sargeant

    You may have noticed that the article is pretty one sided and with my contribution it now has a second side!!

    Shouldn’t you be thanking me?

  35. What I find intriguing about what has happened is the way the press first sways one way then the other … and then back again.

    I think my links show that.

    The underlying fact for me is that a 17 year old was shot and killed.

    …. but when I google “17 year old shot in” and let the search engine choose, I realise I can find four news stories where 17 year olds were shot and killed in four different parts of America.

    I can also find news stories where 17 year olds do the shooting.

    I am left to wonder if it is normal for 17 year olds to end up being shot by somebody … or shooting somebody.

  36. One social value we definitely do not share with the US is we do not value the ability to distinguish right and wrong.

    NBC was caught red handed in wrong.

    It accepts it got caught and is trying to make amends(.. atleast it says so) because it knows that US society can’t stomach being conned and will call for blood.

    Their ratings will be toast…. they are into damage control.

    Here, anything goes.

    We just go quiet when we get caught as though it will go away and we never learn from the experience

    …..CLICO etc. had their forerunners whose a**es should have been in jail but those who should have nailed the criminals preferred to keep quiet and hope everything would return to normal.

    They could not tell the difference between right and wrong.

    Surest way to have prevented CLICO would have been to have the characters involved in the messes that were Trade Confirmers, Plantations, Cotton Factorty etc coming out of Jail just when the temptation for the CLICO conmen was there to execute their con.

    Will we put away anybody this time?

    Probably not … we just don’t understand right from wrong.

    ….. and if when all comes out Zimmerman somehow turns up in the wrong, he will be toast.

    Another value we do not share …. all never comes out.

  37. @Hal “One jailed for being hungry…about the case of 52-year-old David Blackman.”

    I may be wrong, but I though that i read that this man is before the courts again, this time for stabbing an elderly pharmacist/shop keeper.

    I am thinking that there might be multiple issues here, anything from a really bad childhood, to mental illness, to alcohol addiction, to drug addiction etc.

    Yes we do have common values, but it seems to me that a 60 year old MAN with more that a dozen convictions does not share our values. Most 60 year old Bajan men have zero convictions. So the questions are “have we unfaired David?” or “has David unfaired us?”

    As the owner of A.P. Jones Pharmacy remains hospitalised, the man charged with inflicting his injuries was remanded to prison when he appeared in the District “A” Magistrates’ Court yesterday.

    David Nathaniel Blackman, 60, who has no fixed place of abode but who said he was a farmer and a barber, was not required to plead to doing serious bodily harm, with intent, to Andrew Jones, on September 17.

    The accused, however, denied he stole seven bottles of tonic, valued at $203, from the pharmacy; that he assaulted Karen Granville, both on September 17; and that he stole 63 bars of soap belonging to Melwani’s Ltd on September 5.

    The prosecution objected to Blackman’s release on bail, pointing to 15 convictions for theft, the seriousness of the charges he faced and the need to protect society from him.

    The prosecution further said the pharmacy owner was still hospitalised and the accused had no fixed place of abode.

    However, Blackman said he lived with his sister and kept his tools for barbering at her house.

    He later admitted he had been released from prison in July.

    Chief Magistrate Ian Weekes remanded Blackman to HMP Dodds until October 19. (HLE)

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