Laventille is in crisis and we need to fix it.
This was the sentiment of Laventille West MP Fitzgerald Hinds during a meeting at the St Barbs Basketball Court yesterday.
“The reason why we call this meeting today is to bring this reality to you to let you understand that we have a crisis in Laventille,” said Hinds
He added: “This is a crisis because you know better than me that this evening your children are at risk.
They could be in the wrong place at the wrong time.
And you know, you too are at risk because if you only provoke somebody now, tell them something, watch them too hard, bounce them as yuh passing by the shop they want to go for their lass, they want to go for their gun.
That is the level of ignorance.”
The meeting was called a few days after 16-year old Jamal Charles was murdered in Beetham Gardens while seeking to take a bath. It is believed that he was killed due to an ongoing turf war in the area.
Hinds slammed the notion of a war, stating that real wars are fought between countries seeking to protect their land rather than over small personal disputes. He lamented that many persons were being denied opportunities to better themselves because of the violence.
“We have the technology centre by the Tamarind tree, some of you wouldn’t dare go down there because it have ignorant boys down there to kill you if you only show up by the Tamarind tree. And fellas from inside of Dan Kelly and in the Quarry, who I represent too. I tell them they need some training to get the job, look it have a technology centre which we put there. I put it there, I gave it the name. But they can’t go there. Because of border line stupidity,” he said.
Cedric Hazlewood, coach of Miscellaneous Laventille United, similarly bemoaned that youngsters in the area were being denied the chance to achieve their potential. He recalled the morning he learned that St. Anthony’s College student Akil Phillips was murdered.
Phillips was gunned down outside his grandmother’s home in April, investigators believe he was targeted by criminals who identified him as a possible witness.
Hazlewood said he was preparing to take Phillips to a football tournament.
“Going to the national tournament, the Republic Bank cup. Where children does get screen to go to the National team. I had all these kids ready to go and I had Akil Phillips birth paper in my package. In this same envelope, this briefcase. I send Chase to call him twice. He (used to) say he didn’t have a boots, I had a boots in the bag that morning right there waiting for him. I didn’t even know that happen the night,” said Hazlewood, “Chase come back and tell me,’You eh hear Akil get shoot last night down in..’ I say WHAT? That was it with me there. That’s the honest truth, that morning I had stuff ready for Akil to come out of Laventille again.”
He urged parents to also take more responsibility for children in the area.
“Parents you have to get more involved. I see many times, children stop coming practice, parents had register from home. I send the form, they sign and they send the money and that’s it,” said Hazelwood.
“The parents take no responsibility after spending that money.”
Following the meeting, an office was set up in the area, urging those with ideas to help with the situation to come forward with them.
Reporter: Peter Christopher